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Traveling Safely with your Bird

Your bird should be trained to safely get into a carrier and go on various car trips to make more stressful situations easy for them. Often we see birds that only leave the house if they are getting groomed or going to the vet—neither of which are very stress-free situations! In some extreme cases we have seen birds have seizures upon coming into the store due the anxiety and stress of what is about to happen. Environmental stressors such as excessive or unfamiliar noise, coming into contact with unknown people or other pets, and even seeing things from the car window they’ve never experienced before can all lead to negative experiences we want to eliminate for our birds. Every bird is different, just like people, and your approach will vary depending on your bird’s past experiences, too.

Here are a few tips to keep in mind:

Find a safe and comfortable carrier for your bird. Not all carriers are created equally! Ideally we would like to see a carrier be large enough for your bird to turn around in and extend the tail fully. Birds balance with their tail, so if the space is too tight for it to extend they are already going to be edgy getting inside. Offer perching rather than having them sit on the floor of the carrier. Having an appropriate sized perch for your bird to firmly grip onto will make them feel secure and safe. Avoid hanging toys, which can smack them in the head with movement, causing more stress. Food and water may not be necessary for most short car trips, but it’s recommended to have them in the car with you in case of emergency. Bring a blanket with you in case you need you to cover the carrier slightly to keep them feeling safe from the roadside view. It’s also a good idea to have a heavier blanket in the car if you are driving during colder temperatures in case of emergencies.

Keep your bird safe while you are traveling. Your bird should remain in the carrier while you are driving. Strap the carrier in with a seat belt for the safest situation. I have heard WAY too many incidents of a bird being out with kids in the back seat, only to freak out, and fly forward in the front. One of my intrusive thoughts is always “what if he gets underneath the brake pedal?” Also, what would happen if you were in a car accident? It’s just not worth the risk! Consider what car you are driving, too. Convertibles with the top down are not a good choice!

Always make it a pleasant and fun experience. That means taking your bird out for more than just those necessary trips. Take them with you if you are going thru a drive thru to pick up dinner, go to a park during nice weather, or over to a friend’s house for coffee (for you, not the bird). The possibilities are endless. The carrier does not have to be a scary, dreaded thing! This will make those more difficult, necessary trips to the vet or groomer a breeze for both you and your bird!

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My shoulder does the trick, while I rub their head

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