Avian Expert Articles

Laura Doering

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:

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

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!

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!

budgerigar, parakeet, budgie

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

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.

Tauraco erythrolophus By Gary J. Wood

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.”

Fireworks

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

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.

Victoria Crowned Pigeon

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

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.

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.

Goffins Cockatoo biting 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 heading into Black Friday and Cyber Monday this past holiday season, which range from iPads to GoPros . Following is a sampling of top gadgets that might prove especially helpful to pet bird enthusiasts and why.

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

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.

Woman holding a Cockatiel

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 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.

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.

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.

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.

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

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!

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.

Pacific parrotlets, pocket parrot, tiny parrot

Five Types of Bird Friends

We all need friends. And life is even better if a few of your friends have some of the same interests as you. Better yet is knowing others who share in your love and appreciation of birds. Check out these five types of friends you might buddy up with as you navigate life with a feathered companion.

Tips To Manage Your Pet Bird’s Mess

In addition to tried-and-true cage maintenance products, there are additional ways to maintain a clean and healthy environment for your feather companion. With some simple pre-planning and regular maintenance, you’ll be able to put your feet up and enjoy more one-on-one time with your bird.

Pet Birds Vs. Dogs

Here’s a fun look at some of the advantages bird companions have to canine companions and vice versa.

spectacled amazon

Give Your Bird A Clean Cage This Summer

Here are three things you can do for your feathered companion to improve his health and well being, as well as add some summer-inspired fun to his day.

Spotlight on Female Parrots

Female birds tend to fly under the radar, so to speak, when compared to their flashier male counterparts. In many bird species, including parrots, the males have the more eye-catching colors. It’s time, however, to give our feathered girls time in the spotlight.

Hyacinth macaw

New World Parrots: Conures, Amazons, Macaws & More

Parrots can be categorized according to Old World psittacines and New World psittacines. Do you know if your parrots are “Team Old World” or “Team New World”?

7 Ways You Can Help Birds & The Environment

Here’s an annual event that bird lovers can help celebrate — Earth Day, which takes place on April 22 each year. In honor of Earth Day, here are seven ways bird lovers can make a difference in our own neighborhoods and abroad.

Avoid These Feeding Mistakes

There are many pet birds that only eat one or two types of foods, but that’s because they haven’t been offered much else or the foods offered don’t appeal to them. Here are four ways we can sabotage our birds’ appetites and how to avoid them.

Books For Birds

Nursery-rhyme books and others that cater to a young audience also make great reading material for parrots — these books are designed to be read out loud and with extreme silliness. Dr. Seuss books certainly fit the bill!

Lovebirds As Pets

No other companion pet has a name quite as endearing as a lovebird. The lovebird’s genus, Agapornis, is the words “love” and “bird” joined together — agape is Greek for “love” and ornis is Greek for “bird.”

Umbrella cockatoo

Tips To Get Your Parrot To Be Quiet

Does covering the cage or running toward your bird to tell him/her to quiet down … or screaming back … sound familiar? If you find yourself in need of a little quiet time and your parrot is simply not getting it, here are tips and tricks to stop the screech.

Hyacinth macaw, blue macaw

Your Pet Bird Will Love The New You!

A new year is upon us and with that comes another set of New Year’s resolutions (or a re-do of last year’s!) While there’s plenty you can do for your pet bird to make the new year great, here are three things you can do for yourself that will also reap benefits for your pet bird.

Cockatiel face

Pet Birds & Children

Find out the real reasons why budgies and cockatiels can make wonderful pets for children, as well as all the wrong reasons for bringing a small bird into your home.

red-bellied parrot; red-belly

Pet Birds & Other Birds

It’s easy to assume that birds must like other birds. But before you buddy up two birds consider that fact that many avian veterinarians treat bird patients that were injured by other bird housemates.

Indian ringneck parakeet

Kick Start Your Bird’s Day

Spending more time with your bird and serving a healthy breakfast are just two ways to start your bird’s day off right.

Blue-fronted Amazon, blue front, Amazon parrot

“Theft-Proof” Your Pet Bird

Pet parrots can be prime targets of pet theft because of their perceived monetary value. Here are some steps pet bird owners can take to “theft-proof” their beloved companions:

sun conure

Pet Bird Owner Summer Safety Tips

But before you fire up your backyard grill or unroll the pool or spa cover, take a moment to see what steps you need to make to ensure your bird’s safety and well-being all summer long.

yellow-crowned Amazon parrot

5 Fun Ways To Pamper Your Pet Parrot

Use these five fun suggestions to create Pampered Parrot Days that are all about your feathered friends. They deserve to be treated as VIPs, too!

green-cheeked conure, green cheek, Pyrrura conure

Don’t Leave These In Your Pet Bird’s Cage

Cage safety starts with not just what you put in your bird’s cage, but what you don’t leave behind.

cockatiel, singing cockatiel, cockatiel sounds

Cockatiel Sounds Explained

Chirps, warbles, whistles, squawks, cheeps, and more are noises and sounds pet cockatiels make. Find out what your cockatiel is trying to say.

Swift Parrots & Orange-Bellied Parrots: Rare Migrators

Almost all parrots are non-migratory birds, that is, they do not fly to a different climate during specific times of the year. There are two parrot species, however, that do migrate in the truest sense of the word — the swift parrot (Lathamus discolor) and the orange-bellied parrot (Neophema chrysogaster).

origami paper bird, recycle bird, go green

Pet Bird Owners Can Find New Uses For These Recyclables

From using newspaper as cage liner, cardboard as chew toys, to wadded-up paper to hide foraging treats, we bird owners can be quite creative in our thriftiness. Here are a few other items that can get a second life before going into the recycle bin.

What Liz Wilson Taught Us

I had the pleasure of working with many avian experts throughout my years as editor of Bird Talk magazine, but none was quite like avian behavioral consultant Liz Wilson.

Liz with black Palm Cockatoo

Renowned Companion Parrot Behaviorist Liz Wilson Passes Away

The bird community lost a special member when long-time parrot advocate and well-respected author Liz Wilson, CVT, passed away on April 13, 2013. Liz was the voice behind the popular parrot behavior column “Parrot Psychology,” which ran in Bird Talk magazine for many years and, up until her passing, was a monthly feature on LafeberCares.com.

Nanday conure, black-hooded parakeet

Pet Bird Enrichment: Four Great Uses For Newspaper

To many pet bird owners, yesterday’s news is today’s cage liner. In addition to the long-held practice of lining the bottom of the birdcage with newspaper, here are four other ways to get the most bang out of your newspaper subscription buck.

mini macaw, yellow collared macaw, macaw parrot

9 Things Never To Do Around Your Pet Bird

While most responsible pet bird owners strive to make their birds feel part of the family and offer them plenty of one-on-one time whenever feasible, there are times when your bird should perch elsewhere.

Budgerigar on wicker chair

Furniture Fixes For Pet Bird Owners

Here is a look at furniture types that might be vulnerable to the feathered kind, and what you can do about it.

Presidents & Their Pet Parrots

Can you imagine a parrot perched in the White House? It’s probably happened at some point during our country’s history; after all, some of our past presidents had parrot companions during their presidencies. Here is a list of presidents who really did have parrots during their White House days.

lovebird

5 Health Choices Pet Bird Owners Should Make Today

Why put off to tomorrow what you should do today … especially if it can be a lifesaver for your pet bird? Here are five choices to make now to better your bird’s health.

African Grey Eating

Pet Bird Owner New Year’s Resolutions

A better cage, new toys or perches, healthier foods and treats — what is your New Year’s resolution regarding your bird?

cockatiel perched on finger

Keep Your Pet Bird Out Of The ER This Holiday!

The holidays can bring added dangers to a bird’s typically safe life. Being aware of these dangers can prevent accidents and tragedies, and a trip to your emergency avian veterinarian.

flood

After The Hurricane: What Pet Bird Owners Need To Know

Dr. Gregory Rich’s clinic was destroyed by Hurricane Katrina in August of 2005. He shares his experience, plus what pet bird owners need to do in a hurricane’s aftermath.

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