"The First Decade in Review", a synopsis of Phoebe's work by Liz Wilson,CVT.

First Decade in Review

In the December 2001 Bird Talk magazine, author Liz Wilson, CVT., helps redefine both Abundance Weaning and my fledging practices. In succinct prose, Liz writes the following restatement of some of my principles and practices:

A New Avicultural Approach

“Ten years ago,” writes Liz, “Phoebe Linden of the Santa Barbara Bird Farm tried a more natural approach to the hand-raising and weaning of psittacine babies. While she realized the tried-and-true techniques were often developed to make hand-raising psittacine babies less stressful for the weary aviculturist, she became concerned that they were not in the best interest of the birds themselves.

“It made sense to her that, in the wild, baby parrots that cried constantly for food would attract predators, which was illogical in terms of species survival. As a consequence, instead of making crying babies wait until rigid feeding schedules said it was ‘time to feed,’ she fed whenever the babies were hungry. As a result, she discovered her babies seemed less stressed, and their physical development was excellent.”

Phoebe’s note: I also discovered that their psychological and social skills improved and that they ate solid, textured foods more readily than deprived or rigidly weaned birds.

“Rather than forcing the babies to wean when previously published literature said they were supposed to,” Liz continues, “she recognized that, as with humans, babies were individuals that developed at different speeds. Rather than pushing them to eat on their own, she started allowing them to wean when they were ready. As a result, she discovered her youngsters were not constantly whining.”

Another note from Phoebe: Additionally, a progressive eating skill development program was implemented. Developmental stages were identified: Neonate, Neophyte, Fledging, Thinkling, Adolescent and Adult and eating skills were linked to each stage.

On the topic of Fledging Psittacine Birds, Liz writes the following about my principles and practices:

“Rather than trimming flight feathers the second the youngsters started to flap, she allowed them to fledge and learn to fly as nature intended. By allowing them to learn to control their flight, her babies developed athletic skills that gave them better muscular control, and this control increased their self-confidence exponentially, which allowed them to develop a sense of wonder and curiosity about the world around them. Increased mobility led them to explore and further develop their athletic skills, their confidence and their joy in life. When a buyer couldn’t safely manage a fully flighted bird, Linden found a baby’s self-confidence remained intact, despite feather trimming.

“The end result was a crop of comfortable, self-confident young parrots that knew they were parrots and, instead of decreasing their value on the pet market, this increased it tremendously. Baby parrots from the Santa Barbara Bird Farm also knew that humans were wonderful, trustworthy companions who would keep them safe.

  Bird Talk, “Behavior and Training for the 21st Century Bird,” by Liz Wilson. v20.1 pp 64-65.