Here is a situation that all parrot owners dread – your parrot has escaped your home! Whether through negligence, an accidental oversight, or a series of unfortunate events you suddenly realize that your bird has flown away. Maybe you had it outside and it got out of its cage or it just flew away because it was startled. Even with clipped wings, a bird can fly a surprising distance if it senses danger. However it escaped, you now have to find a way to get it safely home.
It is important to stay calm and approach the task of recapturing your bird methodically. Many lost birds are found and rescued so you need to maintain a positive attitude regarding your success and be prepared to put in some time. According to Emily Heenan of The Parrot Club, many people give up too easily and too soon.
The first task is to locate the bird. If you saw it fly out of the house you should go outside immediately and try to get your eyes on it. Call loudly to the bird so it is aware of your presence and can locate you. See which direction it is going and notice things such as its level of flight and how tired it seems. If you are lucky you will see where it lands. This is your best opportunity for a speedy rescue.
Start making calls and enlist friends, family members, and neighbors to assist. Neighborhood children playing outside love to look for lost pets and will often let you know if someone has taken your bird in, which can be a problem. Many people seem to simply adopt a found bird rather than attempting to find its owner.
How To Search For A Lost Bird
Barbara Heidenreich at Good Bird Inc. gives some excellent tips on searching for your parrot. Most caged birds will not travel very far in their initial excursion and may be found in a nearby tree or on your roof. You should conduct a thorough search of the area close to where the bird escaped.
If searching with a group it is advisable to spread out and circle the area where the bird was last seen. Look carefully for movement in the trees as the bright colors may not be as obvious as you would think. The parrot may see you first and feel more comfortable once you are seen, lessening the chances it will move or call.
Tell people that are helping you to bring pillowcases or wear loose t-shirts so that if the bird does come to them they can be gently placed underneath the t-shirt or inside the pillowcase. Also bring along any binoculars so you can get a better look into trees.
Many parrots are located by their screams and you can take some action to elicit this behavior. Call to your bird with words they know or mimic. If you have a recording of your bird screaming or calling play it as you search. This may entice the bird to call back and allow you to locate its position.
If you have another bird that is a housemate you may try bringing that bird outside in a secure cage. Place the cage near where you last saw the lost bird and then walk away. This may cause the caged bird to squawk and the lost bird may call back or in some cases fly down to the cage.
You Found Your Bird But It’s Out of Reach
How to Get A Parrot Down From A Tree
Your search has proved fruitful and you have located your bird. Unfortunately, it is out of reach, perhaps high in a tree. Even if bird is in your own backyard, your bird may be disoriented and cannot recognize anything familiar. A suggestion from birdtricks.com is to bring your bird’s cage out and near where you last had visual contact.
The top of its cage is a familiar sight for the bird and offers a haven that it may well need. Put its favorite food and toys in the cage and step away. Hopefully, this will coax it down and you can recapture your parrot.
You should not use ladders or a broomstick to reach out as this is liable to scare the bird and lead to another flight. The same is true when it comes to using a hose to spray your bird with water. There’s just as much chance the bird will fly away with these approaches than they will fly down to you. Gentle calling and offering of treats and favorite foods are your best strategy.
Your bird may want to get to you but be hindered by fear of the long flight down. Caged birds are not accustomed to flying down from great heights and though they got up there in a moment of fear, they may not come down so readily. Patience is the key to this situation. Your bird is most likely to come down in the early morning or near dusk, and will often come down on the third day of freedom. Here is a video that talks about what you should do:
What If the Bird Still Won’t Fly Down?
If you know where the bird is but they won’t come to you then it’s best to be patient. Ensure away crowds are moved away and do the same for any cats and dogs.
Dine outside near the bird and display a lot of its favorite food so it’s tempted to fly down. If your bird has another bird companion, then take this bird out in a secure cage and feed the food to this bird. It will make the escaped bird jealous and likely to return. Provide a familiar water bowl as well in case the bird is thirsty. By day 3 the bird will be the most hungry and thirsty, so be persistent.
If it’s in a tree that is safe to climb, then you might want to climb up slightly towards the bird. But only do so slowly, with someone that the bird is familiar with, and if the tree is safe to climb.
Sunset and sunrise are periods when the bird is most likely to fly down. Birds will roost at night and won’t wake till sunrise. It’s worth waking early and going back before sunrise to try to pick up the bird.
What if You Can’t Find Your Bird?
There are a number of steps you should take if you cannot locate your bird within 24 hours. Birdhotline recommends immediately contacting local vets, bird clubs and pet stores to be on the alert for your bird. Try expanding the search to a larger area. Often well-meaning citizens will find a lost parrot and assume responsibility, so the pet store can be on the lookout for such a customer. We recommend creating a lost bird flyer and also reporting a lost bird to a number of different places.
Making A “Lost Bird” Flyer
With your computer and a Microsoft Word document, you can create a flyer. Use a printer to make your flyer, or local libraries and internet cafes can be used for a small fee if you do not have one. When creating your flyer, you want it to have the following:
- A clear photo of the bird (or download a picture from the internet that looks similar if you don’t have one).
- The name of the bird, or what they respond to.
- If it talks, what the bird likes to say.
- The size of the bird.
- The species of the bird.
- The bird’s favorite food.
- Your phone number.
- Optionally, offer a reward (but don’t say an amount or you might get fraudulent calls). Or if you believe the bird to be stolen then say you just want the bird returned “no questions asked”.
These flyers also need to be made waterproof:
- Place in plastic cover (with the opening placed upside down so rain cannot enter).
- Laminate the A4 paper
- Bring a staple gun with you.
- Use string and holes punched into the flyers for attaching to metal posts
You can then take the flyer and place it around some of the following nearby locations:
- Lamp posts
- Post offices
- Pet stores
- Community boards
Reporting A Lost Bird
We also recommend reporting your lost bird to a number of different organizations. These include:
- Local Facebook and Twitter groups
- Craigslist or Gumtree (lost and found sections)
- Newspapers (lost and found sections)
- Pet stores
- Animal shelters and charities
- Police stations
- Bird clubs
- Local radio stations
Also consider getting a copy of the Get Your Bird Back! DVD for more tips.
Try Not To Despair
Though it is a stressful time, try to maintain a positive attitude. Many birds have been found and returned to their families months and even years after being lost. In the video below you can see a cockatiel that returned home after 3 years, so hope is not lost.
Preventing Escapes in the Future
There’s a number of steps you can take to ensure your bird never becomes lost in the first place:
- Use a strong and secure bird cage lock.
- Consider microchipping your bird.
- Think about clipping your bird’s wings.
- If you have an aviary, then consider a mesh screen door.
- Use a GPS bird tracker.
- Ensure your bird has a bird leg band.
- Just simply be extra cautious with your birds. Keep windows and doors closed at all times when your bird is out of its cage.
Post Updated: 2019-07-20