Flock! 2023

  • Overview

  • Schedule

  • CEUs & Pricing

  • About Your Instructor

Event Begins: October 28, 2023

Join us for the IAABC Foundation’s first dedicated Parrot Conference on October 28, 2023 from 9:00am-5:30pm (EDT).


FLOCK! is for parrot lovers, parrot trainers, parrot behavior consultants, and people who are fascinated by parrots.


What does this mean for our attendees?  We’re taking a deep dive into understanding the overall needs of the parrots we work with and live with, ranging from health, nutrition, age, safety, stress, enrichment and the family dynamics.  A solid understanding of the science allows us to operationalize it for our clients and improve the lives of parrots and their caregivers.


Here’s a sneak peak at some of the amazing speakers and topics we have scheduled:

  • Dr. Eduardo Fernandez (Australia), speaking on the latest in his research on the impact of training on behavior.
  • Dr. Susan Friedman (US), presenting an Introduction to Behavior Analysis and Training.
  • Dr. Susan Orosz, DVM (US), addressing the connection between behavior problems and improving a parrot’s overall health; regular vet care requirements; and fostering a solid relationship with your avian vet.
  • Hildegard Niemann (GER), discussing the natural behavior of parrots, social structure of different species, communication within the flock and how helping owners understand this helps them better address parrot’s needs.
  • Panel Discussion featuring Susan Orosz PHD, DVM, DIPL ABVP (AVIAN), DIPL ECZM (Avian); Eduardo Fernandez, PhD; Ann Brooks, CPBC; Debbie Foster CPBT-KA, CPBC; and Sheila Blanchette CPBC, UW-AAB.


Make sure you FLOCK! with us and get registered today. You don’t want to miss out!


Presentations and Q&A sessions will be recorded and available to you for a minimum of one year or as long as you have an active IAABC Foundation account (minimum of one purchase per year).

Each presentation is approximately 1 hour in length and will be followed with a live 30 minute Q&A session with the speaker.

9:00-10:30 Eduardo Fernandez, PhD – Training as Enrichment: A Critical Review:

Husbandry training and environmental enrichment are both important advancements associated with current behavioral welfare practices. Additionally, the use of training procedures has been proposed as a form of enrichment, with the implication that training can produce beneficial behavioral welfare results. Less clear are the specific testable ways in which training can be demonstrated to be enriching, beyond simply providing opportunities to be enriched.


This presentation examines the concept of training as enrichment through three distinct ways training procedures could enrich: (1) training facilitates enrichment usage, (2) training modifies interactions, conspecific or otherwise, and (3) training expands behavioral repertoires. Within each category, I discuss past research that provides empirical support for training functioning as enrichment, as well as related areas of research that provide additional evidence. Previous studies support the claim that training is enriching, with additional research necessary to better understand how prevalent and under what conditions training procedures function as enrichment.


Future training research should examine these potential enrichment effects, including methodology that allows for comparisons to traditional enrichment, the use of welfare diversity/variability indices, and the effects of learning on trainers and trainees alike.

10:30-10:40 Break
10:40-12:10 Hildegard Niemann, CPBC – Parrot Behavior in Social Context: How Nature Influences Pet Bird Keeping:

Keeping parrots as pets and aviary birds has a long tradition in the human-animal relationship. Of the nearly 400 species of parrots, 80 species are regularly kept as pets. Each species has its own social behavior, environmental and nutritional needs. In this presentation, we will focus on the social structure of the different parrot species, how it affects communication in the flock where the birds live, and how this behavior affects communication with the bird owner. Misunderstandings and false expectations often lead to serious problem behaviors and can jeopardize the continued ownership of numerous birds. Bullying, stalking, and aggression are often recognized, especially in households where parrots are kept in flocks and groups. The goal for pet bird owners must therefore be to understand the natural behavior of their birds and to address it in their husbandry, which for the owners also means adapting their own husbandry and behavior to the specific needs of their individual birds.

12:10-12:20 Break
12:20-13:50 Susan Friedman, PhD – How WE Learn: An Introduction to Behavior Analysis and Training:

This talk is designed to expand your understanding of behavior and learning. It includes an overview of 6 fundamental and inspiring topics in animal behavior consulting and training.

These topics are

1) an evolutionary view of learning and behavior;

2) a review of the science of behavior-change called behavior analysis;

3) common obstacles to the scientific analysis of learning and behavior;

4) ABC assessment to better understand, predict and change behavior;

5) the errorless learning philosophy and antecedent arrangement to make the right behavior more likely;

6) the relevance of the least intrusive procedure to ethical use of training procedures.


This big picture overview is a perspective changer, for sure.

13:50-14:50 Lunch Break (1 hour)
14:50-16:20 Dr. Susan Orosz – How Health and Age Affect Behavior and Why Birds Need a Specialized Avian Veterinarian:

Dr. Orosz is renowned for her knowledge of anatomy, neuroscience, diagnostics, diseases, aging birds, herbals, and nutrition. Since a bird’s health will have a major influence on its behavior, it’s important to make sure our parrots are receiving regular veterinary care from an avian specialist. Some behavior problems can be addressed by simply improving a bird’s health status – which includes a quality diet, sleep, space, attention to aging issues, labs, and disease management.

16:20-16:30 Break
16:30-17:30 Panel Discussion featuring Susan Orosz PHD, DVM, DIPL ABVP (AVIAN), DIPL ECZM (Avian); Eduardo Fernandez, PhD; Ann Brooks, CPBC; Debbie Foster CPBT-KA, CPBC; and Sheila Blanchette CPBC, UW-AAB.


  • (Pending)


  • $150

Cancellation Policy: We will refund 90% up to 30 days pre-event. A 50% refund will be available up to 15 days pre-event. After these deadlines, no refunds will be issued.


Eduardo Fernandez, PhD

Eduardo J. Fernandez is a Senior Lecturer of Applied Animal Behaviour and Welfare in the School of Animal and Veterinary Sciences at the University of Adelaide (Australia). He received his Ph.D. in Psychology (minors in Neuroscience and Animal Behavior) from Indiana University, where he worked with the Indianapolis and Cincinnati Zoo. He received his M.S. in Behavior Analysis from the University of North Texas, where he founded the Organization for Reinforcement Contingencies with Animals (ORCA). Most of his past and current work involves behavioral research applied to the welfare and training of zoo, aquarium, and companion animals. His past positions include a Visiting Professorship in the Psychology Department at Seattle Pacific University, a Visiting Professorship in the School of Behavior Analysis at the Florida Institute of Technology, an Affiliate Assistant Professorship in the Psychology Department at the University of Washington, a Research Fellowship with Woodland Park Zoo, and a National Science Foundation Postdoctoral Fellowship. While working with UW and the Woodland Park Zoo, he started the Behavioral Enrichment Animal Research (BEAR) group, which conducted welfare research with many of the species and exhibits located throughout the zoo. He currently runs the Operant Welfare Lab (OWL), which is dedicated to the use of learning principles to improve the lives of animals. OWL is also part of the broader Animal Behaviour, Welfare, and Anthrozoology Lab (ABWAL). Many of Eduardo’s past publications, research projects, and presentations can be found on his ResearchGate profile.


Hildegard Niemann, CPBC

When Hildegard Niemann began her studies in biology, she had no idea that parrots and parakeets would “order” her life. A little green budgie stole into her heart and where there is one parakeet, a second soon follows… and with it, the first step into a life as an advocate and advocate for our feathered family members. 

Hildegard Niemann is a certified behavior consultant with the International Association of Animal Behavior Consultant IAABC. She writes articles on parrot and parakeet behavior and husbandry, lectures, organizes webinars and online consultations, and guides owners in personal consultations by phone, online in ZOOM meetings, and on-site. Hildegard Niemann has worked with countless parrots and parakeets and their keepers to inform them and provide the birds with a harmonious life in their enclosures. 

In Hildegard Niemann’s opinion, one of the main reasons for behavior problems in parrots and parakeets is not the bird itself, but communication problems between the keeper and the bird sharing a habitat. The solution to these problems can be achieved through education, training and education. 

Hildegard Niemann is married with two daughters and shares her life with her gray parrot Hope, her parakeets and two rabbits. In her spare time, she roams the countryside with her camera looking for birds, works in her garden, and relaxes by knitting. 

Fun Facts: 

– Hildegard Niemann has been renamed by her grey parrot Hope. Her name is now “Hoo-hoo!”

– When Hildegard Niemann has online meetings, the birds are usually in another room: they’re always chattering away!

– When Hildegard Niemann gives talks at conventions in the USA, she plays with birds beforehand. That helps against stage fright!


Susan Friedman, PhD

Susan G. Friedman, Ph.D. is a professor emeritus in the Department of Psychology at Utah State University and owner of Behavior Works Consulting, LLC. Susan has co-authored chapters on behavior change in five veterinary texts, and her popular articles have been translated into 17 languages. She teaches seminars and courses on animal learning online (How Behavior Works: Living & Learning with Animals), which has been attended by students from 64 countries so far. Susan consults with zoos and animal organizations around the world and teaches yearly for the British and Irish Association of Zoos and Aquariums (BIAZA) Level 3 Animal Trainer Accreditation program. She was appointed to the Fish & Wildlife Service’s California Condor Recovery Team from 2002 – 2010, after which time the team was retired due to the success of the birds in the wild and is currently the Chairperson of the Scientific Advisory Committee of American Humane Association (AHA) Film and TV Unit. In 2022, Susan was honored to receive the Lifetime Achievement Award from the Association of Pet Dog Trainers.



Dr. Orosz is an internationally known avian veterinarian and anatomist and is the owner of Bird and Exotic Pet Wellness Center. She received her PhD in human neuroanatomy from the University of Cincinnati Medical Center in 1980 and her DVM degree from The Ohio State University in 1984. She first practiced at a small animal practice in San Diego that was noted for avian and exotic animal medicine. From 1986-2000, she taught avian medicine and surgery at The University of Tennessee, College of Veterinary Medicine where she attained the rank of professor. While there, she was Section Chief for the Avian, Exotic Animal and Wildlife Medicine Service at the Veterinary Teaching Hospital which, at the time, had the largest case load of exotics in the country. She trained students, residents, and other veterinarians in the medicine and surgery of exotic animals, and continues today with a residency program. She continues to lecture in the United States and Europe about avian and exotic animal medicine. She is one of only four veterinarians from the United States who is board-certified in avian medicine both here (through the American Board of Veterinary Medicine) and in Europe (through the European College of Zoological Medicine). Board certification reflects the highest standard of knowledge and care in the profession. Dr. Orosz brings that knowledge and 35 years of experience to your pet’s care.


Dr. Orosz has authored a number of books and book chapters, as well as scientific papers on avian anatomy and medicine. She is currently working with colleagues to complete another book on fracture repair in avian patients. She is past president of the AAV and served as scientific editor for The Journal of Avian Medicine and Surgery. Dr O received the prestigious Dr TJ Lafeber Avian Practitioner Award in 2007 for her compassion and knowledge in avian medicine and the respect from her peers. She has pioneered many techniques and the use of medicines in exotic animal practice. She has also consulted with the Lafeber Company on avian and exotic animal nutrition, particularly in the development of nutritional products for sick and debilitated patients.

Dr. Orosz shares life on her farm with her husband, Eric, and a bunch of animals, including three rescue cats, two rescue dogs, two orange-winged Amazons, and 3 rescue horses.

Dr. Orosz enjoys taking her horses for sleigh rides when snowfall is adequate and also enters them in carriage driving competitions as her busy schedule allows.