Avian Expert Articles

Laura Doering

Laura Doering is the former editor of Bird Talk magazine and Birds USA magazine. She has authored a multitude of articles covering all aspects of pet birds and their care, and has had the opportunity to interview world-renowned avian behaviorists, veterinarians, aviculturists, researchers and conservationists.

Her journey in the bird world has taken her to the remote areas of Brazil to see hyacinth macaws in their native habitat, as well as on bird-watching trips to Spain, Puerto Rico and Mexico. She is especially thankful to have met so many passionate pet bird owners throughout her years at the helm of Bird Talk magazine.

Her interest in pet birds started at the age of 9, when she saved up her penny collection to buy Elvis, her cockatiel companion of 22 years. Little did she know then that her love of birds would some day lead to a career in which being chased by a cockatoo during a photo-shoot, having a 5-minute phone conversation with a reader’s African grey parrot, hand-wrestling a caique to get her pilfered ring back and having her work desk “re-decorated” by a visiting Amazon parrot were all just another day at the office. She has a degree in English from the University of California, Davis.

Articles by Laura:

Webinar: Avian Vet Insider: The Familiar & The Rare—Bird Species Avian Vets Have Treated

In this episode of our Vet Insider webinar with Dr. Lamb, we’ll learn about the top 5 bird species she treats most often, and the top 5 rarest bird species she has treated. Find out what species are treated day-to-day, and how treating a rare species might be different. Sign up and tune in on November 12! [Note special time: 11:00 a.m.]

Webinar: Ask The Vet: Q&A with Tom Tully, DVM, DABVP (Avian Practice), DECZM (Avian)

Don’t miss your chance to ask Dr. Tully a question about your bird’s health, nutrition, care, or behavior problem in this interactive webinar on November 19.

sun conure

New Year, New Resolutions for You & Your Bird

A new year is upon us, and with that comes new motivations for the 12 months ahead. We can use this time to think of ways we can make our lives and the lives of our feathered friends more enriched, less stressful, and healthier.

rose-breasted grosbeak (Pheucticus ludovicianus)

Birds in the News: Parrot Feather Color Research Reveals Fascinating Finds & More

Add “birds” to your Google News alert topics–or simply search the word “bird” or “parrot” in Google to see what’s going on in the world of birds. Here are some recent “birds in the news” stories worth checking out.

Amazon parrot face

Get Work Done: Tips To Keep Your Bird Happily Distracted

As we hunker down at home to do our part in stopping the spread of the coronavirus, many of us might find ourselves in a conundrum: how exactly to get work done when our birds and other pets beckon nearby?

Amazon Parrot

Fun Things To Do With Your Bird At Home

To keep safe during the coronavirus pandemic, many of us face spending most of our time at home. But being stuck indoors can seem less burdensome if we look for a silver lining each day—one being the opportunity to have fun with the flock!

lory, lorikeet

Lories & Lorikeets: Bold & Beautiful

Lories and lorikeets are beauties from the family Loriinae that boast some of the brightest plumage among parrots. Their personalities are also colorful, and their unique diet gives them plenty of energy to fuel their always on-the-go tendencies. Learn what else sets these vibrantly colored parrots apart.

Kakapo parrot

Meet The Kakapo, The Lovable, Rotund Parrot With Peculiar Ways

How far would you travel for love? If you were a male kakapo parrot, you’d walk the equivalent of a 5K, as in over three miles (and that’s not counting the walk back)! A lovesick male kakapo parrot embarks on his long stroll each night during breeding season as he tries to beat out the competition for a female’s attention. Learn more about this adorable, rotund parrot with peculiar ways.

Green-cheeked conure

New To Conures? Answers to Common Conure Questions

Are conures parrots? Do they talk? What size cage do they need? What food provides the best nutrition? Find the answer to these and other common questions about conures.

cockatiel

Four Parrot Behaviors That Might Baffle New Owners

Not only can parrots fly and have the ability to mimic human speech and sounds, but they are also capable of some seemingly perplexing behaviors that don’t fit the typical dog or cat pet mold. Here are four parrot behaviors that bird stewards are likely to encounter that might seem baffling at first.

kea parrot on ground

Meet the Kea: New Zealand’s Naughty Alpine Parrot

Let’s talk about a parrot that might be scary to some people—one that can be carnivorous, resides where no other parrot dare ventures and, for fun, seems to enjoy wreaking havoc on the tourists who visit.

four zebra finches perched on branch

Birds In The News

Consider adding “birds” to your Google News alert topics. Doing so might just lead you to some fascinating finds. Here are some recent “birds in the news” stories worth checking out.

Senegal parrot with foot in beak

Summer Heat & Our Birds

Summer — that sizzling time of the year when we try to stay hydrated and perhaps indulge in water-dense foods like watermelon and other juicy fruits. When exposed to the summer heat, we might break out in a sweat and seek shade to cool our bodies down. What about our feathered friends…how do they stay […]

Jenday Conure

Celebrate Your Bird April 11

April 11 is National Pet Day — a day to shower your pet with some extra love!

male normal gray cockatiel

Cockatiels Are Cockatoos, Too

You might have a cockatoo in your home without even knowing it! Yes, your diminutive cockatiel—the most popular pet bird in the US—is, in fact, related to the much larger cockatoos. When you take a closer look at the cockatiel, you’ll start to see the cockatoo connection.

head of cockatoo

It’s Cold Outside! Tips to Keep Your Bird Safe & Warm

The Midwest is experiencing a rare “polar vortex” and the coldest weather in decades, which makes staying warm indoors is a must. Here are some tips to ensure that everyone, including our feathered family members, are safe and comfortable at home during this cold snap.

two budgies (parakeets) beak to beak

Female Budgies Prefer Puzzle-Solving Males & Other Bird-Centric News Stories

In this bird-centric news roundup, see the tricky way researchers got female budgies to ditch their preferred mates to those trained to solve puzzles, as well as learn as well as who packs a more powerful bite—T-Rex or finch? Also see how the engineering marvels of a birds’ feathers might one day inspire better adhesives and aerospace materials, and meet Alex the honking cockatiel, the viral sensation that saw his fame inexplicably explode across the internet.

head shot of blue-fronted Amazon parrot

New Research: Secret to Parrot Intelligence? It’s In Their Genes

Check out what scientists are learning about parrot genes, as well as research on laughter being contagious among parrots, how parrots’ feathers evolved to be to so shiny and how some birds of prey are battling drones in their airspace in this look at this birds in the news compilation.

Male eclectus

A Fun Look At “Spooktacular Parrots” This Halloween

It’s that spooky time of the year! Some parrot species seem to especially mesh with a Halloween theme. Here is a lighthearted look at parrot species that bring “trick or treat” up a notch.

face of blue-and-gold macaw eating

Foraging For Food Satisfies Parrots’ Appetites & Minds

Giving your feathered friend food is essential, but the way that you provide it matters, too! Will parrots work for their food? You would be surprised!

Zebra Finch standing on floor

Birds’ Amazing Physical Powers

If you’re a bird lover, you’ll especially find these bird-focused articles worth a read, as they showcase more bird superpowers!

avocado, fried avocado, avocado fumes

Did Avocado Fumes Cause Bird’s Death?

As a healthy food for people, avocado is more popular than ever, and along with that comes an abundance of avocado recipes. Unfortunately, a recent bird death brings up the question, “Could fumes from frying an avocado be dangerous to pet birds?”

Green-winged macaw and cockatoo, red macaw, cockatoo

Healthy Habits We Can Learn From Our Birds

Looking for some healthy habits to try in the year ahead? Good news! Chances are you have your very own health coach living with you right now — look no further than your feathered friend!

African grey Parrot

Newsworthy Bird Stories

Do a Google news search with the key words “parrot” or “bird.” You might be treated to some fascinating and downright entertaining bird stories — perfect topics to read aloud to your pet bird!

close up of yellow budgie / parakeet

Back-To-School Shopping For Your Pet Bird

End of summer means school is back in session; a time when stores are full of school essentials. See how some basic school supplies can help up your game when it comes to caring for your pet bird.

quaker parrot playing peering between rope perch and colorful bird toy

Four Things You Should Never Do In Front Of Your Pet Bird

Four things you should never do in front of your bird (and one thing you should do!) to promote the health and happiness of your feathered pal.

Macaw showing hearts in Minecraft game

Fictitious Birds Should Eat Healthy Too

The Minecraft video game had a parrot problem — the parrot characters were fed chocolate chip cookies! See which movie parrots were also fed no-no foods.

Reed warbler cuckoo feeding a much larger chick

Birds That Deceive To Get Ahead

The first day of April is notable mostly because that is the day of the year where pranks and deception rule the day. With that theme in mind, there are plenty of instances in nature where animals have evolved to be deceptive as a survival tactic. Here’s a look at bird species that use trickery to get ahead.

Northern Lapwing walking on the shore

Birds for St. Patrick’s Day

In honor of St. Patrick’s Day, which falls on March 17 each year, here’s a look at one popular bird in Ireland – the Northern lapwing ‑ as well as some parrots whose plumage will make us all green with envy.

red-crested turaco (Tauraco erythrolophus) standing on wall

More Birds With Dr. Seuss-Like Looks

For the most part, Dr. Seuss’s birds look familiar, but their feathers and shapes are best described as otherworldly. We’ve previously shared some real-life birds that look like they belong in a Dr. Seuss book, here are some more fantastical Dr. Seuss-like birds to check out.

Vampire finch perched on a bird

Vampire Finches & Ghost Birds

October is the spooky time of the year, so it is befitting to learn about two peculiar topics related to the world of birds: vampire finches and ghost birds. Yes, there is a finch that drinks blood, but humans need not run. And what is a ghost bird … curious?

four Zebra Finches sitting on a branch

Finches Talk To Their Eggs & Other Fascinating Bird News

Check out these intriguing bird-centric stories, which range from parrots playing video games to zebra finches telling their eggs when to hatch to how the males of a bird species called the southern pied babble favor their own biological male chicks over their “stepchicks.”

golden firework exploding in night sky

A Safe & Sane Fourth of July For Your Bird

If your bird startles at the sound of a slammed door, car alarm or other loud, unexpected noise, the Fourth of July might not be the easiest holiday for your feathered friend to handle. Here are some preemptive steps to take to help your bird remain stress-free around Independence Day.

Sulphur-crested Cockatoo walking

Pet Parrots & Ground Foraging

Parrots in the wild spend good part of the day on foot looking for items to munch. And so it stands to reason that the parrots in our homes might also enjoy walking on their own two feet to see what they can find. Here are some tips for creating a bottom play and foraging area for your pet bird.

Cockatiel perched in a cage

Transform Your Bird’s Cage From Drab to Fab

Dog and cat owners have to deal with shed fur. For pet-bird owners, it’s the challenge of cage fallout — namely food, toys and shed feathers.

head and shoulder shot of Victoria Crowned Pigeon. Bird hsa blue feathers of varying hues, a red eye, blue beak and a blue head crest of feathers that look like tiny, open fans

Real Birds That Look Like A Dr. Seuss Character

Dr. Seuss’s books are filled with an assortment of animal characters — including birds — drawn in a distinct Seuss style. Here are some spectacular real-life bird species that look like they belong in a Dr. Seuss book!

quaker parrot playing peering between rope perch and colorful bird toy

Be Your Bird’s “Wingman”

Are you good at providing support when your bird is around other people, be it visitors to the home or even among household members who might not have as strong a bond with your bird? Here are five signs of a good wingman as it pertains to the feathered kind.

head shot of yellow and blue macaw

“Healthy” Foods Your Bird Should Stop Eating Today

Many of the foods we think are healthy aren’t 100% so. In fact, some start to creep into to the unhealthy category if we overindulge. When we offer some of these seemingly healthy foods to our birds we might be serving our feathered companions a potential overload of sugar, sodium and other unhealthy ingredients.

close up of Goffin's Cockatoo biting its talon

Tech Gadgets for Pet Bird Owners

Did you get one of the top-selling tech holiday gifts this season? Big box retailer Best Buy did a consumer survey of the most sought-after tech gadgets, which range from iPads to GoPros. Following is a sampling of top gadgets that might prove especially helpful to pet bird enthusiasts and why.

close up of face of Vasa parrot, black parrot

How Smart Are Parrots? They Use Tools Too!

Research on Vasa parrots from the University of York and University of St. Andrews that point to the first documentation of nonhuman use of tools for grinding, and one of only a few reports of nonhuman animals sharing tools directly. See the Vasa parrots’ tool of choice to grind calcium powder from shells.

lovebird

Budgies, Cockatiels & Lovebirds Are Parrots Too!

Here’s a look at some common small bird myths and facts.

budgie parakeet on branch; inset shows diagram of brain

Why Parrots Can Talk

From budgerigars to African Greys to macaws, nine parrot species in a university study reveal why certain bird species are better at imitating sounds than other birds. Hint: It’s got a lot to do with the structure of the brain.

cockatiel perched on finger

A Longer Life For Your Pet Bird

Three simple steps help you to help your bird enjoy a longer, healthier life with you.

Dr. sue Horton poses with cockatiel on her finger

See What Sets Bird Hospitals Apart

Susan Horton, DVM, takes us on a tour of her labor of love — the recently opened Chicago Exotics Hospital.

Black headed Caique perch in a cage

5 Ways You Freak Your Pet Bird Out

If you don’t understand the instincts, needs, and anatomy of your parrot friend, problems can quickly arise. Interrupting your bird’s snooze time or switching food abruptly are just two ways you can ruin your bird’s day. Learn what not to do so both you and your bird live harmoniously.

head and shoulder shot of yellow-naped Amazon parrot

10 Things Bird Owners Do That Others Find Baffling

Life with a feathered companion calls for doing things a bit differently, which non-bird people might find baffling. Here are 10 Things Bird Owners Do That Others Will Never Understand.

Sulphur-Crested Cockatoo in a pet store

Blast From The Past Pet Bird Products

From colorful assortments of toys and playgyms to healthy diets and treats, there are plenty of bird-centric offerings to choose from to meet your bird’s many needs. Here’s a fun look at “off the beaten path” bird products from years bygone.

Psittacus erithacus gray parrot sitting on a perch

Spring Cleaning Tips For Bird Owners

Check out these easy “Spring Clean” tips and tricks every pet bird enthusiast should try.

quaker parakeet, quaker parrot, monk parakeet, monk parrot

Types of Parrot Play

Every bird has a play personality — from explorer to destroyer, and many more. Knowing your bird’s style of play can help you zero in on the types of toys and interactions your bird enjoys most.

parrot flapping wings

Pet Bird Home Hazards

Looking for a reason to update some of your home furnishings? Here are a few suggestions for swapping out potentially dangerous household furnishings with more bird-friendly designs.

Photo of the Pionus Parrot

5 Ways Parrots Rule Our Roosts

With a parrot you have a pet companion with the intelligence — and the mischievousness — of a young child, which can make for an interesting family dynamic. Here’s lighthearted look at the ways our feathered friends can rule our own roosts.

Goffin's cockatoo in a cage

Fun Days To Celebrate With Your Pet Bird

Just about every week of every month has a special day of recognition for a specific group, cause or theme — the topics of which range from serious to silly; here are some interesting lesser-known National Designation Days that seem especially apropos for pet bird enthusiasts.

close up of budgie / parakeet on finger

Small Birds Do Talk!

Bigger birds aren’t the only ones talking. In fact, some of the smaller parrots are capable of mimicking human speech and can even amass impressive vocabularies. Here’s a look at some of the tiny talkers of the pet bird world.

cherry headed conure

Follow This Stay-Healthy Plan For Your Pet Bird

If you’re a to-do list person or one who needs a little reminding every now and then, you’re in luck! We’ve put together a month-by-month list of suggestions —and gentle nudges — to help you help your pet bird in the year ahead.

African grey parrot on perch leaning forward

5 Reasons To Adopt A Pet Bird

Here are five reasons why you should consider the adoption option if you are thinking about welcoming a feathered friend into your heart and home.

Cardinal on a branch

Christmas Traditions For The Birds

Did you know that Scandinavians countries celebrate Christmas with an offering of food for the wild birds? Or the reason why the cardinal is incorporated into so many holiday motifs? Check out this special look at birds’ unique connections to the holidays.

sun conure

Conure Fast Facts

Conures are popular pet companions for good reason — these parrots are full of spunk with colorful personalities and a wide range of colors and sizes.

cockatiel, singing cockatiel, cockatiel sounds

Cockatiel Behavior: Brilliantly Baffling

Cockatiels can be every bit a parrot as their larger counterparts — friendly and outgoing to snugly and gentle — no wonder these little feathered companions are America’s Top Bird. But ever stop to think if your cockatiel is normal?

spectacled Amazon on perch in cage

5 Ways You’re Ruining Your Bird’s Day

Don’t let life with you be a bore for your feathered companion. Use these tips to bring joy to your bird’s day!

African grey parrot on perch leaning forward

A Microchip Can Bring Your Lost Bird Home

The story of Nigel, the African grey parrot that returned home speaking Spanish, is a good example of how a microchip can facilitate a happy reunion for lost pet.

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