Lost Birds, What Do We Do?

By Suzanne Cromwell

IF YOU HAVE LOST YOUR COMPANION PARROT

  • Don’t panic and don’t take time to beat yourself up
  • Realize that your bird most likely got startled and took off
  • Have heart and don’t give-up. Many parrots are found because most parrots will seek out humans, especially when they get hungry.

1. If you can see your bird:

Call to him. It might help him find you. Try to keep your bird in sight.

Watch the direction the bird is flying, the height, how windy it is, available trees in the area and also how tired your bird looks. These are all cues to where he might land, especially if you lose sight of him.

Use your cell phone: If you can see your bird or not call/ text everyone you can to come help you locate your bird, notify everyone on your Facebook or other social medium that you use to spread the word and to get help looking for your bird if possible.   Take photos when you see him.

Ask for local help: Do not hesitate to ask people you see if they have seen a parrot flying around or perched somewhere. Don’t forget to ask kids too; they can be very helpful in the reach. Tell your postal carrier!

Try to communicate: Birds respond to familiar sounds; call out to him as you search and also use words or sounds that are familiar to him and give time to listen in case he responds. This could help you locate him. If you have an established contact call, this is the perfect time to use it.lost bird sign

Create a sign: As quickly as possible, make a sign that can be posted inside and outside. If you have a recent photo, make it the largest part of the sign to catch people’s attention. Add his name and your phone number.   DO NOT DO NOT PUT YOUR BIRD’s BAND NUMBER OR MICROCHIP NUMBER in any publication or signage, this is the only proof that you have that the bird belongs to you.

2. If you cannot see your bird and need to search:

Start from where you last saw him. If you have a group, then spread out and circle the area you last saw him in realizing that you need to cover a 1 mile radius.

Try to communicate: See note above

Search with awareness: You bird may not be sitting on an exposed branch but might be hiding in the branches and although very colorful you might not be able to see him but you can watch for movements within the foliage. Your bird might see you and relax and remain quiet. Remember early mornings and late afternoons/evenings are the most likely time the bird will come to you.   It is especially important for you to look at dawn and dusk during the first 4 days, because this is when your bird is most likely to be vocal and active.


Use your technology:
If you have your bird recorded on your iPad, cell phone or any other device put it on speaker and play it while you search.

Bird buddy: If your parrot has a bird he likes in your flock bring the bird to the area you last saw the missing parrot. Walk away and the second bird might call out and the lost bird may call back, by listening you might be able to locate him.

Put a small cage outside.   Place a cage with food and water inside in a place close to the house.   Your bird will be hungriest by the 3rd day, and that is a very common time for the bird to return to a cage for sustenance.   If you leave the cage outside at night, close the door so predators won’t get inside.Quaker in tree.png

3. If you can see your bird but can’t reach him:

Do not: Freak-out, have a crowd of people around, try to grab him, hose him, or scare him in any way. Avoid ladders and cherry pickers to reach him. Don’t ask him to fly down to you from a high distance or in a steep angle, if he is not in danger let him stay where he is. If he just landed he probably won’t fly again any time soon.

Enticements: Bring bird’s favorite foods (bowl), treats, person and birdie friend (in a cage), if possible to the area your bird is located in.

Fly down steps:
1. Try to position yourself or birdie friend to allow for short flights or short climbs to a lower branch, preferably ones that are similar to the one he is on.
2.  Use your bird training tools to help lure him down.
3. Be patient especially if the bird has to land on different surfaces. He will probably be scared so don’t introduce unfamiliar sticks, etc. If scared he may fly again.
4. You may want to hide from your bird to get his interest in coming to you but be ready to come back into plain site once he is ready to fly.
5. Watch and listen to your bird: birds usually eliminate before flying, start to move around and (in this type of situation) may scream before or as they fly – be ready!
6. Give the bird’s favorite person lots of room – don’t crowd him. Be ready to move if he flies so you can track him.
7. When your bird looks like he is ready to try to fly down call to him, but don’t overdo it. 8. If you have reached him but are afraid he might take off again you can wrap him in a towel or if size permits it put him under your jacket until you get him to his cage.

If your bird doesn’t want to come down, he/she is probably afraid or doesn’t know how to get to you. If you climb up to get him, take a pillowcase with you. If you can reach the bird, put him quickly into the pillowcase for safety and transport.

Watch his body language – if he is preening or playing with leaves and/or branches he is relaxed. You can try calling to him to get him excited enough to come to you.   Have food and water visible and ready!

End of the day, the sun is setting and he still is in the tree if he is fluffing his feathers he is getting ready to roost for the night. Unless something scares him he won’t fly again until morning

Sunrise – make sure someone is there because he may be ready to fly and it may be difficult to locate him again. Try again to get him to come to you.

4. If  you can’t hear or locate your bird – the bird has been lost for 24 hours

Put up poster of your bird with a picture of him. (see example) You want to include the bird’s name, time, date and location the bird was lost. Contact information to include email, pone, etc. If you are offering a reward. Words or phrases your bird might respond too. Make it personal from your companion parrot. Reach out up to 10 mile radius from the location the bird was lost from.

Contact the following:

  1. 911 Parrot Alert: http://911parrotalert.com/index.asp this should be your first posting. Copy and paste the entry for use on other boards.
  2. On Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/911ParrotAlertOfficial/
  3. Call local animal control
  4. Call the SPCA/Humane Society
  5. Call any local parrot/bird organizations or clubs
  6. Call local wildlife rescue centers
  7. Call local veterinarians
  8. Call local pet stores
  9. Call local zoos
  10. Call the police
  11. Call local Fish and Wildlife
  12. Put an ad in the local newspaper and also your community newspaper, if applicable. DO NOT PUT YOUR BIRD’s BAND NUMBER OR MICROCHIP NUMBER in any publication or signage
  13. Post it on all the social media you are in
  14. You can also notify local TV and radio stations to put out your message
  15. **Tell your postal carrier, as they are active in your neighborhood and may have seen or heard something.

If your bird has a MICROCHIP, it will not help you find your parrot because it is not a GPS. But it will help an animal shelter or vet find you so that you can get your bird back. Animal shelters will scan a bird before adopting out (or euthanizing it).

DO NOT GIVE UP!!   Many parrots are found within 24 hours – in many cases it is more about finding out who and where it is.  Sometimes it takes 3-5 days for the bird to be hungry enough to come down.

Be prepared just in case you lose your bird in the future  Have a picture of your bird with his info and contact numbers on file and in your phone, so you can expedite a search, if necessary.

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Go Outside!

Earlier this spring I had the great pleasure to attend a Phoenix Landing lecture, with guest speaker Nyla Copp, “Get  The Flock Out!” in which she discussed the importance  for the health of our parrots  to provide them with  time outdoors in the sunshine & fresh air. Exposure to UV light is vital to parrots in order for them to produce vitamin D, which is essential for the utilization of calcium, a necessity for parrot health. There is no better source for UV light than pure, unfiltered sunshine. Parrots have a highly refined respiratory system which makes them more susceptible to chemicals and contaminants in the air. With indoor air quality decreasing over the years, avian vets have been seeing an increase in the number of companion parrots with respiratory illnesses. This was true of the little lovebird, Orlando, who came to live with Nyla several years ago. Nyla combined her construction skills, creativity, and passion for providing the best care possible for her new companion and built Orlando an outdoor aviary. Through her business, My Birdie Buddy, Nyla now designs and builds custom aviaries, as well as unique perches and playstands. In her presentation she shared invaluable tips and advice on design, materials and construction techniques for building aviaries, from simple to elaborate, from enclosing a porch or deck to building large free-standing structures or small portable ones, and left the entire audience longing for their own aviaries for their birds.

I have yet to build an aviary, for my requirements for one are high, as it must be able to contain my very powerful GreenWing Macaw, Annie, and be big enough to allow each bird to have enough personal space to prevent fighting and allow flight. In truth, I think I will need at least two separate enclosures; but this does not mean that my birds are sitting indoors waiting for me while I plan and dream and research aviaries? NO! We go outside as often as we can, nearly every day.


From my very first days with parrots, I have always taken them outside. At first, my little parrotlets were in a cage that I could pick up and carry so I would bring them out and set them on a table or bench or chair whenever I was out working in the yard. Then when Ariel joined the family, her cage was too large for me to carry around, and a friend gave me an older, travel sized cage which we used. But even that was very awkward, as it became more challenging to find places to safely set her outdoor cage.

Then one day I was attending a Phoenix Landing event, and I saw John Kerns, rolling a travel cage mounted to a babystroller frame. Wow, what a great idea! John told me that his wife Bobbie put them together and calls them “cageollers” and  most generously offered this one to me! I will be forever grateful! Thank you, thank you John & Bobbie!
Once home I mounted Ariel’s outside cage onto the stroller frame and secured it firmly with zip ties (the cage that John gave me had bar spacing to large for Ariel’s little head). Now she traveled with me all around the yard wherever I went, she could reach through the bars and nibble on parrot safe plants, could easily be moved in or out of the sun or shade, with ease and safety.
From the day I knew that we would be getting Trixie, I began looking for a second stroller base to build a cageoller for her.  I had no luck finding another like Ariel’s, and upon meeting Trixie, a BIG Blue & Gold Macaw, realized I needed something bigger anyway. We had a large wire dog crate in our attic that would work as a cage section, and I just needed to find a base. While glancing through one of my husband’s tool catalogs, Harbor Freight Tools, I noticed an ad for a flat (no sides) powder coated steel garden wagon. I checked the measurement of the wire crate, 36” long x 23”wide x 24”high, and realized it would fit nearly perfectly on the 24”x48” wagon, all the better that it was on sale! I removed the bottom plastic tray from the wire crate, and again used zip ties to attach the two together, trimming off the excess of the tie. I initially replaced the plastic tray, but realized that without the tray, poop, and water from misting, and pieces of food could fall straight through into the grass, resulting in less required clean-up.
As I continued to foster various birds for Phoenix Landing, I kept searching for baby carriage bases, still with no luck, so I consulted the cageoller creator, Bobbie, again. She was now buying used Snap-N-Go stroller bases, made by Baby Trend. This is a stroller base designed for a baby car seat to be snapped into place, and comes in a single and double model. Used ones can be found for sale on Craig’s List. Bobbie uses the double stroller frame with a wire dog crate, like that first one that her husband John gave me, for her macaws and larger Amazons. These would be suitable for larger cockatoos as well. For smaller birds, I have used standard “pet store” bird cages, as there are so many around that are really too small for a parrot to live in, but this puts them to good use. (Important side note here, make sure all doors, even food bowl doors are very securely latched when using these cages outdoors, use quicklinks, clamps or zip ties for extra safety.)
One of the major downfalls of using this type of cage for cageollers though, is that since my birds really love being misted (and I mean soaked down to the skin wet!) nearly every time we go outside, the cages were rusting and powder coating peeling off very quickly.

That’s when I came across the King’s aluminum travel carriers (contact Phoenix Landing for purchasing questions). They all have 5/8” bar spacing, this would work for all but the smallest birds. The larger one is 20x29x20, the smaller one is 18 1/2×16 1/2x 18. Aluminum is very light weight, will not chip, flake or rust like powder coating. I will admit they are pricey, but I look at it as a long-term investment.
The Kings are too small for Trixie and Annie macaws who still use the wire dog crates, but they work great for my other birds, so everyone has a cageoller to fit their needs.

Cageollers are great for traveling with your birds too. Once removed from the cage/carrier, the stroller folds flat, and when you reach your destination, reattach the cage to the stroller using several bungee cords, or you could use zipties, just remember to bring scissors to cut them off when you are ready to take the cageoller apart for the trip back home.

So go find a cage or carrier appropriate for your bird, pick up a stroller or wagon, build your own cageoller, and get outside this summer!

Made by Judy for her birds Dixie and Wilson