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Traveling With My Birds by Derek Johnson

Traveling with my parrots has been a tremendous extension of their socialization. This is something that was done out of necessity on my part. When I began carting my flock around; I had no idea it was going to have such a positive effect upon my parrots.

I acquired my first larger parrot, Xena, one summer between my first and second year of college. Soon it became time to start the next semester. Xena found it was time to adapt to riding in the car for up to 10 hours each week as we made our way to Willmar and back to Richfield a couple of times a week. I didn't bring her on our first two-hour drive without any preparation.

We started taking short drives after she had about two weeks to acclimate to her new home. The acrylic carrier I had purchased for her was perfect for traveling. However, there are many different options for travel cages or carriers. I left her partially covered to allow her to gradually acclimate to the motion of passing traffic. I soon noticed that she seemed to enjoy our short drives; soon we were lengthening the duration of them. When I started school Xena soon found she had two homes during the week as well as a cabin on Gull Lake to visit on the weekends. She acclimated well to each environment.

I soon found that the more places we visited, the easier she adapted to each environment. She would stay in her large acrylic cage when we reached Willmar Monday before school until Wednesday afternoon when she went into her carrier to make the trip to Richfield.

Xena would stay in her carrier when not supervised, while sleeping and while making the trip back to Willmar Thursday Morning. She would then stay in her large cage again until it was time to leave for the cabin or for Richfield, depending upon our destination. I may note that when traveling anywhere with any of my birds for an extended period; I make sure to bring along plenty of toys and a small playpen or travel perch. I also make sure that when any of my birds have to stay somewhere in their carriers vs. their home cages, hey receive every chance to be out on their perches or play gyms.

The same precautions still apply. Whenever taking your bird out if your home, try to keep each aspect of the outing as controlled as possible. We highly recommend keeping birds' wings clipped, especially if they are taken outdoors. Even when you take a clipped bird outdoors always keep an eye out for any situations that may startle or cause harm to your bird. Even a well-clipped bird can fly a fair distance if startled or if the wind catches it right, especially the thinner birds such as conures, macaws or cockatiels. We also must be careful during the colder months. Whenever a bird needs to be transported during these months always warm your car up and position it as close to the door as possible. Cover the bird's carrier with an insulating blanket or cover and bring the bird out to the car quickly. Conversely, take care not to overheat your parrot during the summer months. Always have fresh water available for drinking and mist the bird's feet if the bird appears too hot.

There can be a number of benefits to exposing your bird to new situations. One of these includes aiding in the formation of a parent or flock leader relationship with your parrot. Leading your bird into different experiences in and out of your home does this. Traveling with our birds can also aid in keeping them socialized to a number of different people, especially those of us who live alone with our birds.

Many of us who live with parrots also wish to travel without leaving our birds for any length of time. Bringing your avian companion along on a vacation can often be the safest alternative for a bird's health. However, when traveling with a bird, one must take every precaution to ensure safety. We have a number of customers who have their RV's outfitted with cages for vacations. One final word for anyone leaving their bird alone in a vehicle for any amount of time is first of all, "Don't" and if you must, always lock your vehicle's doors and cover your bird from view.

This article was published on Tuesday 22 June, 2004.
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