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Help! I Found A Lost Bird

Did a parrot make a its way into yard? Find out how to take care of this lost bird until you find his or her home.

Laura Doering

Perhaps you heard a mysterious "Hello? Hello!” or wolf whistle coming from your patio, or you walked out your front door and saw a brightly-colored parrot sitting in a tree. You knew this was a lost pet so you patiently called to the bird until it came down, or you strategically placed an offering of food/water and finally got the bird within reach. Kudos to you for going out of your way to help a creature in need. But suppose you’ve never owned a bird before, or you have a bird, but not an extra cage. You certainly don’t want a found bird on the loose in your home. Here are some tips for keeping a bird in your home for a couple days or so until you find its owner or proper placement.

lost bird, nanday conure

Place a chair back against a bathroom counter for the bird to perch on.

Where To Keep It
There’s a high chance the bird you found can fly (after all, if it had properly trimmed wing feathers, it wouldn’t have flown away). Don’t stress the bird out more by attempting a wing feather trim on it. Instead, house the bird in a small bathroom, but not before you’ve bird-proofed it. Keep the toilet seat down (a bird can drown if falls in the water) and remove any items you don’t want chewed up, especially potentially toxic ones, such as plants, makeup and cleaners. Post a note on the door asking that others in the house use the other bathroom. If you only have one bathroom, ask that everyone open the door very carefully, enter slowly and try not to stress the bird out. Make sure that the door is kept closed.

Now that you have a location, the next step is to make the bird feel comfortable. Most birds prefer perching up high, as opposed to the ground. If you have a bathroom counter, place a chair back against it for the bird to perch on. The counter top serves as a food station, as pet birds generally prefer to eat near where they perch, especially a bird that finds itself in an unfamiliar environment.

If you don’t have a bathroom counter, you might be able to perch the bird on a pedestal sink, but that depends on the width of the sink’s lip and if it is too slippery for the bird to get a grip. The bird should be able to perch comfortably without having to balance itself. A step stool might be a better option. The bird can perch on the top and there should be room on the top for food and water bowls.

lost bird, nanday conure

The bird may feel too timid to eat from the ground, so try to offer food near where she is perched.

What To Feed Your Lost Bird
You might already have table food in your fridge or pantry that the bird will eat. Many parrots like cooked pasta (sauce free), cooked rice, both fresh and cooked vegetables (carrot, broccoli, corn, peas, sweet potato, green and red peppers), fruit (apple slices, grapes, banana, strawberry, melon) a spoonful of scrambled egg, almonds, cashews, a few Cheerios or raisins, whole-wheat bread; basically anything that’s healthy for you. Do not offer avocado, onion, chocolate or alcohol, which can be harmful and even fatal to some birds. If the lost bird doesn’t take to any of your food, you might have to make a quick trip to the local pet store for some parrot-specific seed. (You might have no intention of keeping the bird, but this relatively small investment ensures that the bird has at least some nourishment.)

How To Offer Food & Water
You can get away with sprinkling some food across the counter top, but water is a different story. Check your shelf for a shallow dish, or even a saucer should work. If you have other pets, see if you have an extra crock-type bowl (thoroughly wash it before use!). Crock-type bowls are heavier and less likely to tip over, which can help if the bird tries to perch on its edge to eat or drink out of the bowl. Paper or Styrofoam cups, plates and bowls might be chewed up by the bird. Again, the bird might feel too timid to fly to the ground to eat or drink so try to offer food near where it is perched.

nanday conure
Parrots can’t fly straight up like a helicopter, and in a small space such as a bathroom, it will be more difficult for the bird to fly back to its perch spot if it startles and falls to the floor. Give the bird a way to get back up to its perch spot: take a sheet or long-sleeved shirt (one that you won’t mind if it ends up being chewed on), and tie it to the back of the chair or near the side of the sink, leaving it floor length. Create knots in the fabric or twist it until it is taut and hold it tight with shoelaces or fabric strips so the bird can climb back up if need be.

Other Tips

  • Place newspaper below the area where the bird is perching; otherwise you’ll have to wipe up bird droppings.
  • Don’t assume that the bird will stay where you put it. It might fly onto the windowsill, the curtain rod or above the medicine cabinet.
  • If the bird is bleeding or has obvious physical trauma, is unable to perch or is sitting fluffed up on the ground, contact a veterinarian immediately. (Be aware that birds typically hide signs of illness.)
  • Try to keep the bird’s area quiet and not stressful.
  • Don’t try to pet the bird if it leans back, flees from your hand, lunges or hisses at you; the bird might bite out of fear.

Found A Lost Pet Bird?

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Posted: March 4, 2009, 2:45 p.m. PDT

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Help! I Found A Lost Bird

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Reader Comments
Just came across your website, you should post on It doesn’t cost anything to register. is an advanced site for reporting lost and found birds. It has an amazing mapping tool like no other site and everything in one place. The best I have found.
Good luck in your searching!
Rooster, NA
Posted: 3/21/2011 6:49:37 PM
good info
l, l, LA
Posted: 5/28/2010 1:11:30 PM
Keepsing your birds clipped in the very best policy. It would kill me to think of any of my three birds were lost. It does not hurt them even though they scream like they are being murdered and it does not stop them from flying they just can't get any lift so they end up on the ground.

Here is a story of one little guy whose owner didn't clip him.

My friend found a lost cockatiel in her swimming pool and who did she call but her friend who already had two birds, a cockatiel and a kakariki. I immediately came with carrier in hand to take the terrified bird off you hands. We have no idea how long he was in the"wild" but hew ould not have lasted much longer. He was a mess. We housed him in a spare cage in the bathroom where he would not be distubed too much for several days and then we moved him downstairs to the hall so he could get use to the traffic and sound of the house and the other two birds. We took him to the vet along with our other two for their annual visit. The vet so he had no body fat left and would not have lived another month in the wild. That was four years ago and Lucky(no pun intended) is the guard dog of the other cockatiel. They share a cage and he is always trying to keep Casey in the cage. To this day Lucky will not go near a window or door without hiding behind our head. He hates the sound of a blue jay and will run a hide if he hears it. He is not as loving as the other two but he is ours to keep. We did try to find the owner by putting up cards and notices at the pet shop, local newpaper etc. But no one claimed him. We now have quite the flock and a varied range of personalities. Believe it or not our kakariki is scared of little Lucky who is the smallest of the flock and always will be the vet says. He is quite the little guy and was he ever lucky when he landed in our home.
Robina Thomas, Perth, ON
Posted: 5/28/2010 8:15:37 AM
I shared this with my other bird friends! Thanks!
Terry, Houston, TX
Posted: 5/28/2010 5:00:37 AM
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