Every year lots of pets go missing leaving owners distressed. Pet birds are no exception and there seem to have been quite a few cases of late. Here is a checklist of actions for exotic birds on the loose.
- The moment you realise your bird has flown off, check every tree you can. Birds do not tend to go far in the first few days, so a thorough exploration of the locale is a must. Get your neighbours involved too.
- Put up laminated flyers with your name and telephone number. Give a description of the bird and a photograph but omit the pet’s name.
- If anyone spots the bird, they should call you, you are the best person to try to tempt your pet back.
- Go to the area and call your bird by name. Stand or sit where your bird can see you and try to ensure it has enough space to fly towards you at a shallow angle; sit or stand further from the tree, not right under it.
- Keep still, birds hate to fly towards moving objects. Keep calling your bird by name. If he is whistle trained, use that or use a favourite toy to try to entice him.
- Ensure you are armed with your pet’s favourite treats.
- Your bird may be trapped at height. Many pet birds are not that experienced at flight. Instinct prompts them to fly up and get as high as possible. Flying down is something they have not practised and many are scared to try- a bit like a cat trapped up a tree. Even a clipped bird can climb high, without being able to fly. Try to be patient and wait. You may need a long ladder to go up and collect your pet. Talk to your bird to keep him calm.
- If possible, put your bird’s cage with his favourite treats and toys down on the ground, where he can see it, and leave the door open. Many birds are more likely to feed at dawn and dusk and your pet may be more willing to approach a familiar cage at feeding time.
- If you cannot get to a sighting location fast, tell the person who has spotted your bird to speak to your pet by name and to try to coax the bird to them with treats. Many pet birds will go to any friendly human once they are hungry enough.
When your bird is missing for longer periods
- Get the word out to veterinary practices, rescue centres, and as many online resources as you can.
- Resources like dog lost will allow you to post about other missing pets. Members of the public generally recognise that an exotic species should not be loose.
- Keep updating the sites for weeks and months, don’t give up. Birds can be found months later by members of the public.
- Any member of the public that sights a possible escapee should contact their vet and online sites, to see if there is information on a missing pet that matches the bird sighted.
- Microchip your bird.
- Ensure his wings are clipped to reduce flight.
- Look for new growth at the tips of the flight feathers. Even a bit can give the bird enough lift to escape.
- If you cannot get your bird’s feathers trimmed, do not take him outside until you can.
- Always shut doors and windows if your bird is out of his cage.