Are Vacations Possible When You Own Parrots or Other Birds?

Boy with colorful parrot
Dave Fimbres Photography / Getty Images

Do you have the following concerns about leaving your bird?

  1. Will my bird be traumatized by the separation?
  2. Will anyone else be able to properly care for him?
  3. Will my bird be angry with me when I return?

Adjusting is Easy

Many people are concerned that new locations and new caretakers will be a detriment to their pet bird. They feel that if they leave, their little guy may have high anxiety during this time, may get scared, or become depressed and refuse to eat. In fact, this worry is mostly unfounded.

Birds are adaptable creatures that adjust well during times of change. Our pet birds in captivity are not very different from their wild counterparts, and birds in the wild have been adapting to family changes, weather changes, and even seasonal changes for eons. In nature, birds have to be flexible and they also have to figure out new problems on a daily basis; adaptability comes naturally to them.

Selecting the Best Bird Sitter

If you don't know anyone who would be responsible enough to provide for your bird's daily needs, many professional pet-sitters do have experience providing excellent care to many species of an exotic pet. Check with veterinary technicians at your local veterinary offices as many of them have side jobs pet sitting for animals with more intense needs.

There are two ways you can ensure your birds are cared for well whenever you have to leave home. You can board your bird with a reputable person, or you can have someone come in daily to care for them.

Some people prefer having someone come in a few times a day because they feel this is less traumatic than moving the bird and all of his belongings to another location. The best location to choose is the one where your bird will get the most attention and watchful eyes.

Introductions and Making the Transfer

Whenever possible, the best way to begin your pet's vacation adventure is to invite your chosen caregiver over to your house for an evening, just to meet your bird. This way, you can find out if there are any problems with the partnership ahead of time. At the introduction, have your sitter put the evening meal of favorite foods into the bird's cage with you looking on and talking to your little guy to help reassure him about its new friend. 

It is important to try out this match when there is still time to alter your plan. Some well-meaning friends may not realize that they are actually afraid of birds. They may especially be afraid of large beaks. People who do not have bird pets may find out that they are allergic to feathers or have trouble with cage smells or with screeching noises. It's important to uncover these problems before they become a problem for all concerned.

If you are driving your bird to a new location, put a seat belt harness around the cage or attach it to the car seat. Cages jostle a little too much whenever you stop short or even stop at a stop sign. Remember to remove all water dishes ahead of travel.

A Vacation for Your Bird

Birds, like other pets, have very good memories for home-like conditions. Their favorite foods, favorite sights (like a familiar house plant next to their cage), extra toys and their familiar cage cover cloth at night will help them to feel that some things have not changed. 

It's great enrichment to ask your sitter to come up with some new games to play with your bird, but there is an important rule about birdcages in new locations. New locations have not been made bird-safe with window guards, electric cord covers and potential other hazards, so the vacationing bird must remain safely in the cage at all times.

If your bird-sitter has another animal or bird in their home, it is best for your bird to be kept in a room by itself as becoming accustomed to other creatures is difficult for any pet and must be done gradually. An ideal location is near a clear, closed window but away from all heating and cooling elements in the room.

Returning Home to Your Bird

Just because you are away from your bird does not mean that you cannot have an eye on your bird. Whenever you travel, use video chat to get a real-time visual on the state of the cage and on your little buddy. This will give you added peace of mind until you get back home, and your bird may be comforted by hearing your voice as well.

Depending on how long you've been gone, you may see a little bit of "acting out" from your bird once you are reunited back home. Your bird may turn its back to you or appear to be giving you the cold shoulder for a little while, but this usually doesn't last more than a day or two. Before long, you will be telling each other about the amazing things you both saw and learned, and about the new friends you met!