car travel with parrots

Can I take my bird on a road trip?

Now that things are opening up again, people are traveling more than ever.  And, they're taking their pets with them. welcomes safe parrot enrichment like taking your pet on trips.

Each year thousands of people hit the road for car travel with parrots.  You can take a road trip with your parrot, too. Before embarking on a cross country trip, though, review my  Six Tips for Car Travel with Parrots to ensure hassle free trip where your pet bird is safe, secure and fun to be around. 

The first thing that you're going to want to do is plan for your road trip. If this is your first road trip you'll want to keep things as stress-free as possible for both you and your bird. It will be important to plan for your bird's comfort, to minimize the mess, to iron out lodging, and to put safety first.

Do parrots like car rides?

But, first things first. Before embarking out on your journey get your parrot used to riding in the car. You can start out with short trips to fun destinations and work your way up from there. 

Purchase a few accessories and you'll be on your way.  First you want a comfortable travel cage that allows your bird to perch up right. I usually like to buckle the travel cage in the backseat for my bird's protection.

Next, you might want to consider a bird car seat!  I've got a picture of my bird, Peachy, riding shotgun on a FeatherSmart bird Car Seat.  Birds that are accustomed to travel really enjoy being close to you and watching the scenery. 

This car seat from FeatherSmart does the trick. It comes in two sizes  and it's designed to catch the droppings. Even so, I like to protect my  car seats with a towel. 

A third accessory that comes in really handy is a bird harness. For me, a bird harness is like insurance. It buys me peace of mind that I won't accidentally lose my bird if it gets frightened during the trip.

These are my top bird car accessories that make traveling with parrots fun. 


For overnight trips, I like to pack a bird car kit. Purchase a plastic tub and pack up your bird's food and food dishes. Toss in some Poop Swoop wipes and paper towels, a jug of water from home that your bird is used to, a travel perch, and some toys, of course. 

If you're traveling in the summer, pack up a spray bottle with fresh water in it to keep your bird cool. Also invest in one or two of those car window shades made for babies. Your bird can easily get overheated if it's carrier is in direct sunlight. Most birds don't enjoy the air conditioning blasting on them during the car ride.

Safety precautions

Make an appointment with your veterinarian to provide grooming services and to issue a current health certificateIf you're leaving the state.  

Make sure that you prepare a packet that contains the health certificate, a current picture of your parrot and a record of its leg band number and microchip number.  

Ask your avian veterinarian to refer a vet in your destination town in case your bird has a medical emergency en route.  Remember, it is always better to be safe than sorry.

Trudy in her Bird Travel Cage
Trudy taking a travel break

 Travel breaks

Plan to take several travel breaks to check on your bird throughout the journey.  It's important  that you check on your bird every hour or two to make sure that it's not getting too stressed out.  

Also, birds need constant access to fresh food and water because of their high metabolism.  But, we all know how messy birds are!  They poop in their water dish and knock over their food cups, so stopping every hour or two is a good idea.

If the weather permits, your bird may appreciate some fresh air and sunshine.   A harness trained bird will welcome putting its bird harness on and stretching out its wings. 

Do parrots like car rides?

Once your bird associates car travel with fun times and companionship with you, it will come to like car rides. But, like I talked about above it helps to start out slow and get your bird used to the motion.

When I was car training Peachy, I  got him used to the car seat inside of the house, first.  Then, I packed up his favorite treats and taught him to stay on the car seat while the car was still in the garage.

Next, we started driving around the block at least once a day. When I knew that he was comfortable we took longer jaunts. Next thing I knew, we were going on vacation.

Peachy on vacation

 Photo by Diane Burroughs

You can also use the same strategies to get your bird used to riding inside of a bird travel cage.  Placing my birds in a bird travel cage has become my preferred way to transport them. 

How do you carry a bird in a car?

Plan on purchasing a good travel carrier for your pet bird. It needs to be sturdy enough to withstand your bird's strong and crafty beak. The door needs a bird-proof lock that your bird can't open. And, the bird carrier should allow for plenty of ventilation.

Over and above that, I like multi-purpose bird carriers. For instance, I've used high quality bird carriers as a hospital cage, an evacuation cage, and even a sleep cage.  And, one other thing that I've used a well-ventilated bird carrier for is to take my birds outside to get sunshine.

These are a few of my favorite bird carriers and a car seat cover that protects my car's interior.

Is traveling stressful for birds?

It's really important to get your bird used to traveling in the car before you embark on your journey. Otherwise, your bird can get pretty stressed out and experience sensory overload. 

However, sometimes we have to take our bird on a trip with a little planning. For instance in the case of a family emergency or when you have to evacuate.  

If you live in an area where an occasional evacuation is a possibility, plan on training your bird how to ride in the car.  Take occasional fun trips just to keep your bird used to the experience.

There are a few conditions that can make traveling stressful for your bird.

Some birds get bored on long journeys. You can help alleviate boredom by bringing along some of your bird's favorite toys or creating some foraging style toys to put inside the bird carrier. Another way to alleviate boredom is to have frequent travel breaks where you take your bird out and let it stretch its wings.

Weather can also make the trip stressful. Make seasonal plans to ensure that your bird doesn't get chilled or overheated during the trip. In the winter let the car warm up before you place your bird inside of it. In the summer make sure to keep your bird out of direct sunlight and ensure that the bird carrier is well-ventilated.

Never, ever leave your bird unattended in a car. Place your bird in a carrier and take it with you. 

Finally, if your bird gets car sick, that will stress both of you out. 

Do birds get car sick?

Just like kids some birds can and do get car sick. 

It's important to keep a good eye on your bird during your travels. We know that birds try very hard to hide any signs of pain or illness, so they will try to hide their car sickness from you. That's why it is so important to learn the body language signs that your bird isn't feeling so well.

Signs of motion sickness can include but are not limited to:

  • Vomiting
  • Huddling behavior
  • Ruffled feathers
  • Weakness
  • Loss of balance
  • Trembling
  • Drooped wings
  • Inactivity 

If your bird is vomiting due to car sickness it be really important to make sure that your pet stays hydrated and nourished. With such a high metabolism, birds are prone to dehydration and hypoglycemia when they're vomiting.

 It's way better to pull over and give your bird's stomach time to settle so that it can rehydrate and get some nourishment. If you're planning a lengthy trip with a car sick prone bird make sure that you pick up some avian electrolytes.

The best way to prevent a dangerous situation is to simply fill the water dish with avian electrolytes. 


If your bird  is one to get car sick, you might want to try some natural remedies to soothe the stomach. Ginger tea Is a popular choice. Simply shave off a few slices of fresh ginger root and steep it in water. Once the water has cooled, strain out the ginger and serve the tea to your bird. Start serving the ginger tea a couple of hours before you embark on your journey.

Likewise basil and  peppermint also help soothe the stomach. You can make a tea out of them as well or serve fresh or dry herbs.

Some people report that covering the bird carrier helps with motion sickness while others say that their bird is less stressed out when it's able to see them during travels.

In conclusion, I talked about the joys of traveling with your pet bird and how to make it more comfortable and less stressed out during the journey most birds really appreciate novel activities when they feel safe providing for your birds Comfort during its travels is an excellent way to help your bird to feel safe and happy on your next trip.

Related Posts

Finding a multi-purpose bird carrier

Why you need a high quality bird carrier


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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