Traveling With Your Bird
By Craig Sernotti
Some birds see travel as a great adventure, while others prefer to stay at home in familiar surroundings. Sometimes, though, your bird’s preference may not matter because you have to travel by air or take him to the veterinarian. Because he probably can’t tell you whether he enjoys traveling, you will have to do some detective work. But how do you do this? Simple—take your bird for a short ride in the car and judge his reaction to the experience. Does he display happy body language, such as hanging on the cage bars watching the world whiz by the car window, or does he cower on the cage floor and scream? Paying attention to these kinds of signs will tell you whether your bird will enjoy an occasional trip in the car or will be able to travel for emergency purposes only.
For air travel, tell the reservation agent that you want to bring your bird along, and find out what requirements must be met for a bird to fly by plane.
You will most likely have to place your bird in a carrier. The carrier must open easily, be large enough for him to stand normally, be durable enough to protect him during the trip, and be free of items that could injure him during travel. The carrier should also be well ventilated and have a grille or subfloor that catches all droppings.
The carrier should also be clearly marked with your name, contact information, and destination address. It should also say “LIVE ANIMAL” and have directional arrows indicating the upright position of the carrier marked on its sides.
Give your bird time to get used to a carrier before a trip. Let him climb into it and spend time in it. Once you feel that he is comfortable with it, you can make your travel arrangements.
If you have a bird who loves the car, you will need to obtain a travel cage. This cage is smaller than your bird’s main cage but still large enough to allow roaming and spreading of the wings. It should have food and water bowls and toys. It must also be well ventilated and have a portion on the bottom that collects his wastes. Secure the cage when it is in the car using safety straps or a seat belt.
Your pet must be comfortable and familiar with his travel cage. Try to give it the same layout as his regular cage. Bring the travel cage into your home, and let your bird spend some time in it to become familiar with it.
If you plan to take your bird on a long-distance trip in the car, make reservations at a pet-friendly hotel along your route. Conduct research for such destinations, as not every establishment welcomes animals. Request a nonsmoking room for you and your bird, and clean up any messes completely before you check out.
Traveling to the Veterinarian
Depending on the situation, you can use either your bird’s travel cage or his carrier to take him to the vet. If you are bringing him in for an annual checkup and he enjoys car travel, take him to the vet in his travel cage. If he doesn’t like the car, place him in a carrier.
If your bird is injured and you are taking him to your vet or to an emergency veterinary hospital, it might be best to employ the help of an of-age family member to drive while you hold your bird wrapped gently but firmly in a towel to minimize movement.