The $50,000 bird heist that left feathers in the air duct

Eleven rare birds went missing from a Montreal pet shop back in the summer of 1988, though it was clear they hadn't flown the coop on their own.

Pricey theft of parrots at Montreal pet shop followed others in the summer of 1988

Eleven birds were taken from a Montreal pet shop on a weekend in the summer of 1988. 1:36

One thing was for sure: they hadn't flown the coop on their own.

Thirty years ago, police were investigating the theft of nearly a dozen rare birds that went missing from a Montreal pet shop on the last weekend in July.
This bird was one that thieves left in the store when they stole 11 other rare birds from a Montreal pet shop in the summer of 1988. (Midday/CBC Archives)

The thieves apparently crawled through an air duct in order to get into the store without triggering its alarm. They appeared to use that as their exit route, too.

"When they [got] the birds, they came back by the same way," said Yvon Larocque, an employee who managed the bird department of the store that media reports identified as the Super Yogi pet shop. "Because we found some feathers in the ducts."

The 11 birds included a $10,000 parrot named Charlie. According to the CBC's Lynn Herzeg, the pricey parrot was a "prize-winning military macaw," with a special talent.

"Charlie doesn't just talk — he's bilingual," Herzeg reported.

Employees at the store were upset to learn what had happened to the birds. (Midday/CBC Archives)

The theft followed others in the Montreal area that same summer, leaving some to question if a crime ring was at work.

While the police wouldn't say if that was the case, Larocque believed that it was, as the thieves knew what birds to target and how to get them out of their cages.

The Montreal Gazette reported that a $3,500 cockatoo was taken from another Montreal store in June of 1988 and a $15,000 hyacinthine macaw was stolen in Beloeil, Que., in July — the latter bird was recovered, however, after it was too hard for the alleged thieves to sell.