Catching a wild bird is the first challenge
Individuals attempting to capture or restrain wild psittacines should have some basic training to prevent sustaining injury to themselves and causing injury to the birds. Parrots can cause grievous harm that could require medical attention or have long lasting health effects. Even small wounds from a bite, or toenails, or hazards in the surroundings, or exposure to contamination from the bird could lead to severe infections. Rescuers must protect themselves with training and preparedness.
Most parrots on the ground are gravely injured, hypothermic, starving or in otherwise seriously debilitated condition. Capture is not usually complicated, except by disaster-related debris or other obstacles. Calmly herding (NOT “chasing”) a bird into a corner or “blind alley”, then using a large towel to cover them, find the head, and restraining properly is the least stressful. This technique sounds simple, but even severely injured birds attempt and successfully evade capture; they run, hide, climb and attempt to fly and can deeply complicate existing injury. Having a calm capture team usually decreases the stress and effort of all concerned. The team needs to be prepared for immediate first aid.
In disaster circumstances behavior can become unpredictable and even animals with otherwise calm dispositions may display uncharacteristic aggression. Knowing how to handle and care for a terrified parrot will prevent injury and illness in the short term, and stress-related illness in the long-term; and will help assure successful release when possible.
While psittacines are very strong for their size and can inflict severe wounds, paradoxically they can be injured very easily during capture and restraint. Proper handling calms the bird, gives the rescuer confidence, and helps diminish the stress levels of everyone. for example, grabbing a parrot by its legs or wings most often causes the bird to struggle, which can result in multiple fractures of both the bird’s legs bones, causing the bird pain, and usually, secondary human injury (see also How to Remove a Beak from Flesh). restraining a parrot around its body can suffocate it, and the parrot will struggle violently against potential suffocation (causing an increasingly dire situation). knowing how to “grab and go” the proper way will safely prevent pain, suffering, and potential mortality.
You may have to use materials at-hand!
Towel or t-shirt technique
Gentle capture for juvenile or injured parrot
types of nets: padded rims, scoop net, poultry throw net (fish nets are not appropriate)
Nets may be required in some situations, especially in free-flight enclosures that need to be evacuated. Pre-planning expertise on the use of nets is essential; even with expert use, net injuries are common and often fatal. The basic technique is to use a large-diameter, padded-rim net with soft, fine mesh or fabric, and place it in the “flight path”. Nets are not tennis racquets to swing at birds; the birds easily evade them or be killed on impact. No force should be exerted toward the bird at all. The easiest way to practice is with nets and stuffed animals or balls thrown by a team member. Impact with the rim causes the handler to lose a turn! Points are awarded for non-impact captures. Again, accidents are common and the capture team needs to be ready with first aid.
Large-mesh fishing nets or capture nets for mammals are not appropriate. Large mesh, nylon or kelvar, is dangerous as it easily entangles limbs, head and tail, causing panic and great injury. Parrots can bite though the strands easily and escape, and they can easily reach through the netting and bite the rescuer. If the netting is replaced by soft, fine-mesh fabric and the hoop is padded, they can be useful.
Specialty nets such as throw-nets, or scoop nets for poultry, long-handled telescoping nets for raptors, can be used. Fishing nets or mammal capture nets should be avoided or the netting replaced with bird-friendly fabric. Netting skill can only be learned by practice and in real-life situations. Inexperienced team members should not be assigned net-capture unless there is absolutely no other choice; and even then, a quick cautionary lesson is in order.
Sometimes a rescuer will need to crawl into a hole and reach for a bird deep inside. Medium aquarium nets can work for this attempt, and their “hoop” can easily be bent to facilitate the crevice. They preclude the use of gloved hands. Often the bird will bite the net and can be extracted just with this “fishing” technique.
Nets are dispensable. There is no net that can withstand parrot-chewing. Replacement nets should be kept in the disaster kit to fit each kind of frame or handle. Soft-mesh nets are not designed for restraint, and often sustain damage. They should be replaced as needed--when holes bigger than a head or there are loose threads which create a risk of entanglement
All capture equipment, including nets, must be washed and disinfected between use. Diseases are OFTEN spread by contaminated capture gear!
Consequences of poor netting technique: severe head, facial and beak injuries and fatalities
DO NO HARM
Psittacines are very strong for their size and can inflict severe wounds, paradoxically they can be injured very easily during capture and restraint. proper handling calms the bird, gives the rescuer confidence, and helps diminish the stress levels of everyone. for example, grabbing a parrot by its legs or wings most often causes the bird to struggle, which can result in multiple fractures of both the bird’s legs bones, causing the bird pain, and usually, secondary human injury. restraining a parrot around its body can suffocate it, and the parrot will struggle violently against potential suffocation (causing an increasingly dire situation). knowing how to “grab and go” the proper way will safely prevent pain, suffering, and potential mortality.
Be Cautious and Plan Ahead
You Can Hurt a Parrot
You Can Hurt Yourself