A GRIEVING family who lost their son to cancer just before Christmas are appealing for the safe return of their missing tropical bird.
Earl, a one-year-old cockatiel, escaped from the Beecher family's flat in Dagnall Park, Selhurst, on Saturday and has not returned since.
The cockatiel belongs to circus contortionist son Max, 26, whose identical twin John died aged 25 from bowel cancer on December 12.
Father Michael Beecher, 54, a civil servant, said: "We are incredibly upset about this.
"We have had a very hard time of late coming to terms with the loss of John."
John, a historian and writer, was studying a post-graduate degree at Oxford before suspending his studies when his cancer advanced.
Earl managed to escape from his cage on Saturday evening and was by the front door when it was opened.
Mr Beecher added: "He must have been startled by the sudden movement and just flew out the door.
"I can only imagine he was disoriented by the dark and all the loud noises outside."
Mr Beecher is offering a reward of £200 for the return of his son's treasured bird and hopes Earl will be back entertaining them soon.
The bird escaped near Selhurst Station but Mr Beecher thinks he could have flown much further away.
He has contacted the RSPCA and put up posters all over the surrounding area.
"He is an eye-catching bird and there cannot be too many like him flying around Croydon," Mr Beecher said.
"Every time I receive a call from an unknown number, I think it must be someone with information."
Cheeky Earl is known for perching on pairs of glasses and showing an interest in his master's Twitter account.
Mr Beecher said: "We love having Earl around and he is always a happy presence.
"He normally travels with Max and his circus. They were only a few weeks away from going back on the road."
Max travels with the Cirque Normandie around the South of England, including previous shows in Croydon.
Mr Beecher added: "As identical twins, they could not have been following more different paths, but they were very close.
"This has been particularly difficult for Max after losing his twin and we are desperate to get the bird back."
Anyone with information about Earl can contact Mr Beecher on 07979 938510, or on e-mail at email@example.com