Most parrot escape through an open door or window. But if owners have got into the habit of letting their bird  perch on their shoulder (instead of their hand), these birds commonly escape as the owner unwittingly walks  outdoors and the bird flies off. It is best to prevent a bird from using your shoulder as a perch; instead, always have the bird on your hand. Grey parrots fly at about 64kph (40mph) and can be many kilometres away within a few minutes. In the event of an escape, what should you do?

First, you should have these items ready:

• A good pair of binoculars.
• Some of your bird's favourite food treats and the food bowl from his cage.
• A travelling case and/or cloth holding bag with drawstrings to put the bird in if and when you do catch him.

If a bird has panicked while escaping, it will probably fly a  great distance before coming down to land in an exhausted state. However, a bird which escapes while it is otherwise quite calm usually does not go far. In this case the bird is most likely to fly in a wide circle around the point of release looking for somewhere near to home to land. Most parrots which find themselves flying outdoors will be confused simply because everything is unfamiliar to the bird. Greys do not like to land on a perch unless they are already familiar with it. Tree branches, which may be blowing in the wind, may be frighten the bird and bare rooftops or TV aerials may also not be acceptable. Eventually though the bird will land as it becomes exhausted.

Searching in the tops of the trees

Escaped birds often land in the tallest tree in the area and then try to hide by climbing down into the foliage. At  this point the bird will be very tense and liable to fly again unless it is allowed to calm down.

In winter, when most trees have lost their leaves, you may find the bird by direct searching, using your binoculars, but in summer it can be extremely difficult to spot a parrot in a leafy tree. In these circumstances, it's best to rely on your ears to start with. Listen out for your bird's calls. Tame pet birds (as opposed to aviary birds) will often respond to the familiar voice of their carer, so use your usual calls and whistles as you search for your bird.

Countless 'shoulder birds' escape.
Keep your bird on your hand to prevent escape!

You'll need a small travelling cage with
a low perch to put your bird in once caught.
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