Avian Behaviour

A relationship with any companion bird has the potential to be a long and fulfilling one. Unfortunately, most people are often confused and mystified by their bird’s seemingly “unexplainable” behaviour. Aggression, screaming, feather picking, self-mutilation, and phobic (fearful) behaviour can seriously harm the bond between bird and owner. We, at the Animal Hospital of High Park, believe in a multi-faceted approach to these troubling concerns:

Physical Examination and Assessment

Often, owner’s concerns, believed to be “behavioural” in nature, actually have initial medical causes that have triggered behavioural responses. We believe that a thorough medical assessment, including diagnostic testing, is required for all pets, prior to initiating a behavioural modification program.


When a baby parrot joins our lives, especially when handfed, it is usually a cuddly, trusting bundle of joy. At this stage, it is hard to believe the remarkable developmental stages our babies will go through. Mistakes made during these transitional phases can often become key factors contributing to problem behaviours later on in life. We provide in-depth consultation services to the new parrot owner to inform them of these changes and to teach them the basic commands all young parrots should know.

History and Environmental Assessment

We look at the history and possible environmental triggers that can influence problem behaviours. Factors such as, nutrition, cage placement and set-up, lighting, humidity and the opportunity to engage in normal parrot behaviours (such as foraging, bathing and contact calling) can be key elements in explaining problem behaviours

Behaviour Modification

We employ fun and creative exercises designed to help owners teach basic and advanced commands to their companion birds. All our exercises are rooted in Positive Reinforcement Training methodology, and help increase the trust between bird and owner. Prompts such as “step up”, “step down”, etc. are essential components to any behaviour modification program. Understanding how your parrot perceives the world allows you to examine your bird?s behaviour problems with a new eye. Be advised, however, that many behaviour problems have developed over a considerable amount of time and there are no quick fixes to a solution. Consistency and persistence is the key.

Kristi Flemming – Behavioural Consultant

It’s ironic that a position in the career of acting, and a summer application for the theaters at Canada’s Wonderland, lead to Kristi’s interest in working with animals. Hired as an usher in the theaters, Kristi had the opportunity to work in the Dolphins/Sea Lion facility, and was lucky enough to eventually work backstage, cutting fish, helping in training sessions, and looking after the animals in the evening. After 5 summers, Kristi moved on to work full time as the Small Animal/Bird Department Manager at P.J.’s Pet Centers, Yorkdale Mall. While there, Kristi had the opportunity to work with dozens of species and to study their behavior. Of particular interest was her work in raising and socializing baby parrots.

Now an obsession of hers, Kristi is thrilled to lend her skills as a head technician and behavior consultant to the Animal Hospital of High Park. Kristi is a professional member of the IAATE (International Association of Avian Trainers and Educators) and is a regular contributor to “Parrot Life Magazine”. Kristi is very active in the Ontario parrot community, and has lectured across the province, including guest appearances at the Canadian Parrot Conference, the Ontario Association of Veterinary Technicians Annual Conference, and the Ontario Veterinary College, just to name a few. In her spare time Kristi studies the behaviour of parrots, primates, elephants and marine mammals. She also sings (non stop according to co-workers), plays guitar, draws, gardens and is owned by her Blue Fronted Amazon Parrot “Wilbur”, and a cat appropriately named “Squishy”.

Please call us to book a behavioural consult appointment with Kristi


Association of Reptilian & Amphibian Veterinarians

Association of Avian Veterinarians