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Pet Bird Careers

Find out who works in the bird world.

1) Avian Veterinarian
Pet birds are very different in anatomy and physiology to dogs and cats, and to specialize in their treatment, a veterinary student must seek out coursework and residencies that are beyond the scope of a standard veterinary school.

Avian veterinarians, like any other veterinarians, attend veterinary school at any of the certified veterinary colleges. After they obtain their DVM, they go on to specialize in the care of birds. This specialization takes from one to three years.

Avian veterinarians can choose to become members of the Association of Avian Veterinarians for additional education opportunities including a journal and an annual conference. An avian veterinarian can pursue additional testing through the American Board of Veterinary Practitioners and become an ABVP diplomat in avian medicine.

A certified avian veterinarian is one who has obtained certification from the American Board of Veterinary Practitioners (ABVP). An avian veterinarian describes someone who treats birds but hasn’t received ABVP certification. There are quite a number of competent avian veterinarians who are not certified, many of which belong to the Association of Avian Veterinarians (AAV).

2) Parrot Behavioral Consultant
Those whose expertise is working with pet bird behavior are usually referred to as parrot behavioral consultants instead of animal behaviorists, which requires a degree in ethology (animal behavior). Behavioral consultants work with pet bird owners either via phone consultation or in person to deal with negative behaviors exhibited by their pet birds, such as excessive screamingaggression or feather picking.

These dedicated professionals typically  are certified and have years of experience working with parrots; many also frequently lecture to bird clubs and speak at avian conferences. They also educate owners as to the intelligence and complex natures of their avian companions. 

3) Bird Breeder
A bird breeder is simply defined as a person who raises parrots, usually to sell either to individuals or to pet stores. Some breeders specialize in one particular species of bird; some focus on a region of parrots (e.g. species native to Africa) and others raise birds of varying species. Similarly, some bird breeders run large breeding facilities with hundreds of birds, and others raise a few clutches throughout the year.

4) Veterinary Technician
A veterinary technician (also referred to as a vet tech), is a person trained and licensed to assist veterinarians. Their job is similar to that of a nurse. They assist the veterinarian with physical examinations and also administer medications, anesthesia and blood products to the animals as prescribed by the veterinarian. Veterinary technicians commonly assist veterinarians in surgery.

Veterinary technicians are different from veterinary assistants. Veterinary assistants generally have not been trained to perform many of the tasks that veterinary technicians do, as this requires specific education in this field.

5) Parrot Adoption Organization
Parrot adoption organizations are groups that take in birds in need of homes, either due to an owner’s death or because the owner can no longer care for his or her bird. Often, birds are given up because of negative behavioral issues. Many parrot adoption organizations foster birds until they can be adopted out to a qualified individual or family, usually for a nominal fee to help cover expenses. Those involved with parrot rescue typically have a passion for the well being of companion parrots.

6) Ornithologist
An ornithologist is a scientist who studies birds (i.e. ornithology) in an academic setting. Ornithologists participate in scientific studies of all aspects of the natural history of birds, both living and extinct. Ornithologists continually add to our knowledge of birds and help guide bird conservation efforts.

7) Aviculturist
There are various reasons why people get involved in aviculture. Some people breed birds to preserve a species, some breed parrots as companion birds, and some breed birds to make a profit.

Aviculture describes the practice of keeping and/or breeding birds and the culture around it. Aviculture is generally focused not just on the raising and breeding of birds, but also on preserving avian habitat and conducting public awareness campaigns.

8) Parrot Groomer
Grooming a pet parrot is quite different from grooming a cat or dog and, therefore, an experienced parrot groomer is invaluable to a parrot owner. Many bird-speciality shops offer professional grooming services, as do many avian veterinarians. A professional groomer or veterinarian can also demonstrate how to safely restrain your pet bird as well as proper grooming techniques. This might take a few sessions for the owner to be comfortable enough to perform grooming procedures on his or her own, preferably with the help of an assistant.

9) Bird Club Member
Hundreds of bird clubs exist across the country and overseas. Some bird clubs are species specific, focussing on a specific genus of parrot, others are for parrots in general.

Most bird club members meet once a month and/or host bird fairs. Some clubs cater to bird breeders and offer a forum for them to exchange knowledge and share experiences. Other clubs are formed by people with a passion for parrots with a goal of educating the public about parrots and/or raising money to help companion parrots as well as their wild counterparts.
10) Exhibition Breeder
Among the main objectives of those involved with exhibitor organizations is the active promotion, breeding and showing of birds. Local clubs hold regional shows, usually supported by the national society, which, in turn, hosts an annual event that relies on support of affiliated regional clubs and members from all areas of the country. Popular show-bird categories include: budgies, canaries, lovebirds and cockatiels.

Judging is based on an ideal standard. This ideal consists of a graphic and written description of what is considered to be the perfect show bird. Ideals have changed over time because the show bird has continued to increase in size and feather development. 

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