Basic Animal Behaviour: Birds

Dear Prospective Student,

Thank you very much for enquiring about the Basic Bird Behaviour Course.

Dr Frederique Hurly, a veterinary behaviourist, and Dr Hannes Slabbert a veterinary ethologist, present this course. The Basic Bird Behaviour Course is

essentially done through correspondence. Most of the students who enrol for this course work full-time and the course is therefore designed to be done on a part-time basis.  Being a private company Ethology Academy is very flexible. As long as students communicate with us we are usually able to accommodate them in various ways should personal circumstances develop during the year making it difficult for them to continue with their studies and complete the course successfully .

The Basic Bird Course is recommended by both the South African Board for Companion Animal Professionals ( and the Animal Behaviour Consultants of South Africa (

The focus is on ‘Companion’ birds, which are mostly the parrot types.

The content of the Basic Behaviour course: Birds is divided into four modules:
1. Introduction and approaches to the study of animal behaviour.
   • Ethological Approach
   • Experimental or instrumental approach. (This section deals with the way animals learn and the different conditioning techniques that are used in training of animals)
   • The developmental approach (Pre-natal – Ageing, development calendar)
   • The Physiological approach (the nervous and endocrine systems as well as pheromones)
   • Social behaviour (groups, relationships, factors influencing rank, social spaces and communication)
2. Problem behaviour and possible resolutions.
   • Contextual assessment
   • Assessment by classification of behaviour problems
   • Assessment of animal welfare
   • Assessment of responsible companion animal ownership
   • Indirect approach
   • Direct approach
   • Complementary therapies
   • A report for record purposes
3. Applied bird behaviour.
   • Genetic background
   • Behaviour background
   • Most common behaviour problems (such as  feather picking, screaming, using inappropriate words, destruction, aggression, to name a few)
4. Care and welfare of birds including human-animal interaction, genetic selection for breed purposes, nutrition, exercise, training, social needs, environmental enrichment, transport, hygiene and preventative measures, handling, breeding and housing facilities.

How the course is presented
After enrolling, the student receives all the study material via registered mail. Included will be a “Student Letter” and an “Exam letter” giving detailed information on every aspect of the course. Also included will be eight assignments (two on every module). Students will receive an electronic copy of the assignments that is to be used to submit the assignments via email.

The student will be expected to submit eight assignments during the period March to October.  The assignments will be marked and returned to the students. The marks obtained for the 8 assignments constitute the year mark, which will give the student entrance to write the final examination in November. The assignments do not count towards the final mark. The assignments are not difficult, because all the answers are in the notes. It should not take more than 2 – 3 hours to complete an assignment.

During the year 6 Webinars will be presented. The student is expected to take part in these webinars. They will be held on a week day evening, so that students that work full time can attend them.

Final evaluation
A formal examination is scheduled for Saturday, 7 November 2020. It consists of a two-hour paper and the pass mark is 50%. To pass the exam requires a fair amount of studying and insight. Students are therefore advised to start well in advance with their examination preparation. Students will be able to sit for the exam at a venue in close proximity to where they live. Students who complete the course successfully will receive a certificate.

Distinctions are awarded to students who pass with a mark of 75% or more.

The course is presented from February to November each year.  Registration for this course takes place from 2 January to 28 February 2020. Students may enrol earlier (in 2019). The study material will be posted once proof of payment has been received. The fee includes the study material, assignments, attendance of the webinars and the final evaluation fee.

How to enrol for this course:
Go to the website
  • Click on ‘Enrol"
  • Read the ‘Terms of Agreement
  • Complete and submit the enrolment form and financial agreement form
  • Pay the appropriate fee
  • Provide Dr Frederique Hurly at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. with confirmation of payment

Do not hesitate to get in touch should you need more information.

Best regards
Dr Frederique Hurly
(Veterinary behaviour)
Course administrator, Ethology Academy.


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