Vacationing Without Your Bird

Summertime and the living is easy so it goes, but it might be a bit more complicated if you are planning a vacation or road trip and you are owned by a bird.  Not only will you be busy planning and packing for yourself, and maybe some family members as well, but you will also need to figure out what to do with the bird if he or she can't travel with you.

Here are a few tips that might help you with the planning and packing for your birdie friend so he or she can be well taken care of while you are away.

First, decide where your bird will spend vacation time.  Most veterinarians provide boarding facilities, just make sure your vet boards birds as well as other animals.  Preferably you will want a boarding facility that separates birds from other animals such as dogs and cats.  Remember birds are prey animals and constantly barking dogs and meowing or hissing cats in close proximity of your bird will put a lot of stress on you bird and that's not a good thing.

If you are lucky enough to have an avian vet that boards, then your bird will be staying where people understand their special needs.  This might also be a good time to get a health checkup if it's been a while.

Some local pet stores may also provide boarding, but don't wait until the last minute to book your reservations.  Do not be afraid to ask about safety and how they make sure your bird is not exposed to other boarders to prevent any illness or cross contamination.

As a safety precaution, some vets and pet stores require birds be feather clipped while boarding.  If you do not normally clip your bird's flight feathers, this may or may not be an issue for you.  You can ask if a junior clip is an option.  With a junior clip your bird will still have limited flight until the new flights grow back, but may still meet the safety requirements of the boarding facility.  Unless the facility can provide a safe room for your bird when out of the cage if fully flighted, your bird may not be able to come out of the cage while there, or may have limited time outside the cage.  These are things to consider and know beforehand.

Most places that board birds do so by appointment only, so call early and make sure there is room, find out all costs, and be sure to ask if they provide a cage or if you will need a travel cage for your bird.  Also, ask if food is included, and if so what do they feed.  If it's the same diet you feed, great, if not, then you may need to plan on packing food to send with your bird.

Include at least a couple of bird toys your bird really likes, as well as a few fun new toys to occupy your bird's away time.  Don't forget some favorite treats too.

If you do not have a place to safely board your bird, or if you prefer your bird remain at home where he or she might feel the most comfortable, think about asking a neighbor, friend, or relative if they might be able to take care of your bird while you are away.  At least twice a day check-ins are best.

The person will need to be able to feed and water your bird, turn lights on or off, turn on and off the tv or radio for your bird, cover and uncover the cage if your bird sleeps with a cover over the cage.  The caretaker should also do a visual check of your bird daily.

Set up a vacation station of a few things near your bird for the caretaker in case of an emergency.  Items would usually include a towel large enough to scoop your bird up in if needed, carrier for an emergency trip to the vet, first aid kit, and the name and phone number of your bird's vet, and if possible the name and phone number of someone other than the vet they can call on for help after hours when your vet may be closed, or if they just have a question about something.  If they are not experienced with birds be sure to write a short list of things to watch for such as blood in the cage, sitting on the bottom constantly, refusing to eat, and such.

Don't forget to leave a phone number where you can be reached as well.

There are professional pet sitters as well, just make sure to get references and then actually call the references and ask questions about the services they received and whether they felt their bird was well taken care of.  Pet sitters may also provide other services as well such as bringing in the mail or newspapers, watering plants if necessary, taking care of other pets, and checking to make sure your home is locked and secure.  Of course, your neighbor or friend might also do this if you ask very nicely.

If your bird does not like being alone, then consider asking that neighbor, relative, or friend, to let your bird come stay with them while you are away.  Just make sure they are ok with it, can handle all safety issues, understand birds are very messy and often very noisy.  Then be sure to provide all the items mentioned above as well.

There is no right or wrong way to vacation without your bird, just choose what works best for your bird and you, so both of you can enjoy the summer vacation time.

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