How can I keep my bird from getting car sick?

macaw parrot on toy jeep
 
This was a question posted on Facebook last week:

“A friend asked me what she can give her bird for motion sickness. She travels and would like to take her bird but he tends to throw up even on short trips. I’m sure there are holistic options to help alleviate motion sickness. Has anyone had successful experiences with any?”
 
My Response:
 
The problem with the diagnosis of motion sickness is it’s counter to bird. Birds are motion machines, they fly, swoop and live in moving trees. I’d try a portable air freshener (never use a de-ionzer) in the car. I think the issue is environmental ie car exhaust or air pollution magnified by a birds precision respiratory system once leaving the controlled environment of the home.
 
But after several additional conversations with more bird people, it appears the problem is real and must be dealt with if your bird is susceptible to motion sickness. One veterinarian online recommended to spend time a regular basis acclimating your bird to the car. Get your bird use to the vibration of the engine and a small movements of the car, do this a few times a day. He even recommended that you take your bird out of carrier and put him on one of the car seats for a few minutes. Do these things for longer periods of time progressively and start driving short distances then repeat this a few times a day until your birds acclimated to the motion of the car.
 
Another constructive comment came from this woman:

“I was in a rush this morning when I posted (am currently teaching and behind) but it was the booda? perches. Rope covered but have a wire in them. That was my one time experience with that bird and the perches seemed to take care of it in his case”.

 
She made a good point – Booda perches installed properly in a bird carrier will offset the momentum caused by acceleration and deceleration of a vehicle. So I posted a picture of the right way to install a Booda perch in a bird carrier to help make your bird’s trip more enjoyable – you can see this here: The long and the short of it is by installing the Booda perch in a U-shaped to the top of the carrier, the bird can sit at the bottom of the”U” and as the car accelerates or decelerates the bird can offset momentum by placing a foot of one of the vertical parts of the perch much like you would do if you’re riding the bus.
 
The ongoing Facebook thread was populated with dozens posts advocating the use of essential oils and holistic remedies. Powders you can give the bird before travel. The oils to be rubbed into their feet. Many bird owner swore these oils and powders were highly effective in curbing the birds motion sickness and avoiding regurgitation.
 
Not surprisingly I felt there had to be a better answer. At Windy City Parrot, we truly look bird care holistically. So after careful thought I felt the “natural” remedies recommended were haphazard because there’s no veterinary nor manufacturing standards for these substances and you could be doing more harm than good ie what if YOUR bird has an adverse reaction to peppermint oil because your solution has a higher percentage of peppermint than the one used by someone who posted above as an example?
 
My low tech but fail safe solution is:

If you know you’ll be travelling in a car a with a bird gets motion sickness, insure your bird has a 1/2 full or empty crop prior to travel – withhold food for 6 – 12 hours before taking that car trip. This is more humane than putting your bird through the emotional & physical stress of regurgitation.

 
 

Mitch Rezman

He's handled a 1000 birds of numerous species when they visited monthly birdie brunches in the old Portage Park (Chicago, IL) facility. The one with the parrot playground. Mitch has written and published more than 1100 articles on captive bird care. He's met with the majority of  CEO's and business owners for most brands in the pet bird space and does so on a regular basis. He also constantly interacts with avian veterinarians and influencers globally.

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