Building a Good Avian Library

Caring bird owners quickly recognize the need for a home library which contains information on caring for, training and breeding their birds. Books not only help them learn about their birds, but are a source of important information when emergencies arise.

However, when starting to build a library, many questions arise. What types of books are needed? How many books are required? What are the best books on each subject? The answers to these questions vary depending upon the bird owner’s experience and needs. A person who has just acquired his first pet bird has an immediate need for books which are easy to understand and which address issues of concern to the novice. Breeders will be interested in books devoted to breeding and to a wider range of health issues.

Since there are so many books available, building a library can be a confusing task. To help simplify this process, we have defined three levels of libraries: Basic, Advanced and Breeders. Most bird owners will start with the basic library. As they learn more about birds or start to expand their flocks, they will add more books to their collection, bringing it to an advanced level. Breeders will build on the advanced library by adding additional books on breeding and other topics.

A comprehensive basic library will include at least one book in each of the following categories: General Reference, Bird Care or Husbandry, Training and Behavior, Health and Medicine, Species or Genus Specific and Legislation. The advanced library will have additional books in these categories. The breeder library will also include a number of books on Breeding and Neonatal Care.

Kelly and Dave have recommended books for each of the three libraries. Included are each book’s title, author,and the categories of information which the book covers. More detailed information, ratings, prices and reviews of each book are presented in a seperate section.

BASIC LIBRARY (books everyone should own):

The Complete Parrot by Arthur Freud. (Longo) Category: General Reference.

The New Parrot Handbook by Werner Lantermann. (Longo) Category: General Reference.

Parrots of the World by Joseph M. Forshaw. (Tucker) Category: General Reference.

Simon & Schuster’s Guide to Pet Birds by Matthew M. Vriends. (Tucker) Category: General Reference.

Dr. Murphy’s Parrot Care, A Guide to Basic Understanding of Parrot Care by Dr. Joel Murphy (Tucker) Category: Bird Care, Health and Medicine.

Guide to a Well Behaved Parrot by Mattie Sue Athan. (Longo, Tucker) Category: Training and Behavior.

A Birdkeeper’s Legislative Handbook, by Kelly Tucker Category: Legislation.

ADVANCED LIBRARY (additional books):

The Atlas of Parrots by David Alderton (Tucker) Category: General Reference.

The Complete Bird Owner’s Handbook by Gary A Gallerstein, DVM. (Tucker, Longo) Category: Bird Care.

The Parrot in Health and Illness by Bonnie Munro Doanne (Longo, Tucker) Category: Health and Medicine.

My Parrot, My Friend by Bonni Munro Doane and Thomas Qualkinbush. (Tucker, Longo) Category: Training and Behavior.

BREEDERS LIBRARY (additional books):

Psittacine Aviculture: Perspectives, Techniques and Research By Richard Schubot, Kevin and Susan Clubb (Longo, Tucker) Category: General Reference.

Avian Medicine: Principles and Application – Branson Ritchie DVM PhD, Greg J. Harrison DVM, Linda R. Harrison. (Tucker, Longo) Category: Health and Medicine.

Hand-Rearing Parrots and Other Birds by Rosemary Low. (Longo) Category: Breeding.

Handfeeding and Raising Baby Birds by Matthew Vriends. (Longo) Category: Breeding.

Parrot Incubation Procedures by Rick Jordan (Tucker, Longo) Category: Breeding – Incubation .

Parrots, Handfeeding & Nursery Management By Rick Jordan and Howard Voren (Longo, Tucker) Category: Breeding – Handfeeding.

DETAILED BOOK INFORMATION

The recommended books are shown below in alphabetical order. Each listing includes information such as title, author, number of pages, publisher, year written and cost. In addition, you will find Dave and Kelly’s reviews and ratings. Books are given a rating of from one to four feathers, four feathers being the best.

Books are further classified as to whether they are easy to understand or require the reader to have some technical background. These levels are Easy, Intermediate and Technical.

The Atlas of Parrots by David Alderton, drawings by Graeme Stevenson. 1991, T.F.H. Publications. $99.95 Category: General Reference, Level: Intermediate.

This is a newer version of Forshaw’s “Parrots of the World”. Beautifully illustrated, the text descriptions are not quite as technical as Forshaw’s. Illustrations are mostly modeled from museum specimens; therefore, some of the skin colors are off and postures may not be true-to-life. (Tucker)

Avian Medicine: Principles and Application – Branson Ritchie DVM PhD, Greg J. Harrison DVM, Linda R. Harrison. 1994, ISBN 0-9636996-0-1, 1384 pages, illustrated, hardcover, Wingers Publishing. $175, Abridged $69, CD-ROM $125. Category: Health and Medicine, Level: Technical.

This is the bible that your Avian Veterinarian uses. Written as a textbook for veterinarians, it assumes that a person has had all the undergraduate courses in medicine. But, many parts can be used without a sophisticated lab or advanced degrees. Worth having for the section on Neonatal Care alone. If it saves the life of one parrot baby, it will have paid for itself. I use post-it notes to flag the pages that I may need in a hurry. (Tucker).

For veterinary use or breeders with experienced ornithology background. Excellent reference book for veterinary use, covers chapters on Internal Medicine, Diseases, Surgery and other related topics. Wouldn’t come home without it! Many contributing top veterinarians in North America. (Longo).

A Birdkeeper’s Legislative Handbook by Kelly Tucker. 32 pages, illustrated, American Federation of Aviculture. $6.50 + $2.50 S&H. Category: Legislation, Level: Easy.

Written for the pet bird owner or breeder who may be having problems with proposed or restrictive laws or legislation that affect their birds, this thirty-two page booklet gives you step-by-step instructions on what to do….. Many times when faced with a complaint where the law doesn’t specifically apply to birds local authorities will apply regulations that make no sense when dealing with birds. Sometimes to the extreme of threatening confiscation or euthanasia. (American Federation of Aviculture)

The Complete Bird Owner’s Handbook, by Gary A Gallerstein, DVM. 1994, New Edition 400 pages, 150 photos, ISBN 0-87605-903-5, Hardcover, Howell Book House. $27.50. Category: Bird Care, Health and Medicine, Level: Easy.

The 1994, New Edition has a handy quick-reference guide of symptoms (signs) in the inside front cover. IMHO, this is one of the better bird-vet books. The chapter on behavior is written by Chris Davis, which demonstrates that Gallerstein knows where his expertise stops. I find this a most commendable trait. (Tucker)

Gary A. Gallerstein pretty much covers the topics of bird care, first aid, health and medicine and a lot more which would be very useful and great to have on hand in case of any emergency. I rated this book four out of four feathers and think this should be an addition to any library collection. It features two topics which should be seen more often in other publications covering “The Loss of a Pet Bird” and “Weights and Measures”. (Longo)

The Complete Parrot by Arthur Freud. 1994, ISBN 0-87605-905-1, 256 pages / 100 photos, Hardcover, Howell Book House. $34.95. Category: General Reference, Level: Easy

A good beginner’s guideline for a general reference. This book is a pleasure to read and covers pretty much all the basics the first time parrot owner should know about. A few of these chapters includes nutrition, grooming and a special Q&A chapter. I rated this book three feathers out of four and thought it was well laid out for the beginner and intermediate parrot owner. (Longo)

Dr. Murphy’s Parrot Care, A Guide to Basic Understanding of Parrot Care by Dr. Joel Murphy 1990, 190 pages, no illustrations, Softcover, Avian Press. Category: Bird Care, Health and Medicine., Level: Easy.

This is one of the few avian veterinarians who is actually conducting studies on avian nutrition. His diet study using Quaker Parrots first raised the alarm about excess protein in bird diets. Myths are debunked. Dr. Murphy’s instructions on diet, housing and behavior are easy-to-read. Reasons are given for doing things that make sense. There are no gross pictures. There are no pictures at all. (Tucker)

Guide to a Well Behaved Parrot by Mattie Sue Athan. ISBN 0-8120-4996-9, Softcover, Barron’s. $8.95. Category: Training and Behavior, Level: Easy.

One of the most well covered books on Parrot Behaviour. Mattie covers everything from where your parrot’s behaviours are learned to how they get along with children. The reason my rating is missing a feather is because there were a few methods I found that may not be as effective to someone who does not know how to apply them properly and they can lead to negative results. When I send a parrot home with their new owners I will not let them leave without this book in their hands. I believe it is effective and very easy to follow and have not had any bad stories come back from bird owners who have this book. (Longo)

This is a controversial book with a lot of good advice and some advice that could be very bad in the wrong hands or with some birds. Her method of toweling and grooming is excellent. It is totally non-traumatic for the bird and person. We give one of these books to every pet bird who leaves our house. Required reading before you get one of our babies. Then we discuss it because we don’t agree with everything in it. (Tucker)

Hand-Rearing Parrots and Other Birds by Rosemary Low. 1991, 140 pages, illustrated, Softcover, Silvio Mattacchione & Co. Category: Breeding, Level: Intermediate.

The reason I chose three feathers is because Rosemary Low is one of the pioneers in handraising and breeding parrots and uses a lot of traditional but accurate methods. There is absolutely nothing wrong with this, but I feel we as readers should be provided with the most current and accurate methods. Overall an excellent reference manual for handrearing parrots (Longo)

Handfeeding and Raising Baby Birds by Matthew Vriends. 1996, 152 pages, illustrated, Softcover, Barrons. Category: Breeding, Level: Intermediate.

Dr. Vriends has written over a hundred books on birds and other animals, they always seem to keep getting better. This includes accurate records, better methods on handfeeding and raising parrots and other species.(Longo)

My Parrot, My Friend by Bonni Munro Doane and Thomas Qualkinbush. 1994, ISBN 0-87605-970-1, 256 pages, photos, Hardcover, Howell House. $25 Category: Training and Behavior, Level: Intermediate.

If there is one behavioural book that should be owned by the experienced pet owner it is this one. This book does not only have to be used for parrots, by the feedback I got from the information these behavioural techniques can be applied to dogs and other animals as well. (Longo)

The old stereotypes about species behaviour initially turned me off. So many of them are untrue or only partially correct in my experience that I had a hard time getting past this to the good parts. The good parts cover non-aggressive behaviour modification techniques quite well. (Tucker)

The New Parrot Handbook by Werner Lantermann. 1985, ISBN 0-8120-3729-4, Softcover, Barron’s. $8.95 Category: General Reference, Level: Easy.

This book is not as outdated as it seems, info contained inside still holds very true, couldn’t find any false or outdated information. Overall a well laid out reference manual for the first time parrot owner who wishes to learn more about the background of their new friend. (Longo)

The Parrot in Health and Illness by Bonnie Munro Doanne. 1991, ISBN 0-87605-826-8, 338 pages, illustrated, Hardcover, Howell Book House. $25. Category: Health and Medicine, Level: Technical.

Has some pretty good information on pet bird care. Chapter on Disease Problems is over 150 pages long – arranged alphabetically by disease. If you know what the problem is, then it’s okay. My experience has been that once you can name the problem, the rest is pretty easy. For this reason, I haven’t found this section very helpful. Explains many veterinary diagnostic tests. Can certainly save you some time asking questions at the vet’s office. (Tucker)

This book is more for the advanced and even professional level libraries, it is written more with a veterinarian’s perspective in mind. Covers overviews and procedures of what the bird will endure when visiting the veterinarian. Great references for first aid. (Longo)

Parrot Incubation Procedures by Rick Jordan. 1989, ISBN 0-969-2640-7-0, 142 pages, illustrated, Hardcover, Silvio Mattacchione & Co. $35. Category: Breeding – Incubation, Level: Intermediate.

This publication is for the breeders who incubate their eggs and raise their babies from day one. This is a great book on incubating exotic eggs and is a very thorough topic covering everything to do with the artificial incubation of eggs. Mr. Jordan had access to some of the best breeding facilities in the world to obtain his information recorded in this book and it should be well appreciated when reading this title.(Longo)

Easy to understand, step-by-step instructions with clear photographs that illustrate what you need to know make this a must for every person who wants to raise baby birds. It’s also good reading for anyone who wants to understand how birds develop in the egg. Parrots can no longer afford the trial and error method of bird breeding. (Tucker)

Parrots of the World by Joseph M. Forshaw, illustrated by William T. Cooper. 1977, ISBN 0-87666-959-3(Kelly – ISBN of 1973 edition – is it the same?), T.F.H. Publications. $40. Category: General Reference, Level: Easy.

This TFH edition is still the classic guide used to identify parrot species world wide. Concise descriptions of each parrot species and subspecies are given with full-color illustrations of many. General notes on species include specifics of diet, habitat, breeding and behavior where known. While less than four pages of this book deal with parrots in captivity, by learning where and how individual species live in the wild we can improve our care of them.

Parrots, Handfeeding & Nursery Management by Rick Jordan and Howard Voren. 1992, 202 pages, illustrated, Hardcover, Silvio Mattacchione & Co $45. Category: Breeding – Handfeeding, Level: Intermediate.

Anyone who plans to breed birds must have this book. Anyone who wants to finish hand feeding a baby bird needs to read this book first. As a matter of fact, I would recommend that anyone who owns a domestic bred bird read this book in order to understand what does and should go into raising them. (Tucker)

If one obtains a bird that is unweaned, this book should be read and followed. Every single topic imagineable from neonatal care up to fledging is looked at in this book. I do not think there is a more complete book on this topic. It is one of my personal bibles. (Longo)

Psittacine Aviculture: Perspectives, Techniques and Research By Richard Schubot, Kevin and Susan Clubb. 1992, ISBN 0-9631424-0-2, Hardcover, Avicultural Breeding and Research Center. $50. Category: General Reference, Level: Technical.

Charts, graphs and tables give details on growth and development of many of the large parrots and macaws. A large collection of birds from The Avicultural Breeding and Research Center were used to gather data for various studies compiled into one book. Everything from diets for breeding pairs and neonates to methods for minimizing damage from mate aggression is given.. (Tucker)

Simon & Schuster’s Guide to Pet Birds by Matthew M. Vriends. 1984, ISBN 0-671-50696-X, Paperback, 319 pages, over 300 full-color photographs, Softcover, Simon & Schuster. $11.95. Category: General Reference, Level: Easy

Slightly more than half of the 206 bird species highlighted in this book are psittacines. The rest are mainly finches and doves. Expand your horizons painlessly, parrot people. Although some of the text in the book is incomplete or out of date, especially in the treatment of disease and diet sections, this book deserves a place in your library for the beautiful photographs and natural history notes on many species. There is a lot of information packed into this compact book.