Courtenay parrot on the loose in Nanaimo after possible petnapping

Courtenay parrot on the loose in Nanaimo after possible petnapping
Lyric the missing parrot is shown.

For several weeks, Vancouver Island’s Christina Hambleton and others have banded together to listen for the sounds of Lyric, a missing domesticated parrot from Courtenay who was last spotted in Nanaimo.

“Good morning,” “I love you, girl” and “peek-a-boo” are some of the eight-year-old Timneh African grey parrot’s favourite words, notes Hambleton, who’s been an “utter mess” since her beloved pet flew out a kitchen door on May 7.

“I can barely function,” she said.

But how Lyric ended up 100 km down the Island remains a mystery, though Hambleton says the most probable cause is she was birdnapped.

“It’s possible she flew to Naniamo, but I think the more likely scenario is that someone found her and they drove down the Island with her, maybe even to the ferry, and she escaped from them,” the parrot owner said in an interview.

Hambleton recalls the day Lyric got loose.

“I had had surgery that day, and then that evening she was spooked and flew out the kitchen door and into the forest behind my house,” she said.

A few days later, the sounds of a parrot emerged from the nearby trees but there was no luck in catching Lyric. Hambleton used a Bluetooth speaker and blasted bird sounds, in hopes she’d fly near, but that didn’t work either.

“On the evening of (May) 11th, one of my neighbours was feeding her horses and she heard a huge commotion up in the trees at her house. She saw two ravens chasing my parrot. She started banging rocks and yelling at them and the ravens took off, but Lyric wasn’t with them when they took off,” said Hambleton.

“So I obviously continued looking for her, thinking maybe they killed her.”

Two weeks later, someone saw Lyric in the Harbour City.

“So since then, she’s been spotted almost every single day in south Nanaimo,” said Hambleton. “She’s been seen at Departure Bay, she’s been seen at Long and McQuade, on St. George Street and near the hospital.”

Avid birder Ann Nightingale says that while the nicer weather is likely to benefit Lyric, it could be challenging for her to find food.

“I think if she’s in an urban area, it’s possible that at night or very, very early in the morning she’s going to people’s bird feeders, maybe. If she’s going to bird feeders, then she’d be eating bird feed that people are putting out,” said Hambleton.

Looking for Lyric

But a domesticated parrot out in the wild raises concerns.

“Pet birds, when they get outside, the outcome is not always good. They are not predator-savvy. It could be caught by a hawk or eagle,” said Nightingale with the Victoria-based Rocky Point Bird Observatory.

“It’s important it gets back to a safe space. If people spot it, they should try to catch it and reunite it with its owner,” she told CHEK News.

So people in south Nanaimo, where Lyric has continuously been spotted, have come out in droves to help find her.

“It’s been the most elevating thing. Several people have been walking the neighbourhood daily, calling for her. That has been really amazing,” said Hambleton, pointing to the Facebook group “Lyric Lost on Vancouver Island,” as well as other social media pages where people are posting latest sightings.

“It’s helped sort of keep my head above water. I cannot believe the support I’ve been getting, specifically from the Nanaimo community,” she added.

“They’ve been unbelievable.”

Lyric has grey head and body feathers, a burgundy tail, and a pink beak. She’s fond of cashews and often responds to “Want a cashew?” explains Hambleton.

“She’s really funny. She’s friendly. She talks to me all day.”

Anyone who spots Lyric is asked to call or text her owner directly at 250-334-7651 or visit this Facebook group for more information.

“You’ll find a lot of information on there. Photographs of her, and I put together a video that you can watch and you can hear her sounds,” added Hambleton.

Ethan MorneauEthan Morneau

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