When was the last time you brought your pet bird in for a checkup? While we recommend annual Wellness Exams for our avian pets, the prospect of transporting your flighted friend to a new and strange place can be overwhelming for owners. How can you make your bird’s first field trip a successful one? Here are a few easy steps to help your bird have a positive Fear Free visit.
Type of Carrier
- Always use a hard-sided carrier, such as one made of plastic, acrylic, or wire. This allows the bird to feel supported while standing, perching, or moving about the carrier. With wire carriers, be sure to check the metal frequently for signs of rust or deterioration.
- Perching birds, such as parrots or finches, should be provided a perch within the carrier. You can attach perches using bolts and nuts at each end of a sanitized, nontoxic piece of wood for larger birds. You can substitute dowels and zip ties for smaller birds, but always remember to monitor animals around plastic zip ties as pieces are easily swallowed.
- For ground-dwelling birds like chickens and other fowl, no perching is necessary. In addition, birds with injuries may be transported without a perch as well. In any case, the bottom of the carrier should be lined with towels or other absorbent materials such as pee pads.
- The carrier door should be large enough for the bird to easily be taken in and out, while not too large that they can easily escape. It is also helpful to remove any toys or items in the carrier that dangle or entangle the bird, as well as cover any sharp corners!
Getting Used to the Carrier
- Make sure the bird is able to see and explore their transport cage or carrier before the visit. For parrots and their relations, the carrier should be in the home and in clear view for at least a week prior to the visit. You can reinforce positive associations with the carrier, and encourage interaction with the carrier, using your bird’s favorite treats and toys.
The Morning of Your Bird’s Appointment
- Just like with your cat or dog, withholding a meal before their appointment makes your bird extra interested in treats! If you do feed them before their visit, make sure it is only their staple diet and save their favorite treats and food items to bring along for the appointment. We are happy to feed them their breakfast or lunch here at the clinic so they have a positive experience and plenty of tasty snacks!
- If your bird has a cage mate, you are welcome to bring them along, but the majority of birds do not show lower levels of stress in the company of another. Sometimes, a companion can even add to the sick bird’s stress! However, you know your pet the best and we rely on you to determine what will help them have a beneficial and Fear Free visit.
By: Lindsay Magill
Avian Fear Free Certification Module 3