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Famed 'biker bird' Spyke snatched off her perch

Mike Mularz and Spyke enjoy the Tampa Bay Motorcycle Rally in Ybor City. Spyke, 16, is a regular at biker fests.

Brian Cassella | Times (2006)

Mike Mularz and Spyke enjoy the Tampa Bay Motorcycle Rally in Ybor City. Spyke, 16, is a regular at biker fests.

Tampa Bay's best-known and, possibly, most accomplished bird is missing.

Its owner, Mike Mularz, says someone stole the macaw named Spyke from outside a St. Petersburg auto shop where he works as a mechanic.

He's desperate for her return.

"That's my child,'' he said. "I've never had kids and I've never been married. She's my lifetime companion.''

Mularz, 45, was getting ready to leave work about 6:40 p.m. Monday when he set Spyke on a car parked in front of Dan's Auto Service and went into an adjoining minimart to change clothes. In the four minutes he was inside, Spyke, who can't fly, disappeared.

A bird hunt is on. Mularz is seeking information about a man seen on surveillance tape buying a pack of Marlboro Ultra Lights at the Citgo Quikmart around the time Spyke went missing.

Mularz has distributed fliers with a still shot from the tape, as well as a photo of Spyke, asking anyone with information to call him. Mularz is convinced the man in the photo knows something. As of Wednesday, St. Petersburg police had no suspects.

The thief "thinks he just stole a parrot. He doesn't realize he's stolen a bird known from here to Canada,'' said Tim Frazier, a bird lover helping in the search.

In a place where pirates are king, the 16-year-old blue and gold macaw stands out like royalty. She's a fixture at the annual Gasparilla party and Renaissance Festivals, posing for photos and kissing passersby.

"Spyke has more friends than I do,'' he said.

Those in motorcycle circles call her the "biker bird.'' Poker runs. Biker fests. She shows up at them all, usually perched on the handlebars of Mularz's Harley.

Spyke has full run of Mularz's Largo house and enclosed pool area. Though her wings aren't clipped, she never learned to fly, Mularz said, because she has spent her life in captivity. A bird cage collects dust out back.

They ride his motorcycle almost every day. She loves the breeze in her feathers, he says. In the car, she hangs her head out the window like a dog.

Four years ago, Spyke started writing a column for Born to Ride, a magazine out of Brandon distributed to 25,000 motorcycle fans statewide. Spyke the Riding & Writing Parrot describes Spyke and Mike's adventures. Here's a take from the current issue:

After a few days of beating the streets and working the bird thing, Mike decides to take an evening off and hit the bars in Ybor. … A few of our friends show up and soon I'm popping the tops of many Bud cans.

Her beak comes in handy.

Debbie Galletti, who owns the magazine with her husband, Ron, said Spyke has a strong following. As strange as may it sound, she considers the bird part of the staff.

"The bird has a personality,'' she said. "You can tell when it's not having a good day or if it's happy.''

Mularz figures Spkye must be confused and afraid away from home. They've been almost inseparable since she was 2 weeks out of the egg.

Mularz looked forward to growing old together. Parrots like Spyke can live to be 80. Now he isn't sure.

Spyke is microchipped and has a blue breeder's band on her leg with the initials MD PF507. Mularz has called local veterinarians and pet stores on the chance someone might hear or see something.

Friends remain hopeful.

"She's too famous of a bird not to get found,'' Frazier said.

Times staff writer Dalia Colon and researcher John Martin contributed.

Famed 'biker bird' Spyke snatched off her perch 05/21/09 [Last modified: Thursday, May 21, 2009 6:33pm]
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