A finger-tamed budgie who is outside the cage at an unscheduled time will be easy to recapture – simply use the finger-and-millet lure, and quietly return him to the cage. Never scold him for escaping – he will merely link your finger with the frightening sound and the stress it causes him, which is not what you want.
The problem becomes greater if the bird is untamed. Here, you will need to lure him back without your finger-perch to help you. Removing all food and handy perches from beyond the cage will speed things up. If you have time, just wait for him to become hungry, and he will find his way back indoors. If more haste is required, you may have to resort to catching him in a net or towel.
Even indoors an escaped budgie can be hard to catch
Budgie Capturing Kit
If the recapture of an escaped bird moves beyond a closed room, your campaign of recapture needs to be well planned. You’ll need a budgie-capturing kit consisting of a net and towel, a cage or carrying box, a cage cover, a millet spray, and a recording of budgies chattering (an MP3 on your mobile phone will do the trick). Your own voice is a useful weapon, too, as that will be a very familiar sound to your pet bird.
Catching a Budgie Outside
Your chances of recapturing an AWOL budgie outdoors depend on how soon you realise he’s escaped. It will be easier to lure him back if he’s still in the vicinity of his cage and cage-mates; but if he’s flown further afield, you’ll struggle.
The first place an al fresco escapee is likely to go is to the top of the outdoor cage, or to a nearby tree. If he’s simply nipped through an open window and there is no outdoor cage, he’ll head for your roof/gutter or a high tree/fence.
Spotting your escaped bird is a good start, but there's still lots to do to recapture it
Budgies’ tendency to seek out high places doesn’t assist in their recapture, but the trick is to lure the bird down to your millet-loaded hand or portable, food-stuffed cage.
- Try calling his name while holding out the millet; or play the recording of the talking budgies.
- If he comes to your finger, gently bring your other hand close and take hold of him (as described in Holding a budgie, above), to prevent further problems.
- Place the budgie cage somewhere high, and in clear view of the escaped bird or his last known whereabouts, with the cage doors open. Attach some tempting food to the inside bars.
- If the budgie is used to perching on you, stand with his favourite food in your hand and call him. If you have more than one bird (and more than one cage), place his friends next to the open cage, and their calls will hopefully lure him back home.
- If he lands on top of the cage (which he is likely to do, rather than going straight inside), use the millet as a lure and try to get him onto your finger. If you succeed, close your other hand round him to prevent him flying away again.
- If the budgie has absconded from an aviary, you can’t just leave the doors open and tempt him in with food. Place millet (or some other favourite treat) in a small cage on top of the aviary, or as close to it as possible. The sound of the other budgies will hopefully tempt him back soon enough, at which point you will need to net him.
Do Escaped Budgies Come Back?
A bird that has flown further afield is a lot harder to recapture. He will not necessarily return to the cage or aviary, driven on by a mixture of anxiety, disorientation and curiosity. There are no guarantees of his return and you must rely on luck and cunning to get him back.
If the bird is on the move, follow on foot, carrying with you the budgie-capturing equipment mentioned above. He will not travel far on his first flight away from the cage, so even if you didn’t see him leave, as long as you notice his absence within the first hour of his escape, you’re in with a decent chance of locating him in the vicinity. Listen for his voice – he will probably be calling to his absent friends, or trying to make contact with other birds he encounters (a house sparrow’s chirrup is not dissimilar to a budgie’s, and will often provoke a reply). If you can’t see him, play the recording of the budgie voices, and listen for his response.
When you catch up with him, try to lure him down with a combination of millet, cage and budgie song. He will be tired, and if he’s been away for a long time he will probably be hungry too. But he will also be stressed, and not inclined to fly down from the safety of the tree or rooftop he’s resting on. This, sadly, is where a lot of budgie chases end. The bird remains high and dry, and eventually flies away and out of sight. Your only chance of capturing him is to tempt him down. If he’s on a rooftop, there is the possibility of getting yourself into the closest upstairs room and trying to lure him from there.
Luring an escaped budgie down from a tree or rooftop is a tricky process
A net on a long stick occasionally works. Load the net with millet and move it ever-so-slowly towards the budgie. Scoop him up and bring him down quickly, removing him from the net with your hand and returning him to the cage. He will be stressed and unhappy, but a cage cover will assist in calming him down during the journey home.