Iffat Furoogh and her family bought Sonny, a South American Quaker parrot, just last week to keep her and her mother company.
But Sonny ended up dead, Furoogh said, after a customer at the pet store where he was being groomed apparently took the wrong box by mistake and left him in a van in the unusually cold weather.
He was "a very lovely bird," Furoogh, 49, of Mount Sinai, said Friday.
Furoogh said her sons, Faris, a student at Stony Brook University, and Raffay, a student at Suffolk County Community College, helped her buy Sonny last week at a Petco store. She said she had spent a total of $600, including the cost of a cage and food.
The parrot, a species known to acquire a large vocabulary and become a good talker, was to keep Iffat and her mom, Sitara, company.
Furoogh said the family brought Sonny to BTJ's Jungle, a huge pet store in West Islip, to be groomed Monday. And when she and Faris asked the manager if the bird was done having his nails clipped, they learned someone had accidentally taken him and left the store.
"We're looking around, looking around [for the parrot]; said, 'Oh, somebody took the box,'" BTJ's co-owner Bill Niehoff said Friday. "Then we see this box of mice up there [on the counter] and said, 'Maybe they took the box by mistake thinking it was the mice.' Of course, the box [with the parrot] is five times the size of the mice box, and was a Petco box."
Niehoff said he figured the customer would soon call, saying he'd grabbed the parrot by mistake. When he didn't, Furoogh said she called Suffolk County police.
Police put out a Crime Stoppers alert, including surveillance photos of the male customer leaving the store and driving off in a white van. On Thursday afternoon, police said they learned the man, whose identity was not released, had "accidentally taken a wrong box," left it in his vehicle, and later found the bird dead.
Police have ruled the incident noncriminal.
"We told the customer we feel bad," Niehoff said. "This was an emotional [support] pet. … This made it even worse."
Niehoff said his staff is actively searching for a parrot to give Furoogh as a replacement for Sonny.