By Dr Pat MacWhirter

This U.S. based DVD brings together images and commentary from leading North American avian veterinarians covering basic topics in pet bird care including species identification;  housing;  nutrition; household toxins and dangers; how to recognize if your bird is sick and how to choose a bird veterinarian.

While aimed at bird enthusiasts, there is useful information that veterinarians who work with birds will find helpful in day to day practice.  For example, Dr Greg Burkett, in his chapter on cage layout, gives an excellent run down on available perch types and advocates spiral swinging rope perches as a way to provide more open space in a large bird’s cage when compared with traditional side to side perches. Dr Laura Wade does a good job of covering household dangers and toxins. However, neither of these chapters provides any warning about the risk of gastrointestinal foreign body problems from birds ingesting fibers from rope toys or of fine fibers from cotton wool or seed catchers being caught around digits of small birds and causing injury or toe loss. These are commonly seen problems in Australian bird practice. This is a minor criticism however as overall the contents are quite comprehensive for a beginner bird owner and the DVD/video format is an excellent way to cover the material.

The species identification chapter shows species that are commonly seen in US avian practice which are somewhat different than those typically encountered in Australia. With exotic parrot species becoming more and more popular here, the DVD provides a good introduction.  To nit-pick on another minor point, one presenter spoke about Red tailed Black Cockatoos (Calyptorhynchus banksii) only eating one main type of seed in the wild. I think she was really referring to the Glossy Black Cockatoo’s (Calyptorhynchus lathamii ) preference for Allocasuarina seeds as the various subspecies of Red tailed Blacks have a wide distribution, are more cosmopolitan in their eating habits and are known to eat eucalypts, acacias and banksias in the wild. The point of the segment was that different species of birds vary significantly in their dietary preferences and requirements and this point is still entirely valid.  The chapter on how to choose an avian veterinarian discusses health insurance and comprehensive diagnostic testing, both of which are well worth discussing even if the up take rate by owners in Australia may be somewhat lower than that in the U.S.

I highly recommend this DVD both for veterinarians and for veterinarians to offer to bird owners at the time of their bird’s first examination. It gives entertaining and credible coverage of points that are typically included in any well bird examination. I look forward to the next 3 DVDs in the series, which I suspect will include behavior and basic training, the other major points of discussion in a well bird examination.  It is most welcome to have informed, targeted, multimedia educational material available for owners to help to improve bird welfare and the bond between pet birds and their carers.

Pat MacWhirter, BVSc, MA, PhD, FACVSc (Avian Health)

Owner of Highbury Veterinary Clinic

Melbourne, Australia

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