In the United States, 3.1 percent of households own a pet bird. What's more, when those homes own birds, the average number of animals in each property is around 2.3. Many of these families must therefore consider the prospect of household moving while they own pet birds, but the process isn't as simple as you might imagine. If you're one of the 3.6 million Americans who own a pet bird, make sure you get everyone to your new home safely with this simple guide to moving your feathered friends.
Assess if your bird can cope with the move
Many birds will find moving and transportation stressful, so you need to consider how practical and safe it really is to move your pet. A health check is a vital part of this process.
Travel works best for mature birds that can adjust better to changes in routine. A young bird may simply find the process too stressful. Take the bird(s) to the vet for a health check a few weeks before the move. Travel stress could prove dangerous in a bird that is already unwell because changes in diet and water consumption are almost unavoidable on most journeys.
Of course, if the vet says your bird isn't up to the trip, you face the difficult decision about what to do, but at least you can carefully weigh up the risks. Your vet can also help with certain issues. For example, he or she can sometimes prescribe special motion sickness medication for birds that are susceptible to this illness.
Choosing the right carrier
It's important to make sure that your bird travels in style, comfort and safety. Even expensive cages generally make poor carriers because they cannot normally cope with the rigors of moving around, so you'll need to invest in a bespoke bird carrier. Choose a carrier that gives a bird sufficient space to move around during the journey, and remove anything that could injure the bird in transit, such as toys or loose food trays. Make sure you can secure the carrier safely in your vehicle with a seat restraint.
Stay on the right side of the law
Some states have restrictions on pet movement over state lines. If the bird is more than three months old, you'll probably need a Certificate of Veterinary Inspection (or CVI) that your vet issued no more than 30 days before the move. Make sure you keep the document to hand to avoid any delays when questioned. Call the Office of the State Veterinarian before you travel to make sure you know what documents you must provide.
Plan the move carefully
Moving home is stressful for everyone, but you must also consider your pet bird's needs. Wherever possible, plan a schedule that allows you to stick to the same routines for food, water and attention. If you can keep up a relatively normal schedule, your bird is less likely to find the moving process so difficult.
These plans don't just relate to the time before the journey. During the move, you're going to need to schedule regular stops, particularly if you're traveling interstate. Overnight trips need careful consideration. Do you plan to stay in a hotel or motel? Does the property actually allow you to keep an animal in the room?
Birds are normally sensitive to changes in the environment, too, and a car interior is not a great place to spend any length of time. Attempt to keep the temperature fairly cool. Avoid playing loud music and make sure nobody in the car smokes while the bird is inside.
Best of all, during the journey, make sure somebody can talk to the bird and offer attention and reassurance. Take a 'birdie bag' with small pieces of fruit and vegetables to offer as tasty snacks during the trip. Make sure you have plenty of cage liners, paper towels and cleaning cloths to hand, too. Cleanliness and hygiene are just as important on the move as they are at home.
Your pet bird is an important part of your family life. Take time to prepare a move carefully to make sure your feathered friends don't suffer.