While some pets -- like your fluffy dog -- might be all excited about going on a road trip, travel can be quite stressful for birds. Parrots are intelligent animals that can get overexcited when they’re in unfamiliar territories -- so much of the success of traveling with your parrot has to do with how well you prepare yourself and him for the trip ahead.
If you’re traveling outside of the US, you will need paperwork in order to enter your destination country. What papers you need depends on what country you’re traveling to, so contact the right Embassy in advance to find out what you need. As a minimum, you will need a health certificate from your vet, showing that your parrot is no carrying any communicable diseases that could puts people or other animals at risk. Some countries might also ask you to provide proof of ownership to show that the parrot was acquired legally. This might mean you need to obtain a CITES -- Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora -- permit, which must be processed through the USDA and can take several weeks.
The key to low-stress travel is a comfortable carrier. Pet stores sell special carriers for birds, so invest in one rather than trying to transport your parrot inside his cage -- this can be dangerous and uncomfortable. If you’re flying, you’ll have to buy a carrier that’s airline approved. If you’re driving or taking the train or a bus that allows birds onboard, you can get a tall soft carrier. These carriers, which look somewhat like a backpack, are designed to provide enough vertical space for your bird to stand straight comfortably. When traveling by car, provide some small treats and a small water dish so your parrot can eat and drink as he wants. If you’re flying, you will need a small water bottle attached to the side of the carrier and maybe a few scattered seeds to keep him content until you arrive.
Traveling with your carrot by car might be the best option available, since you can keep an eye on him. In fact, the Bird Channel website points out that it’s a good idea to talk to your bird during the trip, so he can be reassured that everything is fine. Put your parrot in his carrier and then place the carrier on the back seat of the car. The front seat can be dangerous in the case of sudden breaking or an accident. If your parrot gets agitated, you can try partially covering the carrier with a towel. Leave one side uncovered, though, to make sure your bird can see you and feels comfortable.
Regulations vary widely among airlines, so contact the one you plan on flying with to find out what you need in order to get your parrot on board. In some cases, you might not be able to take your feathery friend into the cabin with you. If that’s the case, he’ll fly under the plane, in an area near the luggage. Where he flies will affect the type of carrier he needs -- soft carriers are fine for cabin travel, but birds flying underneath need a hard plastic carrier to stay protected.
Tammy Dray has been writing since 1996. She specializes in health, wellness and travel topics and has credits in various publications including Woman's Day, Marie Claire, Adirondack Life and Self. She is also a seasoned independent traveler and a certified personal trainer and nutrition consultant. Dray is pursuing a criminal justice degree at Penn Foster College.