by Cherane Pefley, Avianitarian Committee on Ethics                                                               

Avianitarians/Aviculturists  ethical responsibility goes beyond the laws and rules that are laid out by the Courts and Legislature.

Ethics is described as the philosophical study of moral principals, values and rules as well, accepted principles of ethics that have regard and followed by the Aviculture community.  Our study focuses on the Avianitarian and the Aviculture Community i.e.; all bird breeders, bird store owners, Veterinarians and their employees.  

Ethics demonstrates proper values, conduct and business dealings with the people you come in contact in person or by telephone.  These people include other Avianitarians, Veterinarians, clients, co-workers, management and anyone else with whom you have contact in your aviary or veterinarian's office.  Ethical behavior makes others feel good about coming to you for their birds needs which may lead them to refer their friends and family to you for their companion pet birds. Ethical behavior enables the person to work as a unity within our aviculture community and make one feel esteem about themselves because of the `win; win attitudes and success that will come from being responsible to our birds and one another with due respect.

The rules and values listed here are general guidelines that all Avianitarians can use in their daily activity.

1. Laws

It is your legal responsibility to follow the rules and laws of your state regarding your bird business and avian medicine as well; it is also your ethical responsibility.  Request a copy of your State rules and regulations that your Veterinarian has to follow in order to have his/her license.  Become familiar with the laws and regulations regarding your veterinarian's practice so you'll know what your limits are regarding the law and your birds.  To use your veterinarian's  name as a bonified 'knowledge of wisdom and advisement to others is not ethical.  Knowing the laws  allows one to understand the responsibility a veterinarian has given an aviculturist as their  acting sponsor.  You have a responsibility to act responsibly in only applying the study of Aviculture Microbiology in your aviary  and not others.  Study of Avicultural Microbiology does not give the participant the right to practice avian medicine in any state.  You use your veterinarian as a sponsor with overseeing your aviary and you in caretaking your aviary.
The term professional responsibility refers both to the responsibilities that you have as a professional Aviculturist as well as the responsibilities that you have to the profession as an Exotic Bird Breeder.
You have an ethical responsibility to your veterinarians, clients, employer(s) and co-workers to remain compliant with their Veterinarian laws and regulations. This ethical responsibility is in addition to the responsibility that you have to yourself. After all, one does not want to be responsible for another's loss of birds through their practicing avian medicine.   If you don't follow the rules and laws, you may lose your veterinarian and or birds with possible charges regarding practicing veterinarian medicine.  The safe rule for aviculturist is to stay away from practicing avian medicine by giving advice, diagnosing, sharing medicines and helping with treatment and doses with another's birds.  Your veterinarian's job description is considered avian medicine.   You also put your veterinarian in a place of being liable when you advice  'my vet says' to another.  Liberties as this with handing your veterinarian's advice to another is throwing dice that could land your veterinarian in a law suit if the advice you gave causes harm to another's birds or flock.  A fine line with regard to sharing your experience and giving avian medicine advice.

The ethical responsibility that you have in obeying the laws and rules of most states lies in the fact that these laws were generated to protect the safety and well being of your veterinarian and of the hospital he/she owns as well the veterinarian's clients and you including your birds.   Practicing without a veterinarian license, for example, is not only illegal but it is dangerous to the client you're advising as well the birds.  Without fulfilling the requirements of licensing and education as a veterinarian one may be breaking the law
 By giving  others avian medicine  advice, doesn't  matter if it ends up to cause harm or not, it is breaking the law.

This may pose a serious danger to the health and well being of birds in other's aviary as well those who you are advising. This is true for the Aviculture community as a whole.
Also, practicing illegally by using unlicensed veterinarians  advisers  can threaten the well being of the aviary itself in addition to bringing about possible deaths to the birds.  

Be courteous and respectful to your veterinarians, clients and co-workers and to treat their feelings, beliefs and rights as you would like your own values treated by them. Respectful of the boundaries of others is an excellent opportunity to practice your being courteous. We are different and we all can demonstrate courtesy by respecting the boundaries of others. Being respectful and curious also shows the avianitarian, veterinarian and client that you accept them and that makes for a person to be safe around a person who has a value of others boundaries.

Guidelines for Courtesy
1. Be ethical in all your dealings with veterinarians and other avianitarians, clients and others with whom you come in contact.
2. Be punctual. Arrive at the veterinarian's office on time and keep appointments as scheduled. (unsure what this sentence is missing) Keeping schedules appointments demonstrates your respectful with regard to your veterinarian's time allocated for your birds examinations.
It is best to avoid discussing controversial topics such as that relate to your personal life such as personal problems, or subjects relating to others such as another Avianitarian's birds or bird diseases, sickness, behavior, competitors or information given to you in confidence.
3. Be capable and efficient in your veterinarian's office.
4. Demonstrate to other Avianitarians and Veterinarians that you practice the highest standards of sanitation and sterilization in your aviary.
5. Use tact when suggesting husbandry, diet needs as well additional information or products, and supplies to clients.
6. Keep informed of new products and supplies so you can answer veterinarians' and client's questions intelligently.
7. Deal with all disputes and differences in private. Take care of all problems promptly.
8. Be a good listener and confine your conversation to the bird's needs. Give your undivided attention to the one talking to you.
9. Never gossip or talk about other aviaries, veterinarian's office or a friends aviary including pet stores.
10. Avoid criticizing your competitors. Remember the rule is 'if you don't have anything nice to say, don't say anything."
11. Avoid saying anything that sounds as if you are criticizing, condemning, or putting down a person's opinions regarding their birds.
12 .Continue to add to your knowledge and skills with keeping your Veterinarian aware of your updated knowledge.
It is important that you are loyal to your Veterinarian, employer(s) and Aviary manager as well as your co-workers and Avianitarian's who have confided with you in a confidential capacity. Being loyal is defined as being dependable with an allegiance to your employers, Veterinarians and co-workers and those who have confided in you. It has an affect on the people of whom you depend on regarding your skills in husbandry, diet and management of your aviary including your veterinarian.
Loyalty to your employer is very important. If a client comes to you for a pet bird and you know that birds are sold at another aviary or bird store at a cheaper price, you would be disloyal to both your employer and yourself if you suggested to that client that they go to the other pet bird shop or aviary for their bird needs. Your actions in this situation will cause your employer to lose business and, when the client goes to the other bird store, may cause you to lose a client for good. You may think you have provided 'helpful' information while in fact both you and your employer may be affected by your suggestion for revenues exceeded expenditures, your salary. This suggestion may also prove to be disloyalty to the client if the other Avianitarian or Bird Store, though cheaper, sells poor birds/supplies.
Loyalty to your co-workers is also very important because you have to work with these individuals on a daily basis. Disloyalty in this regard may even take place outside of the Aviary or Bird store where you work. Say, for example, you are a bird groomer and you find yourself in a discussion with someone that you see coming to your Veterinarian's office to have their birds nails and wing feathers clipped by one of the people that work in the Vet's office.. If you were to tell that person that you don't think their Bird groomer is doing a very good job for them and suggest to them that they might want to try someone else outside of your Veterinarian office, you are not only doing harm to your co-worker but you may be harming yourself, too. The Veterinarian may see their former client and ask why they aren't coming in any more. If the ex-client tells them that you suggested they try someone else, this will cause strain in the relationship between you and the Veterinarian.
A loyal employee's alternative would be to speak directly with the groomer or Veterinarian. Let the groomer/veterinarian know that you are concerned about the treatment they are giving this client and offer advice while avoiding criticism. This needs to be addressed privately, away from other co-workers and clients.

You should always keep your word. If you say you are going to do something for your veterinarian, a client, your employer(s) or co-workers, see that it gets done. Along with being honest, the ethical Avianitarian is always responsible and always fulfills his or her obligations. Practicing this ethical quality to a friend can be a welcomed change and habitual to your daily way of living.
In more ways being true to your word positively affects the whole Aviculture community. The honest Avianitarian increases confidence and camaraderie within our Aviculture community. Avianitarian's respect honesty and are more likely to share experience when they feel that they have been dealt with fairly and honestly. Honesty will heighten the well being of all concerned in our Aviculture community.
Outright dishonesty is another thing altogether. No one wants to work with, hire, or accept birds from a person who is inclined to lie, cheat or steal. Consider, you disliked the person for whom you were once friends, and to share with another confidential talks is a betrayal of trust. This in an inherently dishonest act and is unacceptable behavior for the Avianitarian.
Thank you Phyllis for your editing. Once you and others approve this .. this much is completed.

Cleanliness and Sanitation

Veterinarians expect to see the aviary clean and clean Aviculturist's. In an industry that centers on the bird business it is sometimes difficult to keep up our appearance.  
While one's appearance may not seem to be an issue of ethics, it is an issue of professional responsibility.
The aviculturist should always maintain the highest level of personal hygiene. Personal hygiene is defined as the daily maintenance of cleanliness. Aviculturist's should always bathe or shower each day.  They should brush their teeth daily. This is especially true for those who smoke.

If a client or veterinarian sees your birds with you having dirty hair, nails with dirty hands, they are not likely to buy the bird or the veterinarian think you capable of caring for your baby birds with you showing your lack proper sanitation habits.  

Excessive jewelry should be avoided, especially rings, bracelets, or large necklaces that may come in contact with the birds or get in the way of your aviary/nursery work.

Possibly the most important issue for all nursery management is the proper sterilization and sanitation of all instruments and work areas. The habits that you form with regard to sterilization and sanitation are of such importance because they affect the health and well being of both you and your birds. Proper sanitation not only insures that you and your birds are protected from disease but your veterinarian can count on your sanitation habits when they visit your aviary.
Example, when your vet sees you put aside a syringe that you have dropped on the floor and use a fresh, new one, he/she gains confidence in you as he/she with sponsoring you in microbiology. This may increase respect and regard to you from your vet's office staff, as well your veterinarian trust in you.

By practicing the highest standards of sanitation is to prevent the spread of disease to your birds, yourself and your co-workers. Improperly sanitized tools and implements can cause a whole range of infectious diseases caused by the presence of bacteria, viruses, or blood that may be left on instruments if they are not properly cleaned.  The aviculturist should take a critical point seriously.  Although, this list does not give all diseases that can spread throughout a nursery/aviary with improper sanitizing, it does illustrate the importance of sanitation and sanitizing tools and implements.

The most important step in keeping tools and implements safe and clean is to properly disinfect them. Disinfecting is the process of controlling the presence of microorganisms on the surfaces of tools and implements. Disinfectants used in the Aviary setting may include phenol disinfectants (phenols), quaternary ammonium compounds (quats), alcohol and bleach. Of these, phenols and quats provide the most effective level of disinfections.

Listed are just a few Diseases or conditions that may be spread in the Aviary and Nursery through the use of “dirty” instruments.

Pseudomonas Aeruginosa
Klebsiella Pneumonia

Safe and proper use of disinfectants is critical and cannot be overemphasized. Disinfectants are potent, professional-strength solutions that can be very dangerous or hazardous if used in ways not delineated in the manufacturer's instructions. Many disinfectants, especially in their concentrated form, are poisonous if swallowed and they can cause severe damage to the eyes and skin and death to the birds.

All disinfectants used in the aviary setting should be approved by the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), which will provide a registration number to that product. The Aviculturist should always look for that number when choosing a disinfectant or make sure that the disinfectant being used in the aviary bears that number. Disinfectants used in the aviculturist lab should be “hospital grade” which means that they are bactericidal (kill harmful bacteria) and fungicidal (kill fungus). Most of the hospital grade disinfectants today are also virucidal, which means they kill viruses, also.

It is also very important to clearly label all disinfecting solutions and that you only use those solutions that are tabled. This is due to the fact that disinfecting solutions are potent, professional-strength solutions that can be dangerous to birds, aviary and to the skin or poisonous if swallowed.

Sterilization and sanitation precautions and procedures see in Aviculture Microbiology Workbook.

 Do Not Oversell

As a professional (and ethical) Aviculturist, it is important that you never try to sell a bird, product or supplies to your client that they do no need or want. Sales are a very important facet of the profession that increases profits. However, this does not mean that the Aviculturist or veterinarian desire for increased income should come before the needs of the birds or client.

Successful sales begin with you as an individual. In order to sell a bird, product or supplies to your client you must first sell yourself. In other words, the client must feel confident in your abilities and eased by your personality before they will make a purchase from you. Sales also require personal motivation. If you are not motivated to try to sell birds or products, your clients are not likely to buy. It is important to remember, however, that this personal motivation should not expand to the point where you are selling your client birds, products or supplies that they don't need.

If your client is having a difficult time deciding whether or not to purchase a bird, use your expertise to help guide their decision. Be straight-forward with your client, telling them of both the benefits and potential dangers of buying that bird, product or supply as (cage).  Determine the needs of the bird and client and sell to them based on that need. Do not let your own personal desire for increased income interfere with your advice.

Table 3: Rules for Successful Sales
Keep current on new products as they come in. Knowing all that is available and the uses and benefits of these products make it possible for you to know how to advise your clients.

Always exude confidence and pride in your work and your profession.

When discussing a potential sale, do so in a relaxed manner. Be friendly.

Give your Certifications in education regarding the pet bird industry.

Never make claims about a bird, product or supplies (cage, incubator or food) that aren't true.

Try to get a feel for the personality of your client to match your bird and adjust your approach to sales accordingly.

Be tactful. Sometimes when suggesting the need for a bird product can be insulting to a client (e.g., “If you don't use this cage, your bird can die!”).

Do not underestimate the intelligence of a client. Just because your client is not a professional aviculturist does not mean they don't know anything about birds and their care. Trying to sell something to a client who knows they don't need it can backfire on you in many ways. To avoid this, adhere to the ethical tenet that you should never sell a bird, product or supplies that a client doesn't need.
Always keep the best interest of the bird in mind and the sales will come. Honesty is the best policy.


Many of the ethical principles that have been discussed here may be principles that you live by every day of your life. This may be true not only professionally but personally as well. If you are practiced in ethical behavior, you are a successful professional aviculturist. Unfortunately, there exists a large number of individuals who place greed and desire for personal gain before honesty, ethics and the overall good of the bird and client. The dishonest and unethical practice of the pet bird industry may indeed result in increased profits in the short run. However, over time clients become savvy to these individuals and are far less likely to remain customers and will spread the word about them to friends, family and associate as well, the aviculturist community.

Using the principles outlined in this section increases the confidence that a Veterinarian places in you. This confidence is critical in maintaining your Professionalism and expanding it as well.  Remember that the best advertisement you can have is a satisfied client with the added enjoyment and enrichment of knowing your bird has a good home through your ethical professional skills.

The Successful Aviculturist will avoid:
a. Smoking in the presence of birds
b. Condemning Veterinarians and other Aviculturist.  This only gives animal rights fuel for their complaints and you join their forces.
c. Discussing confidential and personal matters of another's aviary.
d. Spreading gossip or using profane or sarcastic language.
e. Any statement which is untrue, or unduly critical; this lowers the dignity of Aviculture as a profession.

By compliance, the Aviculturist is contributing to the welfare and well-being of our Aviculture community.