Going on vacation can be a major problem for anyone who has a pet bird. Finding a care giver for your favorite pet who is knowledgeable and willing to take care of your birds can be difficult. Whether you are hiring a professional pet sitting service, or are having a friend/or relative take care of your bird, making sure your birdsitter is prepared for any and all, expected and unexpected events, will ensure that your birds are happy and safe while you are away enjoying your vacation.Planning is the key to a successful and stress free leave of absence. Begin by making a check list of all the items that you need to purchase. Make sure you have stocked an ample supply of food items to last longer than the duration of your expected trip. You never know when unexpected delays will occur, so it is best to have extra food and supplies on hand. I also recommend that you leave some money for the sitter just in case you have overlooked something, or have underestimated how much will needed in your absence.
Notify your vet that you will be going on vacation and the dates you will be gone. Give them your sitter’s name and let them know that the sitter has your permission to bring the bird(s) in for any necessary treatment while you are away. Also discuss payment arrangements if an emergency occurs while you are away.
Leave a notebook for your sitter that contains all of the information that he/she will need to care for your birds. Review the notebook with your sitter in advance and put the notebook in an obvious place such as on the kitchen table, or next to the bird cage, or next to the phone, etc. Make sure your sitter knows where the notebook is.
On the first page of the notebook list all of the emergency phone numbers. Include a telephone number for yourself, your vet, a back up vet, your breeder, and any friends or relatives who are not only knowledgeable about birds, but who are also willing to help if it becomes necessary. In addition, include the address of the people on your list and directions to their home or place of business.
Use the next page to draw a diagram of the room or rooms, that your birds are housed in. Include the cage locations in the diagram, and how many birds are in the cage, and their names, and identify each species of bird. Then list individual descriptions of each bird that include size, weight, color, age, sex, band number, and other identifying characteristics. Also list any existing medical conditions and treatment instructions.
On the next page list everything about the birds diet. Include where the dishes are, what to feed the bird, the times to be fed, and the amounts to be fed, when to remove the food from the cage, and how often to change the water. Don’t forget to list where all of the supplies are located and where to purchase additional supplies if they run out while you are away.
Then, you want to write down the birds routine. Include their bedtime, play time, time out of the cage, etc., when and how often to clean the cages, what to use to clean the cages, and where the cleaning supplies are located.
The next item to record in the book is individual information on each bird. Include medical records, favorite toys, favorite foods, and any dislikes. Write down the birds personality traits and normal habits such as: ie. likes to have his/her head scratched, enjoys bathing in his water dish, will bite if you put your hand in the cage, he/she is very quiet, or likes to scream at sunset, etc. Don’t forget to mention if your pet likes to play on his back while on the bottom of the cage, or else your sitter may have a heart attack. The idea is let the sitter know what your bird’s normal behavior and personality traits are and what is not normal for each individual bird. Keep in mind that your bird(s) may not behave in the same manner with your sitter as they do with you.
The next thing is to list emergency first aid instructions. Make sure all of your bird’s wings are clipped and the toe nails trimmed before you leave. Place the emergency first aid kit next to the notebook. Also, list your vets phone number on the emergency first aid kit. Be sure your first aid kit is well stocked and includes such items such as Quick stop, a cauterizing agent, cotton swabs, hemostats, nail trimmers, scissors, a pamphlet on emergency procedures, etc. List when the items should be used and how to use them. Also note when they should contact your vet and others on your list for advice. Have towels or a net on hand and teach your sitter how to capture an escaped bird. Teach your sitter the correct way to use a towel to hold the bird in case an emergency arises. And label the travel carriers and note where they are located just in case the sitter has to take your bird to the vet.
Have your bird sitter visit several times before you leave for vacation. Let the sitter and your bird spend time together to get to know each other. Have the sitter familiarize himself/herself with your home and your bird’s daily routine. This will also give the sitter a chance to learn where all of the supplies are kept.
I would also replace the batteries in the smoke detector and carbon monoxide detectors before you leave on your trip. Make sure you list where the fire extinguishers are located and where all of the exits are located. If you have an alarm system don’t forget to leave the instructions on how to arm and disarm the system, and have the monitoring company assign them a password and code.
Careful planning will ensure your birds safety and reduce their stress while you away and will allow you take a worry free vacation. Don’t forget to bring your bird a nice souvenir.