Summer vacation time is here so if your feathered friend will be joining you, here are a few pointers to keep in mind!
(Note: If birds are not vacationing with you, be sure to board them with a qualified bird-sitter. Birds CANNOT be left alone — even for a night or two!!)
- If staying in a motel, be sure to check ahead to ensure your birdie is allowed and welcome there!
- When flying, check WELL in advance with the airlines to be certain your bird can fly with you (up front and not in the cargo hold). The few I’ve found that do allow birds charge a $50 “carry-on” fee each way. Carriers must meet certain size restrictions as well.
- Also, when flying – you’ll need a health certificate from your vet (it’s basically a minimum standard checkup). Certificates must be obtained no more than seven days before departure date, and are generally valid for 30 days.
- If traveling by car, always keep your bird in a carrier for his safety and your peace of mind. Provide a perch, as standing flat-footed for long periods of time causes feet to cramp. (Short bolt-on perches are great!)
- Stop every 1-2 hours when traveling to offer water and food – veggies and fruit do a good job of providing both. If possible, let him out of the carrier to stretch (public restrooms work well).
- NEVER leave birds in a car unattended. Suffocation or heat stroke can occur quickly in a closed-up car in hot summer weather.
- Leaving windows partially open tempts thieves! So, dine at drive-thru’s or take turns staying in the car when you make stops.
- If traveling far out of the area, it’s a good idea to bring water from home (bottled is even better) so you can acclimate your bird gradually to the new water source.
- Bring plenty of your bird’s regular food (it may not be available in another area), as well as some favorite toys, a playstand (if there’s room), and his night-time cover.
- Have nails and wings (especially) clipped before the trip? Out of town escapes aren’t likely to find your bird’s return!
- Be certain your bird gets plenty of rest – at least 9-10 hours of night-time sleep, plus mid-day naps. Travel is tiring, and tired birds get cranky easily! Provide some “alone” time for him, so he can relax and “regroup.”
- Increase nutrition before the trip (at least one month), as well as after your return. Traveling is stressful and can also be a source of new and different pathogens than encountered at home – a bird in optimum health, with a strong immune system, is much less apt to get sick or run down than one who’s on a poor diet, with compromised immunity and ill health.
So if your bird IS joining you this summer on a family vacation, plan ahead, optimize his diet and health care, and enjoy an outing that everyone – feathered or not – will remember (fondly) long after coming home!