Losing a pet of any sort is a traumatic experience and everyone hopes that someone will find and return their furry or feathered friend. Adding to the challenge for owners of lost birds is the fact that they can fly great distances, greatly expanding the search radius. If you find a pet bird, what can you do to increase the chances of reconnecting the bird with its owner?
How to Tell if It’s a Pet Bird
The first thing you may be wondering is how to tell whether you’ve found a pet bird or just a very docile wild bird. Three key factors to consider are breed, behavior, and identifications.
You might not be an expert on breed types, but is the bird you found native to your area? A quick search on the Internet combined with your observations can tell you a lot about whether or not the bird you found is likely to be a wild bird or someone’s pet bird.
For example, cockatiels are a common sight in Australia, but aren’t native to North America. If you see one of these colorfully plumed birds in your yard, there’s a very significant chance it’s a lost pet bird.
On the other hand, about 23 species of parrots are breeding in the wild in 25 states across United States. Not surprisingly, Florida, California, and Texas see the highest concentration of parrot populations, but even urban areas like Chicago and New York have seen established parrot populations. While all of these parrots were at one time in captivity or have descended from pet birds, the bird you find may in fact be wild—even though they’re non-native to the United States.
The behavior of a bird you find can be key in identifying whether it’s a lost bird. Wild birds will very rarely land on or directly approach humans. However, a pet bird is accustomed to human care and interaction and may associate people with food and security.
It’s not unheard of for a lost pet bird to perch on someone’s shoulder or land in close proximity and squawk in an attempt to get attention. If a bird does this to you, it’s almost certainly a pet bird.
Other indicators include a bird that shows up in your yard or on your deck or balcony and sticks around. While wild birds will return to their nest or carry on with their flight patterns, a lost pet bird may just be looking for shelter.
A huge help in figuring out whether you’ve found a pet bird is any identification on the bird itself. If the bird is sporting a leg band, that’s likely a clear sign that this bird belongs to someone. Less visible, but equally useful, is a microchip. If you can catch the bird in question, bring it to a veterinarian who can scan the bird for a microchip that will hopefully contain the information necessary to reunite it with its owner.
Tips to Find the Owner of a Lost Pet Bird
Once you know that you’ve found someone’s pet bird, the next step is to reunite your new feathered friend with his or her rightful owner. While you might be tempted to tuck a lost bird into a shiny new cage in your home, remember that people bond with their birds just like any other pet and they’re likely looking everywhere and trying everything to locate their lost bird.
However, it can be tough to know how far from home a pet bird is. The best advice is to start local but search far and wide. Here are a few ideas on how to find the owner of a pet bird:
Post a ‘Found’ Ad in Local Newspapers
Many newspapers will publish these ads for free, so it’s a simple way to advertise that you found someone’s pet. Contact local city papers and regional papers to maximize exposure.
Check Social Media for Local or National Pet Bird Groups
Often, owners will post about their lost bird and people who have found birds can check these postings or provide information about a pet bird they’ve found.
Tip: Only post the basics about the bird you found, such as date and location where you came across the bird. The rightful owner should be able to identify characteristics such as breed, unique markings, etc.
Contact the Police Department for Your City and Surrounding Communities
Find out if anyone has reported a lost pet bird. Owners of pet birds are encouraged to file a lost property report, so this can be one way to find the rightful owner of the bird.
Call Local Animal Shelters, Avian (Bird) Veterinarians, and Bird Shops
Concerned owners will often give notice to animal shelters, bird or pet shops, and avian vets that they’ll lost a pet bird in the hopes that someone will turn it into one of these places.
Additionally, a bird veterinarian can check and see if the bird you found has a microchip. If so, it might be possible to contact the owner directly through a national database.
Where to Take a Pet Bird You Found
If you can’t find the owner of a pet bird or you’re not equipped to care for the bird, you might be wondering what the next best step is. Birds require a safe space, suitable temperatures, and the right diet. If you can’t continue to care for the bird that you’ve found, it’s important to turn it over to a safe, trustworthy guardian who can continue the search for the bird’s owner or find an appropriate new home.
Bird Rescue Group
If there are local or regional bird rescue groups in your area, these can be an ideal place to take a pet bird that you found. Often made up entirely of passionate and experienced bird owners, a rescue group for feathered friends will know how to care for the bird you found. They also may be able to assist in finding the bird’s owner, or have a system in place for fostering and adopting lost pet birds.
Veterinarians with expertise in treating pet birds may be willing to take in a lost pet bird. They’ll have the resources and experience necessary to keep the bird safe. Or, they may refer you to a reputable bird rescue group in the area.
Animal Shelter or Humane Society
Most animal shelters and humane societies aren’t an ideal place to take a pet bird. Typically, these organizations focus on dogs and cats and lack the experience or resources for pet birds. This option should be at the bottom of your list but is certainly better than releasing a pet bird you found back into the wild to fend for itself.
If you find a lost pet bird, do your best to help reunite the bird with its owner. Follow the tips and suggestions in this article to increase the chances of returning a pet bird to its home.