By Diane Burroughs
Interviewing a bird sitter to care for your parrots while you’re gone is a critical step toward keeping your pet birds healthy and safe when you have to be away. Generalized pet sitters may be great with dogs and cats but, do they get bird care? You have to do your research before you turn over your pet bird care to someone who has your house keys! Not only do birds require special care, but bird theft if a major problem in some areas.
The major two reasons most of us choose to hire a pet as opposed to boarding our pets is for our parrots comfort and their safety. But when you allow someone in your home, you must insure that the pet bird sitter is bonded, knowledgeable and can engage with your pets, including your bird. Whenever you turn over the house keys, the garage door code or the care of your pets you must know that you’ve chosen a reputable bird and pet sitter who’s staff are bonded, know about home safety and actually feel comfortable around parrots. Most pet sitters are afraid of getting bitten by a pet bird and will only accept the “job” if your bird has escape proof doors.
We are avid dog rescuers along with having a flock of parrots in assorted size ranging from a Parrotlet, named Mika, to a huge Moluccan Cockatoo, named Peachy. If you know pet birds, you’ll know that potential bird bites are species, temperament and socialization related. Your bird sitter must first, feel comfortable caring for a bird that may deliver a nasty bite to an unfamiliar caretaker. Plus, the bird sitter must know a little about how to read bird body language, how to engage your bird for a short period of time.
An inexperienced pet sitter will care for all of your pets and insure that your parrots are fed and have fresh water if you have bird cages with escape proof doors. The major and most important benefit of hiring a generalized pet sitter is that they most likely aren’t exposed to birds before entering your household so you don’t have to worry about cross transmission of common, but deadly bird disease. Your pet bird will have it’s most basic bird needs taken care of but will not have the experiences of out of cage time, exercise or interaction while you are gone. You can supplement your parrots enrichment by stocking the bird cage with new and innovative bird toys and by playing the Bird Sitter Video.
An experienced and specialized bird sitter will engage and interact with your pet birds. This professional is not afraid of a bird bite. She knows how to read bird body language and provide bird interaction on the birds terms. Be prepared to pay for these skills, as finding an experienced bird sitter that will make determined efforts to not cross expose your parrot to pathogens requires a professional. That said, what questions should you ask a short term bird sitter. A person who will take care of your bird and your home for one to two weeks?
- Determine your budget. There is nothing wrong with hiring a generalized pet sitter that can safely change food, water and tray lining paper. Many pet birds don’t want to be handled by a stranger, any way.
- If you have several birds that need to be exercised and socialized, consider hiring a specialized bird sitter
- How do you insure that you don’t risk cross-contamination between home visits?
- What have you learned about reading bird body language to minimize the possibility that my birds will bite?
- Parrots survive in the wild by hiding bird illness or distress What are the signs of pet bird illness? And again, how do you protect against cross contamination between bird sitter visits?
- My birds love cooked bird food diets and fresh foods. Please describe a very basic fresh food or veggie mix and how you would insure that you remove said fresh foods before they become unsafe for parrots.
- Should my bird need to be handled and transported to my avian vet, can you demonstrate how you would safely capture and present my pet to a vet?
- Can you describe how you might use specialized bird supplements such as Electrovites