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TRAVEL TIPS

Going on vacation? Take your Grey with you. The more you expose your parrot to, at its OWN PACE, the calmer and more confident it will be. Believe it or not, our Greys love travel......just ask Nikki Hefele of New York State who travels nationally with her human Bob. The following are some important tips to help you make it as safe and comfortable as possible:

    MIRANDA DEKAY of NEW YORK travels extensively with HUBERT.  She puts a small dish of food in the cage, along with another dish of ice cubes.  Miranda says, “She’s not thirsty at the start of the trip, but by the time she might be, the cubes have melted and not slopped over. AND she loves the cold cubes on her beak.”

Sammy’s human of San Francisco provides the following travel tips:

      While traveling on planes, a carrier with a wire top works best with Sammy. It gives him something to do, such as hang upside down, let’s you see what’s going on and let’s you put your hand in to reassure with a little neck rub.

      She takes pieces of cardboard along on flights and long trips to play a game of pulling the cardboard in and out of the carrier.

      She takes the carrier with her to the restroom, on the plane and in airports. Sammy is given a few minutes of out time to break up the trip AND is given water to drink....bottled water, of course...definitely NOT from the sink.

      During take offs, landings and turbulence, Sammy is usually distracted with a favorite toy.

For traveling in cars, she uses a soft carrier from a Hobo Pet Supply in Van Nuys, California, by mail (800 number). They make a nylon carrier with screens on 3 sides, in 3 sizes, that has an anti-lurch perch, is very lightweight and collapsible. She puts it on a box or bag to raise the height so the bird can see out. The screen is used by NASA in satellites, but a determined beak can go through it, so be prepared to repair the carrier periodically. For windy days, she takes heavy, clear plastic and velcro and makes roll-up sides. She says, "The carrier gets more attention than the bird when we’re out."

PREPARATION

    Some Greys love travel, but others can get motion sickness; therefore, it is best to start out small, such as going around the block or to the bank a few times, first. Everything may seem scarey the first time, so take it slowly. For example, the first time Merlin Tewillager saw windshield wipers working, or when we went under the first tunnels and bridges, she was very nervous; but once she had worked through the fears and experienced these traumas, they were no longer a problem. Thus, think through many different scenarios of things/issues that may be scarey and work through them with your Grey before taking the big plunge.

    There are many hotels/motels that won’t accept animal companions, so plan ahead. If you’re going to visit someone, send a small cage ahead of time.....I always used the Cockatoo size Bird Motels that you can break down to be mailed. There are books that will identify hotels that allow animals: Take Your Pet USA (Atco Publishing, 12 Channel Street, Boston, MA 02210) and Vacationing With Your Pet (Pet-Friendly Publications, P.O. Box 8459, Scottsdale, AZ 85252).

    If you’re making reservations through public transportation, you’ll need to call ahead of time. If using airlines, only one "pet" is allowed per cabin per trip; therefore, making reservations in advance is mandatory. If you have a regulation sized carrier that will fit under the seat in front of you, your Grey will be able to travel with you. The charge is generally $50 per trip ($100 round trip, give or take ).

    Many airports are strict about health codes; therefore, ALWAYS have a health certificate from your vet at hand. It is also smart to take along a first aid kit, in case there are emergencies. Your veterinarian can recommend items to include.

    Your Grey will remain as calm as you are, so take deep breaths and enjoy it. It will be much more fun than you think, and even more embarrassing, once your parrot is comfortable enough to say embarrassing things in public at the airports, or loud wolf whistles at the most inappropriate times.

    To help your companion remain as comfortable as possible, take along its belongings, such as its favorite two or three toys, its favorite perch and other favorite ditties.

IN THE AIR

    You will find that the most favorite part of the trip is that opportunity to SCREAM in the airport, "What does the rooster say? Er, Er Er Er!!!" the wolf call and the NYC doorman whistle. Then surprise, every child (both young and old) within a terminal radius will find you.

    Always put a blanket or jacket around your parrot’s carrying case under the seat because there tends to be drafts on the floor, even in the summer. I find that by having the window seat, Merle is quieter on these trips because there is less activity away from the aisle.....THEREFORE, she is quiet and the fellow passengers are happy. It is cute to have a show-off in the terminal, but NOT in the airplane.

    We all tend to get dehydrated in the air; therefore, always supply your Grey with watery foods, such as grapes, cantaloupe, orange slices, watermelon, in addition to some nutritious veggies.

IN THE HOTEL

    When making reservations, request a small refrigerator for your room to keep fruits and veggies. You may also consider taking a small pot and burner for steaming foods in the room, or blender for mashing, or request the hotel restaurant to cook for you.

    Once there, set up your parrot’s cage and give it time to adjust to the new surroundings. DO NOT EVER LEAVE YOUR PARROT ALONE IN THE ROOM. There have been cases where they have been stolen; therefore, do NOT take that risk. The one drawback to traveling with your parrot and staying in hotels, is that you must stay together like velcro----which is what my "girls" love about it.

    If you’re staying with a relative or friend, it is easier to leave your parrot for short periods; however, be sure to check back with your companion often, since it is in a new territory and will be concerned about where the other flock members are. This is when it is especially important for your companion to have some familiar things around it, such as its perch and toys. If possible, let your parrot spend time in the travel cage at home, before it is used for the trip.

CAR TRANSPORTATION

    DO NOT put your Grey in the front seat if the rider’s side has an air bag, as it can kill your bird if it goes off.

    Always have the following handy: drinking water; spritzing water, especially if the weather is hot; large supply of Bounty and newspapers; small trash bags for trash and other storage; cut veggies, pellets and seeds; first aid materials, and so on.

    Make sure ALL air conditioner/heater vents are closed and/or not blowing on your Grey: we prefer to use the floor vents. Make sure you have a towel or blanket covering a part of the car travel cage to protect from direct sun. NEVER, NEVER leave your Grey, for any periods of time, in a locked car, particularly in heat and extreme cold.

    When we use rental cars, we put in sheets to protect the seats from feather dust, poop and food.

    Always be careful and always keep your doors and windows closed because anything can happen, just in a second. Always have your body between the car door and bird, as there have been accidents where the car doors have slammed on and killed the parrots, instantly. Just remember that accidents DO happen, so always be awake and prepared.

BENEFITS

    The flock travels together.

    It introduces change in a safe, secure manner and helps your Grey learn to become more adaptable and flexible. Again, this should always be introduced at the pace your Grey can handle and it’s important to go at it in an awake, patient manner. Again, the more you introduce your parrot to, IN A SAFE MANNER, the more relaxed and confident it will become.

    It takes your Grey out of its territory and allows you to work with it, as it is similar to Sally Blanchard’s teachings of the "neutral room" concept.

    It provides opportunity to help your Grey become comfortable being around non-flock members. My "girls" learned to show-off in front of crowds and strangers through the experience of travel and being in many different situations.

LEAVING AT HOME

    Of course, there will be times when you will have to leave your parrot at home. If you plan to leave it with someone else, be SURE to introduce it to the other person and the new surroundings before you travel. Take your bird over to the place, visit, leave it there for a few hours, then a day or so....until it becomes comfortable and accepts the person/place as extended family flock.

    If you have a person come in the home to feed it, be sure your Grey is comfortable with that person and the person will take the time to spend a few hours with the bird.

    Sally Blanchard has basically recommended that you avoid leaving your young Grey (approximately one year or younger) alone for extended periods, as this is the time when it needs the comfort and support of the flock, particularly its parents/flock leaders. Behavior consultant Jane Hallander has also observed that some young Greys can become phobic if the process of acclimating them to new surroundings while you travel is done improperly. In the wild, being "abandoned" by the flock means DEATH. All it takes is a little forethought and effort to make the process work.

CAMPING TRIPS

   Sheryl has a large tent that sleeps eight and she always includes her special little Grey guy in their July
    camping trips. She wants to hear from others ideas they have for camping. The following are some of
    the steps she takes:
        - First, she makes a list NOT to forget anything.
        - Has a screened food tent so her Grey can sit undisturbed on his perch, safe from the outside
        - Shade is important, so ALWAYS cover a part of cage with towel, if outside
        - Uses small fan in tent to keep things cool (always away from curious beaks)
        - Always keeps enough bottled water available
        - Her Grey is always on a leash, in case something unexpected happens

(PUBLISHER: When your Grey is on a leash, ALWAYS make sure it is either attached to you or in
your hands because a loose bird in a tree with a dangling leash that could get caught on a limb is even
more dangerous, since the bird could get trapped for predators----BE CAREFUL!!!)

    - Other ideas?

    - What is the safest heat source for a tent and parrot?

    - What is the best type of food for a camping trip?

    - What other helpful hints do you have?

    REMEMBER THAT SAFETY ALWAYS COMES FIRST!!!