We see it every year, lost birds and heartbroken parents searching for their companions. But we also have seen many happy reunions and have heard more success stories than not. This article is written to provide you with tips on how to get reunited with your lost feathered baby, but most importantly to give you the hope and motivation to never give up the search. When you see your bird take off into the great outdoors, whether it is from your hand, a play stand or through the door, it is a feeling of dread and despair that is indescribable. Perhaps the bird’s wings were clipped and you didn’t realize he or she could fly, or maybe your parrot has never flown before, or a family member accidentally left a door opened. You may feel guilty, and you will feel terrified for your baby, but there is hope, and the most important thing to remember is that your bird is now depending on you to save him. It is time to put all of your needs aside and mentally prepare yourself for what could be a long search for your companion.
No matter how desperate or hopeless you may feel, never give up on finding your bird. Remember that he does want to find his way home to you. Many people will become too stressed, upset or overwhelmed with hopelessness. It is of upmost importance to stay positive and keep it together for your bird. Continue to call for him, and listen for his replies. If he replies, or if he is in sight, do not let panic or desperation show through in your voice. They sense that desperation and they feel what you feel, and the last thing you want your bird to do is panic and become more frightened. Say his favorite words, whistle his favorite tune, sing his favorite songs, play peek-a-boo; make a game out of it, act like everything is a-ok.
If you cannot find him right away, keep in mind that he will be scared and may hide in the midst of heavy foliage or in the nooks of a tree. For all you know, he could be right above your head watching silently. Do you feel like you are being watched? He might just be there. Some can hide for several days until thirst and hunger get the best of them, forcing them to come out of their hiding spot. Patience is key. Larger parrots have more of a tendency to stay near the area they got lost in, and inexperienced flyers will fly from tree-to-tree. Smaller parrots such as cockatiels may be able to travel farther due to their lightweight bodies. The most active times of day when you are most likely to see your parrot — and when he is most likely to try to come down — is during the early morning sunrise, and in the evening between 6pm and sunset. It is very important for you to be out looking for him during those times. Your presence matters, it will comfort him and make him feel more confident. Confidence is needed for your bird to continue to teach himself how to fly down from the tree tops.
The main problem with birds getting loose outside is that many of them do not know how to fly, or they are very inexperienced flyers. Most times, especially with the larger parrots, they are able to fly upwards, but due to limited skills they do not know how to fly down. If possible, I recommend setting up the tallest play stand you have with his favorite treats near the area he took off, or if you know his location, near the area he is in. Be sure to leave it far enough away to allow for flight and landing — not directly under the tree he is in. I have also heard of people putting their parrot’s cage outside within view, since that is a familiar place where they know they can find food.
I recommend making flyers for your lost bird and going from door-to-door in the surrounding neighborhoods to make everyone aware of the situation. It is common for a bird to eventually land in someone’s backyard in search of food and water. There are also web pages such as parrotalert and 911parrotalert to register your lost bird. Social media and internet sites have been a huge success in reuniting parrots with their people. Many parents will resort to calling a fire department, electric company or tree service to help get the bird down once he is spotted. The trucks that these companies bring are very loud, and the machinery is very scary to a parrot. It is also very unlikely they will allow the parrot owner to go up with them, so here is this giant, noisy monster with two strange humans riding on it — chances are the bird is going to fly away, terrified. You do not want to scare the bird away from its location. The best bet is to help him gain the confidence to find his own way down.
Something worth noting: often there may be a group or even a single person that the bird does not know standing nearby out of curiosity, and because of this the bird will likely be too spooked to come down. Don’t be afraid to make the strangers leave or keep their distance, explain to them that you appreciate their concern, but the bird will not come down when there are people around that he does not recognize. Patience, diligence and being smart, calm and focused is essential in retrieving companion birds. Stay out there with him for as long as you possibility can, from sunrise to sun down. Pack yourself some snacks and drinks for the day. When the sun goes down please remember to take care of yourself too. It will be hard to sleep, but you must try for your bird. He needs you to be strong and focused for him the next day. Once your parrot comes back to you, then you can let it all go and break down. But until then, be strong, and remember that you are not alone.