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How Dot Schwarz Found Her Lost Parrots

How Dot Schwarz Found Her Lost Parrots

Posted by Lost Parrots, Finding Lost Parrots, How to Find My Parrot, Parrot Escaped on 27/6/2024

A Tragedy That Ended Well

Dot Schwarz

What is one of the worst experiences for a Parrot carer? Your Parrots escape the house or aviary, they fly away. And you don’t know what happened. Where are they?

I lost Mina and Solo, two Military Macaws, from their aviary in April 2023 and had them home in time for Christmas.

Is it easier to learn from success stories or failures? My story contains both. I have written for Northern Parrots how I finally achieved my wish to free fly Macaws and flew Benni Blue and Gold and Mina Military for 3 years until Benni tragically died of sepsis at the age of seven.

My first mistake

Their training was scamped. My first Macaw, Benni had 5 months training before flying alone. Mina had much less because she idolised Benni, followed him everywhere and took his lead.

Solo came from Plymouth as a weaned chick several years younger than Mina, who’s training was not complete.

My second mistake

I took bad advice from someone who seemed to know what they were saying when building the aviary. It was completed in fits and starts and it did not use strong enough wire. First piece of advice, check your sources of information!

The aviary which runs behind the length of my main aviary which foolishly was fitted with chicken wire. And yes, they found a hole enlarged it and went over the hill.

They had not started flying together yet as Benni and Mina had done. Mina through her flights with Benni knew the area up to 2km from our bungalow. Solo knew nothing apart from an escape as a chick when he landed 1km away and we retrieved him.

There are no statistics of how many lost birds are retrieved. There are protocols for searching and excellent websites (see list at end) which provide voluntary help in finding.

I followed all the instructions with no success. Possibly sightings 6 km away. I spent three weeks searching a neighbouring town where a green Parrot was spotted. Unfortunately, it turned out to be a ring-necked Parakeet flocking with crows at a fruit farm.

One worry I did not have was that they would go hungry. April through to September plenty of food is available in woods and orchards and bird tables. Sources on the Internet claimed a pet bird won’t survive wild for more than a few weeks. However, I’ve known of pet birds living wild for up to 2 years.

Sadly, little ones like Conures and Kakariki, Budgies or Cockatiels will get caught by predators if not quickly found. But I believed had mine died, someone would have reported the body or group of feathers.

My third mistake?

I am a senior citizen, and I’m sure some readers may be asking themselves this question. Am I too old to acquire young hookbills?

It is an important question considering the expected longevity of my Macaws, and indeed most Parrot species. I don’t think so, as I have made adequate provisions for my birds when I can no longer look after them. I have a Parrot bequest and an executor.

Natalie Spencer runs the Kingfisher Sanctuary near Cambridge. She keeps my Parrot Bequest, a list of people interested in taking my birds. I am confident that she’ll choose the most suitable when the time comes.


My Military Macaws were lost; my hopes lessened each week that passed. A last effort was putting fliers further than our immediate area. Friends helped to send flyers to towns much further away.

Months later after all hopes where lost, I was amazed when contacted by a kind person who had seen two birds using a tree house in their garden, matching the descriptions on a flyer he’d seen in his local post office. They’ve asked to remain anonymous, and wanted no reward just happy to have helped reunite Mina and Sola, who had travelled over 80 miles away, with their grateful owner.

They came home in good feather but were no longer pet birds. However, fortunately for me, both have retained some behaviours. When carried outside with my thumb over their claw they know that they don’t fly off; a training that they’ve retained.

Solo bites my thumb every morning and no longer accepts the indoor recall. Mina who has had more education both as a pet and a free flyer is more amenable. Neither bird will accept strangers as they used to. Neither bird can be petted.

Rectifying my first mistake

I’m following the principle of going slowly. First taking the time to make my Macaws amenable again, retraining them to be pets, before I start working on any free flight training, which will be thorough for both Mina and Solo.

Rectifying my second mistake

The aviary has since been secured with stronger mesh, and I’m now regularly checking and maintaining the aviary to help, something I strongly suggest to anyone keeping their birds in aviaries, even if it is over the kinder months does.

Further Advice

My strongest advice to any new Parrot owner is to teach the step up FIRST. For me that’s the most important behaviour your bird must know, a founding building block to building trust. From here you can work on other useful commands, whether you intend to join the growing band of global carers who want their birds to free fly, or to simply help your feathered friend co-exist more peacefully within your home.

I can end on a happier note. The morning of writing this article, I let Solo and Mina out of the bird room to share breakfast with me. (Toast, honey, banana, and nuts.) And they behaved impeccably apart from the mess on the floor.

Help for taming a wild bird or retraining one that has become wild isn’t readily available. Watching experts like Barbara Heidenreich or Steve Martin will give you plenty of ideas to follow. But each bird is ‘a study of one,’ and my hope is that Solo and Mina will become, with patience on my part, the amenable pets they once were.

Lost Parrots

There are many sites in UK for locating lost birds.

The Parrot Society UK

Parrot Alert

Located Animal Search UK

National Pet Register

Alert your local radio, local schools, etc.