Catalina Macaw in a tree hiding after escaping his house. Photo by Gretta Blankenship. Watercolor Rendition by Kathy LaFollett

What to Do When Your Parrot Flies Away

What to Do When Your Parrot Flies Away

When a parrot escapes the confines, they don’t feel lost. They aren’t lost. Their first instinct will be to fly to the highest point of perch. Because there is no ceiling to stop them. That a bird does not know how to fly down is slightly ridiculous. That isn’t the issue with a parrot roaming free against your will. The issue is catching up and getting ahead of a bird that just realized he got back all his superpowers. What do you do when your parrot flies out and away? First, don’t panic. Then consider these thoughts and to do list.

Actions to take when your bird gets out.

  • Place their inside cage outside. Put their food and water bowls on top of the cage or attached to the outside (if you’ve got a dome top cage). Consider what it’s now like for them to look down on their world, rather than across. This is the first time they’ve seen you or their world from above. Put their favorite familiar things on full display. 
  • Play Marco Polo - Flock call. Play a righteous game of Marco Polo with their favorite words, phrases, and song. Wait for their response. When you get a callback, do not move. Call again. They are triangulating you as much as you are them. It’s easier for them to find you.
  • Play Hide and Seek - If you haven’t seen or heard them yet, they are already hiding. May as well seek. Take your Marco Polo game on the road and walk around the neighborhood. Your neighbors may volunteer to keep an eye out once they hear you searching. When you get that call back, do not move. Call again. They are triangulating you. 
  • Post on parrot911, your Social Media account, and Nextdoor - If night falls and you have not found your parrot, do not panic. Birds seek tree shelter and go silent at night. Your bird isn’t going to call in the dark. Post online with photos and personality points. “Friendly, can step up. Has a bright red tail.” Facts that will help your parrot find an informed friendly foster. Next morning, beat the sun and get out in the dark. Listen. Most likely, the wild birds will inspire your parrot to flock call as the sun comes up. Listen more. Then flock call. Pick up where you left off with your Marco Polo game. 

Yes, parrots can return home after flying off. Often. Yes, parrots can survive outside. Particularly if the weather is agreeable, and birdfeeder and birdbaths are prolific in the neighborhood. 

Kirby, Our Indian Ring-necked Parakeet, flew off three times during the eleven years of his life. Each time, he stayed out longer than the last. Each time, he returned to a nearby tree. The same tree, each time. Seems to me he had a plan in mind. You can’t see a banana sized sky-blue jet fighter parrot flying in a blue sky. The only tracking device is the flock call. That name, word, or phrase used in the house in games of Marco Polo. We took our game on the road. 

We walked around the neighborhood calling, then listening. I used our “hide-n-seek” flock call. I placed the cockatiel aviary out in the yard so Kirby could see and hear his best friends. I opened the windows in the bird room, put the macaws in their cages, and left them to deliver their normal windy day calls through the open windows. Six hours we waited and called. Walking the neighborhood to spread our voice for our bird to hear and triangulate home. And then Kirby called back. “KirBEEE!!!” 

He was in the tree, lakeside, behind our neighbor’s house. I stormed their gate with a half-peeled banana. Bribing and calling. I almost fell off their dock into the lake and off their patio into their pool. Finding a line of sight is challenging looking up into twenty-five feet of spring growth, but we heard him. He heard us. We triangulated his cheerful voice coming from the green. Hidden in swaying branches, talking to himself and preening Kirby wasn’t lost. He knew his flock was near. Kirby was not fearful. A fully flighted and confident parrot who lives a life of choice wouldn’t be. He looked down and yelled, “Good boy, KIRBEEEE”! 

If your parrot has gotten out and has flown away, don’t panic. Note the direction they headed and get out there. It’s best to track your parrot on foot. It will be your voice and call they are listening for. Not a car engine racing toward them. Found parrots have been reported inside a 2 miles radius of their home during the first three days. After that, you’ll need wider range help. That’s where Nextdoor, parrot911, and your social media page comes into play. Let the local vet offices know your bird is on the loose. Someone may find your parrot and bring them in. Vet offices are great for posting up on their Facebook pages to help reunite bird and human.

Parrots flying freely are not lost. It's us who's lost without them.

Kirby our blue Indian Ring-Necked Parakeet snacking in his favorite spot looking out the window he wants to escape through.

After getting our parrot home safely, the human instinct is to clip wings. We chose not to clip Kirby after each incident. Because Kirby is a parrot. Birds are built for a primary movement. Flight. Read Should You Clip Your Bird's Wings?  Facts and insights to consider while you may be considering in your flock.

We took the responsibility of proactively creating rules about windows and doors rather than clipping Kirby's wings. It's not his job to try not to be a parrot.

Kathy LaFollett is a participant in the Amazon Services LLC Associates Program, an affiliate advertising program designed to provide a means for sites to earn advertising fees by advertising and linking to Amazon.com.

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