Marguerite Floyd, CPBC on June 14, 2015
A consultant from the International Association of Animal Behavior Consultants that is!
This blog was first published at http://www.birdchannel.com/parrot-training/iaabc.aspx on May 31, 2015.
So your avian veterinarian wants you to weigh your bird on a regular basis, but the little scamp won’t get on the scale and you keep ending up with chunks taken out of your hand. You asked for advice from three of your favorite bird lists but everyone has a different opinion, and let’s face it … some of those suggestions were downright scary. You’re not sure you can handle another bite like the last time.
Jackie loves those videos of parrots doing tricks and has been trying to get her macaw to play basketball. Only now the bird lunges at her whenever she gets near. Jackie doesn’t understand why her bird hates her all of a sudden.
Meanwhile, Bob has just inherited an African grey from his favorite aunt. He promised her he’d take good care of the bird, only he doesn’t know the first thing about parrots. He talked to the cashier at the local pet store, but she just tried to get him to buy some ridiculously expensive pellets. If any of this sounds familiar, it should. Most of us have to rely on our own guesswork or well-meaning advice from other bird owners in order to help our birds learn how to live successfully in our homes. If only there was a place to get help you could trust, advice from someone who really knows what they’re doing.
Well, there is, though you may not have heard of it. It’s the parrot division of the International Association of Animal Behavior Consultants (IAABC). Started in 2004, the parrot division of the IAABC is made up of people who are experienced in working with parrot (and human) behavior and are committed to using best practices, consulting with clients and educating new members.
A certified parrot behavior consultant (CPBC) can help you teach your parrot desired behaviors by using LIMA (least intrusive, minimally aversive methods of modifying behavior). She can help you train your parrot. He keeps up with the latest behavioral research and advances in avian medicine, and conducts himself according to a code of ethical and behavioral standards. She most likely knows five veterinarians in your state and the contact information of that person who makes those cute little birdie toys. Best of all, she loves parrots even more than you do, which you didn’t think that was possible.
Most associate members are working toward certification and can also provide consultations. They’re being mentored by seasoned CPBCs while stuffing their brains with knowledge and wisdom and experience.
Here is how a typical consultation works. You locate a CPBC near you from the IAABC.org’s website (https://iaabc.org/consultants). You make an appointment for either an in-home visit or a telephone/email consult. You explain the problem and what you’d like to happen. The CPBC will teach you to how to evaluate the bird’s environment and how it accounts for how the bird behaves. He will then offer suggestions to help improve things and explain the reasoning behind those suggestions. She will teach you any needed teaching strategies such as targeting or stationing and discuss other environmental changes. You may or may not have a follow-up visit.
Each CPBC is different since they’re all individuals (just like your birds). For example, I like to do a home visit that can last anywhere from 15 minutes to two hours, and I usually also assign reading homework. I include free email and phone contact for three months after the home visit in my fee. This is because changing behavior is a process and a process usually takes time, and because I like to know how a person and parrot are doing as time passes. It’s also helpful to catch any mistakes or clear up any misunderstandings before they get worse.
Other CPBCs like to do phone consultations. They will usually send you a long questionnaire to fill out and return to them. Then you will call the CPBC and talk through the issues and possible solutions.
Still other CPBCs love video consultations when they are too far away for a home visit. This type of consultation requires a fast Internet connection and compatible software such as Skype or FaceTime. Video consultations allow the CPBC to actually see the problem behaviors, just like a home visit.
With the retirement of Kashmir Csaky as chairperson of the parrot division at the end of 2014, Dr. Susan Friedman took over the leadership in 2015. A major membership drive was completed by March 2015, bringing the number of fully certified parrot behavior consultants to more than 50 professionals. Additional people are joining every month as supporting or associate certified members.
Friedman said, “I am thrilled to help build a community of highly qualified, professional bird behavior consultants using contemporary science-based principles and practices that are both effective and humane. When we teach people how behavior works, we empower them and their parrots to live successfully together. Parrots retain their homes and people retain healthy loving relationships with the animals in their care.”
There is room for just about everyone in the parrot division of the IAABC. Supporting memberships are for those in fields related to animal behavior consulting and for others who support the IAABC’s mission and values.
Associate certified members are those who already have some experience and education in parrot behavior consulting and are working toward becoming fully certified. They are required to maintain a certain number of CEUs and prove proficiency in a number of core competencies.
Certified parrot behavior consultants must meet higher standards of expertise, prove proficiency in more core competencies, and maintain more CEUs.
Once our friends Jackie and Bob learned about the IAABC, they met with CPBCs and successfully learned training techniques and basic parrot care. They are happy now because their parrots are happy, and what’s better than a happy parrot?