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Basic Animal Behaviour: Birds

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Dear Prospective Student,

Thank you very much for enquiring about the Basic Animal Behaviour Course: Birds.

Dr Frederique Hurly, a veterinary behaviourist, and Dr Hannes Slabbert a veterinary ethologist, present this course.

The Basic Animal Behaviour Course: Birds is essentially done through correspondence with the optional attendance of a two-day seminar. Most of the students who enrol for this course work full-time and the course is therefore designed to be done on a part-time basis. Being a private company Ethology Academy is very flexible. As long as students communicate with us we are usually able to accommodate them in various ways should personal circumstances develop during the year which makes it difficult for them to continue with their studies and complete the course successfully.

The Basic Bird Course is recommended by both the South African Board for Companion Animal Professionals ( and the Animal Behaviour Consultants of South Africa (

The focus is on ‘Companion’ birds, which are mostly the parrot types.

It consists of four Modules:

  1. Introduction and approaches to the study of animal behaviour
  2. Problem behaviour and possible resolutions
  3. Applied Bird behaviour
  4. Care and welfare of Birds

Modules One and Two contain generic information on animal behaviour. It is applicable to most animals. Modules Three and Four are applied to a specific species.

The content of the Basic Behaviour course: Cats is divided into four modules:
Introduction and approaches to the study of animal behaviour.

  • Ethological Approach
  • Experimental or instrumental approach. (This section deals with the way animals learn and the different conditioning techniques that are used in training of animals)
  • The developmental approach (Pre-natal – Ageing, development calendar)
  • The Physiological approach (the nervous and endocrine systems as well as pheromones)
  • Social behaviour (groups, relationships, factors influencing rank, social spaces and communication)
Problem behaviour and possible resolutions
  • Contextual assessment
  • Assessment by classification of behaviour problems
  • Assessment of animal welfare
  • Assessment of responsible companion animal ownership
  • Indirect approach
  • Direct approach
  • Complementary therapies
  • A report for record purposes
Applied bird behaviour
  • Genetic background
  • Behaviour background
  • Most common behaviour problems (such as feather picking, screaming, using inappropriate words, destruction, aggression, to name a few)
Care and welfare of birds including human-animal interaction, genetic selection for breed purposes, nutrition, exercise, training, social needs, environmental enrichment, transport, hygiene and preventative measures, handling, breeding and housing facilities.

How the course is presented
After enrolling, the student receives all the study material via registered mail. Included will be a “Student Letter” giving detailed information on every aspect of the course. Also included will be eight assignments (two on every module). Students will receive an electronic copy of the assignments that can be used if the student elects to submit the assignments via email. Alternatively assignments can be posted using the Post Office service.

The student will be expected to submit eight assignments during the period March to October. The assignments will be marked and returned to the students. The marks obtained for the 8 assignments constitute the year mark, which will give the student entrance to write the final examination in November. The assignments are not difficult, because all the answers are in the notes. It should not take more than 2 – 3 hours to complete an assignment.

Students are invited to attend a two-day seminar. The full bird seminars (Modules 1 – 4) are hosted in Gauteng only. Students who live in other provinces and who cannot travel to Gauteng are encouraged to attend Day 1 of the seminar in their area, as Day 1 covers Modules 1 and 2, which are similar for all the species.

The seminar dates for 2017 are:
Benoni, Gauteng: 21 July 2017 full day, 22 July 2017, afternoon only
Bloubergstand, Cape Town: 28 August 2017
Should there be a high number of students in KZN and/or PE area, seminars will be held in
these areas. Please enquire about this possibility in March 2017.

Students can attend any one of the seminars. Attendance is not compulsory (students are not penalised for not attending) but highly recommended. The attendance fee for the seminars is included in the enrolment fee, but students are responsible for their own travel and accommodation expenditures.

Final evaluation
A formal examination is scheduled for Saturday, 4 November 2017. It consists of a two-hour paper and the pass mark is 50%. To pass the exam requires a fair amount of studying and insight. Students are therefore advised to start well in advance with their examination preparation. Students will be able to sit for the exam at a venue in close proximity to where they live.

Students who complete the course successfully will receive a certificate. Distinctions are awarded to students who pass with a mark of 75% or more.

The study material only gives an overview of the most common parrot breeds. You may want to purchase a book on breeds, but then ensure that the book pays attention to the typical temperament of the breed. Alternatively, some internet searching can provide you with that information as well!

The course is presented from February to November each year. Registration for this course takes place from 2 January to 28 February 2017. Students may enrol earlier (in 2016) but the study material will only be posted as from the 2nd January 2017 and once proof of payment has been received. The course fee for the Basic Bird Behaviour Course for 2017 is R 7 300. The fee includes the study material, assignments, attendance of the seminar and the evaluation fee. Travel to and accommodation at the seminar is not included in the course fee.

How to enrol for this course:
Go to the website
  • Click on ‘Enrol’
  • Read ‘Terms of Agreement
  • Complete and submit the enrolment form and financial agreement form if only the registration fee is paid when enrolling.
  • Pay the appropriate fee
  • Provide Dr Frederique Hurly with confirmation of payment

Do not hesitate to get in touch should you need more information.

Best regards
Dr Frederique Hurly
(Veterinary behaviour)
Course administrator, Ethology Academy


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