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Missing Courtenay parrot could be victim of birdnapping, owner says

Sightings of an African grey parrot that disappeared on May 7 have been reported around Nanaimo
There have been dozens of reported sightings in the Nanaimo area since Lyric the African grey parrot went missing on May 7. VIA CHRISTINE HAMBLETON

Calling out “Want a cashew?” or “Gimme a kiss” could be the key to getting Lyric the African grey parrot safely back home.

Owner Christina Hambleton said the parrot, who lives in Courtenay but has been spotted in Nanaimo, loves cashews, and might come to anyone who utters one of those phrases.

There have been dozens of reported sightings in the Nanaimo area since Lyric went missing on May 7, Hambleton said, including one on a wire on St. George Street and another near the emergency department at Nanaimo Regional General Hospital. Hambleton said the Nanaimo sightings started soon after Lyric disappeared from her home in Courtenay.

It’s extremely unlikely that she flew about 100 kilometres from Courtenay to Nanaimo, Hambleton said.

“I think the only plausible [explanation] would be that someone found her in Courtenay, and they were driving down the Island and she escaped from them,” she said.

“She is fully bonded to me and she would have been terrified if someone did grab her.”

Hambleton said she has had Lyric, who is eight years old, for about a year, noting African greys can live to be 80.

She said she has been to Nanaimo several times looking for Lyric, and has been receiving daily sighting reports on Facebook after posting on the What’s Up in the South End of Nanaimo page.

Some of the sightings could be of pigeons or doves, Hambleton said, but a bird has been seen that has been positively identified as an African grey.

“There’s no other reports of an African grey missing on the Island, so if it’s an African grey, it’s got to be her.”

She said experts have told her that the best times to spot Lyric are dawn or dusk, and suggested that anyone with a handheld Bluetooth speaker can broadcast African grey sounds to attract her. To that end, Hambleton said she has recordings of Lyric from her former owner that she can send to anyone who is interested.

Responders on Facebook have said they are happy to help in the search.

“I’m wearing a huge sweater I can tuck her under,” one responder said. “I told the postman I ran into to look as well.”

Another said she had some cashews and was heading out to look around.

“Not leaving my house without cashews,” a post said. “I hope she’s found safely.”

Contact Hambleton at 250-334- 7651 with any information about Lyric.

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