You’ve got everything set: The movers are scheduled, the boxes are packed (well, most of them, anyway), the old house has been sold, the new one rented, and the kids are registered at their new schools. But there’s one more worry: How will your pet manage the move?
Just like children, each bird has his or her own personality, and each will respond differently. Some will mope in their cages, nervous and shy; others will squawk, indignant at having to make a change. Still others – particularly those well-traveled birds that have been extensively socialized and exposed to lots of new situations – will take the move in stride.
Making a Stress-Free Transition
About a month before you’re supposed to leave, take the bird to the vet, to make sure there are no underlying illnesses that might cause problems in a stressful situation, such as a move.
If you are moving to another state (or another country) check to see which documents – general health certificates, proof of vaccinations, etc. – are required. If you are moving abroad, check on the quarantine policies of your final destination – and those of any countries you might be passing through.
Older parrots that have not been well socialized will be most traumatized by being uprooted. Try to keep schedules and daily routines close to what the bird is used to.
If your bird becomes so stressed that he starts feather picking, get him to a vet right away. (African Grey parrots are particularly prone to this behavior.) Feather picking needs to be controlled immediately, before it becomes a habit that cannot be broken.
If you’re traveling by air, give the bird time to become accustomed to his carrier before you head for the airport. Place him in the carrier for short periods of time over a couple of weeks, rewarding him for staying inside, and talking to him encouragingly.
If you’ll be traveling by car, small birds can often make the trip in their familiar cages. Remove swinging objects or toys that could fall and injure the bird and make sure he has fresh food and water available at all times. Keep temperatures consistent – not too hot and not too cold.
If it is to be a long trip, make sure you pack a portable perch, water bottle spritzer (for showers), food, fresh water and treats.
Be extremely careful when opening the bird’s cage or taking him out of his carrier while you’re on the road. The bird is likely to be startled more easily in unfamiliar situations, and even though his wings may be trimmed, he may be able to get enough lift to get away from you.
As soon as you arrive in your new home, pick a spot for the bird’s cage. Remember that he is a flocking animal and wants plenty of company. He should be able to see most of your family’s activities, but still be able to have a little privacy when he feels like being alone.
If possible, try to place the bird’s cage in an area similar to the one he inhabited in the last house. Make sure his space is free of drafts, and that there are no escape routes (doors or windows) that can be left open. Also keep in mind other kinds of hazards: ceiling fans, stoves, etc. The kitchen, especially, is an area to avoid.
Once your bird’s cage is set up, don’t change his toys or perches for a while. Arrange the cage in the same manner as it was in the last house, so that it will seem familiar and comforting to the bird.
Find an avian vet in your new neighborhood. Check with local bird clubs or aviaries for recommendations.