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Just Our Jargon

By Melissa Kauffman

Editorial director Melissa Kauffman breaks down pet owner's lingo 
Editorial Director Melissa Kauffman

 BIRD TALK’s sister publications and websites cover many different animal topics, such as dogs, cats, reptiles, fish, horses, goats, chickens, hamsters, guinea pigs, rabbits, wild birds … well, you get the picture. Although half my job focuses on the bird, critter, fish and reptile titles, the other half of my job is involved in all our various websites no matter the topic. The challenge as an editor is understanding each animal’s human vocabulary words, or jargon.

There are certain words you cannot use with some animal enthusiasts, while the words are totally acceptable elsewhere. There is a lot of history that goes along with that jargon; for instance, if I say “neutral room” to some guy I met in the street he would think I was weird. Now, most bird people would know what I mean when I say neutral room. If you don’t know the definition, avian behaviorists refer to a neutral room as a place in the home that the bird is not used to being in, away from its cage or playgym. This room is a great place to train your bird. I believe this term was created by avian behaviorist Sally Blanchard more than 10 years ago, and it has become a part of pet bird people’s vocabulary.

From time to time we run vocabulary articles in BIRD TALK or Birds USA and we recently started Bird Word of the Day on The words include classic definitions with a pet bird slant. If you have something you want to add to one of the definitions or you have a word you would like to define, go to We’ll print the list at various times in our avian publications to keep us all on the same page. Communication is the key to success, whether it is in regard to world peace or pet bird owners, and having the same vocabulary is the building block.

BIRD TALK Editor Laura Doering just got back from maternity leave. She’ll have to include a photo of her son Murphy in the next Editor’s Letter. She’ll go back to writing the Editor’s Letter next issue, and I’ll go back to reading them.

**For the full article, pick up the October 2010 issue of BIRD TALK at your local retailer or by purchasing a PDF download here.**

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