moving with birds

Moving houses almost always presents itself with a lot more obstacles than you initially anticipated. In all the chaos of planning and packing, don’t forget that it always proves to be more challenging for our feathered friends. Birds are highly intuitive and sensitive to stressful situations. Moving with birds can make them feel hassled, as the mounds of boxes and new house adjustment are almost as tough to navigate as the journey itself. From steps to take in preparation of the move, to transportation-related advice, to caring for them post moving day, our comprehensive guide on moving with birds will prepare you to help your birds through the move.

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Before The Move

Moving with birds involves some thinking ahead and early preparation to be done. From easing them into the motions of a moving car, to purchasing a carrier, read on about the ways you can prep to make this an easy journey on your birds.

Visit The Veterinarian:

A few weeks before the move, schedule an appointment with your veterinarian to get a general health check-up and some grooming if needed. Make sure you schedule it early enough to give you time to introduce any medication or supplements before moving day. In addition to this, you can ask the vet to provide an up-to-date health certificate. Tell them of the move and ask for medical advice on what you can do to make the journey easier on your bird.

Keep It Away From The Commotion:

Keep your bird in a room that is least used for any packing and moving purposes. The more visual and auditory the chaos is, the more aggravated and stressed your bird is bound to get. Additionally, ensure you stick to its regular eating and sleeping schedules no matter how busy you get with the packing.

Purchase A Small Carrier And Travel Cage:

Don’t try to have your birds stay in their usual cages while travelling to your new home. While they’re certainly used to the familiarity of their cages, you will definitely need something more compact and less bulky. Travel cages and carriers are built to safely help your birds make a journey while reducing the bulkiness you have to deal with. When it comes to sizes, make sure it is big enough that your bird can comfortably sit upright on the perch or on the floor. The perch should be wide enough that their claws go 3/4th of the way around for ideal grip. Any larger and your birds will have a harder time gripping it properly.

Let Your Bird Get Accustomed To The Carrier:

Trying to get your bird into a carrier for the first time should never be left for moving day. They’re certain to be already stressed, and coaxing them into a smaller, unfamiliar cage will only add to it. Instead, get your birds accustomed to their travel cages and carriers in advance. Use pieces of fruit as treats to entice them if you need to.

Get Them Used To Journeys:

It’s a good idea to take your bird on short car journeys to not only accustomize them to it, but to also see how they react. All birds have different personalities and react differently to different scenarios. While some birds can get excited with the journey and respond positively to seeing people and cars outside the window, others may not like it at all and get scared or stressed. Accordingly, you can decide which is best: giving your bird a view of the world outside or covering them with a cloth, only keeping yourself in their view from one side. Your bird may start to throw up after a certain duration of time: remember the timespan so you can account for these pauses when calculating how long your journey will take. Try to do this even if you’re taking a flight on moving day as it will certainly help them deal with the initial shock of the travelling.

Pack Their Things Separately:

Keep a few of their favourite toys and other important items packed up to carry with you on moving day. Sending it in the truck means running the risk of losing them or keeping your bird without them in case the truck gets delayed. This should be among the first few things you unpack when you move into your new home.  All other non-essentials can go into the moving truck.

Prepare Some Fruit Bits:

Ideally, avoid giving your birds anything to eat on short journeys. But for longer car journeys, keep pieces of fruit that are high in water content in a separate box to feed your bird. Water is very likely to spill, so giving them these bits ensures they stay hydrated.

Stock Up On Their Regular Food:

The move will be shocking enough so it’s important to reestablish the birds’ regular schedule as soon as possible. But unless you’ve visited the pet supply stores in your new neighbourhood, there’s no way of making sure you get a supply of your bird’s regular food. It’s a good idea to have at least a month’s worth of their regular food on you when you move to your new house.

Look Up The Address And Contact Number Of A Vet:

The last thing we want is to see our birds in a medical emergency. However, preparedness goes a long way. Look up the address and contact of a vet – one that is located along your route as well as one in your new town. This way, in case of an emergency, you waste no time in desperately Googling this crucial information. Keep this information on you on moving day. You can also ask your current vet if he has any recommendations among his colleagues.

Leg Bands:

If you haven’t already, consider getting a leg band for your bird. In the event that you lose your bird or they accidentally escape, leg bands can help greatly in bringing them back home. It tells other people that the bird has escaped, and is fitted with a serial number or a microchip that can help you in tracking it down.

Bird-Friendly Motel:

If your trip stretches over two days, ensure the overnight motel you’ve booked is pet-friendly and will allow birds. Open the cage to let the bird out for a bit after securing the doors and ensuring there’s no danger to it. Just make sure you have newspapers or a towel handy so it doesn’t soil the sheets or the carpet.

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See also: Moving with Pets

During The Move

Now comes the hard part – moving day. Understandably, you’ll want to make sure your birds are fine, be near them and talk and whistle to them so they feel secure in your presence. No matter how much we try, there is only so much verbal and physical reassurance and consolation we can give our birds. Here’s a list of more practical advice that can also serve to help ease the strain when moving with birds.

Prep The Travel Cage:

Remove any items that are loose or could come off with the movement of the journey, as this can easily hurt your bird. Line the bottom of the carrier and travel cage in case they fall, or choose to ride out the journey sitting on the bottom instead of balancing on the perch. Ensure the doors are firmly tightened, and use cable ties to secure them even more.

Double-Check Your Bag:

As mentioned, you ought to be carrying a bag with all related documents and a box packed with the bird’s things with you. Keep the fruit bits handy, as well as the health certificate and the contact of the vets. Lastly, keep a good picture of your bird and its leg band number or microchip information on you.

Find Out About Local Laws:

Take the time to research the local and state laws of wherever you’re moving to regarding the breed of bird you own. The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Services website is a good start.

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Moving With Birds By Car

Naturally, how you travel depends greatly on how the stress impacts your birds. Buses and trains do not allow passengers to bring their birds on. The best option you have is to travel by car. The movements of a car are stable for the most part, and the reassurance of having you next to them is sure to help calm them down. Plus, you get to control a lot of the journey, whether it is in taking lots of breaks to calm your bird or playing upbeat music that cheers them up.

  • Birds can be extremely temperature-sensitive, and an overheated or extra cold car can make them ill. Make sure that your air-conditioning and heating are functioning properly before the move. If you’re in a region with heat and bright sunshine, consider purchasing glare guards to help keep the sun out.
  • In no event should the bird be placed in the front seat. This is too dangerous, especially if the car is fitted with airbags. Deployed, they could prove fatal. Keep the carrier in the backseat, fastened with a seat-belt. Ideally have someone sitting next to the carrier and don’t leave it unattended.
  • Keep checking in on your bird. If it starts to get too stressed or sick, stop the car to calm it down. Make sure you give it water on breaks.
  • In no event should the bird be left in the car alone. This is dangerous and tempts fate. Keep someone with the bird at all times.

Moving With Birds By Flight

For the sake of your feathered friends, try replacing the much shorter flights and consider making the journey by road. However for those cases where it simply can’t be helped, we have some advice on moving with birds by flight. 

  • First and most importantly, check with the airline about their policy on travelling with birds before you book your ticket. Some airlines allow birds to travel in the cabin if the carrier is small enough to fit under the seat. Noisy breeds and bigger birds usually have to travel in the cargo hold. But some airlines don’t allow birds at all.
  • Your carrier may have to be airline-approved. Check with the airlines about this and ensure you meet all the norms.
  • Book a non-stop flight to reduce as much stress as possible.
  • Look into purchasing an avian harness. You may have to remove your bird from the carrier while at the airport if the staff want to inspect the carrier. A harness will help if your bird starts getting panicky with the chaos of the airport around it.

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After The Move

When it comes to moving with birds, your bird should be accompanying you, being the last one out and the first one to arrive at the new house. But their ordeal doesn’t end here. Just as humans take a while to adjust to a new home, so do birds. Follow these steps to make sure your birds can settle in with ease.

Check Your Bird:

The cage doors may have been intact and your bird is definitely in one piece, but take the time to look over your bird thoroughly. Look out for any injuries or scratches it could have sustained during the journey, especially if you’ve travelled by flight.

Unpack Their Items First:

Your packing to-do list has to have two boxes of essentials that you keep with you during the move: your own and your birds’. Unpack all the items and set them up in a room as soon as you get into your new house. Pick a room away from the chaos of boxes being hauled inside.

Set Up Their Cage:

You needn’t put in all their toys and swings at once, but definitely set their cage up to get them back into a normal setting as soon as you can. Make sure you place their cage in a well-chosen spot that is neither exposed to too much wind or too much sunlight.

Keep Checking In On Them:

Take breaks from the unloading to peep in and check in on your bird. Talk to them and whistle familiar whistles even when unloading, and make sure you’ve given them their food, water, and a few extra treats.

Sleep With Them For The First Few Nights:

Nights may be a little daunting for your new birds as the new location will have them a little scared for a bit. They’re likely to jump at shadows and other objects in the room as they are not used to it, and their survival instincts may keep them awake and alert. Sleep in the same room as them for a few nights – they will take the sight of you peacefully asleep as a sign that there is no danger or threat, and in case they wake up with a start, you will be right there to reassure them.

Monitor Their Behavior:

This is an especially important step. In the weeks after the move, closely monitor your bird’s behavior. Check to see if they are eating, pooping and sleeping regularly. They should be back to their normal cheerful selves within a few days after the move. Watch out for quietness, untoward aggression, unexpected molting, plucking out of feathers and any other behavior that seems out of the ordinary. Pay a visit to the vet as soon as you spot any of these signs.


Conclusion

Understandably, you could still be jittery about moving with birds. You can always enlist the services of professional pet movers who are well-versed in the know-how of moving with birds. Lastly, make sure that you have the right movers for your move. The more reliable the moving company, the more attention you can give to your bird.

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