February 2000 Magazine
Time is critical when a bird is first lost or stolen. You want to act as quickly as possible, to get the word out and hopefully recover your bird. So BE PREPARED! Gather the information you will need and be ready in case such an event should occur. You will need to inform the unlettered public and help them understand what your bird looks like if it is lost or stolen.
If your bird is stolen by one of the major bird stealing gangs, your best hope is that the customs agents catch them at the border. But, if the bird is merely lost or is stolen by a local snatch and run guy, you can be prepared by designing a flier now.
You need a good picture of the bird that shows its size. A picture of the bird with you or another person helps give size perception. If you plan for your fliers to be 8.5 x 11 inches, the picture must be smaller to allow for the text.
Some information you may want on your flier is:
- A description of your bird with any identifying marks, words the bird speaks and special habits. Or you may want to make a list of these things and keep it with other identifying documents to help in proving that the bird is yours, if found.
- How to contact you
- Where and when the bird was lost (add later)
Take the finished flier down to a Kinkos, a local printer or someone with a color copier and make one copy to be sure that the picture copies and the text is bold enough. Purchase a cheap picture frame and put your flier under glass, and out of the bright light to avoid fading the picture and print. A linen shelf is a good spot. If and when you do lose your bird, you can add some additional information before getting the actual fliers printed.
There are other items which you may want to have available in case you have to post your fliers. It would not hurt to have a staple gun to staple the four corners to a telephone pole. Another good idea is to have a can of spray shellac for paper (hobby stores have it) and spray the flier after you staple it up. This helps keep the paper from getting wet. You might take along a roll of scotch tape for those places that a staple won't do. The cost of a staple gun is $12 to $15, the shellac is about $4, the picture frame is $3 to $5. When you are in hot pursuit of a pet, you do not feel like you have the time to do it right.
Next, make a list of where the fliers should go. Local pet shops, vets (not just avian because whomever finds the bird may take it to the nearest vet) are a must. Some supermarkets allow fliers. Schools might let you put fliers on the home room bulletin boards for a few days. Some stores and restaurants allow fliers in their windows. Remember to include the local bird clubs, local breeders and the internet mailing lists and bird websites.
Find a map. Using your house as the center, draw a circle with a radius of 10 miles and label it "A". Draw a circle with a radius of 20 miles and label it "B" etc. These are the primary and secondary areas you will search if your bird becomes lost. Next get out the yellow pages and start looking up pet stores and vets in these areas. If you are computer literate, you should enter these into a data base on your computer. The telephone company will have yellow pages for other areas and usually will let you use them in the office. The library has cross reference books. If vets and/or pet stores file papers with the state, there may be a data base there. It might be well to see if there is a salesman who has a regular route to all the pet stores and/or vets and might distribute fliers.
Another thing to do is to find out if there is a local animal control officer. Or is that function covered by the county or state? It is embarrassing to print up a bunch of fliers only to find your little run-away is already in protective custody.
When your bird goes missing, you will want to take your flier to the printer to make the copies. (Note: The lists that you prepared will give you a suggestion of how many to print.) Your map will show you which areas you will deliver in person which you will want to do right away. When you return home at night, you can stuff envelopes with fliers. If you are going to mail some, the printer may have a folding machine. The post office has pre-stamped envelopes. If you have the list on a computer data base, you can print out mailing labels. Anything that will make the job go quicker.
Do yourself a favor and make a wanted poster for your bird. It is hoped that you will never need it, but if you do need it, you will need it fast. And you can have fun doing it.
Winged Wisdom Note: Ken and his wife, Carol, have owned pet birds for over 13 years and are co-creators of the Birds n Ways, Winged Wisdom and Cockatoo Heaven websites.
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Page design: Carol Highfill ---- Last update: February 1, 2000
Cockatoo Parrot picture courtesy of Glasgow Enterprises