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Clipped Wings Won't Fly Away

Clipped Wings Won't Fly Away

The best way to keep from losing your pet permanently is to make sure he never becomes lost at all. And when it comes to pet birds that ounce of prevention is worth even more than a pound of cure.

That's because birds have wings that make them almost impossible to catch once they've escaped. They can disappear completely quickly traveling miles away from home. Or they remain tantalizingly close but just out of reach in the high limbs of nearby trees. The best thing you can do to keep your bird with you is to remove the power of those wings from the equation: Make sure that flight feathers are trimmed on a regular basis.

Birds with properly trimmed wings have a better chance of being caught if they do manage to escape. Trimmed wings also protect birds from potentially lethal indoor hazards such as flying into ceiling fans or pots of boiling water.

Just as important as getting wings trimmed regularly is having them trimmed properly. A bird with properly trimmed wings should be able to fly gently downward to a safe landing but not have the ability to fly up and away. Wings that aren't trimmed right can allow a bird to escape or can cause psychological problems that stem from a fear of falling like a stone.

If you don't know how to trim your pet's wings you have two choices: Have it done for you by an expert at a veterinary office or bird shop or have an expert show you how and then watch you do it until you're competent at the task. Either way don't neglect this important aspect of caring for your bird.

So what should you do if your bird does get loose? Here are some tips that may help get your pet back.

  • Put fliers around your neighborhood as well as at all veterinary hospitals shelters and pet-supply stores in the area. Let local bird clubs know too. Also contact all avian veterinarians in as large a region as you can -- a list can be found at the Association of Avian Veterinarians Web site (www.aav.org).
  • Place an ad in your city's newspaper and in any community publications. It's probably a good idea to offer a reward as well especially if your bird is of one of the flashy and expensive species.
  • Use knowledge of bird behavior to locate your pet. It's easier to find birds at just before dawn and just after dusk when they are settled in one place and vocalizing.
  • Enlist friends and neighbors to listen for parrot calls at that time.
  • If your bird is lingering nearby set the cage out in your yard and put food both on top of it and inside it.

A bird may relish the chance to go home once he realizes how thin the pickings are on the outside. You may also be able to keep him near by putting food on your roof or putting his cage there. Be sure to check the cage frequently. Once he returns to the habit of eating inside his cage you may be able to simply close the door on him. If you can get close to your loose bird don't try to grab him -- you'll likely scare him. Instead offer him a perch or branch and calmly give him the "step up" command if he knows it. He might just hop onto the perch out of habit and then he's yours.

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