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How To Safely Travel with a Bird in My Car – 9 Expert Tips

Nicole Cosgrove Profile Picture

By Nicole Cosgrove

Cute cockatiel parrot.The parrot sits in the car.

Although most birds will cope with a short car journey, longer trips can be very stressful for your bird and, therefore, for you, too. However, whether it is to go to the vet because you’re taking your bird away on vacation with you, or because you’re moving home and need to transport your feathered friend to the new abode, there may come a time that you need to take your bird in a car.

Below, we have provided nine tips on how to safely travel with a bird in your car so that the journey will be safer and less stressful for you both.

bird divider

The 9 Tips for Traveling Safely with A Bird in Your Car

1. Choose a Travel Cage

Generally speaking, you should never let your bird fly freely around the car while you drive. If it gets stressed, it could take flight and put you off driving or injure itself. And, if you open the door or window, it only takes a second for a stressed bird to make a quick getaway.

Choose a safe, secure, and comfortable travel cage. There are carriers designed for this purpose and the one you use needs to be small enough that it will fit behind the car seat or securely on the back seat. It should be sturdy enough that it won’t break too easily and while it should be compact, it should provide enough room for free movement and to prevent your bird from getting too stressed out.

2. Acclimatize the Bird to the Cage

If you find your bird gets stressed out during the car journey, it may actually be the carrier that is causing the distress. Get your bird used to the carrier before you travel. It will be a new environment and it is likely to be quite a small space. Pop them in the carrier for a few minutes at a time, initially, before leaving them in there for longer periods.

3. Remove Non-Essentials from the Cage

Do not leave items like swings and toys in the cage. Remove anything that might become dislodged or move around during transit. These items have the potential to cause injury. You can take such items in a separate bag and let your bird have a play when you stop for refreshments.

Canary yellow bird inside the cage
Image Credit: Rafael Rabassa Pérez, Pixabay

4. Cover the Cage

If the weather is particularly bad or you are traveling in the dark, you might want to consider covering the cage. This will encourage the bird to sleep but be aware that the movement and the noise of the car may prevent sleep and covering the cage could have an adverse effect if your bird is left sitting wide awake under the cover of darkness. Generally, you should monitor their physical and emotional well-being on the journey and make changes accordingly.

5. Take a Short Trip

If you’re going on a cross-country or even a cross-state trip, start out with a smaller journey. Maybe drive around the block, once your bird is accustomed to being in the carrier. If all goes well, you can take a longer trip next time out and keep taking slightly longer trips. You will ideally be stopping every hour or 2 when on the main journey, so you should build up to doing journeys of an hour or 2 long to acclimate your parrot.

6. Pack What You Need

Pack items like insurance documents, a recent photo of your bird, and any medication or supplements that they need, before you start your journey. Put them in an individual bag and have the bag on hand. This bag should also include a vet phone number and details of where you are traveling to and from. Essentially, anything you might need if your bird gets ill or escapes during the journey. You don’t want to have to be digging around in the trunk, among all of your bags, if the worst does happen.

7. Strap the Carrier Securely

Ideally, the carrier should sit behind the front seat and be strapped in position. This will prevent the carrier from being jolted and may help reduce vibrations so that your bird has as comfortable a journey as possible. Failing this, buy straps and harnesses to secure the carrier to the seat. Ensure that you know how it all works and that you can fasten the carrier in place and remove it easily.

8. Maintain a Good Temperature

Birds are sensitive to sudden and extreme changes in temperature and conditions. Before you start the journey, start the car and get it to a comfortable and even temperature and then try to maintain this temperature throughout the journey. There is likely to be some fluctuation in temperature, but the closer you can keep the car conditions to those in your bird’s normal environment the better.

9. Check on the Bird Regularly

Aim to stop for refreshment breaks every hour to 2 hours. Stop the car, turn the engine off, and check on your bird. Ensure that they aren’t showing signs of motion sickness and they are generally healthy. Provide a little water, avoid giving too much food, and spend a few minutes with the bird. Try to make sure the temperature inside the car remains even during this time, and be especially careful that the bird doesn’t escape when you open the car door. If you need to get out of the car, take the carrier with you.

bird dividerConclusion

It is possible to travel safely with your bird in a car. Most tame birds will tolerate short car journeys to the vet and back, but if the journey is longer than an hour or so, it may take some preparation. Get a good carrier, pack everything you need in a separate bag, and be sure to take plenty of suitable breaks during the journey.

If in doubt, you can get calming supplements that might help prevent your bird from getting too agitated and make the journey easier and safer for both of you.

Featured Image Credit: Daria_vg, Shutterstock

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