Oh No! My Conure Went to the Library Alone and Won’t Come Home
Retrieving Escaped or Stolen Parrots: Part Three
A Surprise Flight Lets Mango Fly to the Library Trees and How He was Retrieved
I am a proponent of clipping wings. I know not everyone feels this way, but I’ve had a cockatiel break his neck flying into a mirror when a loud, unfamiliar noise outside frightened him and other bad experiences with flighted companion parrots.
I’ve heard of too many horrible deaths due to accidents in the home when a parrot is flighted: falling into boiling water, landing on a hot stove eye, impaling themselves on a knife blade in the dish drainer and so many others. Plus I like being able to take my conure out on my shoulder without a flight suit.
I got Mango before he was weaned and finished hand feeding him. You’d think he would be totally bonded to me. And he was – until he met my boyfriend (now fiancé and co-habitant).
Mango immediately fell totally and completely in love with Kevin. He still spends time with me but only if Kevin is not in the apartment. Anytime Kevin is home, he refuses to even step up for me but he will take treats from my hand. He has always exhibited a pretty strong preference for men over women.
I had a friend who was quite ill who needed my help so I temporarily moved some things over there in order to be able to help a friend who’d always been there for me. I ended up being away 2 months.
During this time, Mango’s wings grew out to the point he could fly level a short distance. Kevin thought this was rather neat but I warned him of the dangers.
He was afraid to clip the wings himself with me talking him through it and decided he really wanted to let Mango fly for a while. I asked him not to take the bird outside because I knew Kevin would be crushed if he lost Mango, as would I.
Mango, unlike my first sun conure Sundance who feared bikes, loves to ride with Kevin on his bicycle. I have trepidations about this, fearing something may frighten the bird and he’ll flap under a moving car or be snatched off Kevin’s shoulder by a hungry hawk or osprey.
By this point, Mango was Kevin’s bird, so I went along with his decision in this area; after all, Mango does enjoy the rides.
Late one afternoon while I was away, Mango was riding with Kevin not far from the library where Kevin had been headed.
Suddenly, a car door slammed not far away and it startled Mango into taking flight. For the first time flew upward. Kevin followed him on the bike so he would know when and where he landed and be able to retrieve him.
Kevin was confident this would be a simple, short task.
Mango had visited the library park with Kevin several times in the past and perhaps he recognized it because he chose to land high in a very large live oak tree in the park beside the library.
Kevin could hear him and even see him from among the branches and dense foliage from time to time as he played in the tree, clearly having a good time and not wanting to come down. Kevin called him and Mango would answer but Mango just wouldn’t fly down.
The sun had set and light was fading after a couple of hours. Parrots don’t see very well at night and Kevin knew it was unlikely now that he could get Mango down that night.
Mango was much too high and on limbs that were too thin for Kevin to attempt to climb up to get him. If Mango had been on a large limb where it was safe to climb, Kevin would quickly have climbed up and gotten him, but this was impossible.
Mango had always slept in one of the triangular Parrot Huts for small parrots. Although parrots aren’t supposed to like the color red, his is red and he loves it very much.
Every small conure I’ve ever know likes to hide and snuggle under or in things. Mango feels very safe sleeping in his “hidey hole” as I call it. I’ve washed it many times but always ensure it will be fully dry before bedtime so he can sleep well.
Being outdoors in darkness was a totally new experience for Mango and apparently had begun to become an unpleasant one.
Mango began calling in a different tone, perhaps realizing he was in a strange place and too afraid to fly down in the darkness.
There was a bench near that tree so Kevin sat down to make sure Mango didn’t leave the tree without his seeing him. Kevin was very upset and frantic by this point.
Kevin called me and described the situation. I told him he was basically doing everything he could for the night but he should be there before dawn with food and Mango would fly down to him most likely.
Kevin would not leave and sat through the night worrying about a predator sneaking up the tree.
There is a law against vagrants and many homeless people try to sleep in this park so late in the night a sheriff stopped by to ask what Kevin was doing there. He told the officer his parrot was in the tree and he was guarding him until daylight. The officer said, “Oh, you mean YOUR pet bird?” (I wonder if he thought it was a stolen bird or what?) On learning that it was a beloved pet and Kevin was neither drunk nor homeless told him not to worry, no one would bother him about sitting there waiting for dawn.
As the sun rose and light allowed Mango to see his way around, he woke up hungry. He greeted the sun with his usual morning calls and Kevin called him to come down.
Mango immediately flew down to him, very glad to see his “dad”. Kevin was very happy and took Mango home to a fresh breakfast of his seed mix, scrambled eggs, a bit of wheat toast, apple and grapes. Both of them were happy to be home.
Mango ate well and climbed into his bed to get some sound sleep while Kevin slept on the sofa next to Mango’s house, my term for a parrot’s cage.
After that Kevin saw the benefits of clipped wings and we arranged a way to get them clipped as soon as possible.
Kevin is learning how to clip wings himself but doesn’t like the idea of doing it himself. I will gladly help him and welcome the extra hands when I do it, because four hands ARE better than two when clipping most parrots.
Tips for Retrieving a Just-Flighted Tame Parrot When You Know Where the Bird is Located:
- Follow the bird to be sure you know where he goes and lands. If it lands on the ground or a low branch you can easily reach, it may be as simple as asking it to step on your hand or finger and snuggling it to your body until you can get it indoors.
- Parrots that have just regained the ability to fly usually cannot fly a very long distance, especially if flying against the wind, before wanting to stop and find a perch. This makes it likely your parrot will be easy enough to follow or locate right in the neighborhood. Birds that normally fly, like Cocoa the twice-found cockatiel from Part 2 of this series, can fly long, long distances if they catch the wind.
- Call the bird constantly to let it know you are there. It may decide to fly down to you. If not, don’t give up the line of communication.
- If possible, have someone bring the bird’s main cage or a familiar travel cage with food and water to the location and place it where your parrot can easily see it. When the parrot gets hungry, it will likely fly down to the familiar food source. Kevin didn’t have this option since I was out of town and we had the only keys to the apartment.
- If the parrot is located where you can reach it with a ladder SAFELY climb up a tree, attempt to retrieve it using that means but realize if you startle the bird, it can fly far enough away that you may lose sight before you can get down. It is best to work in a team with a friend or friends if you try this.
- Remember, your tame parrot depends on you for food. It will get hungry at least by the next morning and he will come to you for food. As long as you can see the bird and the bird can see you, it will return to you for food.
This ends our series on deal with lost or stolen parrots. I do hope some of my experiences and tips I’ve offered help you if you ever face a similar situation.
Image link: https://firstname.lastname@example.org,-80.6031551,3a,37.5y,186.83h,82.84t/data=!3m6!1e1!3m4!1s-KtnWjwiHA1my00yF1Gd0A!2e0!7i13312!8i6656!6m1!1e1
Caption: Actual trees where Mango landed and park bench where Kevin waited for him all night