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Educating Yourself About Avian Care
By Denise Kelly
Avian care and behavior is a relatively new field, as
compared with dogs and cats, and many schools of
thought have been developing. The various methods and
approaches to physical care, environment, and behavior
have not been tested over time, so it’s difficult to find a
single source or philosophy that is universally accepted or
based on standard accepted scientific methods. There are
no degrees or accreditation for avian behaviorists.
When considering sources for information on avian care
and behavior, make sure the context treats birds as wild
prey animals, and not as domesticated animals like cats
and dogs. Avoid so-called behaviorists who claim they have
a quick fix solution to bird behavior problems and/or offer
advice on getting birds to talk or perform. These methods
may raise people’s expectations, only to result in disappointment when their efforts fail or
even cause matters to worsen.
It is interesting to note that while different types of dogs are different breeds, they are
all the same species. However, there are more than 350 species of parrots. Making any
generalizations on behavior across species can be misleading and totally inappropriate.
Every bird is different. Understanding their behavior is best approached on an individual
One of the most effective methods of behavior modification is based on Applied Behavior
Analysis (ABA), where the emphasis is on the use of positive reinforcement to change
problem behaviors such as feather plucking, aggression, nervousness, or screaming.
Here are some recommended online resources that provide information on avian care
• Susan Friedman, Ph.D., a professor of psychology at Utah State University,
runs a wonderful online course entitled Living and Learning with Parrots:
The Fundamental Principles of Behavior. You can find out more at
• Greg Glendell of Pet Parrot Consultancy in th