If your parrot escapes indoors, the only things you have to worry about are doors (keep them closed), pets (keep them out), and anything fragile/toxic that the bird might investigate. If the parrot is tame, you can lure him back to your hand. Even if he’s too nervous to do that, he’s sure to return to his cage or perch once he’s had enough of his free-flying adventures.
Your chances of recapturing the bird outdoors depend on how tame he is, and how happy he is in his aviary or bird house. A contented bird will soon head for home – unless he’s flown a long way and lost his sense of direction or become exhausted. Equally, a tame bird will respond to your voice, so if you manage to intervene soon after the escape, you’re in with a good chance of calling him home.
Orange-Winged Amazon on the run
- Unfortunately, many birds escape when no one is looking, and it may be some time before the absence becomes apparent. Don’t give up hope, though: most parrots will keep within a mile radius of home, unless they’ve been chased further away or caught in a storm.
- If possible, take the bird’s cage with you when you search for him, or, if he is an aviary bird, take some other cage or suitably-sized pet box. Arm yourself with the parrot’s favourite treats too.
- If appropriate, take your parrot’s favourite bird companion with you (in a cage). This may be enough to lure the escaped bird back.
- Take a towel or net – these may aid you in catching the bird if he won’t come to your hand willingly.
- Play parrot sounds on your mobile phone - either ones you have recorded, or sound files downloaded from the internet. These may draw the parrot back to you.
- Stand by the aviary and call, and walk around the local area listening for your pet bird’s voice. Even if you can’t see him, calling to him can act as a beacon for him to home in on.
- If there’s no sight or sound of the bird, and your searches in the immediate area don’t bear fruit, leave an open, treat-packed cage on or near the aviary, to lure him back if he passes this way again.
- If you locate the bird, don’t take your eyes off him. Get as close as you can (he will usually be up a tree or high up on a building). Call to him and make the treats as visible as you can. Even a tame bird may be a little wary, as he will be stressed by the noises, open space and sheer strangeness of his predicament.
Lilac-Crowned Amazons in the wild
- Ironically, the parrot may fall quiet if he spots you before you spot him – this is a sign that he is relaxing, reassured by your presence. Hopefully, though, he will also want to call out to you. Note his body language and flight – a tired bird will not want to fly for much longer, and will be looking for a place to rest. That will make your job a lot easier, as he will be hungry and hopefully keen to approach you for food and shelter.
- If there is no sign of the parrot in the local area (scout around on a bicycle or in a car for a wider view) parrot, alert everyone you know in the area to keep a lookout. If night falls and there’s still no sign of the parrot, create some flyers (printed and digital versions) to pin on posts and noticeboards. Get the community involved. Remember to include a phone number on the flyers, and consider including a small reward, to encourage pocket money-hungry kids to join in the search.
- If you know of any aviaries in the neighbourhood, check them out - your parrot may have been attracted there by the sight and sound of the other birds.
- When you locate the bird, don’t shout at him, throw things at him or try to hose him down from his perch. These things are likely to cause panic and further flight. A calm bird, on the other hand, will linger once he’s alighted.
- A familiar object and a treat are the only things that are going to lure him to you. If he is hand-trained, and will happily fly to you and use you as a perch, that’s perfect. Otherwise you’ll need a stick perch, cage or food bowl.
- Call to the bird soothingly all the while, and stop your attempts to lure him down if he looks like he’s ready to fly again. You need him calm, relaxed and compliant.
- A tame bird may react if you deliberately hide, by squawking, and then flying to you for reassurance when you ‘reappear’. It’s a long shot, but worth a try.
- Keep crowds away when you’re trying to lure the bird down – the parrot’s favourite person, alone, has more chance of success.
- If he’s still close to home, waning light at the end of the day will often make a parrot want to return to familiar surroundings. By the time the light has faded he will start to roost. Your only chance of capturing him then is if he’s on an accessible window ledge or roof.
Scarlet Macaw on the wing
Parrot Still Missing After 24 Hours
- A bird that hasn’t been spotted after a whole day has probably flown too far away and is completely lost. It’s also possible that some unfortunate accident has befallen him. Don’t give up hope just yet, though: Phone places where a sighting of an escaped exotic bird may have been reported: the RSPCA, any other local animal rescue centre, vets in the area, any local zoos, pet shops, and of course the police.
- Place an ad in the local newspaper; see if the local radio station will mention your escaped bird; check online forums and post messages there. Keep your eyes and ears on all of these resources.
- A tame parrot is likely to seek out human habitation rather than the field and forests, so continue to ask around for any news of the bird.
A parrot-catching net is not something you want to use unless absolutely necessary. It’s handy if an aviary bird needs isolating for some reason (for transporting to the vet, for example), and also if a bird has escaped and won’t return to the cage.
An escaped Peach-Fronted Conure will be tricky to catch without a net
You can buy bird-catching nets in online stores, and you can also use a soft towel or pillowcase for capturing him. The advantage of the net is that it comes on the end of a long stick, so you can catch the parrot while you’re some distance away from it.
No matter how tame your bird, and no matter how many times he’s been netted, the process will be stressful for him, so never use a net routinely – only in emergency situations such as an escape.