What to Do If You Lost a Pet Bird

Macaw parrot sitting in cherry blossom tree

 Anna Rostova / Moment / Getty Images

If you have a lost bird, don’t panic—what you do in the next few hours and days can go a long way in bringing your bird back again. Your pet bird might have escaped its cage, flown off its perch, or slipped out the door before you could react. Regardless of the circumstances, your lost bird just might be found if you have a solid game plan and make the most of your search. 

Make a Local Search Your First Step

The obvious challenge in losing your bird is the fact that he can fly—and you can’t. For this reason, birds are capable of covering great distances. However, if your pet bird has been housed inside of an enclosure most of his life or has frequently had his wing feathers clipped, he is likely an inexperienced flier.

As a result, he may have flown away but there’s a good chance that he hasn’t gone far. Make a quick search of your yard as first step, then circle the neighborhood. Carefully look into tree canopies and on roof tops to see if you can spot your lost bird.

It’s equally important to listen for your lost bird. The unique calls and vocalizations of your bird will likely stand out against the general calls of wild birds common to your area. Many bird owners often hear their bird in the vicinity before actually spotting it.

Often, lost birds take their freedom flight only a short distance before landing in a tree or other elevated structure. As inexperienced fliers, many pet birds struggle to land or descend and will sometimes stay in the same tree for an extended period of time.

Lure Your Bird Back

One technique that may bring your bird home is to place his or her cage outside with the door open. Inside, put your bird’s favorite snack or treat to provide extra incentive for him to return.

Similarly, some bird owners with multiple birds will position another bird’s cage near an open window—or even outside (though not unsupervised). The vocalization from a familiar bird may lure your bird back home.

One bird lands on the cage of another bird
Kim Sehui / EyeEm / Getty Images

Spread the Word

The more help you can enlist in the search for your lost bird, the greater the chances that you’ll be able to locate him. One simple but effective tool is to create a flyer. Post it in your neighborhood, at local pet stores or bird shops, with local veterinarians, and pass it out to people you meet as you search the neighborhood. Dog walkers, the mail deliverer, and others you see regularly can be big allies in your search.

Here’s an idea of what to include on your lost bird flyer:

  • Name: Provide the name of your lost bird. Accounts exist of parrots that have dropped into people’s laps looking for lap and squawked their own name.
  • Picture: Include a recent snapshot of your bird, in color if possible, to help people know what they should be looking for as they help search for your feathered friend.
  • Breed: What breed is your lost bird? This can help people identify the type of bird they should be on the lookout for.
  • Description: While providing a specific breed is a good start, you can also describe your lost bird’s physical characteristics. Make note of any particular markings or unique features.
  • Identification: If your pet bird is microchipped, include this fact in the flyer. Or if your bird has a leg identification band, include this information as well. However, don’t include the specific identifying information—you want to be able to prove the bird is yours, not equip someone else to falsely claim ownership of your bird!
  • Contact Information: It seems obvious, but don’t forget to include your name and contact information on the flyer. The stress and panic you may feel can cause you to overlook this crucial piece of information.
  • Reward: If you plan to offer a reward, make that a prominent point on your flyer. Though it’s often recommended that you don’t include a specific amount on the flyer itself.

In addition to a paper flyer, consider placing an announcement in local or city newspapers. It’s also can be beneficial to post online that you’ve lost your bird. Any bird groups you belong to on social media or your personal page make good options. Post to your local community boards or bird rescues; Bird Hotline is one site that lists lost and found bird postings. Include similar information to the flyer, along with a picture.

You should also file a police report regarding your lost bird. Provide as much information regarding your bird and the date, time, and location that he or she was lost. You should also contact your local humane society and animal control to advise them of your lost bird. Often, people that find a pet bird will contact these resources when looking for the animal’s owner.

What to Do If You Don’t Find Your Lost Bird Right Away

The most important thing to know is don’t give up immediately. Many birds are lost for several days before being found and others have been gone for a week or more. At first, the bird may enjoy its new liberty but soon they’ll begin to tire and become hungry—especially since pet birds are typically inexperienced foragers.

Continue your search and circle back with businesses and organizations you left your flyer with. Check in with your local pet shops and veterinarians, and continue to monitor the humane society in the event that someone turns your bird in.

Sometimes, a lost bird isn’t immediately found. You may begin to give up hope of finding your lost bird. Weeks and months may pass, though you should know that there is still a chance your bird might be found in the local area—or even many miles from home.

How do you know when to give up the search for your lost bird? This is a personal decision and no one can tell you to stop your search and extinguish your hopes. While the chances of finding your feathered friend are best within the first few days, there are birds that have been found many months after becoming lost. With persistence, diligence, and hope, you may safely bring your lost bird home again.