To offer tips
Have you seen Toby? Call the Villafrancas at 270-0999.
A Mount Pleasant family is offering a $1,500 reward to whomever finds their African grey parrot that speaks three languages and can bark like six dogs.
Toby the parrot was part of Marty Villafranca's life for the past 20 years before he flew away during a May 3 cookout.
"I got him right out of an egg and raised him with a bottle like a baby," Villafranca said Monday. "He speaks three languages (English, Spanish and Italian). He's really intelligent."
He can ring like a phone and also bark like a dog - or six dogs. Villafranca said he can make a sound mimicking the sound of her six Maltese pups.
Toby was used to hanging around the home and was only kept in a cage at night, Villafranca said.
She said he flew away from their house in the Charleston National neighborhood during a family barbecue when the sliding door was accidentally left cracked for a moment. Toby saw the opening and was coming out to join the party when he was spooked by a pair of dogs that were outside, Villafranca said.
"He was up and over the house before I could get to him," she said.
Since then the family has been frantically searching for Toby - Villafranca said she has been out biking and hiking every day looking for him for him. She has seen him and his unmistakable red tail once - while she and her daughter were driving to Walmart on the day before Father's Day - and they almost had him but he got scared off by thunder.
They put up a $1,500 reward on Craigslist and even sought the help of three animal psychics.
"I'm not even sure I believe in it," she said of the psychics' practice but noted that all three said the bird was across U.S. Highway 17 from their home, which is where many of the recent sightings have been, in the Hamlin neighborhoods and Darrell Creek area.
Villafranca said students at nearby Wando High School saw him eating there, but no one there has seen him since school has been out.
If you're in the area, keep an ear out for a ringing phone or barking Maltese dogs, though Villafranca suspects he might not be speaking Spanish in the wild.
"I think he's doing what the crows are doing," she said. "I think he's mimicking what's around him."
Reports of missing parrots aren't unheard of on social media and there have been a few happy endings recently.
Last week a Connecticut woman rescued a parrot because she originally thought it was a lost child calling "Daddy, Daddy" over and over.
In April, a celebrity parrot named Truman that once appeared on David Letterman was found in Brooklyn days after he disappeared. The reward for Truman was $1,000.
Also in April, Boris the lorikeet was found after nine years.
Villafranca is hoping for good news, too.
"I get several calls a week," she said. "He's still out there."
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