Christine Hibbard, CTC, CPDT
I see many, many new dog behavior cases each year and I love my work, but sometimes, I need to branch out and learn about the behavior of other companion animals. My partner in Animal Behavior at Companion Animal Solutions is Jim Ha, PhD, CAAB. Jim sees all of the cat and parrot cases that we take. I’ve been privileged to learn about animal and bird behavior by riding along with him on his private behavior consultations with our clients. The ride along opportunities that I enjoy the most are the parrot cases. I love cats, don’t get me wrong, but the parrot cases fascinate me. When I first embarked on my parrot behavior and training research, I was disappointed at how difficult it was to find quality information about parrot behavior and training. The internet is rife with dog training information (some of it excellent and some of it awful and downright harmful), but information about parrot behavior is harder to come by. After some time consuming research, I began to compile a list of resources that include the most respected researchers, veterinarians, applied animal behaviorists, and trainers. I wanted to share what I’ve learned with our readers interested in parrot behavior and training.
For those of you who live in the Seattle, Washington area, your first stop for finding like minded people should be the Northwest Exotic Bird Society. When I attended my first meeting, I was surprised and thrilled to discover that many of the people attending the monthly meeting brought their birds with them and many of those birds were getting the opportunity to socialize with one another and fly freely around the room! The members of NWEBS were very knowledgeable as well as being friendly and welcoming. I was hooked! I went right home, logged on to the web site and joined. Once you’re a member, you can attend the monthly meetings at the Lawn Bowling building at Greenlake, receive their informative newsletter, and gain membership to the yahoo group. Members of NWEBS also belong to the Northwest Avian Flyers. The Northwest Avian Flyers conduct “indoor free flight” sessions twice a month. The Northwest Exotic Bird Society’s website is full of scientifically correct and practically useful information about caring for, living with, and training your feathered friends.
The next stop on our parrot learning tour is Barbara Heidenreich, owner of Good Bird Inc. Barbara is a leading authority on parrot behavior and training as well as being a huge proponent of clicker training and learning theory based training for parrots. I was shocked to learn that there are “dominance” and “punishment” based training proponents in the parrot world too (so sad). Barbara is a voice of reason and practical alternatives to those outdated and harmful proponents. If you’d like to learn about modifying your parrots behavior or clicker training your parrot, Barbara Heidenreich is a necessary resource in your toolkit. If you’ve spent any time on the Companion Animal Solutions website, you know that we highly recommend Barbara’s books and DVDs. I’m a enthusiastic subscriber to Good Bird Inc magazine which now comes in electronic form (PDF) as well as the traditional paper copy. If that weren’t enough, Barbara writes a blog and produces Wings ‘n Things podcasts available on Pet Life Radio. Barbara just released a new DVD titled Get Your Bird Back! about what to do if your parrot flies away. This DVD contains a wealth of resources such as lost bird flyers, lists of people to contact and a variety of parrot calls.
When I contacted Barbara about listing her books and DVDs on our web site, I asked her if she had recommendations for other authors and she was gracious enough provide me with more resources. Here are some of Barbara’s picks for books, DVDs, and blogs: Happily Ever After with Parrots (DVD) by Ellen Cook, DVM, Captive Foraging (DVD) by Scott Echols, DVM, DABVP, A Parrot for Life (Book and Blog) by Rebecca O’Conner, and bloggers Sid Price, and Linda Rasmussen.
Susan Friedman, PhD is a professor at Utah State University. Dr. Friedman’s specialty is behavior analysis and she offers online workshops for veterinarians, animal behaviorists, and trainers. The Behavior+ Works website contains useful information on parrot behavior, behavior analysis, and learning theory, just download the free PDF files.
Another nice online community for parrot owners and advocates is the Nationwide Parrot Place Organization. You can become a member of this 501(C) non-profit organization for an annual membership fee of $12 per year. A new online resource for beginning parrot owners has recently come online called The Parrot Forum. This is an online forum where owners can ask questions and learn important information about Health, Nutrition & Diet, Housing, General Parrot Care, Parrot Species, Basic Training, Trick Training, Recall Flight and Indoor Freeflight. As with any forum dedicated to helping people and their pets, please be polite at all times and thank people for the time and effort they spend answering questions.
I informed via the Northwest Exotic Bird Society group that Chris Biro will be presenting at their meeting on Thursday, November 19th at 7:00PM. His topic will be Parrot Training and Free Flight. This will also be the first time that a presentation will be webcast so that viewers can watch from home. The webcast includes a chat feature so that Internet viewers have the ability to submit questions to the speaker. The webcast can be found at https://www.ustream.tv/channel/chris-biro
That brings me to the end of my list of resources for parrot owners. Do you have other resources for parrot behavior and training you’d like to share? If so, please post a comment.