A 13-year-old parrot is safely back home in Land O'Lakes after giving his owner a big scare. Corona the parrot went missing a week ago, and since then, he's been on quite a journey, one that very nearly took him halfway across the country.
Jose Acevedo said it was like losing his best friend. Corona, his lifelong pet parrot, had disappeared after getting spooked. It flew away from him in his backyard.
He thought it was gone for good until he got a call from a lady in New Port Richey on Sunday that absolutely made his day.
Now, Corona, the Eclectus parrot, is back where he belongs on the arm of his trainer and best friend Acevedo. Jose had not been without his pet since he was 12.
"Oh my God, yes," he said. "I mourned this bird as if I'd lost a family member."
It was nighttime and he was checking on two new additions to Corona and his sweetheart parrot Ruby's family, a couple of baby chicks.
"I didn't see him and accidentally stepped on his tail, and he took off into the night," said Acevedo.
He put fliers everywhere, even went door to door, but had no success.
"We had search parties all around this neighborhood," said Acevdeo. "I thought he was in Land O'Lakes the whole time."
Jose reached out on social media, but nothing until last Wednesday when Corona made his first appearance on a man's shoulder near Carrollwood.
"He was walking his dog at 7 in the morning, and he was just walking his dog around the neighborhood and Corona flew right to his shoulder," said Acevedo. "He freaked out; he jumped. Then Corona looked at him and apparently said hello and talked to him and was very nice to the gentleman. The gentleman brought him home."
He couldn't keep him and was going to send him to stay with family in Ohio.
So imagine the trip the bird took. Corona only weighs about half a pound. He's a little guy. He traveled at least 30 miles and was slated to be on a plane to Ohio on Monday, according to Acevedo.
"His plane was actually booked for today," said Acevedo.
But Jose said the man called Doris Weckley in New Port Richey instead.
"They actually had an Eclectus as well," said Acevedo.
Corona was talking and screeching on command so much, they knew he must belong to a family.
"Actually my neighbor, she's like, why don't you put an ad on Craigslist?" said Acevedo, so he did.
"So I went under lost and found and just a few down and there was Corona," said Weckley.
"They said, ‘Hey, I think we have your bird," exclaimed Acevedo.
The Weckley's verified it was his by this purple ID tag around the bird's ankle.
"I knew on the phone, the family I could hear, they were so happy and my husband and I … I was crying, ‘Oh, he's going to find his home.' I know if we lost one of our birds we would just be absolutely heartbroken," said Weckley.
"The whole family was affected," said Jose's father, Jose, Sr. "We all missed Corona, and we were glad when he came back."
"It was a very overwhelming feeling," said Jose. "I mean, I was like a little kid at Disney, I started jumping up and down, and I started screaming to my parents like we found Corona! They found Corona! And everyone here, it was like a party."
If Jose's name sounds familiar to you, you may recall he won our local FOX 13 American Idol competition here in Tampa Bay back in 2010. He still sings for fun, but leaves for Jamaica soon for the next phase of his animal training career: training dolphins.
FOX 13 / WTVT-TV
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