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Why Microchipping Your Bird So Important For Recovering A Lost Bird

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microchipping birds

Do birds get microchipped?

Thousands of pet parrots fly off or go missing each year.  Bird theft is another 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 you and your bird. 

One of the best ways to recover your bird and prove that it is yours is to have your bird microchipped and to register the microchip number.

A microchip is a tiny computer chip that is inserted underneath your pet’s skin. It identifies your pet with a proprietary number that recovers your contact information.

Is microchipping a bird safe?

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 there is little to no pain, most birds aren’t traumatized at all. 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. 

Things You Should Know

  • Microchips are designed to last for the life of a parrot. They do not need to be charged or replaced.

  • While some microchips have been known to migrate from the chest area, the instructions for scanning emphasize the need to scan the bird's entire body.

  • A microchipped parrot can be easily identified by a shelter or veterinarian who is in possession of a scanner. While some shelters or veterinary offices do not have scanning equipment, microchipping is quickly becoming a preferred method of animal identification.

  • Universal scanners may not be able to detect some older or off brand microchips, but microchip manufacturers, veterinarians and animal shelters have been working on solutions to the imperfections, and technology continues to improve over time.

Even if you clip your bird’s wings, a startled bird can get enough of an adrenaline rush to fly off.  Microchipping provides a more reliable method for recovering your bird should it ever fly off or get stolen.

If your parrot does become lost or stolen, a  microchip identification can dramatically increase the odds of recovering your pet and definitely claiming yourself as the rightful owner so that it can be returned to you.

 

Another way to identify your bird is by recording the leg band number. Most breeders attach a leg band on their chicks when they are very young. Leg bands were originally developed to identify domestically bred birds versus illegally imported wild birds.  This method of identification relies on the breeder keeping accurate and reliable records.

 Of course, when it comes to fly offs, an ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure. Never leave your bird unattended outside. Considerharness training your pet bird so it can be safely restrained when it is outdoors.  A skilled trainer can also train their parrot to “recall” in free flight. 

 
 

 

How much does it cost to microchip a bird?

Microchipping generally cost under $100 USD at the time of this writing.  The procedure takes less than 5 minutes. Your avian vet will keep a record of the microchip number however it is usually up to you to register with the microchip company. Some microchip companies require an annual fee. 

How long does a microchip last in your bird?

While microchips were originally developed to recover lost dogs they are used with pet birds has gained popularity. However, we know that pet birds live much longer than pet dogs do.  microchips last the life of a dog and never have to be replaced. It is unknown whether they last the life of a bird, who might live  to be up to 80 years old.


Diane Burroughs, LCSW is a licensed psychotherapist trained in ABA therapy techniques. She specializes in avian anxiety disorders and is certified in Nutrition For Mental Health.

Diane's products have been featured in the Journal of Avian Medicine and Surgery and at Exoticscon, a conference for exotic pet veterinarians.

With over 30 years experience, in a range of settings, she’s created thousands of successful behavior plans to help turn around challenging behavior.

Diane got parrot fever in the ‘90’s and founded BirdSupplies.com in 1998. Nowadays, BirdSupplies.com focuses solely on Science-backed Parrot Wellness with bird collars for feather plucking birds, nutritional supplements to support avian wellness, and a range of educational materials to support challenging bird behavior. Diane’s authored a number of books on supporting challenging behavior in birds.

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