If your parrot has simply escaped from its cage, close the doors and make sure all windows are shut. Closing the drapes will prevent the bird flying into the window and injuring itself.
Keep all other pets away from the room while you recapture the escapee, and remove anything fragile that the bird might knock down as it investigates the room's nooks and crannies. Remove any potentially toxic house plants, foods or liquids. If the parrot is tame, it will be easy to lure him onto your hand. If the excitement of the escape has made the bird nervous, it may not want to perch on your hand; but it will return to the cage soon enough once it's had a look around and ants to return to the comfort of home.
An AWOL Orange-Winged Amazon
If the parrot has escaped outdoors, it's a much more serious problem. Your chances of recapturing the bird depend on how tame it is, and how content it has been in the aviary or bird house. A happy bird will usually head for home soon after escaping – unless it has flown too far and become lost or exhausted. A tame bird will respond to your familiar voice, so as long as he hasn't flown too far, you’re in with a good chance of calling him home. Most escapees will spend the early part of their freedom close to the aviary.
- Unfortunately, many birds escape when no one is around, and it may be some time before the absence is noticed. Don’t give up hope in these situations: most parrots keep within a mile radius of home when they're on the run, unless they’ve been chased further away by other birds, or through fright, or have been caught in strong winds.
- 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 favorite treats too.
- If appropriate, take your parrot’s favorite 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 cell 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.
This Hawk-headed Parrot is taking a walk on the wild side
- Unfortunately, parrots may fall silent if they spot you before you spot them. This is a sign that the bird is relieved and reassured by your presence, but hardly helps in the search. Hopefully, though, the parrot will also call out to you in greeting.
- Note the parrot's body language and flight – a tired bird will be looking for a place to rest. That will make your job a lot easier, as it will be hungry and hopefully keen to approach you for reassurance, food, and shelter.
- If there's no sign of the parrot in the local area (take a trip around the neighborhood on a bicycle or in a car for a broader view), alert everyone you know in the area to keep lookout. If night falls and there’s still no sign of the parrot, get some flyers out on social media, and print some to to pin to trees and noticeboards. Remember to include a cell 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 neighborhood, check them out - your parrot may have been attracted there by the other birds.
- When you locate the bird, don’t shout, throw things, or try to hose him from his perch. These things are more likely to cause panic and flight than a quick recapture. A calm bird, on the other hand, will linger when he's spotted you.
- 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: a local animal rescue centre, any vets in the area, any local zoos, pet stores, and of course the State police or Sheriff's office.
- 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.
- A tame parrot is likely to head for human habitation rather than the forest, so continue to ask around for any sightings of exotic birds in the area.
A parrot-catching net needs using with care; but sometimes it's the only way of recapturing an elusive and frightened parrot. It’s a handy piece of kit to have around, for when an aviary bird needs isolating or capturing for a visit to the vet. It also comes in handy if the parrot has escaped.
An escaped Peach-Fronted Conure will be tricky to catch without a net
Bird nets can be bought in online stores, or you can improvise one using a soft towel or pillowcase. 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 still some distance away from it.
No matter how tame your parrot, and no matter how many times it has been netted, the process will be stressful for the bird, so a net is not something to use routinely – only in emergency situations such as an escape.