Note: Dr. Analise Spira, Center-Sinai Animal Hospital Avian Specialist Emeritus, is now enjoying a much deserved retirement. We are proud to have her words of wisdom about bird care on our site. And to point you to Dr. Oliver for your bird care needs. Please check all our bird care articles and Q&As using our Pet Health Care page, where you will also find a form to ask our Avian Expert about other questions you might have.
From a conversation with Dr. Spira:
“I got into the field of bird medicine almost because I was confronted by it — there was nobody around practicing. I started a long time ago. At that time most people who needed help with pet birds would go to pet shops, since almost no vets treated birds. Before coming to the U.S. in 1962., I lived in Germany. I earned my degree in Veterinary Medicine from the University of Munich, and while there had a class in pet bird medicine. When I came here, I studied at U.C. Davis for a year, a requirement for foreign veterinary graduates, but there was nothing in the curriculum dealing with pet birds. Finally, people would be certified at universities, but originally the interest was in wild birds.
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“At Davis I had a great professor from Germany who gave a course in wild bird care. When I completed my work at Davis, I came to Center-Sinai. At that time we had a small animal practice and also treated large exotic animals, lions, tigers, elephants, bears and so on, plus birds.
“Somehow, just because there was no one else to do it, I began to see more birds, and began to gather experience working with them. Over time more vets started to see birds, and we’d meet, and exchange information. I learned from them. In 1980 the Association of Avian Veterinarians was formed. Finally we had a national organization! We have had annual meetings from the beginning, and I have gone to each and every one. There are still not many bird veterinarians today, but there are more than there used to be.
“The best thing about my work is the challenge. I learned a lot from treating wild birds from a young girl who was dedicated to rehabilitating injured wild birds. We developed a relationship. I can’t keep wild birds here…it would not be healthy for them to be enclosed in such an urban setting, but she would pack up the injured bird and bring it to me. I would do medical and surgical care, and then she would take the bird back to her sanctuary for nursing and rehab. I really learned a lot about all birds by doing surgery on the wild ones.
“One of the most important parts of my job is to educate clients about the care, nutrition, medications, etc. required to take care of their pet birds properly. I take a lot of time with this, as the basics are new to many pet bird owners, and very important.
“The work is always exciting to me — I get to see birds I’ve never seen before.”
For other articles, or to ask a question you might have about a feathery friend, please go to: