Neil Rutherford, creator of ParrotAlert.com, has these tips for you if you lose your bird:
Don’t give up hope. Birds are very resourceful and can survive moderate winters. We’re often notified of birds surviving on fruits and berries from trees and bird feeders throughout the year.
As well as posting on ParrotAlert.com, some police stations are all right with being notified of lost birds/pets. Inform all the veterinarians in your area and your local humane society of your loss.
Don’t assume because you can’t find your bird that she has been killed by native birds or by cats or hawks. Rutherford said that birds as small as cockatiels reunited 50 miles ways three months later. He can travel by foraging and moving from tree to tree, easily covering a mile a day with no effort and then be found 30 miles away a month later. Always check farther afield than your own neighborhood. This is where ParrotAlert.com really helps.
Your parrot could also be a lot closer than you thought, perhaps sitting in a tree at the end of your yard or garden or in a neighbor’s tree. People often look farther afield only to discover their bird was very close to them. If the bird is tame and hungry, she’ll often go to people or be picked up from the sidewalk or from someone’s yard.
Always report the loss. If owners don’t report because they’ve assumed the worst, then the finder will never be able to locate the owner.
When reporting, don’t make public band/ring numbers, as this will lead to opportunists claiming your found bird as theirs. Rutherford is amazed how many people actually publish this type of information. It is removed from all report notes before ParrotAlert.com approves the posting.
Unique traits such as sayings, tunes they whistle, markings/defects also should not be made public, as this could be another way to prove ownership to a finder.
Advice for People Who’ve Found a Bird
There are too many opportunists out there who will claim a bird is theirs because all they see are dollar signs.
Please take the bird to a veterinarian and have her scanned for a microchip, as even small birds like cockatiels can be microchipped.
As well as posting on ParrotAlert.com, some police stations agree to be notified of lost birds and pets.
Inform all the veterinarians in your area and your local humane society. (Make fliers too.) Make a note of the foot band/ring number. Not all owners record this info, so you’ll probably have to rely on unique traits such as sayings, tunes they whistle, even markings/defects on their bodies, that only the owner could describe.
Don’t assume someone has set the parrot free because you’re unable to locate the owner. The bird may have flown in from a distance, and the owner may only be focusing their efforts local to them. Check up to 100 miles and keep checking.
If you are unable to provide a safe house for the bird while you’re searching for the owner, consider contacting a bird rescue that can offer a safe house and continue the search.
Don’t consider rehoming, as technically the bird is someone else’s property by law and they are probably heart broken; it’s like losing a child. If you do find a home, ensure the new home continues the search.
Advice for the Rest of Us
Make a note and take photos of your bird’s identification leg ring/band. If your bird is microchipped, ensure the details are up to date.
Take mug shots of your birds from all angles, including any unique markings and any bodily defects.
Record your bird making sounds on your cell/mobile phone, as bird calls they are familiar with should get them responding if nearby when played.
Weigh the risks of clipping birds. Many owners often fall into a false sense of security that a clipped bird won’t fly away, but that’s not the case. Many birds in the ParrotAlert.com database have been reported as being clipped. It only takes a light wind to lift a bird up and away beyond sight.
Birds with limited mobility have the odds stacked against them if they come up against prey or native birds like crows, hawks, and seagulls that attack them. Rutherford noted that they get heart-breaking emails regarding birds found clipped and dead after being attacked.
If you do take your bird outside, regardless of her being clipped or not, please always use a parrot/bird harness.
Don’t leave your bird unattended in his cage outdoors, as people steal them. Plus your bird can give Houdini a run for his money by escaping. Rutherford likes the stainless steel clips used on parrot toys as a good way to secure cage doors and bowl doors or any part of a cage that the parrot can open.
We live now in a global community, and so do our parrots. ParrotAlert.com is an essential service whose time has come.