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Do Parrots Come Back If They Fly Away?

Kristin Hitchcock

In most cases, captive birds will be unable to find food in the wild because they never learned this skill. Eventually, they will become hungry and seek out food in places that they know food is located, such as their old cage.

If their cage has been set outdoors and they find it, most of them will fly right back in. Some will also fly to their owner if they can locate them.

However, parrots will have no idea what their house looks like from the sky. They’ve never seen it before their escape, after all. Therefore, they usually have difficulty finding their house unless their cage or owner is outside.

The bird may attempt to fly back in these cases, but they will have no idea where their home is or what it looks like.  Sometimes, birds will decide that any human will do and fly to a random person. If your bird has been reported missing, you may get a phone call.

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How Come Pet Birds Don’t Just Fly Away?

Parrotlet
Image Credit: klickblick ,Pixabay

This is a common misconception. Many people have seen parrots walking around on their human’s arm outside and assume that these birds won’t fly away. However, this is not true. If given the opportunity, many birds will fly away, even if it is only for a short time.

In captivity, many birds have their flight feathers clipped. These feathers are necessary for the bird to be a strong flier. Without them, most birds can only glide and will usually be unable to gain much altitude. These feathers do grow back, so wing clipping must occur regularly.

If you see a captive bird that just isn’t flying away, they likely have had their wings clipped. Most captive birds have had their wings clipped when they grow their flight feathers, so they usually don’t attempt to fly. They’re convinced that they can’t.

There is controversy around wing clipping. Many people claim that it is cruel, while others argue that it is essential to keep the bird from flying away into the wild (where they will likely starve). You should speak to your vet about whether wing clipping is the best option for your bird.

Can Parrots Find Their Way Home?

In some cases, parrots can find their way home. The main obstacle to a pet parrot finding their way home is that they don’t know what the outside of their house looks like. They’ve spent their whole life inside the house.

However, they may use other landmarks to locate their home. For instance, if their owner is outside and talking, many parrots will recognize them by sound and sight. If your parrot escapes, it is recommended that you spend as much time outside as possible, as this may be one of the few ways that your parrot can relocate their home.

It is often recommended that you put their cage outside as well. Not only do parrots know what their cage looks like, but they also know that it contains food. When your parrot gets hungry, they will likely start looking for their cage. Be sure that you keep the cage full of food and yummy treats to lure the bird back.

As social creatures, parrots are more likely to fly back home than other birds. However, the trouble usually lies in whether they can find it. Many will attempt to fly home, but that doesn’t mean they will be successful. Parrots are strong fliers, so they can often travel miles away from home.

How Far Can a Lost Parrot Fly?

macaw flying
Image Credit: christels, Pixabay

When a bird first escapes their home, they usually have one of two reactions. Either they will fly around erratically due to excitement or fear, or they will freeze and barely move. If your parrot falls into this latter category, they usually won’t fly that far. These parrots can usually be found in nearby trees or on other perches.

However, parrots that do take to flying can fly miles before they settle down and rest. Some birds have been recovered as far as 50 miles away. After escaping, many parrots are chased by wild birds, which often means that they will end up flying farther and farther away from home.

In these cases, parrots usually don’t remember the way back. They’ve never been outside before and have no idea what their house looks like. These factors make it difficult for them to relocate their home.

If your parrot is one of those that flew far away, the odds of them finding their way back are relatively low. After all, a parrot that only flew 1 mile away is much more likely to fly over their home again and see their owner than one that flew 50 miles away.

We highly recommend contacting pet stores, shelters, and similar organizations up to 60 miles away. Once your bird starts to fly, there is no telling where they will end up.

Do Parrots Forget Their Owners?

No, parrots are social birds and good at remembering social relationships. For the most part, these parrots will remember anyone whom they’ve come into extensive contact with, especially their owners. This is true even for parrots that have been lost for years. They may suddenly see their owner nearby and decide to return, especially if they haven’t seen them in a long time.

Therefore, if you see your escaped parrot in a tree and they completely ignore you, it likely isn’t because they have forgotten you. In many cases, these birds may not know how to fly down. While this may seem like a relatively straightforward thing, many birds raised in captivity have a severe problem flying down from trees. Some of them get stuck and need to work up a great deal of courage before leaving.

How Far Can Parrots Fly in a Day?

In a single day, the average parrot can fly up to 30 miles. Whether your escaped parrot will fly this far is impossible to know. Many parrots will become stressed when they first escape and may fly in a single direction. If this is the case with your bird, they can fly far away.

In most cases, parrots won’t simply fly in a straight line for days on end. After they calm down, many will begin circling in ever-widening circles. This is especially true if they start looking for home again. Therefore, some parrots may return home even if they have flown quite far. However, this assumes that there is something about your house that they recognize. We highly recommend putting your bird’s cage outside after they escape.

Still, the farther away your parrot flies at first, the less likely they are to find their way home. They may be too far away.

Why Do Parrots Try to Escape?

As any bird owner can probably tell you, birds will often attempt to escape anytime that they see an open window or door. The reason for this can vary. Parrots are often inquisitive birds. If they see something new and exciting, they may try to check it out.

At the same time, parrots are social animals. If they see birds flying around outside, they may want to go see them.

Other birds will attempt to fly out through windows and doors if they are scared. If something inside the house frightens them, they may be more likely to fly through an exit.divider-birds

Final Thoughts

In many cases, parrots will attempt to come back if they fly away. As social animals, most will miss companionship. They will instinctively seek out people and birds they know, which usually means coming home. Furthermore, most captive parrots don’t know how to find food in the wild. Therefore, they may quickly decide that returning to their cage is the only way to fix their hunger.

However, while most parrots will attempt to fly back, some will not find their home. This is especially true if they have flown far away. Parrots can fly up to 30 miles a day, so it isn’t odd for them to end up a long distance from home.

The farther away that your parrot flies, the less likely they are to find their home again.

You can help them by placing landmarks outside that they may recognize, such as their cage. We also recommend that owners spend as much time outside as possible. Many birds won’t recognize their house from the air, but they may recognize their owner by sight and sound.


Featured Image Credit: crivolu, Pixabay

Kristin Hitchcock

Kristin is passionate about helping pet parents create a fulfilling life with their pets by informing them on the latest scientific research and helping them choose the best products for their pets. She currently resides in Tennessee with four dogs, three cats, two fish, and a lizard, though she has dreams of owning chickens one-day!