If you haven’t been able to locate the escapee, leave an open, visibly food-filled cage outside your house or next to your aviary. Put his favourite toys on or near the cage to lure him. If there are no cage-mates to draw him back, play the recording of budgie voices and turn up the volume (and if you don’t have such a recording, a quick search on YouTube will deliver many hours of free budgie chatter). Make sure your net and towel are at hand to assist a quick capture if he returns.
If you have bonded with your budgie, don’t underestimate the power of your presence. Sit near the cage outside the house and call the bird. Make a recording of your voice, to leave playing if you can’t be there all the time yourself.
If your budgie lives with companion birds, and if it’s warm outside, put their cage near the back door to lure him back. If it’s too cold, you’ll have to skip this trick.
A lost budgie is difficult to track down and recapture
Alert your neighbours to the budgie’s absence, and if he’s gone for more than a couple of hours, put “Lost Budgie” posters up in the local vicinity with a mobile phone number for people to contact you. If you know of any outside aviaries or cages in the neighbourhood, speak to their owners and ask them to keep an eye out for your escapee.
Other than that, all you can do is wait and hope. If there’s been no sight or sound of the bird after 24 hours, don’t give up. He may have flown far afield, but might just find his way back within earshot, where the sounds of your voice and other budgies may yet lure him home.
Rescuing an Escaped Budgie
If you find yourself in possession of someone else’s escaped budgie, don’t spend too long congratulating yourself on your luck/skill. There’s a lot to do!
You are unlikely to tempt a visiting budgie down from a roof or tree (although this has been known to happen where the bird is both very tame and very tired and/or hungry). Stray birds are likelier to linger long enough to be captured if you keep budgies in an outdoor aviary. The sight, sound and food of your birds will attract the wayfaring budgie.
An escaped budgie takes to the wing
The only realistic capture method is a net, unless the budgie is calm and tame enough to come to your hand. Once captured, the first thing he will need is solitude in a quiet cage, equipped with perch, food and water. If the bird is panicky, don’t cover the cage – leave the budgie alone somewhere warm for a few hours to let him recover and get used to his surroundings. If he has been out and about for any length of time he’s likely to be hungry, tired and cold.
Never put a stray budgie straight in with your other birds – the quarantine is for the good of your pets, on the offchance that the newcomer is harbouring disease.
Once the bird is secure and fed, put up some “Lost budgie found” notices in the vicinity, and spread the word that you have an escaped budgie in your keeping. Given that an escapee can fly a surprisingly long way, it’s also a good idea to put an ad in the local newspaper, or phone the local radio station with the news. If there is an escaped bird, there will always be an anxious owner on the lookout, and someone is probably putting “Budgie lost” notices in all the places mentioned above – so make sure you’re on the lookout for those, too.
When the caged budgie has recovered, you will need to make some judgment calls:
- Does he look injured in any way?
- Are his nostrils (nares) clear? Any crusty material around the cere could indicate illness.
- Is his vent clean? If the feathers in this region are dirty or wet, the budgie is ill.
- Can you see any parasites on the feathers, or bald patches on the body?
- Are the droppings normal looking? (Note: there is no single ‘normal’ colour for the dark part of budgie droppings - it depends on their standard diet)
- Is he eating and drinking normally?
- Is the budgie alert and behaving as you would expect a budgie to behave?
Even if the bird has an all-clear after being put through this checklist, it's still advisable to take him to a vet’s. Some diseases bloom inside birds with no external clues until it's too late. There’s no point putting your other budgies at risk.
Ideally, the owner will have turned up before you go to the expense of taking the bird for a check-up!