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Why Your Bird Flies Away, and What To Do
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Why Your Bird Flies Away, and What To Do

Critter Culture Staff



Although birds are America's fourth favorite pet, they are often highly misunderstood and underestimated. Commonly kept birds, such as parrots, parakeets, and cockatiels, are very intelligent and extremely curious about the world.

As a result, it isn't uncommon for birds to make a break for it. However, many pet birds form bonds with the humans they interact with and will want to find you again. While your bird might try to escape one day, you can work with their intelligence to teach them how to come home, and implement some preventative measures against escape.


Why do birds fly away?

Green and yellow budgerigar parakeet sitting on a perch with the door open to her cage. CBCK-Christine/ Getty Images

The natural curiosity and intelligence of birds is one factor that contributes to them flying away from home. Birds are also easily spooked, particularly birds that would be prey to many animals. This is expected bird behavior in nature: imagine a flock of little birds suddenly scattering and reconvening further away.

This run-and-reconvene strategy will be your bird's first instinct if they are outside with you and become scared for any reason.


Determining if your bird will come home

Yellow and green budgerigar parakeet pet taking off from the finger and hand of a person. CBCK-Christine/ Getty Images

Tropical birds are most commonly kept as pets and will struggle to find food and comfortable shelter in environments not suited to them. Additionally, birds are usually very social creatures, so yours is most likely going to try and come home.

If you've had your bird for their entire life, they probably consider you a part of the flock and will want to come home. While it is possible they have flown too far away to return on their own, your bird will likely keep trying to find you.


Teach your bird how to come back

Bright, cute parrot and a young woman holding food on her hand. Close-up, indoors. Sviatlana Barchan/ Getty Images

You can start training recall from a young age with your bird. First, teach them to step onto your hand by placing a treat on your hand and holding it a few inches away from the perch. Once this step-up is mastered, you can acclimate your bird to flying, ideally in taller buildings.

A stairwell is a great place to do this. Gradually increase the distance between yourself and your bird, rewarding it every time they fly to you. You can eventually take this to hiding in another room and having the bird come find you.


Clip their wings

Parrot Tomekbudujedomek/ Getty Images

Your bird's ability to fly any distance depends entirely on their wings, so clipping or trimming your bird's wings every few months is a good way to ensure they won't fly away. Birds with trimmed wings can still fly, just not as far. It is possible your bird could escape with trimmed wings, but you'll have a much better chance of finding them nearby.


Desensitize your bird

Shot of a young man using his phone with his pet parrot perched on his shoulder PeopleImages/ Getty Images

When they are kept in captivity for their entire lives, it's easy for birds to be frightened by loud noises, unfamiliar sights, and the basic functions of staying alive, if they've escaped. Being this overwhelmed can make them skittish if they do fly away.

You can prepare for the worst-case scenario—and prevent some potential anxiety—by exposing your birds to things they would find outdoors. This could include taking them on frequent walks or using foraging toys to mimic what life would be like if they lived in the wild.


Watch all exits

Senior woman playing with her pet birds in a birdcage. Side view of a elderly female feeding her pet birds at home. Luis Alvarez/ Getty Images

This seems obvious, but humans aren't in the habit of having to watch for flying objects when opening and closing windows and doors. Ensure you return your bird to their cage before opening any doors or windows, particularly if you have your bird flying around in the house. You can also have a screen door and screens on the windows for extra protection.


Visually track your bird

Man holding green dwarf macaw ajr_images/ Getty Images

If you've got an escaped member of the household on your hands, do your best to keep your bird in your sight. Follow them with your eyes until you can't see them anymore. Use the last place you spotted them as a point of reference to make an educated guess about where your bird will land.


Create a welcoming environment

Parakeet in cage JanJBrand/ Getty Images

Pet birds that have flown away are going to be very skittish from spending an extended amount of time out of their comfort zones. Place their cage near the window or door they escaped from, or near the spot they flew away from if you were outside with them, because your bird is most likely to return to the last place it saw you.

Fill the cage with familiar treats and toys, and leave it open for them to fly into.


Communicate with your bird

Woman spending quality time with her pet bird electravk/ Getty Images

Call your bird if they escape, and utilize other birds that live with you, if any, to call out to the bird. Any sounds that are familiar to the bird may lure them home, including phrases they have learned. Try to maintain some communication between yourself and your bird. If you can no longer hear them, you can also try playing recordings of your bird when searching.


Ask for help from your neighbors

Young woman at home with her parrot Tony Anderson/ Getty Images

While your bird may have a little extra fire under their wings from the novelty of the wild, in most cases, they probably won't make it farther than you are able to search on foot. Utilize the help of your neighborhood to search for your bird. Send pictures to friends and ask for help on social media, and give your contact information to anyone who might spot your bird.


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