Stolen Parrot Back Home, Still With Bite in Her Tongue

Times Staff Writer

Forget those simpy little swallows returning to Capistrano--here's some real news:

Lorita the parrot is back home again, and swearing like a swabbie.

Five months after someone snatched her from her Walnut Park front porch, the petulant, all-singing, all-swearing 17-year-old yellow-naped Amazon was traced to a family garage in South Gate on Tuesday, after sheriff's detectives followed up on an anonymous tip.

"I said her name, and she said her name back, and she matched the description, so we took her from the guy who'd bought her" shortly after she was stolen, for $100--a bargain for a $1,500 bird, said Detective Mike Bornman. "She's home cussing like a sailor now."

Lorita, the crankiest and most valuable of six exotic birds snatched from southeast Los Angeles County front-porch cages last year, is also the only one to be recovered so far, Bornman said.

Changing hands an estimated three times since the theft did not seem to have altered the disposition of a bird who had to be caged as a hatchling, because she bit strangers' fingers and chewed up wood--including a whole clock.

"She's gonna give somebody a hard time," her co-owner William Handlin had warned when she disappeared.

Sure enough, the man in whose garage detectives found the bird cautioned Bornman, "She bites."

En route to her family reunion, Lorita was "flying around in the back seat" of the patrol car, said Bornman. "She was biting and screaming and yelling, and when she gets home to mom, it's all lovey-dovey and kissing her cheek."

"Mom" is Cora Warehime, mother of the bird's owners, and she said Lorita had lost a bit of weight, but otherwise was "in good health."

Since Warehime, fearing the worst, had long ago given away Lorita's birdseed, on Tuesday she gave the parrot an apple to tide her over.

Lorita's distinctive screechings--"Lor-eee-ta" and "Mom-eee"--is still intact, as is her eloquent command of invective. And she may have added a few choice expressions in Spanish, Bornman noticed.

Warehime said the parrot's return was "quite a surprise. I thought I'd never see her again."

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