We Can ALL Learn From The Mistakes Of Others

We Can ALL Learn From The Mistakes Of Others

 August 4th, 2011
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Blue and gold macaw

We all learn as we go through our lives. Some of life’s lessons are taught in the harshest of ways when someone, or something,  pays for our errors or lapses in judgment, leaving us to suffer not only loss, but guilt.

Sometimes other people’s actions are unthinkable to us. Some can be appropriately described as acts of cruelty or neglect. Others are the result of preoccupation, something we are ALL guilty of with our busy lives. We have to be careful not to condemn someone whose heart was in the right place, even though their mind was apparently not.

Blue fronted amazon

The one thing that used to infuriate me with certain bird owners is carelessness, particularly when it involved an escaped bird. I would be kind and sympathetic on the outside, but my thoughts went to: “How could you be so irresponsible? You’ve heard all the warnings. This is YOUR fault!”

Back several years ago, I had an experience that forever changed me and my judgmental tendencies where birds are concerned. One of my own birds escaped. I DID heed all the warnings, and yet, one small miscalculation led to the loss of one of my precious cockatiels.

I have birds of all sizes. Living in an apartment, as I did then, I had to come up with creative ways to allow all of them out of cage time while keeping the difference species separated for safety reasons. I bird-proofed the bathroom off of my bedroom for the use of the smaller bird’s playtime.


In the living room, where the cockatoos were caged, I had opened the sliders to let in the fresh, spring air. The bedroom door was closed and the bathroom door, where the cockatiels were playing, was ajar. I felt a draft and turned around to see that my cat had pushed open the bedroom door which was not latched. The air movement further opened the bathroom door, frightening one of the cockatiels into flying out of the bathroom, out of the bedroom and finally out the sliders. He was gone.

After searching for hours, I went online to post a lost bird alert. I was mortified in having to admit my carelessness. If only I had carefully latched the bedroom door… I was always so careful and so conscientious. How could I let this happen?

It was a mistake, but my attention was not fully on the birds as it should be when they are not in the safety of their cages. I had left them in a situation that led one of my babies to its probable death (I still hold out hope that he found his way to a caring human who is taking the very best care of him). I don’t mind admitting that my impatience with other people’s mistakes has diminished.

Goffins cockatoo

Often, people’s worst mistakes don’t come from a place of carelessness. What I have discovered is that while people may hear the warnings, they are not always in possession of the facts that would make them act in accordance. In the instance of birds that have flown off, many people are unaware of these simple FACTS:

  • Fact # 1 – Birds with clipped wings certainly CAN fly.
  • Fact # 2 – Birds WILL leave the safety of your shoulder when confronted with a loud noise or sudden motion.
  • Fact # 3 –  In their fear and confusion, birds that have flown off are unlikely to return to you regardless of your bonding.
  • Fact # 4 –  You never really fully know your bird or how it will behave in unusual circumstances.


This information might be what stops someone from taking unnecessary risks in the future. It’s easy to criticize, but providing knowledge is a better means of getting everyone on board with parrot safety. You can only be considered negligent if you are in possession of the facts and choose to ignore them.

Yellow collared mini macaw

Those who stand in judgment of others might feel that their expertise is superior and that the precautionary measures they take will keep bad things from happening to them. In the typical day, that might be true. However, in the untypical day, the one where the car breaks down, or where the workload at their job has been especially heavy and stressful, they, too, might find their attentions are elsewhere or that their memory has failed them. It is in these circumstance that the unthinkable most often happens.

Please be compassionate about other people’s mistakes. Never feel that you are above making these same mistakes yourself. Thank you to those who are humbly willing to share yours so that we might all learn. We owe this to each other so that another bird and bird owner, perhaps you, might not have to suffer a similar fate.

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43 Comments on “We Can ALL Learn From The Mistakes Of Others”

bill taylor  08/04/2011 4:35 pm

The more important mistakes we make are cultural and from ignorance. For instance: Birds just don’t respond positively to punishment. This is learned the hard way when a favorite pet goes ‘phobic’ from mishandling over things such as concern for safety over caring for the bonding between. Some species are remarkably sensitive to ‘toweling’ to retreive a frightened or mischievous pet when we are under scheduling or other pressures. I nominate the Poicephalus species!

Ken  08/04/2011 4:53 pm

Excellent article to reflect on in numerous ways. Thank you.

Michelle Nicholson  08/04/2011 11:42 pm

I haven’t had a bird escape and fly away, but I lost a dear budgie another, unexpected way. In the summer, I would hang my budgies cage outside to enjoy some sunshine and fresh breezes. I never dreamed a yellow jacket would fly in the cage, sting my beloved bird, Sprite, and leave him clinging to life.
Horrified, I wrapped him up and while clutching him to my chest, ran into the house to phone the vet. I had two numbers on speedial: the vet and 911. I accidentally pushed the button for 911 and hung up quickly when I realized my mistake. I then dialed the vet and got some instructions for helping Sprite.
Moments later the doorbell rang and an officer was at my door asking me if everything was ok. Come to find out, my mistaken speed dial to 911 did go through….oops. I apologized to the officer for the mistake, and he told me he hoped my bird would be ok.
Moments after the officer left, Sprite convulsed in my hands and died. The bee sting was just too much for his little body. He was the sweetest bird and I felt like a murderer. How could I be so careless? It was a devastating loss. That was many years ago and I still miss my little guy.

Judy-Ann Haukenes  08/05/2011 12:58 am

I took my cockatiel camping last year. While waiting in her cage on the picnic table while I was loading up the car (my back was turned toward her), she unlocked the cage and crawled up to the top and was waiting for me to “get the show on the road”. When I banged the trunk of the car down solidly, she was frightened and flew into the forest, sqwaking loudly, fortunately. I followed her by sound, leaping over poison oak and rough terrain–with loud prayers! At last, I spied her way off on a low growing shrub–little yellow speck with orange cheeks. I hurried over to get her and she waited patiently for me to pick her up. I have a new cage with a good lock and take more precautions.

I have decided not to trim her wings any more. It seems better for her, that she is allowed to “protect” herself at the cost of “us” losing each other. I have a Pet Pocket that is a front backpack with straps around me and sturdy wire mesh that she can look through on three sides but she cannot chew through. It has a perch inside. Susie crawls right down in it; I zip it up, and away we go.

Candice C  08/05/2011 8:50 am

Five years ago this year (the anniversary was June 1) I lost my blue-headed Pionus when I took him outside with me to get the mail with me and to get some sun. I was 19 at the time and he’d just had his first birthday in February. I had taken him outside with me before on multiple occasions, both in a cage and on my hand/held to my chest without any incident. But I hadn’t clipped his wings in awhile and he had all his primary and secondary flight feathers. I’d also let him fly around the house, so his flight muscles were in good shape and he knew how to fly pretty well.

As I was heading up the driveway to go back inside, a shadow of a bird passing by overhead scared him and he got his feet free of my finger and thumb, jumped off my hand and started flying away. Now, I thought he’d just land in the grass in the backyard and scream for me, so I just stood there like a g-ddamn idiot. He just kept on flying and made a right turn. That’s when I started running after him. He crossed my backyard, crossed the neighbor’s, made another right turn and by the time I made to the street I had lost sight of him. He’s banded with a blue aluminum ID band on his right ankle, so I put flyers out all over the neighborhood and the city and in every vet’s office I came across, but it’s been five years and he still hasn’t come home. I pray that a kind-hearted, caring person found him and that he’s living with them now, happy and healthy and loved.

But I live with the guilt and self-loathing and “if I had only”s every waking hour of every day and I still have dreams. Nightmares, I guess. Five years of lost sleep, five years of wondering what happened to him and hoping that he’s still alive and heathy and happy and loved.

The hardest part is not knowing and never being able to know.

Yvonne  08/05/2011 9:05 am

When we lived just west of Syracuse, NY, I took my loving Alexandrian Parrot, Romeo, out to see all the commotion on our street as the Village Wide Garage Sale was going on. He took flight and our family followed him all over town until he landed up very high in a pine tree, but would not come down, no matter how much we pleaded, begged and bribed. He took off again, up high where we could not see him. We eneded up putting flyers all over town, posting an ad in the nespaper, etc. We did get numerous calls of sightings-he was eating out of neighborhood bird feeders. Finally, the next spring, our breeder (who had banded Romeo) got a letter from a family in Pennsylvania that they had Romeo and that he was doing fine. They were unwilling to return him to us, feeling that we had mistreated him by letting him get away in the first place. My heart still aches for him. We have a new bird, a powder blue Indian Ringneck named Norm. I take absolutely NO chances with him, always making sure he is safely put away when I am leaving the house, or putting him in his carry cage whenever I take him outside. Sometimes I call Norm Romeo by mistake. I miss him but am happy that he is with a loving family. I regret ever taking him outside without a cage.

Rich W.  08/05/2011 2:43 pm

I actually had a friend I work with who found a cockateil sitting on a branch outside his apt window… In Lexington KY. My friend gave the bird to me and I’m still raising him. If it helps any of you, I found and care for a bird that escaped. That’s proof that they can be rescued.

Goatess  08/05/2011 2:44 pm

Patty — Don’t know if you live in the Northern Virginia area, but I will tell you an uplifting story: About 3 years or so ago, a friend was outside her office on a smoke break when a cockatiel flew down and landed on her shoe. It was cold and shivering, so she picked him up and brought him inside, where a box was quickly found and the bird was snugged in, surrounded with paperr towels. She was going to bring it to me (since I have birds), but one of her co-workers had just lost his cockatiel to old age, and so he took the bird home. Last I knew, the bird was happy and healthy, and he and his new person loved each other dearly. So there CAN be some happy endings, at least for the bird.

Colleen  08/05/2011 2:57 pm

Last year my husband was in the back yard holding our blue and gold macaw and our neighbor’s son screamed and Topaz flew away. He landed on the neighbors roof 3 doors down and across the street. I went over thinking Topaz would come down if I called him and all he did was walk back and forth on the gutter, telling me to “Come on” Luckily there was a cable guy in the neighborhood and he was kind enough to let us use his ladder. My husband climbed up and Topaz walked to his hand and stepped up. We were very luck that Topaz was scared after flying and did not take off again when he saw the ladder. We now keep in in the house and no more adventures in the back yard.

worddogtoronto  08/05/2011 3:01 pm

I lost my beloved budgie – Parry the Parakeet – decades ago, and I still have nightmares where my birds escape – just knowing that others have experienced this same pain is comforting as all these years I blamed my father for being so careless as to open the screen door at the cottage, where Parry loved to perch. I thought that he was getting rid of my friends, but after reading Patty’s words (and maturing considerably since then) I realize that he, too, was preoccupied.

Since that time I have owned a number of birds — it took me about 30 years to finally buy another budgie — and when my last budgie, Smudge, died, he was so irreplaceable that I next bought a parrotlet.

Similar to what has been described by many others in this discussion, “Peepadeep” was startled by my bashing a bag of frozen vegetables on the kitchen counter – and flew from my shoulder, directly in the path of the next bash (within a micro-second). I was of course horrified, but fortunately, he was undamaged except for a lot of bruising. That was just over a month ago, and every experience is one of learning – especially to avoid being complacent as our pets must be constantly supervised.

Sandi  08/05/2011 3:06 pm

Well, we thought we had lost our Cockatiel for good, but after putting an ad in the local paper I rec’d a call the next day saying they may have my bird in their tree (about 1km away) so we high tailed it out the door, looking high and low, we were searching for 2 days after we had got the call. My husband could hear her in the trees, to this day I still don’t know how he heard her as I did not. Finally on the 6th day I was about to give up hope as we did not hear her cries anymore, so I tried my luck and drove down this different street and I FINALLY I heard her and saw her circling above, she flew to the tree that I was standing under so with a seed cup in one hand and a towel over my shoulder she came down from the tree once branch at a time and then onto the 6 foot fence and then flew to my hand, I then slowly covered her over with the towel…..and then ran like the dickens to my car, saying out loud to myself ‘I got my bird back” I got my bird back” off to the Vet she went and she was fine. Unbelievable week,.. I did not think that I would ever see her again if it wasn’t for the lady calling me or my Husband and all his hope in finding her. I still have her today and this was 6 years ago.

Ann Lavin  08/05/2011 3:13 pm

I have a cockatiel named Max who i love. My friend has an amazing one called Birdy. He acquired Birdy when he flew into his bedroom window 7 years ago. Last year Birdy decided to go fly about again, after crawling out of a small hole in the mesh in the window guard. He disappeared and wasnt heard from for 6 weeks. One day my friend got a call from the RSPCA (GB animal rescue) to say that Birdy had flown into someone elses window 30 miles away, and they had reported it to the RSPCA, Where he had been for the other 5 weeks only Birdy knows, but he certainly knows that humans are friendly, and when he has had enough freedom he flies into anyones window to be fed and looked after. Lucky Birdy to be re-united with his owner must be nothing short of a miracle.

Lisa  08/05/2011 3:17 pm

We too lost our baby (macaw 2 yr.old) put posters up and lo and behold the kind people of local people who lived on the cheaspeake bay located our baby and i was able to “talk” her down the following day. You could tell she was trying to get to my husband and me but didnt know how to fly down. She utimultely climbed down from the tree. Lisa. Gaithersburg ,MD

Carolyn Hess  08/05/2011 3:38 pm

Just a quick note. I have actually also adopted two lost birds. One was a blue parakeet that decided to come visit when I had my birds on the back porch. It is screened in, My birds were socializing and all of a sudden I heard a new voice and there was a blue parakeet climbing the screen on the outside of the porch. I went out and he let me catch him easily. I put him in a cage by himself with food and water. Poor fellow perched in the food dish and never got out of it the rest of the day. The other bird was a cockatiel that a neighbor found in her garage. She brought the bird to me since I have birds. I do not know how old she was then, but she lived with me for eight years before she died. She acted wild when she was first caught, but in time she became a wonderful pet.

Joan Hamilton, Logan Ohio  08/05/2011 3:54 pm

I was hoping to tell you, that I have your cockatiel. Sadly I have someone else’s that escaped about 13 years ago. He was found on a roof in Columbus Ohio, by my nephew who was working as a roofer. He is an escape artist, has escaped out the door as my husband opened the door, twice now, but I was able to find him both times. He is grey with white on his wings, but different pattern than yours. Someone is thinking theirs died years ago. But he is fine, living like a king, In Logan. I have to really be careful as I take him outside in the swing in his small cage, now. We have Kestrels, and one flew down and watched him with an intent that I didn’t like the other day. Here is hoping that those that have lost birds this way, have found homes like our Paulie did.

Cheryl  08/05/2011 3:55 pm

I am guilty also..I had a love bird (Kiwi), 8 years old, I should have named him Velcro..If he could he would have slept with me. We have a semi enclosed area in our back porch..note the word Semi enclosed. He would fly up on the roof and hop back and forth, and then fly back down to me, back and forth..always coming back. He was always whistling to the wild birds that flew nearby and would even perch with them occasionally. One fatefull day..he flew up with his wild buddies, looked down at me..and I knew from the look on his face that he was carefully considering joing the new gang and leaving me behind. Off he went into the wild blue yonder, leaving me in amazement at my carelessness, and stupidity. I left his cage and food out, did the flyer thing…to no avail…I can only hope he landed on some unsuspecting human, and found a safer home.

Don  08/05/2011 4:09 pm

Last year my African Grey got startled and ended up flying out of the house (my fault because I thought clipped wingsp prevented that). For 2 days I folled that bird whistling our favorite tune and she answered each and every time. She fould ony the tallest trees around and I got to know people I have never dreamt of meeting. We had to leave her the 1st night in a very tall oak and my heart was broken (I’m old). The next day we caught up to her again by whistling. I stayed with her all day along with friends and family members. We brought her stand (that I had manufactured) and she was crying like she wanted to come home. At dusk I told her we had to leave again and she went to a lower tree and from there tried to come down and I did get my hands on her to disturb her flight and she landed on a nearby house, came to the gutter and said help, help!!! I got her and have never let go since. She drank a real lot of water and was hungry as well. Since then she is always monitored and all doors checked! My son bought her when she was a baby and then he got killed in an accident and we inherited her! She spoke in his voice so we could never, ever, let her go. She is part of the family and treated as a kid and she reciprocates with love to both of us. She has changed our lives and we love her very much!

Mike Higgs ,Waterval Boven South Africa  08/05/2011 4:10 pm

I allow my Senegal parrot to sit on top of his cage. I have twice lost him..having clpped his wings.

On the first occasion It was hot: my wife had the door open and my parrot flew 400 metres across the river into the high trees. Luckily I have taught my parrot a wolf whistle which he recognises immediately.

I drove round to the spot and whistled until I got a response. During the time he was out in the wild a hugh electric storm and about 50mm of rain fell. After the storm I whistled and whistled until I had a response.. I could her the parrot from 400 metres. I drove round stopped the car, whistled and whistled until I found him 5 metres up a tree.

I think he was traumatised by the situation. I got a young lad to monkeyclimb up the tree to bend the branch. Lucklily he aloud me to pick him up

on the second occasion a similar situation..door opened and I eft the room. THis time he was away for 27hours not responding immediately to my whistle for at least 23 hours. It was late on the floowing day that I gor a response. This time I spotted him low on a branch. He didnt want to come bach to me and escaped into 2 metre high grass. I whistled…he kept quiet!

I knew where he was and enlisted my neighbour’s help to cut off his escape. I took my T shirt off and captured him.I have learnt that the doors must never be left open at any time even if the wings have been clipped they still fly. I was like a bear with a sore head until I retrieved him If yu want the door open make sure the parrot is back in the cage

LeOra Bennett  08/05/2011 4:14 pm

My Sun Conure Sammy flew out the “make shift doggie door” I had on my sliding door. At the time I had three other birds on my shoulder and had to secure them in the bathroom away from my Boxers before I could go out after Sammy. I could hear him calling me in the front yard. He was in a tree and wouldn’t come down. I was very fortunate that he was afraid of flying out of the tree. So I called a local tree service looking for a bucket to go up after him and after a couple of hours I finally found one. I tree guy showed up, strapped me in the harness and loaded me into the bucket. With all of the commotion Sammy just listened to my voice and stayed right where he was. When I got close to him I held out a perch and he ran up my arm to my chest. It took over three hours to get him down. Three hours of praying that he would stay and he did. I no longer have that doggie door.

Casey  08/05/2011 4:24 pm

ugh – these stories of lost birds are so sad. :0( for all these reason’s I do not let my B&G out unless she is caged – and she only stays in a screen room when not in the house. I’ve thought of sitting in the back yard with her in the grass or walking with her to the mailbox but fear of her flying off (even though she’s clipped) I don’t do these things. I’m very sorry for those that have lost their burds this way. I have great bond with “burdie” and it would devistate me to see her fly away.

Syl Castonguay  08/05/2011 4:49 pm

I had the scare of my life when being outside in the backyard, the next door big black dog started barking at me to be patted while I had my cockatiel on my shoulder. He was a baby and had not yet experienced what it was to fly (he also had his flying wings cut). He just loved my shoulder and would pannick and scream if I was out of his sight. I had started going outside regularly with him never thinking he could fly. Well that day he startled me when he left my shoulder for fear of the dog. He fly up to the slanted railing of the balcony stairs. I was shocked to see him go up with his flying wings cut off. He went to perch on the slanted railing but being it was slanted, he had trouble staying in place till I got to him. He was slipping off and before I got to him, he pannicked with the slipping and started flying again but this time he disappeared out of sight by passing between 2 buildings. I was pannicked. I had heard of Cockatiels not finding their way home so I thought I was gonna loose him. I started running to the street and as I came to the street, I could hear him screaming. So I stopped to listen where the screaming was coming from and I realised it was from the back yard. He had flown back to the back yard somewhere. I was already on the sidewalk, so I jumped over the fence and back to the backyard. I couldn’t see him but he was in one of those trees. When he could see me, he would stop screamimg, but when I would walk out of his sight trying to see where he was perched, he would scream. When I finally figured out what tree he was in, I started climbing it. Yap, there he was, waaay up there. And my baby wouldn’t come down. He was waiting for mommy to go get him. It was hard to climb up there in the cedar tree but I managed with a couple of scratches to reach that bird that was perched over 20 feet high. When I reached his level, it is then that he did the effort to come towards me. It was hard to climb up with my two arms and now, I was left with one, the other hand holding my bird. Well, there was no way to get back down with one hand so I decided to put him on my shoulder and climb down that way. When I reached the bottom of the tree, I took him in my hands to protect him from the branches and walked out of the tree. Believe me, that was his last day outside.

Liz  08/05/2011 5:03 pm

I also found and care for a lovely blue budgie many years ago, so those of you who have lost beloved birds, try to convince yourselves that they sought out and found a caring home! It happens more often than you think!
I’ve also had several close calls losing my birds, all because I didn’t have screens on my windows. I can’t stress enough the importance of screens!
So many times I’ve seen some proud parrot owner strutting down the street or nonchalantly sitting in a park somewhere, wearing their beautiful cockatoo or Amazon like an adornment for all to see and admire and perhaps think “how cool!” when it’s soooo NOT. We have eagles around here, and hawks, and a good gust of wind or a fright will knock even the most bomb-proof bird off his owner’s shoulder and into the Wild Blue Yonder. Accidents happen, but don’t put your bird in a position like this just to attract attention to yourself!

ray levine  08/05/2011 5:38 pm

in 1999, my brotegerus[grey cheek] companion and i were walking like we did many times before.. her wings were clipped, we were very bonded, and she sat gracefully on my shoulder… until a car ….sped up… and spooked her … she jumped into the path of the car…and i have felt the guilt ever since…a grown man … a cvd physician …i cried for days … and still feel the pain and anguish…
animals can be spooked by unusual noises…
a word to the wise who want to be wiser…ANIMALS .are children and… CAN BE SPOOKED BY UNUSUAL NOISES…

Victoiria  08/05/2011 6:32 pm

I too found a blue budgie outside I captured her and took her door to door trying to find the owner no one claimed her. I kept her and gave her everything I could had a hugh house made just for her had all the equipment you need humdifies, air breathing machines, made a tree with toys got her a male bird. This birdies wanted for nothing she got sick and passed away i will never forget the joy and love that bird gave me. Because of her I have more birds and love them. Blue bird they say are a sign of happiness, and somewhere over the rainbow my blue bird flies.

Kathi  08/05/2011 8:00 pm

One day I was at the Beach on Maui. I am to paranoid to take my Conure out of the house, so I was very excited to see a large green Parrot on a mans shoulder at the beach. I asked him if it was too hot for his bird out in the blazing sun. He told me he takes him everyplace and the bird loves it.
2 seconds later a man and his wife ran over and, as the wife was VERY excited, she was very loud and then clapped her hands. The bird was startled and took flight off his owners shoulder and flew 50 yards out into the ocean!! Needless to say, the bird drowned!!! We were all overcome with shock & grief and the owner was devastated. A surfer paddled his dead parrot into shore. SO SAD.

Janine  08/05/2011 8:11 pm

Thank you for this post! I have never lost a bird but this made me realize that no matter how careful one truly is, accidents do happen…even to veteran bird owners. I will be even more careful now than i was before! Thank you!!

linda constantin  08/05/2011 8:12 pm

When I was a child Joey, our green budgerigar, escaped from his cage whilst my mum was cleaning it. He flew across 2 gardens and landed on our neighbour’s roof. As Joey’s favourite toy was a bell – he used to play with it in the cage and follow it everywhere when moved over the living room floor (even through tunnels made out of the inner cardboard from toilet rolls) we decided to ring it to encourage him back. Yes it worked! within a few minutes he flew back onto his cage, which was now in the garden, and my mum put him back in it – bell as well of course!

Virginia and Eddy Thomas  08/05/2011 9:10 pm

We used to live on about an acre with chickens, pigeons, rabbits, and goats. One day a gray cockatiel landed in our pecan tree. My husband offered it a finger and it stepped up immediately. It seemed almost grateful to be in the care of humans again. We made every effort, but could not locate the owner. It lived with us for the rest of its life. So, if it’s any consolation, just know that some lost birds do end up enhancing the lives of other bird-lovers.

Bonnie Lee Fountain  08/05/2011 11:13 pm

I feel for you about the lost bird. The Lord takes care of them. I’d like to share with you about the time someone contacted me about a found bird.. She knew that I had a yellow napped Amazon. One was on her porch about 8 miles from where I lived. I took a cage in and we finally coaxed it inside’
She later found that it escaped from a bird sitter. He had already notified the vacationers of itts loss. They were very happy to learn of its return before they returned.

In the early 1960s I had an experience with some wild magpies that i’d like to share. For years we had a nest in our backyard right close to the house. I enjoyed them and their activities and noise. Some farmers do not like them. One year I heard different kind of noises. I ran outside and picked up five babies and put them in the clothes basket and brought them in, before some of our twenty cats discovered them. I noticed the parents left and never ever returned to that nest.

My farmer husband built a hugh outside cage of chicken wire and a tree branch for perches. under a big shade tree. I fed them Chicken Starter mesh because we had it on hand. moistened and wrapped around my finger. They soon learned to line on their perch for my finger to go down their opened mouths. They are smart birds. I fed them 3 times a day at first then two times. After the fuzz turned to feathers I played games with them and they could figure it out. One day, I skipped the fifth bird in line. The second time, he flew to the front of the line so wouldn’t be missed again. One very hot day in July, no breeze, One bird flew out and straight down to the creek. I was sick. It was so hot the insect and birds were quiet. That evening that bird was back in the tree and hopped back into the cage to get his food. No bird ever tried to escape since.

When school started, I took them to my First Grade Classroom. Did you know that each Magpie had 20 white feathers, 10 on each wing? I had five birds, 100 white feathers to count. Not one bird bit a child while he held it to let another child count feathers. Wonderful object lessons for several days. After the counting session and the children became busy with other lessons the birds were quiet until the recess bell rang and everybody left the room, then you could hear them all over the school. So somebody had to stay in the room for them to stay quiet., usually me.

I gave them to a lady who enjoyed them. She had her grandson to put a small cage in a tree with a good suppy of food and water with the door opened. She watched them for a few days until the didn’t return to their food and water.

Penny  08/06/2011 4:23 am

Leaving South Africa permanently for Wales UK, I had to find my two beloved ringnecks a good home. My brother’s wife’s mother offered to take care of them and was excited that I said that would be great as she told me she had taken care of birds previously, I was at peace and had full trust as she was also a family member and I could get updates on their developments.
I received the devastating news that shocked my world, barely a week here in Wales I was e-mailed to be told Sky had flown away, I was livid, furious, angry to the extreme, the grieve was so hard to bare as I cried and cried, I expressly told the mother to keep them in the cage for a few weeks for them to get used to her, I typed out guidline on their characters, what they eat, what not to do and do, and never to open the cage door unless the screen door was up for protection to the outside or the door was closed, she had put the cage outside, opened the cage door to fix a perch and Sky got out and flew away, she had forgot to close the door, the utter carelessness had so deeply upset me, as I had pointed out verbally as well as written that it was top priority for their safety, I am still grieving at the worry if Sky is alive or dead, she wont survive out in the wild, and must be terrified, how will she get food and who will protect her from dogs or cats out there? My Sky was such a lovely bird and so trusting of me for her wellbeing. I am now trying to come to terms on forgiveness and getting over my anger, I have made arrangements that Babes (my yellow male) is to be taken from her by stepfather who loves birds for his safety, this has cause a broken relationship and am too furious to talk to the mother, God take care of my little blue bird and help me to forgive.

Ash  08/06/2011 4:56 am

Patty, this really do bring painful memories. Its not even a year since i lost my two budgies also because of carelesness, although i’m SO careful regarding them but then too mistakes do happen. My 4 year old took them out of their cage to play with them and at that particular moment i was quite busy and knew it but did’nt check that he put them back after play. He left them running on the floor and then by mistake he stepped on one of them when coming down from a step and the poor thing died instantly. I broke out in tears holding the dead bird but nothing could be done. Then just 6 days later the second one was sitting ontop of his cage as he usually does, wing were clipped and he never flies out high and i was also busy and never noticed him making his way outside. A while later when i came to get him he was nowhere to be found! I looked the entire neighbourhood but no sign! I just prayed and hoped some caring hands found him and is taking care of him. He was missing his friend and I think that is what made him fly away. I really did’nt know he could fly. Yet i can’t stop the guilt feelings.

Then i bought a 3 month old Ringneck and a baby cockatiel that i was still feeding formula. The cockatiel’s wings was’nt clipped but he was still tiny and i did’nt know it woul fly. So i would let it sit out in the warm sunshine and a minute later when i came back out i found it flew to the backyard. so when he saw me he tried flying to me but just went unconrollably and over the high wall. My hear nearly went out! I went in the direction it flew but could not find it calling by name. But half hour later a kind neighbour brought it not knowing who it belongs to and says he found it in a small puddle of water and dried it up and fed it a little. I was overjoyed. I immediately clipped one of his wings. Needless to say i had a headache for the rest of the day.

Consuelo Calhoun  08/06/2011 3:54 pm

WOW!!! I thought by clipping the wings, it kept the birds from flying away! I take her outside everyday, after getting home from work, to give her a bit of fresh air. She has stayed on my chest or shoulder the whole time. I never thought that at anytime, she could fly away! I have a 2 year old cockatiel, Tikki. I bought her at 3 weeks old. She is my first bird. I have learned a great deal from all of the comments coming from all of you. I appreciate your experiences and the hard work you put in to raising your beautiful birds. I will, of course, be more mindful of how I handle my baby Tikki when I take her out from now on. Thank you.

shirley martin  08/06/2011 6:10 pm

I am one of the people that someone said should not breed birds. What is the difference in raising birds than raising dogs or cats. They are all animals that can bring their owners hrs. of love and joy.Most dogs and cats have to be kept inside for their safety, so like birds that have been clipped, they do not have the freedom to run and play outside without being surrounded by a fence or on a leash. I feel like I have provided many hrs. of fun and pleasure by providing them with a feathered companion.

Juanita Yoder  08/06/2011 9:41 pm

Dear Chet,

Thank you for your video of “flight training” a pet bird. I trained my wonderful dusky conure, Jyoti, to fly to me in the house. It is so dignified and wonderful, and a great thing to show off. This past week he accidentally flew out the door and into the great blue yonder (I felt sooo stupid and my heart sank). I immediately heard him screaming like a banchee in a tree out back. I knew I had to lure him back before a hawk heard him. We whistled back and forth to each other like we do in the house. Jyoti is very bonded to my 18 year old son, Niko, who was much calmer about the whole thing than me (I was a mess, as you can imagine). My son coached him to fly to him and it all worked out quite sweetly. I thank you for your suggestion for flight training, as I think it creates an even closer bond when your bird is willing to fly back to you from anywhere. At the same time, I was lucky nothing scared him to fly farther and get lost. I feel like he is twice my bird now. He asked me to adopt him, and now he has returned to us from the outdoors. His is a happy and loved bird and enjoys us and his bird buddie, Monet, a yellow sided conure. Incidentally, Monet went catatonic when he heard Jyoti screaming outdoors, and it took him a while to forgive Jyoti for flying out. Monet kicked Jyoti a few times before letting him back to the preening and cuddling.

Zoraida  08/07/2011 9:58 pm

We rescued a yellow-collared Macaw about 4 years ago. We DID not know what we were doing becausee he had never owned a bird before! So we have been learning as we go and really enjoy reading your blog and other related information. We feel that we are responsible owners but we are much to careless we will agree. The fact is that we take Bandito outside often just on our shoulders we well as do “free” transfer between his inside cage and outdoor cage. He often doesn’t want to go in his outdoor cage and we have to wait for him, or bribe him, to go into his cage. He has “escaped” 4 times, spending nights outside in neighboring trees. We always find him and he usually returns to us without incident. It is definitely NOT an enjoyable experience and rather frightening but can and often does end happily!
Keep up the good work!

Wendy Wright – Johannesburg South Africa  08/08/2011 3:50 am

Our African Grey, Raymond, took off one day when we were having some playtime with her outside. We were completely taken off guard as she had never taken full flight before. We immediately started searching, and a neighbour two houses away called to say she heard a car alarm in the tree of the house opposite. Raymond was sitting in the tree, but there were a number of pigeons there as well. When we came closer, the other birds took off, and Raymond with them.

She landed in a tall blue gum tree at the end of our road, but quite high up. We tried to coax her down but she was quite frightened and wouldn’t budge. Eventually we had the whole street in on the exercise. We put up an extension ladder and climbed up to fetch her. She came down, and we took her home. My heart was in my shoes during the whole experience, because her chances of survival are nil out there on her own. We have cats and dogs, which Raymond is accustomed to, but if she had landed somewhere else she would surely have been killed, or starved to death.

We have learned such a valuable lesson and were so fortunate to have found her and brought her home so quickly (4 hours later). It doesn’t always happen. In a way I am glad that she had a taste of flying. Birds fly, this is what they do, and although she was frightened at first, I think she must also have experienced such a sense of exhilaration, and it made her more aware of herself. She was very proud of herself when she got back home, and made sure to let us know. We still have playtime outside but when she gives signs of wanting to take off we have to take her back in.

We would love to be able to train her to fly – and come back….

There can be no blame for a bird flying off – they are birds and they fly – this is what they do. The problem comes in when we humans keep them in captivity, they don’t know how to look after themselves as they would in their natural environment. If anything, we can only blame ourselves. Long live the power of flight!!!

Linda  08/09/2011 10:27 am

Here is the other side of the coin…I was relaxing in my hotel room allowing a gentle ocean breeze to come thru the open sliding glass patio doors when in flew the most beautiful yellow cockatiel. I could tell he was scared to death so I talked to him calmly. He seemed to settle down and we became fast friends. I knew this bird had a human somewhere so I contactd the police who put me in touch with the right people. Notices were posted, ads were put in the paper, etc.
In short, try as we might, there was no contact from the missing human, so “Pumpkin” went home with me about a month later. He and I are BFF, and while his owner may have mourned his loss, I hope this helps some of you know that there can be a happy ending for the bird. Not all are forever lost.

chiquita  08/09/2011 1:26 pm

i have a beautiful cockatielan hes a bitter an i really want him to be able to come out of the cage an let me hold an cuddle him an play with him what can i do……

one desperate bird lover

Vickie  08/09/2011 8:18 pm

i still feel terriablly guilty for the death of my scaley breasted lorry, we bonded to close & she would stay in her nest until i arrived home, she would wait till i got home to go to the toilet, this caused her health problems, also with her bonding so close to me she consisered me her mate all this put togeather caused her to have a prolapse. My poodle alerterted me to the fact that she was unwell, i didnt even notice her bum until the poodle kept sniffying at the bird, he has never recacted to the birds this way before and to my horror i saw. my little bird went through surgery but unfortunatley died after being home only a few hours,( rest in peace, my ‘Squirt’) now the remaining 2 birds are made to interact with every-one, no more special bonding for birds, this is a bad mistake!!!! if only i knew what i know now !!!!!

Christy Schumacher  08/10/2011 6:40 pm

I have a 5.5yr old Red Collared Lorikeet, Sparra, (who has never had clipped wings) who loves nothing more than sitting on my shoulder as I walk around the house. About 3.5 years ago he was doing just that when the phone rang. It was for my partner who was outside working on her car. Not thinking I just walked outside to hand the phone over and totally forgot he was on my shoulder. I truly believe he didn’t even realise, as he had never been outside before. It wasn’t until I started panicking and trying to rush inside that he panicked and flew off. He did come back to my shoulder, but as I walked in throught the back door he took off and I just wasn’t quick enough to shut the door behind me. We searched the whole day and were up before dawn the next day and the next doing the same. We hang posters, rang vets and pet shops with a description in case anyone took a bird in and it wasn’t until 4 days later that we received a phone call from a lady that believed she had our bird. Apparently she had rang a well known pet shop, who had passed on our details, asking what type of food Lorikeets eat as she had discovered one waiting outside her back door to come in. She had opened the door only for him to fly in and make himself at home in her house. As I was at work my partner went around to have a look at the bird and as soon as she walked in he was on her shoulder asking for ‘num-num’s’ – who elses’s bird could it be! It turned out my little fella, Sparra, had flown about 10km (as the Lorikeet flies) to a house 3 suburbs away. A good result in the end, but just pays that mistakes are easy to make and great outcomes can happen. You just have to get word out there!

Amanda  08/14/2011 11:06 pm

I had a cockatiel whom I let fly freely around the house, and although I took every precaution possible, I still worried about losing her. Thankfully I never did, but I came to realize the importance of training your parrot to come to you when called. Even if your parrot has clipped wings, I highly encourage every parrot owner to go through this training. I have heard several stories where parrots have escaped and actually returned to their owns because they took the time to train their parrot to come to them on command. Obviously, this won’t guarantee that your parrot will return, but it will least increase the change of you getting him back if he does manage to escape.

Caroline Richards  08/17/2011 2:33 pm

I appreciate this article. I lost my beloved feathered friend last week, and have been searching for any comfort since. The bird was so much of a friend and companion to me – I rarely spent a moment without him on my shoulder. I left him for just one night with my husband, who fell asleep with him snuggled in the bed. My baby suffocated, and my husband found him dead the next morning. Since then I have been paralyzed with anger and sadness. I had discussed the danger of having the bird around covers and pillows many times before with my husband – and I’ve been so angry about the loss that we’ve barely spoken since the loss. I’ve been searching for a way out of this “how could he have been so careless” mindset. Reading this was a step in that direction, thanks.

Debi  08/22/2011 4:31 pm

My close call, my husband and I have a Blue & Gold, Lucy. My husband insists (or he used to, it has been made quite clear he is NEVER allowed to take the bird from the house again.) on taking her outside to introduce her to the neighbors. This would be okay, if he would hold on to her, and her wings were clipped. Neither is the case. One day I looked outside and I saw her on his shoulder while he talked with the man next door. (Something I NEVER allow). I immediately ran out of the house, then realized I didn’t need to provoke her escape, walked calmly (on the outside) over and asked her to step up. She, actually being my bird and very agreeable stepped right up on my finger as instructed. Clutching her feet I returned her to the house. I got so angry with my husband; he just didn’t understand a startle could cause the loss of our Lucy, not to mention the danger for a tame bird loose in the city. He doesn’t believe she knows she can fly… Though she doesn’t often fly, she is quite aware she is capable; she is a bird for Gods sake!