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Lost Parrot Pets

The resources available for you if your parrot gets loose vary depending on where you live.

By Harry Robbins
Posted: March 23, 2009, 1:45 p.m. EDT

Some parrot owners enjoy having their birds free flighted. They feel their parrots should be able to fly freely just as if they were in the wild. Others trim their parrot’s wing-feathers. This makes it more difficult for the bird to fly and allows the owner more control, but it doesn’t guarantee the bird is unable to fly. In either situation, it’s a possibility that one day your parrot could get loose. Any pet owner who loves and cares for their pet will likely want nothing more than their pet’s safe return if it ever got loose.

Are Parrots Serviced By My Local Shelter?

The first thing you'll want to find out is if local shelters service parrots.

Not all animal shelters service parrots. Find out if your local shelter services parrots. Some might accept a parrot that’s brought in, but will only hold it temporarily. In these cases, the parrot would be transferred to a local private organization that deals specifically with parrots. Susan Hassett, director of North Hempstead Town Animal Shelter in Port Washington, New York, explained that her shelter only services dogs, because it is a government-run shelter, and the only laws (e.g. leash laws) in the area apply to dogs. If a parrot is brought in, people are referred to the nearby Long Island Parrot Society.

In other cases, parrots might be fully serviced. Mark Rosenthal, operations manager of Commission on Animal Care And Control of Chicago, remarked, “We must take in anything that comes through our door, whether it be a dog, a cat, a ferret, a rabbit or a bird. It’s an open shelter [and] we do not refuse service to anyone.” Rosenthal said he doesn’t get many calls in for sightings of stray parrots because they can’t catch one if it’s flying, but there are a lot of people who have captured cockatiels, which seem to be malnourished, during winter and bring them in.

At the Department of Animal Care and Control in San Francisco, your parrot won’t be turned away. “We will always try [to capture an animal] if there is an animal in distress or need, we will always try,” Campbell said. She said they encourages people to bring the animal in themselves, but if they are unable to capture it, they will do their best to try and find the animal, capture it and bring it in.

Time Is Of The Essence
It’s best if this information is known before an incident. The unique disadvantage parrot owners have if they lose their bird is that their parrot is not bound by the same obstacles that all other pets are. A bird is free to fly in aeronautical miles, which means the search radius for a bird is much larger than other pets. The longer your bird is missing, the farther it could potentially get. Contact shelters outside your local area if you don’t find your bird in a local shelter. It might have gotten all the way into another city.

Another concern is the relatively short holding time most shelters have. After a period of time, they will begin adopting out a found animal.

“We hold [parrots] for the five-day holding period in accordance with the Hayden Bill,” said Deb Campbell, spokesperson for the Department of Animal Care and Control in San Francisco. If the owner has not claimed the animal by then, and it is a legal animal with acceptable behavior, it is put up for adoption, Campbell said. If it has behavioral or health problems, then a rescue group would be contacted. Parrots are more susceptible to stress from being outdoors and come in injured or with other health problems. A lot of parrots that come in have been attacked by a hawk or a dog, according to Campbell.

Likewise, Darlene Rankin, director of Customer Service of the Humane Society of Broward County in Fort Lauderdale, Florida said that, if an animal is brought in, it is held for three to five days. Afterward, the animal is put up for adoption. The same five-day holding period holds true for the Commission of Animal Care and Control in Chicago.

If your parrot ends up at a private organization, the adoption turnaround might not be as much of a worry. Heather Morris, education coordinator of TWRC Wildlife Center in Houston said it receives calls directly and also get referrals from the Houston Humane Society. The office is setup for emergency services for wildlife, so if a domestic bird is brought in, one of the rehabilitators will take it home to a home-based facility and post the lost pet on, Morris said. They hold the parrot for a month, sometimes up to two months, and wait for the owner, Morris said. If the parrot has not been returned to its owner after this, the parrot is usually kept by the rehabilitator and the rehabilitator tries to adopt the bird out on their own.

What To Do If Your Bird Is Lost
Darlene Rankin suggests you call your local shelters and fill out a lost pet report. She suggests you visit your local shelter to see if your parrot has been picked up every couple of days.

According to Mark Rosenthal, the best way to recover a lost pet is through a microchip because it’s something that can’t be lost. Microchips aren’t that expensive; around $15 for the chip and placement. There is also an $18 registration fee for lifetime registration of the chip to the pet’s owner through the manufacture. The manufacturer Commission on Animal Care and Control works with is Avid.

Websites such as and help pet owners and people who have found pets unite. can be very helpful in finding local listings of shelters, and don’t be afraid to ask shelters of other shelters nearby or places they work with or refer to.

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Lost Parrot Pets

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Reader Comments
It is so sad to lose a loved parrot.
jill, sandy, WA
Posted: 3/31/2009 4:09:17 AM
great article
Jennifer, madras, OR
Posted: 3/29/2009 3:26:26 PM
Good information!
colleen, whiting, NJ
Posted: 3/26/2009 1:29:58 PM
Thank-you for such a comprehensive article!
melinda, westchester, NY
Posted: 3/25/2009 4:45:29 AM
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