It was a very warm, sunny, September morning. Due to our carelessness, Yasha, our hand-reared Amazon parrot, flew outside into the garden. I chased after him but he had vanished.
My partner Maria and I, made an immediate panic search. Failing to find him I contacted ExoticDirect who Yasha is insured with. Of course I wasn’t covered for an escape but they arranged an immediate call from John Hayward who ran the National Theft Register. He gave us great advice and much reassurance. We made up some flyers and circulated them within the village.
At home Yasha copies me whistling and particularly likes whistle calling the dogs. We sometimes have whistling competitions whereby, I at one end of the house and Yasha at the other, whistle to each other. I tried whistling around the area for him but there was no reply.
Later that day Maria located Yasha on a tree nearby merrily whistling and saying “Hello” to her whilst busily shredding leaves.
After remaining with him for over an hour she returned home to bring a familiar object, his cage, but by the time she returned he had vanished.
Calling John for further advice, he said the best times to locate Yasha are sunrise and sunset, so I searched again that evening. Only by hearing his calls was I able to located him at the top of the highest tree in the area, but it was impossible to see him.
Dark came and I returned home. As a pilot I had to leave at 5am the next morning so Maria went to search for him at sunrise. She managed to make contact with him briefly and then again he vanished. For the rest of the day she heard nothing.
I was back later that night and the next morning I set out at 6am. I walked the area for over an hour whilst whistling to Yasha as I went. I have never realised how many noises there are at that time in the morning. Aircraft having taken off from Heathrow, even though quite high by the time they reach over head of us, still filled the air with sound, and as one died down another was right behind it.
The odd car would rumble noisily past, and worst of all the birds were singing as loud as they possibly could. After an hour I had heard nothing and was giving up hope of him being ok. I made the decision to go home.
On my way back…suddenly…I heard him. I was so thrilled and ran to him. Again, however, we began another conversation. Me at the base of a huge pine tree and him at the top. Maria came to join me and we kept him talking and whistling for about 30 minutes before he again fell silent.
Shortly after that, we managed to locate him again, so I called John for further advice. He stated that lost parrots find it almost impossible to fly down and yet time and time again people stand at the bottom of the tree and expect the Parrot to fly vertically down to them.
I felt a bit silly telling him that’s exactly what I had just done! So we stood as far as we could from the tree and tried to entice him to us. After quite a while he braved his first attempt and flew towards us but he just couldn’t descend enough and circled back to the same tree.
A while after he tried again but sadly ended up at the top of the tallest tree in the area. I then spent about two hours talking to him but he wouldn’t budge until he finally flew again, this time to an oak tree which, by coincidence, was next to my house.
We realised that in our area there were no open spaces for him to descend as we were surrounded by trees. Although not recommended, I put a long ladder up the tree and climbed about 20 feet to a secure point. Yasha was still about 30 feet higher than me perched at the end of a dead branch. I really wanted to climb to this branch but felt it wasn’t safe.
We taped his bell to the end of a 20ft window cleaning pole which just made it to the bottom of the branch he was on. When he saw this he carefully made his way along and down the branch. But he was scared of the white fluffy mop on the end so we quickly replaced it by taping his familiar cage perch to the end.
Maria was shaking his multi coloured parrot food in his bowl. He got very excited and almost took off again but to our relief he again walked down to the perch. I then pushed the perch into his belly to make him hop on. The pole was really wobbly so I slowly lowered it vertically to me trying to hold it as steady as I possibly could.
We were so relieved when he reached me and I held him to my chest. It took some time but in the end it wasn’t so much us capturing him but a joint effort between him and us.
Once home he ate a bit of watery fruit but must have been exhausted as he couldn’t keep his eyes open, pushed his head in his back and fell asleep. I think he was relieved to be home as well. We would like to thank John Hayward for his help, advice and being available whenever we called.
Thanks to Richard and Maria of Henley on Thames for sharing their experience with us.