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Vacation – what to do with your birds?

While their owner is on vacation, a reliable person should look after the birds.
While their owner is on vacation, a reliable person should look after the birds.

Many bird owners love to go on vacation. Those who keep only a few birds – for example, a pair, can often easily bring their animals to friends, relatives, or other people they know. However, it also happens that no one can be found who wants to take care of the feathered fellows. Then it’s hard to know what to do.

Things turn out to be far more difficult if a small flock of birds is kept or if someone lives together with bigger parrots such as macaws. The situation is just as complicated for many people who keep chronically ill or handicapped birds. In general, birds need an experienced and caring pet sitter who at best should be familiar with the needs and characteristics of the particular bird species. In case birds are to be looked after who regularly need medications or special care measures, it’s often a real challenge to find a reliable bird sitter.

Because they do not know a trustworthy bird sitter, some owners never go on vacation. Others leave the birds in the care of a person who means well, but who is not very experienced. And this leads to bad feelings during their vacation. Those who want to travel somewhere in their country and thus not too far away might also consider taking their birds with them – being aware that the journey can be exhausting for the animals. And also there are such terrible persons who simply abandon their birds, which is utterly detestable.

In order that you can find the best and most reliable pet sitter for your birds, you should take your time to search. Don’t just start searching shortly before a trip is due. That often goes wrong, and it’s the birds who have to suffer from it in the end. Further below, you find some advice and information about what you should consider.

Birdcare at home

It’s best for your birds to be able to stay in their familiar environment while you are away. This means that you have to hand someone the key to your apartment or house. This person has to visit your birds at least once a day, better two or three times a day, to look after them, provide them with food and water, take care of hygiene, and apply any necessary medication.

If you let someone from your closer circle of acquaintances take over this task, this person should be experienced in handling birds. For example, a neighbor who never has been keeping birds will not be the right person, even though this friendly neighbor might offer you to water your flowers and give the birds some food every day. Instead of opting for this simple solution, which is not good for your birds, you should look for an alternative.

You should better try to get in touch with other bird owners who are experienced and may be willing to care for your animals in their home environment. Meeting such people is possible for example, via bird groups on Facebook. Furthermore, in many bigger cities, mobile pet sitter services are available. Some of these service providers are experienced in handling birds. This makes them reliable partners if you want to have your birds looked after at home during your vacation.

Birdcare at a (professional) pet sitter’s home

You should take your time searching for the perfect bird sitter.
You should take your time searching for the perfect bird sitter.

If the state of health of your birds allows it, it’s also possible to bring them to an animal sitter who will care for them at his or her home. Such a pet sitter can be a kindred relative who is actually an experienced bird owner as well. Or it could be another bird lover whom you met, for example, via the internet and then personally. Often bird owners offer their help to like-minded people on a mutual basis. This means that if someone takes care of your birds during your vacation, you will be expected to look after the other owner’s birds while he or she is traveling.

There are also professionals who offer their services against a fee. Beyond that, some animal shelters or local animal welfare groups offer vacation care in their facilities – usually also against a fee. Here, however, just as with the care by another bird owner, it must be considered that your animals meet other birds at the place of care. This can bear the risk of potential disease transmission.

Please note
If your pets are accommodated at someone else’s home during your vacation, you should make sure the pet sitter will provide them with their usual food and favorite toys. This will make things easier for your birds and they will feel more like being at home.

Have a look at the place where your birds will stay in advance

In case you decide to give your animals into the care of someone else in their home, you should visit this place beforehand. Make sure to clarify how the daily routine there is like and which food is served (or better: bring the favorite food of your birds when they stay there). Does the pet sitter have the opportunity to provide your animals with sufficient care in case of illness and, above all, to take them to an avian vet? These aspects are extremely important because the stress of the change of environment can lead to a temporary weakening of the immune system in vulnerable birds and thus to an increased risk of becoming ill. Not only then good medical care must be guaranteed.

Also, pay attention if the pet sitter asks you about the characteristics of your birds. Only those who do this will really care about the bird’s individual needs and act responsibly. Who does not ask could be indifferent and treat all animals equally. In the worst case, this could endanger your bird’s lives. Ask the bird sitter for references and how experienced he or she is. If the pet sitter refuses to reply or answers evasively, this could be a hint that this person is inexperienced and thus not very reliable.

Another very important aspect is hygiene. If the place appears dirty, you should look for an alternative. Of course, this does not mean that in the evening there will be a few grains left next to the bowl. This is harmless, but perches covered with a thick layer of dried feces or even a bad smell are warning signals.

Legal details

It’s not a pleasant thought, but during the vacation, a bird can become seriously ill. The bird sitter must then decide which measures are to be taken. This can result in high costs. Therefore it’s advisable to determine and write down the details in advance. You should note in a contract how to proceed if a bird needs medical care. The bird sitter usually pays the bill at the vet and has the money refunded later by the animal’s owner. In order to avoid unpleasant incidents, because you maybe feel like the bird sitter has spent too much money, this important topic should be clarified in advance in any case.

In addition, it should be discussed what to do if a bird falls terminally ill and should be put to sleep from a medical point of view. For a pet sitter, it is usually an extremely difficult situation to have to make this decision if no arrangements with the owner have been made in advance. Ideally, it should therefore be part of a contract that the bird sitter – supported by an avian vet – has the authority to make a decision on whether or not a bird should be euthanized in the absence of its owner. It is therefore extremely important to have your birds cared for by a trustworthy and experienced person.

What happens when birds fall in love?

If birds are cared for at someone else’s home where they meet other birds, sometimes they fall in love with one of their new fellows. It should be thought over in advance how to act then. It would be a pity to separate the happy new pair just because none of the owners would want to give up their animal. If the birds find their big love and have chosen their partner themselves, it’s usually something special and it would be wonderful if they could stay together.

I have experienced it myself with my birds. Some of them fell in love during my vacation. So I let some of my birds stay with their new partners in another home, and in other cases, I adopted the partners as well. Fortunately, the other owners have always shared my opinion that pairs shouldn’t be separated and we were always able to find an appropriate solution.

Bird sitting in emergencies and short-term solutions

Please also keep in mind that your animals might suddenly need a pet sitter because you might unexpectedly fall ill and not be able to take care of your birds yourself. Especially for pet owners, it’s important that a reliable person can immediately take over and look after the birds if one is knocked out without any warning. Of course, it is quite similar in bird owners who often have to expect spontaneous business trips.

It should never be the case that due to an impending vacation or other temporary absence suddenly the birds have to be sold or whatever. Try to find a reliable person who can look after your birds spontaneously.