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East County Wednesday, Jan. 15, 2020 1 year ago

Returned flight for African grey parrot in Lakewood Ranch

Strawberries, hug lure escaped parrot from wild in Lakewood Ranch.
by: Pam Eubanks Senior Editor

Strawberries might have saved the life of an African gray parrot loose in Lakewood Ranch — and now it has been returned home.

Reports of a parrot in a tree along Meandering Way in the Summerfield Park neighborhood emerged on a social media site Jan. 7. Summerfield resident John Calkins had been out walking his dog when he heard a whistle and whistled back. When his dog kept looking up, Calkins looked into a tree and spotted the parrot. He then posted on social media.

Cindy Gordon, a bird lover and Country Club resident, responded almost immediately. She and fellow bird lover Gloria Schroeck went to where the parrot was last seen and began their search. They spotted it but could not lure it from the tree. It was getting dark, and they decided to start anew the next morning.

“It’s their instinct to roost and stay in place for the night,” said Schroeck, who has parrots of her own.

They, along with Cindy Gordon’s husband, Terry Gordon, and friend Alan Roth, spent hours the next day trying to lure the parrot that they later learned was named Pepper. At one point, Kerry Gordon had climbed up on a ladder to offer food, and Pepper landed on his head. However, Pepper was startled and flew away.

The next day, Schroeck heard the parrot whistle. She set up a cage with food atop her car and waited outside. When Schroeck saw the African gray, she began waiving a strawberry in the air.

“He flew right to me,” she said, noting Pepper landed on her chest. “I put my hands around him and hugged him and fed him the strawberry.”

Roth arrived, and soon they had transported the parrot to his home, where the bird has been recuperating and seems to be in good spirits.

“I never thought we could do it, really,” Schroeck said of catching Pepper.

The bird eventually was returned to Pepper’s owner, Yuchen Kong, an Out-of-Door Academy senior.

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