Please visit Liz Wilson’s dedication page for her full biography, photos and comments from her colleagues.
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. What made Liz stand out was her candid approach to teaching us the nuances of parrot behavior. Liz’s writing rarely needed editing because she always cut right to the chase; she didn’t inflate her words to come across as more scholarly. Instead, she gave us her common-sense approach to understanding our birds’ motivations. She often emphasized the cons more than the pros of opening our homes to a pet parrot because she felt obligated to discourage those who couldn’t deal with not having a “perfect parrot,” reminding us that people aren’t perfect, so why on earth would we put such unattainable expectations on any other living thing?
Liz was not shy about talking people down from buying or adopting a parrot if their reasons for doing so would likely end on a sour note for both the person and the parrot. According to Liz, if you wanted a parrot that talks, you’re better off buying a radio to listen to because not every parrot chooses to talk and you have to be OK with that (Liz liked to emphasize certain words with italics so we wouldn’t gloss over them.). If you wanted a bird because they are pretty, Liz suggested you buy a beautiful stuffed animal of a bird to look at because birds are so much more than eye candy. Make no mistake, however; Liz did not have a “holier-than-thou” mentality. She was as self-depreciating as they come, and she freely admitted each and every mistake she made during the four decades she shared with her beloved female blue-and-gold macaw, Sam. Liz was OK with bird owners making mistakes; she just didn’t want us repeating them.
In the more than 10 years I worked with Liz, I can’t recall her missing a single deadline; in fact, she usually turned her assignment in a few days early. She infused enough wit and charm into her writing to keep us wanting more.
Liz once mentioned that she always bought one new item while out grocery shopping — a new vegetable, spice, tea condiment, etc. — even if it was something she’d likely not buy again, just to broaden her horizons. She said she loved the fact that life is full of endless possibilities. I can’t think of a better way to honor Liz than to make it our mission to see what life has to offer and to extend that opportunity to our pets.