Biologist works to help pet birds, those in the wild


October 17, 1992|By Gina Spadafori | Gina Spadafori,McClatchy News Service

Biologist Ann Brice coordinates the Psittacine Research Project at the University of California, Davis, where students care for a colony of 500 cockatiels and 70 orange-wing parrots and has made advances in nutrition sure to improve the health of many birds while easing the lives of their owners.

Meanwhile, Ms. Brice's field work aims to better the survival rates of wild ones. In places like Guatemala, young birds are taken from the nests and sent north for the U.S. pet trade. Wildlife and humane groups have documented that thousands of birds are taken illegally -- wings and feet taped to keep them from struggling, beaks taped to keep them silent. Many die before they get here.

Some conservationists hope economic incentives and education will convince those who share the wild birds' habitat to preserve the parrots rather than exploit them.

Ms. Brice's project, which is funded by donations and grants, also publishes a quarterly newsletter and offers a handbook and a poster on cockatiel care and development. Call the Department of Avian Sciences at (916) 752-4499.

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