Thousands of pet parrots fly off and become lost each year. Bird theft is also a common problem in both the U.S. and the UK. While it is possible to recover a lost bird,it’s a very stressful event for both the bird and you.
It is important that your parrot have identification at all times. But when it is so hard to differentiate one bird from its entire species what can you do? Leg bands are important, but they can be cut off and they wear down with time. Technology has made it possible to safely equip your parrot with a microchip for permanent identification.
About the size of a grain of rice, a microchip consists of a tiny computer chip housed in a special type of glass that is compatible with living tissue. The microchip is implanted in the bird’s chest, under the skin, with a needle and special syringe. The procedure is fast, similar to getting a shot. Since little to no pain is experienced, most birds are more traumatized by being held down for the 30 second procedure than they are by the actual implantation. Once in place, the microchip radio waves can immediately be detected with a handheld device. Most veterinarian offices and animal control agencies have universal scanners that are capable of displaying the unique alphanumeric code of the microchip. Register your microchipped parrot with the microchip company. Usually there is a one-time fee for the service.
Even if you clip your bird’s wings, a startled bird can get enough of an adrenaline rush to fly off. No method of parrot identification is perfect so the best thing you can do to protect your pet bird is to develop safe routines and procedures that all family members follow. Keep leg bands on your pet bird if it has one. Make sure your bird is caged if you have open windows or doors. A startled bird will fly toward the light of an open window or door. Never leave your bird outside unattended. Consider harness training your pet bird so it can be safely contained when it is outdoors. A skilled trainer can also train their parrot to “recall” in free flight.
If your parrot does become lost or stolen, microchip identification can increase the odds of recovering your pet.