Safely move or travel with your feathered friend using these guidelines, developed with Dan Jordan, DVM, Animal Avian Hospital of the Village, Houston, Texas.
Some Birds Travel Better Than Others
Canaries, finches and budgies are easily stressed. Amazons usually travel well. Many Cockatoos and Macaws actually become stressed when their owners leave, so it is usually better to take these types of birds with you.
The Right Carrier
The carrier should be large enough for your pet to flap his/her wings and turn around – but not fly. Smaller carriers make birds feed more comfortable. Choose a hard plastic carrier because it’s difficult for birds to chew. Line it with newspaper. Bolt in a perch that extends across the entire carrier. Make sure it’s only couple inches off the ground to prevent your bird from getting hurt if he/she falls. Food bowls can be mounted on the carrier door directly in front of the perch, allowing easy access.
Seatbelt the Carrier
To better protect your bird, seatbelt the carrier in the backseat. Never put your bird in front of an airbag.
Feeding and Watering Your Bird
Water bowls can spill, making your bird too cold. Instead of water, place fruit and vegetables in the food dish. Or use an enclosed water bottle with a ball valve like those used for rodents. Many birds won’t eat in a moving vehicle, so you should stop every two to four hours to offer your bird water and food. Don’t change your pet’s diet. Traveling involves many stressful changes. Keeping your bird’s food consistent will help.
Bring a couple toys your bird usually has in his/her cage. Toys must be secured to the carrier. If your car stops suddenly, the toy can act as a missile. Or choose a lightweight toy like a rope.
The Right Temperature
Temperature should be 60 to 80 degrees. Always keep an eye on your pet. Never leave him/her alone in a car. Birds fluff their feathers when they’re cold. When they’re too hot, they pant and move their wings away from their body.
Restrain Your Bird
Keep your bird in the carrier. Sudden stops or accidents can hurt uncaged birds. They can also be a dangerous distraction.
Birds have highly sensitive respiratory tracts, so never smoke in the car. It’s even harmful to hold your cigarette outside your car window. If you must smoke, leave the car entirely.
Choose a Non-Smoking Hotel Room
Because their respiratory tracts are so sensitive, choose a non-smoking hotel room.
Exercising Your Bird
If you take your bird out at rest stops, make sure his/her wings are trimmed. For added security, use a bird vest that fastens the bird’s chest and attaches to a leash. Get your bird used to the vest before your trip.
Call your airlines first. Airlines usually require a health certificate issued within 10 days of travel, as well as a current vaccination certificate. Other restrictions may apply.
Health Certificate Required When Crossing State Lines
If your move involves crossing the state line, your pet must have a health certificate issued within 10 days of your trip. Authorities could ask to see the certificate if you are stopped.
Boat, Bus or Train Travel
Greyhound Bus and Amtrak only allow service animals. Call individual boating lines to find out their requirements.
First Aid Kit
A First Aid Kit should include phone numbers for poison control and your veterinarian, bandage materials, nutritional support like Pedialyte, antibiotic cream, eye wash, scissors, tweezers, nail clippers and a heating pad.
If Your Bird Gets Sick During Travel
Before traveling, identify animal hospitals on your route in case of an emergency. Click here to find AAHA hospitals. Check the availability of your veterinarian for consultation. Bring a copy of your pet’s medical records or find out if you can access online records.
Settling into Your New Home
Move your pet to his/her regular cage. Partially cover the cage to provide security. Move your bird away from the mainstream of traffic. Over the next two days, introduce your pet back into the mainstream. Signs of stress: very quiet, flighty, irritable.