I’m sitting in my hotel room in downtown Columbus, Ohio. I’m a few blocks away from Ohio State University, where I was asked to collaborate and give a presentation to the veterinary student clubs. I gave the presentation last night focused on, but not limited to the causes of feather picking in birds and the importance of enrichment. I told the students how important it was for this talk to not be limited to only birds. Many animals, especially exotics have many of the behavior concerns and issues in common that result in feather destructive behaviors, self-injurious behaviors, and mutilation that is prominent in the companion parrot world.
I spoke for two hours and stayed an additional forty minutes addressing questions and brainstorming ideas and future collaboration with the students. I discussed the severity of misunderstood behavior issues that end up turning medical, some to the extent of euthanasia. Euthanasia for behavior issues in the companion parrot world is not uncommon. Many times this is due to misunderstood behavior issues and inaccurate behavior modification plans. This doesn’t need to be. Several of the residents at The Animal Behavior Center, not just parrots, were cases likely ending in euthanasia. My goal is to provide full quality and empowered lives to these animals in addition to showing how these are behavior issues that can be addressed.
Many of the behavior issues in the companion parrot world are due to separation anxiety, unknowingly reinforcing nesting behaviors, and lack of appropriate enrichment, which many cases turn to feather destructive behaviors and severe cases of self-mutilation.
The lives of parrots contain a level of mental and physical complexity that is challenging for many people. We don’t learn from easy and there is much room for us to do better. This comes in the form of education. When we know better, we do better. The lives of animals rely on us doing better.