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.
Joanna Moritz, BA, CPDT-KA says
Hi Christine and fellow parrot lovers! Thought I should mention that I am a parrot help resource in the Reno/Tahoe area. I have been working professionally with parrots, dogs, and other animals using positive reinforcement training for the past 10 years or so. I follow the techniques of experts such as Barbara Heidenreich and Dr. Susan Freidman. I also have a degree in psychology, and am certified through the Certification Council for Professional Dog Trainers, a member of the American Federation of Aviculture and Association of Animal Behavior Professionals. To my knowledge, I’m the only one in the area studying parrot behavior and working with parrot owners and their birds.
Anyway, I’m available for in-home behavior consultations, and I’ll be doing several seminars on parrot behavior in upcoming RAAVE (Reno Area Avian Enthusiasts) meetings.
It’s so cool to see parrots included in the more general “pet behavior” genre of this blog – and to see you debunking some bird myths alongside the dog myths. Keep the good stuff coming! 😀
Christine Hibbard says
Hello Joanna, it’s wonderful to see you here. For any of our readers in the Reno, Nevada area in need of a canine or avian behavior specialist, Janna’s web site is: https://www.furfeatherworks.com/
If you’re a parrot enthusiast in the Reno, Nevada area, check out the Reno Avian Enthusiasts group: https://www.furfeatherworks.com/
Please let us know when you’ll be presenting at the RAAVE meetings Joanna. We’d love to hear about your work there. Thank you for contributing to Behind the Behavior!
Sid Price says
Thank you so much for giving the list of resources for parrot owners and also for including a link to my Avian Ambassadors web site. The Bird Training blog is on that site or directly accessed at http://www.AvianAmbassadors.com/BirdTraining.
For those interested in seminars about behavior science and its aplication to bird training please check out http://www.Behaviorand Training.com.
These are great resources. I will look into them. I’m always eager to network with fellow parrot owners. Ever since becoming a parrot owner myself, I’ve looked for more experienced people to provide tips and resources. One of the best tips I ever received was the recommendation to purchase my birdcage from Cages By Design. I was inexperienced at the time and was looking at getting one of those cheap wire birdcages. I’m so glad I had someone to steer me right. I have no regrets taking her advice and my birdcage is still in excellent shape today and my parrots love it.
steven j oscherwitz says
How can I get in touch with barbera heidenreich
I have questions about our parrott A2
Steven j. oscherwitz
Christine Hibbard says
Hi Steven, when I’ve contacted Barbara via her web site, she has always responded: https://www.goodbirdinc.com/contactus.html. Thanks for reading Behind the Behavior.
Amber M. says
Have you heard of Sally Blanchard? She runs the Companion Parrot website: https://companionparrotonline.com/
Her books and magazines have been tremendously helpful to me in the past – I spent a few years working as a vet tech for a avian veterinarian, and also took in a rescued African Grey, and the content of the books were outstanding, and really helped me communicate and support my Grey.
Christine Hibbard says
Thank you for sharing this online resource and for reading Behind the Behavior Amber!
Does anyone know of a parrot behavior specialist in or near Sacramento? I am in desperate need of help with my GCC. He loved me and one day decided he hated me. I am so sad. I am trying baby steps to get his affection back but nothing is really working. Please help!