Taking your untamed bird to the vet for the first time can be daunting, especially if your feathered friend is not exactly “tame.”
But don’t worry – with some preparation, you can make the experience much less stressful for both of you.
When taking an untamed bird to the vet, it is crucial to remain calm and patient. If you are stressed, your bird will be too. This makes the experience even harder.
Birds can be skittish around new people and places, so take your time and let your pet bird get comfortable. Read on to find out more!
Step 1: Plan in advance
Find an avian veterinarian
Before you even think about taking your bird to the vet, you’ll need to find an avian veterinarian in your area.
An avian veterinarian is a vet that has studied for an additional 6 years treating all kinds of birds. Look for a list of trusted avian veterinarians online or ask your friends or relatives for any recommendations.
Once you’ve narrowed down your options, contact the vets to see if they’re a good fit for you and your pet.
Suppose you cannot locate a board-certified avian veterinarian close to you. In that case, your regular vet might be able to help.
However, remember to ask about their experience with birds ahead of time. Ask the receptionist how many birds they see on average, whether they have treated your type of bird before, and if the vet can handle untamed birds.
The last thing anyone wants is for their feathered friend to fall into unknowledgeable hands.
Choosing a Travel Carrier
When choosing a travel carrier, look for one that is sturdy with a built-in perch that will allow your bird to spread its wings easily.
Smaller carriers are usually better because they’re easier to transport. They also make it easier for the vet to capture your bird for a check-up.
Choose a carrier with a viewing window so the vet can check your bird’s posture and breathing before handling it.
Also, check that the doors have a robust locking mechanism. If the carrier has sliding doors, clip a few clothes pegs to the door for extra protection to help prevent your clever bird from escaping.
Step 2: Gather the supplies
If your bird has an infection or virus, it will show up in its droppings. To help the veterinarian treat your bird better, line the bottom of its carrier with clean newspaper. This will make it easy for the veterinarian to collect a sample of your bird’s droppings.
Or, if possible, collect a sample of your bird’s fresh feces in a clean, dry container. Your veterinarian will be able to test the sample for various diseases and parasites. This can help the vet diagnose your bird’s condition more quickly and effectively.
Towel and Hand towel
Birds are very fragile, so they must be handled with care. Hand towels are great to use to capture your untamed bird at home.
Make sure there are no hanging strings to catch your bird’s nails. Hand towels will also protect you from getting scratched by your feathered friend’s claws.
Use a smaller washcloth if your bird is small, like a Budgie. Medium-sized birds, like a Conure, can be handled with a hand towel. Use a bath towel for larger parrots, like Macaws.
You should also bring a big towel to drape over the carrier while traveling and while your bird is in the waiting room.
This will keep your bird calm and relaxed and prevent other animals in the waiting area from seeing and stressing it out.
Wearing gloves when handling untamed birds can help protect you from getting bitten or scratched. You can purchase special anti-biting bird training gloves or use regular leather gloves if your untamed bird is a larger species.
If you can’t find gloves specifically designed for birds, choose a pair of gloves that are soft and close-fitting.
If you don’t have gloves, use a clean cotton t-shirt or scarf instead. Ensure that the fabric is not too loose and that no strings are hanging down.
But the choice to wear them does come at a cost: they make it harder to handle your bird gently. Also, some birds may view gloves as a threat and become more agitated. In this case, it’s best to go without gloves and use a towel instead.
Step 3: Transfer the bird into the travel carrier
Set up the carrier in a dark room
Now that you’ve gathered your supplies, it’s time to get your bird into the carrier. Choose a quiet, small, dark room – like a bathroom – and place the travel carrier on the floor.
If your bird’s cage is easily movable, place it in front of the travel carrier so that each door lines up. Then, turn off the lights and close the bathroom door.
The darkness will help your bird feel safe, encouraging it to explore the travel carrier on its own. Once the bird is inside the carrier, quickly close the carrier door.
A great way to encourage your untamed bird to enter the carrier on its own is to offer it a few treats.
Put some of your bird’s favorite foods – like seeds, nuts, or fruits – inside the carrier, and place a few more around the outside.
Before you go to the vet, don’t forget to pack a small sandwich bag of your bird’s favorite treats. Having their favorite snacks with you will help take your bird’s mind off the vet visit and make it less stressful.
Capturing your bird
Sometimes you may need to take a more hands-on approach to get your untamed bird out of its cage and into the travel carrier.
Always wait until your bird is calm before approaching the cage. Move slowly and speak softly to your bird. Do not raise your hands higher than your shoulder or your bird’s eye level.
Slowly reach into the cage, gently scoop up your bird with a soft towel, and place it inside the carrier.
You can also try coaxing your bird to step up onto a perch and then transferring it to the carrier that way.
Regardless of your strategy, it is important to remain calm and avoid frightening your bird with any quick movements.
Step 4: The journey
The journey to the vet’s office can be a stressful experience for both you and your bird. But by taking some precautions, you can help make the trip as smooth and stress-free as possible.
When transporting your bird’s carrier in your vehicle, ensure it is secure. To stabilize and avoid excessive shaking, fasten the carrier with a seatbelt.
If possible, place the carrier on the passenger seat next to you rather than in the backseat.
Birds can quickly become disoriented while traveling, so keeping them calm is important. Covering the carrier with a towel or light blanket will help reduce stress and make your bird feel more secure.
It will also help if they have motion sickness. Just ensure that the towel or blanket does not obstruct the airflow to the carrier.
If your bird starts looking distressed during the car ride, pull over and check on it. Try speaking calmly and offering a few special treats to help soothe your bird.
While driving, avoid making sudden stops or turns. Also, try to avoid areas with construction or a lot of traffic. The noise and commotion can be too much for your bird to handle.
Avoid slamming on the brakes. Allow your bird time to adjust by applying slight pressure to the brakes instead.
Step 5: At The Vet’s Office
When you arrive at the vet, tell the receptionist that your bird is untamed. This way, they can better prepare the exam room and ensure that you are seen by the vet as soon as possible.
Keep your bird’s carrier covered while sitting in the waiting room.
When you are called back, the vet will most likely ask you to place the carrier on the exam table. The vet will then take a quick look at your bird inside the carrier and check for any apparent injuries or health concerns.
After the initial review, the vet may need to take your bird out of the carrier for a more thorough examination. If so, ask the vet to show you how to correctly hold your bird.
Usually, you will need to support the bird’s chest and back with your hands while holding its wings close to its body.
After the exam is finished, the vet will go over their findings with you and will let you know if there is anything that you need to do to take care of your bird.
They may also give you tips on taming your bird and making it more comfortable around humans. You can tame that wild bird and make it into a cherished pet with some time and patience!
Once the exam is over, don’t forget to give your bird a treat for being such a good patient!
Taking your untamed bird to the vet can be intimidating, but it is an integral part of being a responsible pet owner.
Remember to prepare ahead of time by gathering your bird’s supplies and getting it accustomed to being in a travel carrier.
You can help your bird stay calm and reduce stress by being prepared and remaining calm.
Following these steps can make your bird’s next vet visit more relaxed and enjoyable for both of you.