Shipping Birds

Q:  How do bird breeders safely ship birds without physical or emotional damage? What are the rules, and which airlines do you use?

Jean Pattison explains the process of shipping birdsJean Pattison, also known as “The African Queen,” explains:

Emotionally, birds seem to do very well during the shipping process. Many breeders encourage their baby birds to play in or around the shipping container, so they become familiar with it before a long trip. Also, the birds generally ride on the plane in the dark, which protects the bird from being scared of its surroundings. It’s almost a nest-like environment – small and dark. Some people are concerned that the noise on a plane would be too much for birds, but I can’t imagine that noise being any worse than a pair of cockatoos hanging out together.

When I first starting breeding and shipping birds, I visited several airlines’ cargo areas to talk to the people who actually do the shipping, and they provided me with invaluable advice. For example, I do not ship birds on Mondays, because in Florida (where I live), huge quantities of aquarium fish are shipped on that day.

When choosing a safe container to ship your birds in, think small. A small container ensures that the bird will not be thrown around in the container during turbulence. It should not, however, be so small that the bird is uncomfortable. I attach a 2 by 2 on the floor of the shipping crate so the bird will not get its wing or leg caught under the perch.

Each airline has its own rules, so call ahead before choosing which one to ship your birds on. I prefer Continental and Delta for shipping.

Please see for additional shipping tips that I have learned over the years.

Article Categories:
Behavior and Training · Birds