Transport and Arrival at the New Home:
You are at the pet store, and your parakeet is sitting in a small cardboard box, ready for the trip home. The box is equipped with a few air holes. Your bird is not Panicked at this point, instead it feels quite cosy, as though transported back to its early days in the nest. But it is important that it has enough air to breathe, so the box should not be put in a plastic bag. The best way to carry the box is in your hands. Keep it from being jostled and protect it from the cold, perhaps by holding your coat around it loosely. Now get the bird home as quickly as you can. Everything there should be ready and set for the first twenty-four hours. The cage should stand in the chosen spot, the bottom tray covered with bird gravel, a dish filled with fresh drinking water and another with a birdseed mixture. A spray of millet might be clamped to the cage wall near a perch as a welcoming treat. Now the box in which the parakeet arrived is opened on one side and held in front of the open cage door, but without leaving any crack for escape. The bird is probably ready to emerge from its dark "nest" into the light and thus moves into its new home. If it should hesitate, start tilting the box until the bird begins to slide and thus lands in the cage. Shut the door carefully and leave the bird alone for the next few hours.

Provided with everything it needs, it can eat and drink, inspect its new quarters, and have a look at its surroundings without any people to distract and frighten it. The young parakeet will be filled with fear all the same. This is the first time in its life that it is not with fellow nestlings or others of its kind. It may show apprehensiveness by squatting timidly in a corner of the cage floor or by sitting on a perch facing the wall, but curiosity may soon get the better of the youngster and it will start looking around. Now it is up to you whether its first experiences in the new environment are positive or negative. Once the bird pecks at the birdseed, has a sip of water, then preens itself and starts moving around, the worst is over. Try to avoid anything during the first few days and weeks that might put your parakeet into a state of discomfort or panic, such as: Constant activity near the cage, slamming of doors, and other noise. Abrupt movements, loud talking, screaming, and quarrelling nearby. Glaring light in the evening, only soft light should reach the cage. Direct exposure to a television screen, TV sound that is turned up high. (The shooting in murder mysteries is especially frightening to birds.) Loud music or screaming voices coming from a radio. Garish or dark colors in clothing, many parakeets show fear when they see something black. Appearing suddenly before your bird with a startling hat on or in curlers, this could be frightening. (Even for the husband.)

Depending on how many birds you have you can get 24 Budgies in a cage about 3 feet wide by 3 feet deep by 2 feet high. You do not have to put seed in the cage but you could put spray millet in as it is not as messy. Every hour you could just stop for 15 minutes and give them fresh water. Make sure you do not leave the birds in the vehicle for more than 5 minutes if it is excessively hot or cold in it.

It is theoretically possible, but inadvisable, to take a parakeet along on a vacation if one travels by car and has room enough in it for the bird's accustomed cage. The long hours in the car, the summer heat, and the unfamiliar surroundings can do more damage to your pet's health (e.g., circulatory problems, diarrhea, colds caused by drafts) than a few weeks of separation. You would not be able to travel abroad with your bird, because almost all countries forbid the entry (and exit) of all kinds of parrots or, if they allow it, require endless forms to be filled out. This means that you not only have to make reservations for yourself well in advance but also have to find a good place for your bird while you are gone. Not everybody has relatives or neighbors who can be safely entrusted with a bird (or other pets). The animal should be able to carry on its usual existence, which includes not only being fed and having fresh water and a clean cage but also the habitual privileges of free flying and some playtime with a person. It is cruel to make a parakeet that is used to periodic free flying sit in a locked cage for three or four weeks. A change of environment is upsetting enough in itself, causing many birds to grieve and lose interest in food. Make sure, therefore, to board your parakeet only where it will be given a chance to fly outside the cage and where the caretakers will take a genuine interest in it.

If you cannot locate such a place you may be better off having someone come to your house once a day to look after the bird. This way it will not have to forego its daily period of free flying because, in the familiar and bird-proof surroundings of your home, the cage door can be opened without risk. If you have a large aviary you have no choice but to arrange for someone to come in to look after the birds. Some pet stores board parakeets. The cost is minimal, and the birds are usually well taken care of. (But just to be on the safe side you should have a careful look at where your pet will be housed.) Though this solution is convenient, I am reluctant to recommend it. I find it hard to imagine that parakeets that are used to "their" humans feel at ease surrounded by other birds, even if these are of the same species. The most well-meaning pet dealer will hardly have the time for a daily chat with every lonely "vacation guest." Free flying is obviously out of the question under these conditions. There are other and better possibilities. In many cities, the Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals or the local bird society has lists of people who are willing to take in animals temporarily. Anyone who is looking to place a pet or who would like to look after someone else's pet can inquire. If you are planning a trip, check in good time to see if someone will be available to adopt your parakeet temporarily. You will probably at least want to meet your substitute and make sure your pet will receive its accustomed care.

If there is no organization supplying such a service in your town, an ad in your local newspaper may help you find--often quite easily and quickly--a person who is knowledgeable about birds and willing to take over the care for one. Chances for finding someone are especially good if you offer to reciprocate. A notice on the bulletin board of a church or a senior citizen center may also bring results, or an inquiry at a local university where students may be looking for odd jobs. No matter who looks after your bird or birds, take the time to write down exactly what needs to be done: everything from feeding and normal bathing hours to time spent playing with the bird and letting it fly free in the room. The more concrete your instructions, the better the chances that you'll return to a healthy and, generally, quite cheerful pet.

There is one more question that has to be raised if the parakeet owner--particularly an older person--lives alone and keeps the bird as a companion to ward off loneliness. Although this is not a pleasant topic, any true lover of a pet will want to give thought to the fact that a day might come when care of the pet is no longer possible. A fall resulting in a broken hip, a slight stroke, or possibly sudden death would spell disaster for the bird if nobody is there to help. That is why any bird owner who lives alone should tell a neighbor about the bird and should arrange some method of signaling for help. The signal might be a newspaper still in the mailbox by noon, curtains closed longer than usual, or a certain object placed in the window at night and removed during the day if all is well. If you are reluctant to give away a key to your apartment, a neighbor could call the police if something seems to be the matter. Whatever the arrangement, there should be some written provision specifying what is to happen to the bird. If no "heir" is appointed, the parakeet could be taken to the nearest animal shelter. Many shelters have large community aviaries for escaped or abandoned birds.

For moving your aviary & birds see this article.

E-Mail: berniehansen@sympatico.ca



Hamilton & District Budgerigar Society Inc. 1996