$1,600 exotic bird stolen from Wyoming shop

Casa La Parrot, stolen white-bellied caique
Surveillance photo shows a woman stealing a white-bellied caique from Casa La Parrot in Wyoming. (Courtesy - Sept. 27, 2017)

WYOMING, Mich. (WOOD) — After an exotic bird was stolen from a shop in Wyoming, management and the pet’s owner are asking for the public’s help to track it down.

The bird, Max, is a white-bellied caique from Brazil. Surveillance footage shows a woman walking out of Casa La Parrot on 28th Street with him in hand around 12:30 p.m. Wednesday.

Casa La Parrot manager Jessica Oegma said the store wasn’t especially busy at the time, but the employee on duty was working with another customer. The thief was discreet as she left with the bird tucked away in her hands.

“She walked in, went around behind the cages, didn’t really look like she came in directly to go to him or take him, took him out of his cage, played with him, tried to put him back,” Oegma said.

White-bellied caiques are known for having colorful personalities.

“They’re one of, if not the most, playful bird species,” Alex Lackey said.

That’s what Lackey fell in love with when he met Max.

“He bonded to me, and they knew I liked him,” Lackey said. “He is one of the happiest birds I have ever been around. I mean, he loves everybody.”

Lackey wasn’t even looking for another bird because he already has a couple, but he was sold. Max came with a hefty price tag of $1,600, so Casa La Parrot let Lackey keep Max at the store while he made installment payments.

He and Max had already grown close, and friendships with white-bellied caiques are lasting — they can live more than 40 years.

“It’s a lifelong friend. Yeah, it’s a commitment, and that’s why you work with them so much, ’cause you’re going to be around them for a long time,” Lackey said.

Oegma, the store manager, said this isn’t the first time a bird has been stolen. Just a few months ago, another vibrant companion was also taken.

24 Hour News 8 asked if there’s a black market for exotic birds.

“Unfortunately, yes. It’s a big scam on the internet,” Oegma said.

She said the good news is Max had his wings clipped.

“But that doesn’t mean that if something were to scare him and a wind gust were to come that it wouldn’t be able to carry him somewhere,” she said. “It wouldn’t be terribly far, but it would be far enough to land in a street.”

Casa La Parrot said it has already received several tips on the whereabouts of the bird. If you know anything, you’re asked to call Wyoming police at 616.530.7300 or Silent Observer at 616.774.2345.