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The Companion Avian Manifesto: The Value of Birds are Our Patients and Pets


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Presented as a master class at the Association of Avian Veterinarians conference in 2008 by me and my coauthor on the paper, Dr. LoraKim Joyner. The purpose of this talk was to examine how birds and humans benefit from their relationships with each other and review how philosophical, religious, and scientific constructs enable and impede our ability to serve as caregivers, stewards, conservationists, and doctors for the feathered beings with which we interact.

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The Companion Avian Manifesto: The Value of Birds are Our Patients and Pets

  1. 1. The Companion Avian Manifesto: The Value of Birds as Our Patients and Pets Jeleen Briscoe,VMD, DABVP (Avian) University of Pennsylvania School ofVeterinary Medicine LoraKim Joyner, DVM, MPVM, M.Div. Unitarian Universalist Fellowship of Gainesville
  2. 2. Welcome and Introduction
  3. 3. Goals • Use hands-on examples to understand how being human affects how we interact with and view our staff, owners, patients, and pets • Understand how birds and humans have benefitted from each other over time • Learn more about avian and human nature • Understand the power of language and communication skills to motivate self and others to care for birds • Have fun
  4. 4. Outline of Class • Introduction • Cost/Benefit Analysis • Understanding Avian and Human Nature • How Humans Comprehend Nature: • Language & Social Constructs Exercise • Religion & Ethics Exercise • Call to Action Role-Play • Conclusion and Evaluation
  5. 5. Cost/Benefit Analysis
  6. 6. Cost/Benefit Analysis
  7. 7. Understanding Avian and Human Nature
  8. 8. Avian Nature • Class Aves: over 8700 members • Most modern-day avian Orders are 35 million years old • Traditional research on animal brains: • Primates used to evaluate intelligence • Birds used as models for associative learning • Recent recognition of cognitive abilities of corvids and parrots
  9. 9. Corvids, Parrots, and Primates • Large relative forebrain size • Evolutionary pressures of a constantly changing physical and social environment • Omnivorous, generalist foragers • Socially complex group-living • Prolonged developmental period • Relatively long life-span
  10. 10. “Bird Brains” • Traditional mammal model: six-layered neocortex • Semantics:“-striatum” = basal ganglia = bird behavior is instinctual • Actually, bird brains are derived from the pallium, just like mammalian brains • Parallel evolution
  11. 11. Evolutionary Ecology and the Avian Brain • Correlation between relatively large brain size in parrots and corvids and: • High innovation rate • Tool use • Larger relative telencephalon size in “transactional” vs. solitary avian species
  12. 12. Adaptive Specialization & Study of Avian Brain •Social Learning •Fisher & Hinde: blue tits and the milk bottles
  13. 13. Anthropocentric Study of Avian Brain •Concepts and categorization •Watanabe’s art pigeons
  14. 14. Combining Ecology and Anthropocentrism • Episodic-like memory • Clayton & Dickenson and scrub jay caching of perishable foods
  15. 15. Combining Ecology and Anthropocentrism • Ecological importance of adaptive exploration • Mettke-Hoffman and neophobia in parrots
  16. 16. Avian Nature • Scientific proof of avian intelligence • Cognitive ornithology • Evaluation of birds for their abilities within an ecological context • Power in science
  17. 17. Human Nature
  18. 18. How Humans Comprehend Nature: Language and Cultural Constructs
  19. 19. How Humans Comprehend Nature • Action and Thought • Human attitudes towards animals: typologies • Similarity principle and likeability of a species • Language and Social Constructs • Words used in reference to birds
  20. 20. Exercise 1. Based on the word used, is the bird more subject or object? 2. Rank or describe what kind of care a human would be motivated to provide for the bird based on the word used to describe it 3. Think about instances where a certain word can influence how willing a human would be to care for the bird
  21. 21. How Humans Comprehend Nature: Religion and Ethics
  22. 22. Call To Action
  23. 23. Conclusion and Evaluation