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Traveling With Your Bird

Written by Erin, Erin CG

I recently went on vacation, and decided to take my birds with me. I had tons of questions and concerns, and did plenty of research before vacation time.

The decision of taking your bird with on vacation is one that requires work and careful planning. First you need to find a place to stay that accepts animals. Some places require a security deposit for pets, but may be more lenient toward birds, as they are generally less destructive than dogs or cats.

Make sure you write down the numbers of veterinarians in the area you will be staying. If an emergency 24-hour vets office is available, keep the number handy. Also know where you can buy supplies for your bird if you need to.

Contact the housekeeping manager of where you will be staying. Find out what chemicals are used to clean the rooms, and whether or not there are any air fresheners or potpourri in the rooms. If so, have them removed before your stay, and ask that the room be aired out. Make sure to let housekeeping know NOT to use any sprays to clean your room. Ask for towel and bed-making service only. Even vacuuming could startle your bird. Make your request over the phone before your stay, when you check in, and hang signs up in your room explaining your specific requests. Find out if the people who will be cleaning your room speak English. If not, make sure to include translations on your signs. If you are still concerned, request no housekeeping services at all. Also request a non-smoking room for your bird.

Once you feel you have found good lodging for you and your birds, you need to figure out how to get them there safely. Travel cages are handy, but must be large enough and sturdy enough for your bird(s). If you are taking your bird on a plane, there may be specific requirements as to carriers for you bird. Most airlines will let you take your bird onboard providing the carrier fits under the seat. Call and make reservations for your bird, and find out if there is any extra charge for bringing a bird.

It is best to go on non-stop flights if at all possible, to reduce stress for you bird. Many airlines require a certification of your bird's health, and international travel may require a quarantine period for your bird. Cover you birds cage during the flight and make sure food and water is accessible. Be sure to tag the carrier with all pertinent information regarding your flight number, destination, and your personal contact information.

If you are traveling by car, there are many "do's" and "don'ts" when it comes to bringing your bird. Do make sure to place the cage or carrier on a rear seat, away from airbags! If other pets are riding in the car, make sure they are properly contained in their own carriers and do not have access to you bird. If there are children riding near the birds, tell them not to bother or touch the bird during the trip, as a stressed bird can be prone to nipping. Secure the cage or carrier to the seat using clean ropes. You may want to pile pillows on either side of the cage for additional support. You can cover the cage if you want, but make sure there is plenty of air getting to your bird. Sometimes covering the cage can restrict your view out the rear windows, which could be dangerous.

Take a few test drives without your bird to make sure the carrier stays put. Also, take short test drives with your bird in the carrier to get him/her used to the feeling of driving. En route, take out most of the toys from the cage. Leave in only soft toys that won't harm your bird in the event of a sudden stop. Make sure food and water cups are secure. Pointy perches can be very dangerous. Put in a perch that goes all the way from one side of the cage to the other, and put it down low.

Keep all your bird supplies handy in the car. Packing for your birds is important. Bring jugs of distilled water to use, and plenty of extra food and treats. Bring along extra toys and perches for when you arrive. A spray bottle of water is a MUST HAVE! It can cool your birds off if they get overheated. Be sure, also, to keep a first aid kit handy. In your kit, include tweezers, a coagulating agent in the case of broken nails or blood feathers, paper towels, and any medications your bird takes.

During your travel, don't leave your bird unattended in the car, if that is at all possible. If it is not, be sure not to leave your bird in the car alone for long! Lock the doors and return as quickly as you can. When stopping for gas, make sure the windows are rolled up, turn off the air conditioner, and pump fast. Your bird should be ok and not fall ill due to gas fumes, but try and make the stop as brief as possible.

Once you arrive at your destination, find a safe place for your bird's cage. Be sure to spend plenty of time with your bird during the day, and try to stick to the usual feeding and sleeping schedule. It is a good idea to have your bird's wings clipped before you leave. When you let your bird out of his/her cage, be sure all windows and doors are closed. Keep toilet seat lids down, and keep your bird away from hot things like ovens and curling irons. Make sure everyone knows where the bird is at all times to avoid accidents.

It can be very rewarding taking your companion bird along! They will entertain you with songs and chirps, and keep you company throughout your trip. If everything is done to ensure the safety and comfort of your bird, you can anticipate an enjoyable trip with your loving companion.

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