Tookie takes off for parts unknown

Special to The StateMay 1, 2014 

The owners of "Tookie" are searching for the African grey parrot after it went missing Sunday.

PHOTO COURTESY DEE DEE THOMAS

— Tookie, an African grey parrot who has a penchant for Cool Whip and homemade casseroles, has flown the coop.

“We live in Carmel Commons,” said Dee Dee Thomas, who owns the 10-year-old parrot. “We’re close to Columbiana Mall, and the last I saw of Tookie, she was flying toward the playground at Harbison West Elementary School.”

Tookie’s sudden departure took place this past Sunday when she was outside, perched on Thomas’ shoulder, and something startled her.

“Tookie stays on my shoulder a lot and we were outside, and I think something about the swing set scared her. She flew up over our roof and then headed toward the elementary school playground. I’m so worried about her. I don’t know that she’s ever even sat in a tree.

“The house is just too quiet. Tookie is such a chatterbox. She likes to talk a lot.”

According to a website called Good Bird Inc., African grey parrots are known for their ability to mimic sounds so well that is hard to tell the parrot from the real thing. They also are unusually talented when it comes to associating sounds with certain circumstances.

“If Tookie hears the phone ring,” Thomas said, “she will begin her own conversation. It’s like she’s talking to someone on the other end of the line and it usually goes like this: ‘Hello?’ ‘Uh-huh.’ ‘OK.’ ‘All right.’ ‘Goodbye.’ Then she’ll make a clicking noise, like the sound of the phone being put back down.

“If our dogs are headed toward the front door, she’ll ask them, ‘Do you want to go outside?’ Or, ‘Do you want to go potty?’ We had a Cairn terrier named Callie who barked a lot. Tookie would say, ‘Shut up, Cal.’”

Thomas said Tookie – called To To for short – eats “normal parrot food” but also goes for Cool Whip, vegetables and “just about any casserole you can make. She’s very friendly. She’s grey, with some white feathers and red tail feathers. If someone were to come up to her and put their hand out, she would step up on their finger.”

Thomas said that she has consulted with a friend of hers who has psychic powers and that friend has said “Tookie is alive and somebody has her.”

If you are that somebody, or you think you may have seen Tookie, you can call Thomas at (803) 413-0688.

“I’m crossing my bird feathers,” Thomas said. “To To’s a beloved pet and I miss her so much.”

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