Thursday, May 28, 2015

Summer Travel with your Bird

Planning that fun summer vacation trip yet?  

Whether traveling and/or vacationing for fun or just visiting with family and friends, you may want to weigh the pros and cons of taking your bird along with you.  Many birds enjoy traveling with their family and do very well.  Remember it's never too soon to start planning either.  

If you have a responsible friend or family member to care for your bird, you may decide to vacation without your feathered friend.  If your bird will be staying at home, try to have someone come in at lease twice a day to check on everything, provide fresh water or food, and turn on or off a radio or television that your bird may be enjoying during the day.  Provide some new toys and some special treats while you are gone so your bird has something to do while the family is away.  If you don't think your bird will be happy staying at home alone, then have him or her vacation with their caretaker or board at a local bird store or vet's office while you are away. 

Even if your bird will not be staying at home by itself, it is still a good idea to provide those new fun toys and special treat to be enjoyed while visiting or boarding away from home.  

If on the other hand you decide to take your feathered buddy along on your summer travels, following some simple guidelines can make a happy and safe vacation for humans and birds.

If you are traveling by airplane, be sure and contact the airline company well in advance of your travel dates. Some airlines do not allow birds in the cabin with their people.  Others may charge a full person ticket price even if the bird's carrier is under your seat.  If the airline is one who only allows animals and birds to travel in the cargo hold, travel may be allowed during hot summer months.  Personally I'm not keen on any animal or bird traveling in a cargo hold, so I would suggest if at all possible try to take your bird inside the cabin with you. Make sure your bird has a reservation just as you do and confirm this with the airline 24 hours before you plan to leave. Find out what type of carrier your particular airline requires and familiarize your bird with its travel carrier beforehand. Most airlines have strict dimensions of allowed carriers, and it's not a standard, so allowed carriers can vary from airline to airline.  

Airlines may require a health certificate issued within 10 days of flight so be sure and bring all documentation with you as well as extra supplies for your bird. The bird's carrier should be well marked and tagged with all pertinent information such as flight number, destination, owner's name and address, home phone number, vet's name and phone number, bird's name and schedule for food and water. You can use a permanent marker to write all information on the carrier.

Whether traveling by plane or car here are a few tips to make your bird's travel a little easier.

Be sure and bring a cover for the carrier or travel cage. This will allow your bird a sense of security if necessary when traveling and a night cover/

If traveling by car, be sure and strap your bird's cage or carrier into a seat belt away from air bags.

Bring a small play gym or attach-a-perch for the top of his cage or carrier for out time in your hotel room unless your travel cage has it's own built in play top.  Always always only allow your bird out of the travel cage or carrier when you can supervise.

Be sure there are not any toys that can swing and hit your bird as you travel. If necessary remove such toys until you are checked safely into your hotel room.

Just as some people, birds can become airsick or suffer from motion sickness. Sometimes covers the cage or carrier can help.  Looking at the window of your traveling car may be fun for people, but not always so with your feathered friend.  

Place a few moist foods such as sliced orange pieces, grapes or apple inside the carrier for your bird rather than an open dish of water that will spill easily.

If you make your hotel reservations before leaving on your trip, be sure they allow pets. Take extra newspapers or a sheet to place under your bird's cage at the hotel. Bring paper towels for cleaning up any messes, and even a small hand held vacuum will help you keep your hotel room nice and clean.

Don't forget to pack your bird first aid kit and a list of avian vets in the area you will be staying. Your own avian vet may be able to recommend someone they are familiar with at your destination. 

Bring your own drinking water for your bird from home or bottled water your bird is used to.  Pack all the bird's food together. Baby wipes are great to have along. Bring a spray bottle for cleanup and at least one cleanup cloth. Don't forget a supply of plastic garbage bags also. Don't pour your bird's water dish into hotel sinks if there is food or seed in the water. Dump them into your garbage bags instead.

You may want to do your own cleaning of your hotel room to avoid any cleaning fumes if you will be staying for several days. Be aware also that some hotels in humid, hot vacation areas spray for bugs on a regular basis. Ask beforehand if your hotel does this. You may need to air out your room once you arrive to make it bird safe. If you take care to keep your hotel room clean from bird debris you will leave a positive message with the management for the next bird traveler.

Never, never leave your bird unattended in a car for even a few minutes. Someone should stay in the car with the bird any time you must stop, or if necessary, take the bird in its carrier with you. Try to leave your bird alone in your hotel room as little as possible. Use the "DO NOT DISTURB" sign at all times your bird is in your room alone.

Feather clipping may be controversial for some, but if you bird is traveling, I highly recommend it. Car accidents can and do happen, and an accident may release your bird from it's carrier or cage.  Unexpected escapes can also occur while you are changing bedding, or food, or comforting your bird.  Flight feather grow back, and better safe than sorry can be a real statement of fact.  

Most of all, enjoy your vacation or travels, and if you can, share them with your special feathered friend whenever possible

Thursday, May 14, 2015

Does Your Bird have a Favorite Fruit or Veggie?

I am often asked what are some healthy fruits and vegetables to feed a bird.  Healthy foods are always the goal, but if your bird won't touch them, well a 'bird's gonna do what a bird's gonna do'.  So here are 3 suggestions of some fun fruits and veggies to try.  All it sometimes takes is one new veggie or fruit piece to start your bird on a healthier diet.

I love feeding carrot tops and carrots.  Carrots and carrot tops are awesome Vitamin A sources for your bird.  All of our birds from the smallest finches to the largest Macaw, have fun while they eat them.  I rinse the carrot tops and weave through the bars of a cage for the small birds who love munching, shredding, and even enjoying the wet greenery as a refreshment.  The added bonus of feeding carrot tops, is that if you are growing them in a pot or your garden, clipping the tops only encourages them to produce more carrot tops.  That's a win-win.

Watermelon is a yummy super food that you may not have thought of for your bird.  Most people think of
watermelon as a food that is mostly water.  That's true, but this refreshing fruit is loaded with vitamins A, B6, C, and other goodies.  It's low fat (as most vegetables and fruits are) and healthy.    Larger birds can even enjoy watermelon seeds and some will love the meat of the watermelon close to the rind as much as the juicy red center.  Try small pieces for small birds, you can even float a chunk in a water dish to capture your bird's curiosity.   Freeze some watermelon in an ice cube for larger birds and place it in their water dish.  Watch the fun begin.  (Don't forget to give clean water after the snack)

 Summer squash can be a fun food as well.  Chunks and slices are loved by our bigger birds.  But surprisingly even the small birds love picking out the squash seeds.  Sometimes eating them, sometimes just playing with them.  Playing with your food however is highly recommended.  Squash is a great vitamin C source for your bird as well as other many health benefits.

Make a fun kabob with some squash, watermelon, and carrot slices.  Weave some carrot tops in, and not only provide something healthy, but also something that can be fun and entertaining for your bird.