The Secret to Safely Traveling With Birds

Traveling with your bird can be a fun and rewarding experience for you and your bird. Traveling with your bird can also be easy if you follow the guidelines set out in this article.

Traveling In an Automobile

Who wants to go for a ride? If your bird is anything like mine, she loves to hear that question. Going for a ride can be fun and safe if you follow the guidelines of this article. Without making the process sound too technical, there are three distinct stages of travel that you should consider. Those three stages are the Preparation Stage, Travel Stage, and Arrival Stage.

Preparing to Travel With Your Bird by Automobile

You may have a hundred things to plan for before your journey especially on a long trip. However, adding a couple more considerations to allow your bird to go with you will be well worth your time and your bird will thank you.

There are three simple things to consider when preparing for your journey – Food, Water, and Shelter. Simple enough right?

Taking enough food to last the journey is obviously a major consideration. If you are running down to the grocery store then you can forget about this consideration. For longer trips, it is a good idea to make sure your bird has food PRIOR to your journey because your bird probably will not be interested in eating during any short trip. It most likely won’t be interested in eating because it’ll be distracted and/or afraid because of its new surroundings. Providing nutrition prior to travel will also help the bird’s body cope with any travel related stress.

However, if there is a possibility of the trip being extended or the possibility of being stranded away from home (snow, car malfunction, etc) you will still want to make contingency plans. Just take a couple days supply of food, and place it in a Tupperware bowl, or a sealed baggie depending on how much food will be required. Toss it in the automobile and you’ll have it just in case of emergency. The type of food that you take depends mostly on your bird’s normal diet. If your bird will eat pellet food then your food preparation is very simple. If your bird’s diet consists only of fruit and vegetables then your preparation time may take longer. Fruit will generally last a couple days if you wait until feeding time to cut/chop/dice it and most vegetables will also last a couple days. Taking the time to prepare food for your bird will be very beneficial to your mental well being and your bird’s physical well being just in case something goes wrong.

Water is another important thing to consider when preparing for your journey. Much like food, it may or may not be needed depending on the length of your journey. However, just like preparing food in case of an emergency, carrying in a little water is simple and may be very beneficial if something goes wrong which unexpectedly extends your journey. Usually a small bottle of water is all that is required for most journeys. Adding another bottle for longer journeys or in case of an unexpected emergency is easy and may turn out to be beneficial to you and your bird. Fruits and vegetables high in water content provide another means to keep your bird hydrated during travel. Depending on your bird, sometimes they’re more likely to eat an apple slice, grape, orange slice or other food which will provide them with the water necessary to keep them hydrated.

It is a good idea to make sure your bird has water PRIOR to your journey because most likely, your bird will not be interested in drinking during a short trip anyway. It most likely won’t be interesting in drinking because it will be distracted and/or afraid because of its new surroundings. Providing water prior to travel will also help the bird’s body cope with any travel related stress.

Food and Water preparation usually are very simple because we provide our birds with food and water several times a day. Providing for shelter during travel isn’t as common but it can also be very simple. Commercially available carriers for birds are everywhere (online, local pet stores, etc). It is also very simple to convert a small cat or dog carrier into a bird carrier. These can be found at garage and yard sales and usually at very reasonable prices. It is very simple to add a perch to a dog or cat carrier. For plastic rigid carriers, a wooden dowel can be screwed into the carrier using two screws through the side of the carrier into the wooden dowel. For metal carriers, a perch from the bird’s cage can be attached inside the carrier just like it is attached to the bird’s cage.

Whether you’re purchasing a carrier or converting one, there are a couple things to consider. The traveling container should be;

Large enough for the bird to stretch its wings but it isn’t necessary for it to be large enough to fly inside.
It should have openings in it large enough to provide good ventilation. Having ventilation on at least two (2) sides should be sufficient. Ideally, the holes should be large enough for you to stick your fingers inside the cage to give your bird reassuring neck rubs.
It should have openings in it for you to see inside to periodically check to make sure that your bird is ok.
It should have containers inside it to place food and water.
It should have a perch inside it for the bird to stand on.
It should have a handle on it or another means to carry it and to strap it into your automobile seat belts.

Depending on how familiar your bird is with the carrier, you may need to prepare your bird for the carrier. Ideally, you should start this process a couple weeks prior to your departure date. This will allow sufficient time for your bird to get used to the carrier. You can start by letting your bird explore the outside of the carrier with the door open. Eventually your bird will explore the inside of the carrier. You may entice it with a favorite toy or treat. Eventually and gradually, your bird will feel more at ease around and in the carrier. This procedure should be done as far in advance as possible to your departure date in order to give your bird plenty time to get acquainted with the carrier.

To prepare the carrier for travel, all you have to do to the carrier is to put some bedding in the bottom of it such as paper, paper-towels or other suitable bedding and it’s ready to go. On long flights, a favorite toy may be added to the carrier to help distract and amuse your bird during the trip.

One final consideration for your trip should be to include a basic first-aid kit. Though some might find that this is going too far, it is a simple precaution and it takes very little space but may be very rewarding if it is needed.

Here is a short-list summary of the preparation need to take your bird on a journey with you in your automobile.

Feed & water your bird prior to traveling.
Purchase or make a suitable carrier and place bedding into it.
Take enough food & water with you in case of emergency.
Pack a simple first-aid kit.

It’s that simple. This literally takes minutes to prepare for and your bird will thank you for it in the long run.

Traveling With Your Bird in an Automobile

So you’ve spent the time to prepare for the journey and now it’s time to go. What do you do now? There’s really not much to do at this point. Just place your bird in the carrier and put it in the car. The most important thing to do is to strap the carrier into your seatbelt system. This will be critical in the case of an emergency but more importantly it will stabilize the carrier and create a much smoother ride for your bird. This will prevent the carrier from rolling, slipping, and sliding as you start, turn and stop the automobile. It is critical that you disable the air-bag if strapping the carrier into a seat with an airbag. Most automobiles either automatically disable the airbag or you can do it manually. If disabling the airbag isn’t an option, place the carrier in the back seat where there aren’t airbags.

Arriving at Your Destination in an Automobile

So you’ve spent the time preparing for the journey, you’ve finally finished your journey and you arrive at your destination. Now what? Hopefully you’ve read this article and prepared for your arrival because this part of the process is often overlooked. We are usually so excited and/or worried about preparing and traveling that we forget to think ahead to our actual arrival. Here are some thoughts and tips about your destination that you should consider before arriving.

Does your destination allow birds? You should call ahead to verify.
Can your bird get out of the carrier to stretch when you arrive?
Do you have a larger cage to put it into when you arrive?
Can you ship a cage, supplies, food, toy to your destination?
Do you have a harness to let it safely get out of the carrier?
If visiting a friend, will they allow it to get out of the carrier in their home?
Do special precautions need to be taken for its safety at the destination? Are there birds, dogs, or cats around that may harm it?

Summary & Concluding Remarks

Traveling with your pet bird can be a fun experience for you and your bird if your plan for your trip. Spending the time planning will reduce your stress levels and your bird’s stress levels. So plan your trip, grab your bird, go for a ride or a flight and most importantly have some safe fun.

The Author is the creator of the It’s a web page dedicated to Kibibi a Congo African Grey Parrot with parrot recordings, funny parrot videos, top ten lists, parrot jokes, clicker training info and a large database of parrot articles.

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