Whether you have a parakeet, a cockatiel, or a lovebird, you want to be a good pet parent. Moving can be a traumatic experience for anyone but moving with birds can be especially hard. Your pets don’t understand why their routines are being disturbed. While it would be lovely to assume your bird could just fly and meet you at your new home, it’s much more complicated than that to keep your bird safe and relaxed during the transition.
Preparing To Move With Birds
If you’ve ever moved before, you know that good preparation is key to a smooth move. Start by scheduling a checkup with your vet to ensure your bird is in good health and obtain copies of medical records. If you’re moving locally, you’ll still want to get some individualized advice from your vet. If you’re moving long distances, you can ask for a referral to a new vet.
Try to keep your bird away from the chaos of packing. Watch out for signs of stress such as a loss of appetite, a change in your bird’s feathers, aggressive behavior, or a noticeable lack of activity.
Next, plan how you’ll transport your bird to your new home. You’ll likely need to buy a carrier. When moving with pets, it’s best to take them by car, if possible, since that’s less stressful. But if you need to fly when moving with your birds, you’ll need to take some extra steps.
- Flying with birds. First, check with your airline to see if birds are allowed to fly. Typically, you’ll need some extra paperwork to fly with birds. The TSA may need to check your bird at the airport to make sure it’s healthy, so be sure you’re prepared. More than likely, you’ll need a special carrier designed for flying.
- Driving with birds. If you have a carrier you use to take your bird to the vet, this may be good enough to use for a long driving trip to your new home. Ask your vet if you’re unsure about what to use when moving with birds.
Make sure the carrier is big enough to include a perch for your bird.
If you buy a new carrier, it’s smart to practice moving your bird into the new carrier before moving day. Your bird should spend some time in the carrier to get used to it. Take a couple of short trips in the car to make it seem more natural and comfortable.
Otherwise, it’s best to keep your routines the same as much as possible in the weeks leading up to your move. Try to feed your bird regularly and talk to it as you normally do so you don’t make it nervous before the moving day.
Climate Considerations and Pet Birds
If your pet bird comes from a warmer climate than yours, you may have already made some accommodations to help them stay healthy in cold weather. Monitoring heat and humidity is especially important for tropical birds.
When you’re moving, you need to be especially aware of temperature issues. If it’s cold outside, be sure you have planned a way to keep your bird warm during the transition, such as putting a warming device tucked under a blanket in their carrier. If you’re moving from a colder environment to a warmer one, you also need to help your pet bird gradually adapt by keeping the temperature as cool as what they’re normally used to at first.
In the middle of moving, try to keep the temperature around your bird’s carrier as close as possible to normal. Once you arrive at your new home, you can adjust the temperature in the bird’s room to match their needs.
Moving Day With Birds
As much as possible, it’s best to keep your bird out of the way in a quiet room while the movers are packing up the moving van. Be sure any items you need to set up your bird’s new home are readily available and well-labeled.
When you’re ready to go, keep your bird with you. Don’t be tempted to send it in the moving van. Bring food, water, and treats that your bird likes.
If you’re traveling by car, be sure to place the carrier in the back seat away from airbags, which could damage the carrier if they must be deployed. Make sure the carrier doesn’t have toys, swings, or anything that could shift with the car’s movement. Be careful not to pack anything around the carrier that could become dislodged but do strap the carrier in so it’s steady during the trip.
Bring a blanket or cloth that you can use to cover the bird carrier if the sun becomes too bright and make sure the temperature in the backseat is comfortable.
If you must stay overnight on your way to your new home, be sure to find a hotel where you can bring your bird inside.
Settling Into Your New Home With Birds
As soon as you get into your new home, establish the bird’s new space. Set up the cage with familiar toys and check your bird’s comfort often.
If your bird is in a room far away from yours, consider using a baby monitor to listen for signs of distress during the first few nights.
Talking to your pet bird and taking precautions can go a long way to avoiding ruffled feathers.
Checklist For Moving With Birds
Copy and paste this checklist into your notes app for an easy reminder when you’re planning and prepping for your move and on your moving day.
- Make an appointment with your vet for a checkup.
- If you’re moving long distances, ask for a referral to a vet in your new location.
- Have your bird groomed if needed.
- Get a health certificate for your bird.
- Take a photo of your bird and keep it with the health certificate and any other documentation such as leg band numbers or a microchip. Save all these documents with your other important paperwork that you’ll keep with you instead of packing it in a box that goes on a moving van.
- Check with airlines about their rules for traveling with birds.
- Buy a carrier that’s appropriate for the plane or car trip.
- Carefully line the carrier on the bottom and belt it into the backseat on a car ride.
- Monitor your bird during the trip to make sure your bird is calm and has food and water.
- While you’re traveling, try to limit exposure to too much air conditioning, heat, or breezes from open windows.
- Bring a blanket or a cloth to cover the carrier in case there’s too much sun or if your bird feels safer with less exposure to bright lights and moving scenery.
- Settle your bird as soon as possible in a quiet room while you unpack. Try to make the room similar to their previous home.
- Consider a baby monitor to listen to overnight to make sure your bird is OK.
- Be aware of the impact of different temperatures on your bird. Try to keep their new home close in temperature to their previous home.
Michele Lerner is an award-winning freelance writer, editor and author who has been writing about real estate, personal finance and business topics for more than two decades.