At the beginning of my career I was fixed to a site pretty much all of the time, this was when I was employed as a zookeeper and then as a bird trainer. Since building my own company it has become essential to travel for my work and quite often the birds join me.
A journey on my own with a laptop computer is certainly easier and requires less thought, opposed to when I am required to bring along some of my free flight birds to work alongside me in presentations and demonstrations.
Over the years I have travelled for shows with my birds, which varied from small Parrots to giant Ground Hornbills and Storks, however nowadays I tend to just travel birds for more specific training based events. In all the years on the road it has given me a good idea of what the birds tend to like and dislike when travelling.
One thing to remember is birds can be made to feel unwell when they travel, It is something that should be done from an early age if possible. If you want a bird to travel later on in their life, remember to build a journey in small stages, obviously starting with a short journey and progress little by little.
A good supply of water is essential as with humans traveling can lead to dehydration, so make sure there is easy access to drinking water. Bowls of water in a moving vehicle can make lots of mess, so our birds have been accustomed to using a rodent drinker. This is the bottle drinkers that are mounted on the bars and has a stainless steel drink tube underneath.
Our travel crate store, with boxes fitting the needs of all different species of bird.
As well as packing all of the favourite foods for the trip there are few things that can prove handy.
A sheet to cover the travel box, this is handy for travelling at night as the headlights and reflections can make it hard for a bird to rest.
A spray bottle, sometimes tail feathers can get bent in travel, so by spraying them it can help prevent them from breaking. Particularly handy with large Macaws.
A supply of fresh browse (safe leaved branches.) These are great for the traveling bird to chew on in transit.
As well as keeping our birds happy, it is also important to keep them safe. When we are away from home, there can be surprises as we are sometimes out of our comfort zone. Things to remember include
Predators such as cats, dogs and wild birds of prey. Firstly no matter how friendly an owner tells you their dog is, always avoid getting close to dog walkers. It is not everyday most dogs are close to a brightly coloured bird and it is not fair to test the instinct of both predator and prey animal. Even if your Parrot is comfortable with your companion dog, remember there are so many variations which can completely change the situation. No dog or cat is 100% safe to interact with your Parrot, so don't take the chance.
Birds of prey in the UK tend to keep their distance from people and as long as your bird is with you, the chances are very low of any interactions with wild birds. With that said birds of prey are becoming more common within human inhabited areas so a watchful eye and careful planning will allow you to spend some time outside. The sight of birds of prey can cause flight reactions with your pet Parrot, so keep your eyes to the sky and help reduce stress keeping your bird protected.
If your bird is on a harness, trained for free flight or just in a travel crate or cage all of the above still applies. For it is our duty to care for our companion birds and any flight response to danger can cause injury or stress.
One of our three Patagonian Conures at Symonds Yat,
near the Forest of Dean for a training demonstration
On some occasions it can be loud travelling with Parrots, some will vocalise for long periods of time when travelling in a car. I think one of the reasons for this is there is a lot of white noise produced by the road. If you have a Parrot that gets quite vocal to the sound of the hoover, then you will know what I'm talking about. A few tips to reducing vocalisation in your bird whist travelling may help keep them calm whilst in transit.
Having the windows open is great for fresh air and keeping the birds cool. It can easily get hot in a vehicle so try andkeep the temperature to a similar level to the birds living space at home. If you are opening windows, try and make sure the amount is balanced and instead of one window being opened, have all of the windows opened a similar amount. This can balance the airflow and make it more comfortable in the cabin.
Air conditioning units are best switched off unless they have been recently serviced, due to harmful bacteria that could pose a threat to your bird’s health. And make sure your in-car air freshener is taken out prior to traveling with your Parrot, this too can be detrimental to the bird’s health.
The radio can sometimes be beneficial for providing background noise to settle birds in transport. Music that tends to have less percussion helps them to rest and try lowering the bass on your settings to reduce vibration that
will upset their hearing.
Travelling with your birds can be rewarding for both owner and companion birds, it is enriching to see a change of environment and means your bird doesn't have to stay at home when you go out or away. But always think practically and ensure there is safety and positive experiences throughout the whole trip. Happy Travels!
Thanks to Mike Simmons for this guest blog. Visit his website, www.aworldofwings.com for more on his displays and training advice.
For all the travel cages you need for your Parrot please click here.
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