Revised April 22, 2022
Now that summer is in full swing and COVID restrictions are less of a challenge, you may be thinking about taking a vacation.
As a bird owner there's a lot to consider. Do you hire a bird sitter? Or, would you prefer to bring your bird along for the fun?
As you know, parrots are very social and they require human interaction to thrive and stay healthy. Having someone stop by to replenish food and water while you're away just isn't the same as when you're at home and interacting with your pet throughout the day.
The option to travel with your bird could be the perfect solution. However, it does require some planning.
This blog post will cover all the bases when it comes to traveling with your feathery friend.
First, depending on the method of transportation, your bird will require different preparation. For example, you'll need to make different provisions if you plan to stay in a hotel versus renting an RV. And, a plane ride presents a completely different set of hurdles as you figure out airline requirements. (Stay tuned because at the end of this article, we have a resource guide for methods of transportation).
When traveling with your parrot, safety should always be top of mind. Things to think about include everything from getting a safe, yet roomy bird carrier to planning for food and diet to minimizing the risk of getting lost.
Here's a list of some "must-have" bird travel accessories:
It is critical to have a carrier for your bird. If you choose right, your carrier can serve you well for several purposes from medical emergencies to vet trips, evacuation situations, travel and vacation as well as becoming a safe place for daily sleep.
Your bird carrier should be lightweight, easy to lift and transport, and easy to keep clean. There should be proper ventilation that also minimizes drafts and the structure should be sturdy enough to help prevent your bird from being crushed if there was ever an accident.
Choose your carrier with ventilation top of mind, especially if you're traveling in the warm summer months.
The Pak O Bird line offers several options from their backpack-style bird carriers to the In-cabin Airline Bird Carrier.
For more information about choosing the right carrier for your parrot, you can visit our article here.
Once you've purchased your bird travel carrier it's important to test it out. Practice loading and buckling the bird carrier in the back seat of your vehicle.
Note: Never put your bird in the front seat. If the airbags ever go off, it could crush the cage and your bird and your bird may not survive.
The second step for a road trip with your bird involves getting your bird used to travel. You should purchase your bird carrier several weeks before your trip and start taking your bird on short, fun trips so he can become familiar with the routine and overall feel of traveling. Some birds get car sick, so its important to start slow.
If you only use your carrier for trips to the vet, this can create anxiety in your bird when it comes to traveling.
By making the trips fun and enriching, your bird will look forward to getting in his carrier and going on travel adventures.
The same applies to a bird harnesses. We highly recommend that your bird is harness-trained before embarking on a vacation. You don't want to risk a fly-off.
A bird travel kit will come in very handy and it's great to have on hand in case you ever need to evacuate. Consider buying a plastic tub to store the supplies in. Depending on the size of your bird, you could buy a large tub plus, some smaller plastic shoe-sized bins to organize your stash.
Keep food and treats in one bin. Cleaning supplies in another bin, and so on...
Cars can get really hot in the summer and that could deadly for your feathered friend. Never ever leave your bird unattended in the car, especially in the summer. First, the bird could quickly overheat. But, also, your bird could be stolen.
Get a spray mister bottle and fill it with fresh water. If you notice that your bird is panting or showing other signs of being overheated, spray it down to cool it down.This will also help to contain dander.
Speaking of water, make sure that your bird always has access to fresh drinking water. A great tip to prevent spillage is to allow ice cubes to melt throughout the day.
To help shield your bird from having too much sun exposure, purchase a sun shade. This can also act as double duty for keeping your car environment cool overall.
Keep your bird out of direct sunlight. Position the bird carrier to avoid this or get some window sunshades. You could also cover the bird carrier with a towel or a sheet.
Check on your bird frequently to make sure that he can access fresh drinking water and food for the entirety of your journey.
Your bird's lungs are delicate and need to be protected from environmental pollutants. Hotels are notorious for using potent, heavily scented cleaning supplies. Check with your hotel ahead of time to see if they can air out the room for you. Also, refrain from daily cleanings while your bird is occupying the room.
Another thing to consider is protecting your bird while you're gassing up the car. Roll up the windows to prevent your bird from inhaling gas fumes.
Once you reach your destination your bird might not be able to do everything with you.
It will be important to make sure that your bird is safely confined when you can't be with it. But, you'll also need to plan for your birds recreational needs to prevent boredom.
Spend time with your bird as much as possible so that he isn't feeling lost and lonely. Birds thrive on routine and familiarity. The mere fact that your bird is in unfamiliar surroundings combined with a disrupted routine can be stressful for your pet. Try to keep a few of your normal routines intact.
When you're out and about with your bird, it is wise to keep a bird harness on hand. Even a well-socialized bird can get easily startled in new surroundings and attempt to fly off. It's part of their instincts.
A bird harness will provide you the opportunity to walk with your bird rather than always crating him around in a carrier.t might be wise to keep a bird harness on your bird when you're out and about.
If you are new to traveling with your bird, make sure to clip his wings BEFORE you embark on your journey. No one wants their vacation to turn into a recovery effort in an unfamiliar city!
Planes, trains, and automobiles oh my! No matter how you plan to travel, we have an article for every situation. Check out our resource guide below:
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 has written a number of bird behavior books and she offers behavior consultations. She's developed a range of UnRuffledRx Science-backed Parrot Wellness Supplies.
Diane's products have been featured in the Journal of Avian Medicine and Surgery and at Exoticscon, a conference for exotic pet veterinarians. Her bird collars & supplements are stocked in avian vet clinics and bird stores throughout the US. With over 30 years in the field of behavior, Diane has created thousands of successful individualized behavior plans that help pets thrive.
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