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The Experts Disagree

Two things bird behavior experts disagree on

By Liz Wilson, CVT, CPBC

In the August 2009 issue of BIRD TALK magazine, you learned about the 16 things bird behaviorists agree on. Now learn about a few things they don’t.

The editors of BIRD TALK were interested in what we parrot behavior consultants did not agree on, and this led to another interesting discussion within the ranks of the International Associate of Animal Behavior Consultants’ parrot division. We concluded that the most schisms within our ranks were cultural ones. Our European members pointed out that wing feather trims are seriously frowned on over there, with some considering it blatantly abusive. In North America, we tend to be a tad more flexible on this subject. In many countries, it is also not acceptable to have a social critter like a parrot by itself; instead, they feel companion birds should caged together in pairs.

One issue, however, we parrot behavior consultants were unanimous on. We have serious conflicts with so-called “experts” who continue to encourage the use obsolete training techniques (or “quick fixes”) such as squirting a screaming bird with water, or dropping a biting bird on the floor. Unfortunately, there is a lot of archaic information still in print and being expounded by pet store employees and other such pseudo “experts.”

When I hear antiquated advice such as reprimanding a parrot for screaming by sticking it in a bathtub, I know that the speaker has learned nothing about parrot behavior in at least 20 years. Indeed, the old techniques many of us used decades ago have been replaced with more humane and effective alternatives. We must keep expanding our knowledge. None of us will ever know enough and our birds deserve the best we can give them.

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