Keeping your parrot safe may seem like a pretty easy task. After all, they live in your home, are in a cage when feeding and sleeping, and seem quite docile.
But there is never a guarantee that your bird will not fly out of an open window or door, especially in summer when you’re trying to get some fresh air and cool everything down. Clipping a bird’s wings can prevent flying, but many bird owners are against it because it is unnatural and causes their pet to rely on humans too much.
Thankfully, there are plenty of other ways in which you can escape-proof your home, from checking your home for potential routes to preparing for the worst-case scenario.
How To Prevent A Parrot Escape
The risk of parrot escapes were brought to our attention in April 2020, after Chanel The African Grey escaped from her home in Liverpool. But as much as it was the viral video highlight of the Coronavirus lockdown, we don’t want another for the sake of the parrot and the owner.
Firstly, you need to ensure that all of your windows and doors are kept shut.
This can be hard in hotter months, or when the house feels like it needs a bit of fresh air. But even if you were to shut them in the living room and open the windows and doors throughout the rest of the house, there is no guarantee the door won’t blow open or be opened by guests/the kids.
If you must have ventilation, securing mesh against the window or closing blinds can help, but you will still have to keep a very close eye on your bird. Don’t be distracted; your bird can be very fast and clever, and African Grey’s especially are known as the “the Great Houdinis” of the parrot world.
Any guests will need to be told of the situation, and you also need to think of the worst possible outcome – what you would do if your parrot did get out.
Firstly, parrots are particularly vulnerable to theft too, whether this be from your home or if found. So, you will need to ensure that you have proof you are indeed the owner.
Parrots can be microchipped which is a good start, but pictures are also a pretty simple way. Take plenty of your parrot, as well as from all angles. If your bird has any redeeming features, such as a mark on their plumage or a twisted beak, take pictures and notes of it. Try to have physical copies of the photos which can be photocopied if needs be, and store the originals securely with the date and time stamps. The digital copy should also prove these dates.
Microchipping will have to be done by a specialist avian vet, and they cannot be removed or changed as easily as a ring on their leg. If somebody did try to change the details on a microchip, you would be contacted, and previous data is never replaced – it is simply added to. Microchips are also unlikely to be painful for parrots.
- Vet History
All pets should be signed up to a vet, who will also take your details and history of the animal. This is another way to obtain third-party proof of ownership.
Leg bands are a good backup too, however. Like your dog or cat would have a microchip and an ID tag, it gives immediate information about identity and ownership.
Leg Bands (Rings) For Parrots
A closed leg band displays a unique ID inscription and is fitted to a parrot as a young chick. This means it cannot be removed as they grow into it. A closed ring can be essential when applying for CITES licences as proof the bird must have been captive bred and not taken from the wild.
The inscription should include:
- Breeder’s initials
- Year of birth
- The certified number for the year linking it to a birth/hatch certificate copy passed to the new owner
Split rings are fitted to birds when they’re a little older. Unfortunately, split rings can easily be removed by thieves, and they can catch on cages and aviary mesh too.
This can also help if your bird gets out.
You can teach your parrot to respond to its own name, know your name or a keyword. Making a note of how they say certain words is also good.
Ensure your parrot is used to loud noises in case they find themselves outside and will approach humans they recognise. You may not want them to be too friendly for risk of theft, though.
Can I Clip My Parrot’s Wings?
Wing (or feather) clipping involves clipping a bird’s flying feathers to prevent it from gaining full flight.
It doesn’t hurt a bird if done by a professional, however, it is in a bird’s natural instinct to fly. Therefore, if they realise that they can’t move around in this way, it could damage them psychologically. This frustration can lead to feather plucking and other worrying signs.
Wing feathers do grow back too. This is something which many owners do not realise, and putting your bird through this for a temporary solution is not recommended.
The National Theft Register states that 50% of lost birds have had their wings clipped at some stage.
Taking Your Parrot Outside
A suitable harness will allow you to take your parrot outside. They can usually be taken out for 2-4 hours and will let you know when they have had enough.
Harness training can be a long process. They need to get used to the look of the harness, having it put on, and then wearing it. There are plenty of guides out there regarding measuring and fitting a parrot for a harness.
A leash will attach to this harness. You still need to keep your parrot close, safely attach the leash to your wrist or similar, and ensure they’re okay with going outside. Be aware that their lead or harness could catch on things, and always check it for wear and tear.
If your parrot loves wearing a harness, this could be a good way of taking your parrot around your home when windows are open, or even into the garden. Be aware that you should never use a harness and lead to tether your parrot to their cage or perch, however.