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You opened the door to get the mail, something you've done a hundred times before, only this time...your beloved feathered pet flew away. (read more)
If you read my post about the day our Cockatiel flew away and was gone for 20 hours, you'll see that I'm writing this from a very recent perspective of "been there, done that".
Before Tuko flew the coop, I'd never given it much thought, but while this was going on, I wished I could find one concise post about exactly what I ought to do.
Now that Tuko is back, I decided I'd go ahead and write a post. So, if you're reading this because your bird has flown away, I really, really hope you get him/her back and I really hope these tips help you make it happen.
1. DON'T PLAY THE BLAME GAME - This isn't a tip to find your bird, but it is where you need to start because getting mad, yelling at family members, and freaking out is not going to help you at all. The time you spend being angry and venting is time you're not spending finding a bird that is probably searching for their flock (that's you, if you didn't know). Get over the mad and get on with the search. You can be mad later, if you want.
2. PUT THEIR CAGE AND FOOD OUTSIDE - Go do that right now. If you have a covered porch, put it there. If you don't have a covered porch or other covered area, just put it out in your yard. Make sure it's a place not accessible to the general public (which will also be accessible to stray dogs, etc.) If your bird is used to eating at their cage every morning, they are going to look for that cage when they get hungry. If it's in your house, you've just eliminated a spot they know contains food and water.
3. GET OUTSIDE! - I can't stress this enough. Get outside. Call to your bird. If they have a favorite whistle or saying or sound, play it over and over and over while you walk. I downloaded a Cockatiel flock call video from YouTube and played it repeatedly, stopping between calls to listen for an answering call from our bird. But, if our son hadn't been playing outside when Tuko finally landed (after 20 hours of us not being able to find him at all), we'd never have heard him flock calling.
Just be outside as much as you can. Your bird is going to be scared, he's going to call for you, but you have to be able to hear him.
4. STAY LOCAL - TELL YOUR NEIGHBORS/HANG FLIERS ON NEARBY STOP SIGNS - If your bird is flighted (meaning you do not clip his wings), he's still not going to be able to fly very far. He's not used to it. It'd be like you trying to run a marathon when the most you normally do is walk around at work a couple of hours a day.
If your bird has his wings clipped, it does not mean he can't fly, especially if you have a Cockatiel. Birds with long wing spans have much more flight ability, even with clipped wings. The point is, he won't be able to go very far, so there's a good chance your neighbors will be the first ones to spot him, as long as they know they ought to be on the lookout.
Go house to house, explain what happened, show them a picture, tell them the bird's name, tell them if he likes a certain call or whistle. Print posters (just black and white with LOST BIRD and your phone number), and hang them LOCALLY. Your street, two streets over, etc. At least for the first few days, your bird is not likely to be far from you at all.
Don't get freaked out by reading about how far they CAN fly in a day. Those numbers aren't going to apply to your bird.
5. SOCIAL MEDIA - Make a post on Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, SnapChat. Whatever you use, make a post and ask all of your friends to share it around if they can. Sure it won't help if you're in Texas and they're in Wisconsin, but your local friends will share it, and someone you're not friends with might see it, etc. Make that post, don't wait.
6. - JOIN NEXTDOOR - If you're not a member, it's free, and it's all about things going on in your immediate area. Join up, make a post, let the people in your town know what's happening and ask for their help. This is going to get more attention from people who have a high chance of seeing your bird.
7. CRAIGSLIST - Go make an ad, again it's totally free. Tell people you've lost your bird, include a picture, include a small reward if you like. People do check Craigslist for stuff like this. If I find an animal, stray, whatever, it's the first place I go, and a lot of people are the same.
8. HELPINGLOSTPETS - Another free site that will let you post about your lost bird. Not only is it free, but they also post about it on their Facebook group. You can reach a lot of people who have probably used this service to help them find their own lost animals, and are more than willing to pay it foward by sharing and keeping an eye out.
9. PAWBOOST - I'm including this one, but with a disclaimer. It was the first thing I found when I searched for sites to post on when Tuko flew away. It is free, and they will let you upload a picture and information which then gets transferred to a very nice poster you can print for free. BUT - They will also send you follow up emails letting you know that you can boost the post, costing you anywhere from $40 to $90. I didn't pay for this, and frankly it left a bad taste in my mouth, but it's not a requirement and the poster is helpful. I believe they also have a lost pet page on Facebook that they will post to, and that is free.
10. FACEBOOK PAGES - Log into Facebook and start using that search bar. I searched for things like "Lost pets Alvin, TX", "Alvin TX neighborhood page", "Talk of Alvin, TX", etc. There are going to be pages dedicated to your community, so take advantage of them and post. Do it quickly though because most of these will have moderators that need to approve your membership, and that can take time.
Most importantly, be outside, have their cage outside, and don't go too far. We found our bird the next day, after he'd spent the night outside in 45 degree weather, no more than 200 feet from our house in the neighbor's tree across the street.
When my niece's bird flew away, she left the cage outside and he magically appeared back on her porch the next afternoon. Birds don't go far, they just don't have the stamina, so stick close, stay outside, and don't give up!