BOOKS: Keeping and Breeding Cockatiels, and Popular Parakeets: Australasian and Asian Species in Aviculture

From ANIMAL PEOPLE, June 1994:

Keeping and Breeding Cockatiels, and Popular Parakeets: Australasian and
Asian Species in Aviculture, both by Dulcie and Freddie Cooke. Sterling Publishing
Co. (387 Park Ave. South, New York, NY 10016-8810), 1987, updated 1993, and 1989,
updated 1993, respectively. 159 and 149 pages, $14.95 each, paperback.
A newcomer to birdcare would not be
well-guided by these books, which are oriented
toward aviculture in England. Their contents are
essentially identical. Each addresses basic avian
health, nutrition, and reproduction. Each contains
a chapter on avian disease by veterinarian Alan
Jones. Each omits much important information.
The need for companionship, integral to a bird’s
well-being, is overlooked almost entirely, as are
the avian needs for routine, consistency, and
security. Avian behavior is not addressed at all.

Each book also presents much misleading
information. The Cookes encourage use of large
aviaries rather than cages in keeping and breeding
cockatiels, yet state that a cockatiel can be housed
in a cage as small as 15″ long, 10″ wide, and 18″
high––certainly too small to be humane.
Birds are called livestock, indicating a
lack of regard for them as unique, intelligent indi-
viduals. In each book the authors state that bird
breeders “cannot, in the nature of things, rush off
to the veterinarian every time something happens
to make it advisable to humanely destroy a bird,”
recommending instead a procedure in which the
bird is force-fed pure whiskey and drowned in a
bucket of water. Obviously this is not an accept-
able practice.
Other noteworthy misinformation
includes the suggestion that rats who live near the
aviary should be poisoned, while mice should be
humanely trapped and released. Spraying for
insects and mites is suggested, though no aerosol
spray of any kind should ever be used around
birds. Routine worming is encouraged; worming
should only be done under veterinary supervision.
Treating scaly legs with olive oil is advised; in
fact oil should not be applied to birds.
The authors also recommend hand-feed-
ing baby birds various foods manufactured for
human babies. This method of feeding does not
provide all the nutrients birds need for healthy
growth and development. Available in the U.S.
are many complete bird formulas for hand-feeding.
The Cookes give some good advice, e.g.
to routinely provide fresh foods and branches for
chewing. The positive aspects of these manuals,
however, are overshadowed by the errors.
––Eileen Crossman
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