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Turn Pesky Parrots Into Pleasant Pets


UCR Graduate Student Writes Popular Parrot-Training Book

Rebecca O'Connor's animal-training techniques help turn ill-mannered parrots into pleasant pets.

(July 24, 2007)

RIVERSIDE, Calif. (www.ucr.edu) — There’s a reason why some parrots scream and bite: They’ve learned that’s how to get what they want.

A little parrot psychology and training owners to “read” their pet’s body language and reward good behavior can make the difference between an obnoxious pet and a lifelong relationship with the intelligent birds, says longtime bird trainer Rebecca O’Connor.

The UC Riverside graduate student in creative writing (and BA in creative writing) and Banning resident has trained cheetahs, servals, vultures, eagles, chickens, ducks, dogs and the occasional lizard with great success.

She has been a falconer for more than a decade and spent seven years working in animal shows in various places, including Ohio, Florida and Australia, and recently returned from a trip consulting at a Guadalajara, Mexico, bird show. Zoos, animal shows and private pet owners employ her to help solve animal behavior problems.

Part of an emerging group of behaviorists who reject old ideas of punishing and dominating birds, O’Connor is gaining national attention with her book, “A Parrot for Life: Raising and Training the Perfect Parrot Companion,” which was published in February 2007 by TFH Publications and has gone into a second printing. The book recently was picked up by national pet supply chains PetSmart and PETCO.

O’Connor is a full-time freelancer who has written nine books, including: “Falcon’s Return,” a romance novel published by Avalon Books, which was a finalist in the Holt Medallion for best first book; “Endangered Animals & Habitats: Owls”; “Endangered Animals & Habitats: Frogs & Toads”; and “Acid Rain.”

Her current book project is “Single … with Pets! An Animal Trainer’s Insights on Dating and Relationships.” O’Connor says many of the tools she uses in working with animals can be used with people to create open, strong and meaningful relationships. “Unfortunately,” she says, “I tend to make a mess of things when I apply them.”

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The University of California, Riverside (www.ucr.edu) is a doctoral research university, a living laboratory for groundbreaking exploration of issues critical to Inland Southern California, the state and communities around the world. Reflecting California's diverse culture, UCR's enrollment has exceeded 21,000 students. The campus opened a medical school in 2013 and has reached the heart of the Coachella Valley by way of the UCR Palm Desert Center. The campus has an annual statewide economic impact of more than $1 billion.

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