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Member Spotlight
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This special feature showcases AAV's most valuable asset--our members--by highlighting our diverse backgrounds, professional activities, experience, and geographic locations.

 

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September 2020: Andrea Villa

Posted By Administration, Sunday, September 6, 2020

AAV Member Since: 

2018

What was the first bird job you ever had?

I started "work" with birds since I was a child, following a very big parrots' breeding center in the north of Italy, from that I had many experiences with different species in particular with parrots, and birds of prey.

Most memorable AAV experience or contribution

Unfortunately I did not have any experience till now because of geographic distance from the events, but in future I would really like to start to participate.

What is your favorite avian species and why?

This is a difficult question, I love in particular goshawk among birds of prey, and Kea among parrots.

What was the last interesting avian medical or surgical issue you dealt with in your work?

I work a lot using endoscopic techniques, in particular coelomic endoscopy surgery.

Best benefits of AAV membership?

Having the possibility to consult a very high quality material, especially the journal and the educational portal.

If you had not chosen your present career, what would you be doing?

I would probably do this job, but I am also considering working, as I am already doing, for some NGO which are involving into animal welfare and conservation.

What was your favorite class or activity in vet school/vet tech school/college?

Unfortunately in my university we do not have the possibility to work with unconventional animals, like birds, but I consider myself really lucky because I had the possibility to work for three year with Prof. Lorenzo Crosta.  

Describe an anecdote that would be of interest to your colleagues

Please pay attention using electrosurgery endoscopy, I tried one time with pigeons in which we are testing a neutering methods but it was not a so good idea ,unless you like smoked pigeons. :-)

Do you have a favorite tip or trick for clinical avian practice that you can share with AAV members?

Birds are fantastic patients, don't be scared to approach them, and use every diagnostic methods that you would use with other animals! and remember "birds are made for endoscopy!"


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August 2020: Dr. Grayson Doss

Posted By Administration, Thursday, August 13, 2020

AAV Member Since: 

2012

What was the first bird job you ever had?

I worked at a local pet store in town which always had several small parrot species for people to interact with.

Most memorable AAV experience or contribution

The AAV has supported me numerous times since the start of my veterinary career, which enabled me to advance in a career working with birds.

What is your favorite avian species and why?

Wow, there are so many amazing species out there. I'd say it's a tie between brown pelicans and red-tailed hawks. I gained a lot of respect for these awesome birds as a student working with the Wildlife Hospital of Louisiana.

Best benefits of AAV membership?

Being part of a group of people with a shared vision and passion for avian medicine and surgery. Also, being able to get JAMS and attend the annual conference are major benefits!

If you had not chosen your present career, what would you be doing?

Hmm. Good question. I love music and think being a composer would be fascinating. Let's go with that.

What was your favorite class or activity in vet school/vet tech school/college?

Physiology-focused classes were favorites. It's fun (for me) to learn how things work at a microscopic level. 


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July 2020: Dr. Kristen Rivers

Posted By Administration, Friday, July 17, 2020

AAV Member Since: 

2018

What was the first bird job you ever had?

The first job I had working with birds was at an educational nature center in Florida. It was here where I learned how to care for the sick, injured, and orphaned native birds (and mammals)! I was able to be hands-on with everything ranging on weight checks, medical care, and rehabilitation efforts!

Most memorable AAV experience or contribution

While my time with AAV has been short, my most memorable AAV experience thus far is participating in the mentorship program! Last year at ExoticsCon I visited the AAV table and talked with Christal about my concerns regarding a lack of mentorship for avian and exotic medicine (in my rural area). She talked with me about the program and I jumped at the opportunity! I can call/text/email/facetime this group for case help; albeit, they make me work for the answers!! I am beyond thankful to have an amazing group of people at my fingertips!

What is your favorite avian species and why?

I genuinely love all avian species, so it is extremely hard to narrow down a favorite! While I love all my avian patients, I have an interest and love for penguins but also for birds of prey! I have a specific love for the Harpy Eagle! Eagles are some of the most majestic creatures I have ever had the privilege of observing, much less being able to work on / treat! They are powerful, determined, and fearless. They have legs almost as thick as our wrists and their wingspan over 6ft! They are one of the marvels of this world! It would be a dream come true to be able to one day see these amazing eagles in their natural habitat.

What was the last interesting avian medical or surgical issue you dealt with in your work?

I am one of the veterinarians for Wing-It, who is a part of the Tulsa Audubon Society. They are focused on the rehabilitation of orphaned, sick, injured or otherwise displaced wildlife with the goal of releasing them back into the wild. Daily, we get calls regarding wildlife in need or perceived need. Recently, I got a call from our local game warden regarding a grounded Bald Eagle. She had been grounded for several days next to a lake and good Samaritans were becoming concerned for her health and safety. I got the call from our game warden and he promptly brought her to the clinic! On presentation she was quiet, alert, and responsive; we anesthetized her and started the work-up. Her physical exam was overall unremarkable, with no external wounds noted. Sedated x-rays were taken and again, no obvious wounds/fractures/abnormalities noted. I made a few "phone a friend" calls for help regarding this big girl but again, no one could seem to find an explanation as to why she was grounded. She was sent to a federally licensed rehabber for one month. About a week ago, I got her back to re-evaluate her. According to the rehabber, she was doing well and able to fly from perch to perch. On distance exam, she was feistier than ever, and I was hopeful! We left her alone to observe; this time she had an obvious wing droop, which she did not have before. I called the rehabber who stated the droop was never there, so we were all a bit perplexed. I called my friend and colleague, Dr. Backues; she is Tulsa Zoo's Director of Animal Health. I brought her to Dr. B and her team the following day. Once again, there was nothing to report on x-rays and the only change noted was a unilateral wing droop. We are consulting with the MN Raptor Center, but we are highly suspicious she has radial nerve damage. While this is not the most exciting surgical or medicine case, it has taught me so much! Time in an interesting thing – and even though we want answers right away - sometimes - we must be patient. This case has also taught me that collaboration is the key! We should rely on our colleague’s knowledge and experience to help us navigate cases for the betterment of our patients. Teamwork makes the dream work!

Best benefits of AAV membership?

In my opinion, the benefits of AAV are countless! There are resources for you as a member and non-member, with the website being a wonderful tool for my clients - and myself! I also love the networking opportunities that have come from AAV. I have met so many wonderful people at conferences; people who continue to stay in contact with me throughout my career! I have even been able to speak with members and mentors on the phone via text, or at times, FaceTime! I am beyond grateful for the mentorship! No matter where you are at in your career, there is ALWAYS someone happy to guide you! I am grateful for this association and all they have to offer!

If you had not chosen your present career, what would you be doing?

If I had not become a veterinarian, I would have become a marine biologist. I am originally from Florida and the ocean life with all it has to offer is amazing! My father and I would go to the lake or beach and explore; collecting whatever neat thing we would find on the beach. We would talk about the ecosystems and how each creature – small or big – played their own important role. I guess my love and fascination for marine life stems him!

What was your favorite class or activity in vet school/vet tech school/college?

While I enjoyed a large portion of my coursework in veterinary school, I particularly loved small animal internal medicine and cardiology. Each of these courses provided their own set of challenges and interesting cases.

Describe an anecdote that would be of interest to your colleagues

About 4 weeks ago, I got the call to examine a bald eagle. I have gotten several calls in the past to examine wildlife and birds of prey, including bald eagles, so this call was not anything out of the norm. She was brought in by a game warden and immediately sedated for evaluation and x-rays (not the eagle in the above story). After the work-up, she was placed in a large enclosure where she could recover from anesthesia. About 20-30 minutes later, I noted she was awake but incredibly quiet – and still – lying on her side in the corner of the enclosure. Unfortunately, I had failed to get a weight on this girl while she was under anesthesia (ROOKIE MISTAKE) but being how she was so quiet, I did not think this would be an issue. I had grabbed the scale and stepped into the enclosure … alone. Within seconds, this girl was attached to my face! She had flapped her powerful wings – from lying on her side – and launched into my face. I grabbed her legs and quickly and calmly brought her to the ground. By her grace, she stopped flapping but continued to grip my face. During sedation x-rays, it was noted that she had a fractured femur from a gunshot wound (old and healed injury). I tell you this part because while she could still grab rather well, she was weak in one of those legs. She relaxed that leg and I was able to pull her talons from my face and placed that leg on the ground – truth be told, she “gently” grabbed my arm, but this was better than my face! I laid on the ground with this girl attached to my face for 4 minutes and 30 seconds before someone came to the back. By this time, my face was throbbing, and blood was dripping down my hand, forearm, and her leg. The whole ordeal lasted 8 minutes and 45 seconds – a lifetime if you ask me! The eagle received a pedicure and I was finally free! One emergency visit, CT, painful flushing, strong antibiotics, 7 stitches, several rounds of laser treatments, 3 scars, and 3 talons in an acrylic paperweight – I have learned from my rookie mistake. I was fortunately incredibly lucky; albeit, humiliated and humbled. The silver lining – she is doing well and is soon to be released! Oh! Did I mention this unfortunate event is on video?

Do you have a favorite tip or trick for clinical avian practice that you can share with AAV members?

The buddy system is essential when dealing with birds of prey!! Do not become lax or take for granted that these animals are wild!!

 

 


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June 2020: Dr. Jessica Magnotti

Posted By Administration, Tuesday, June 2, 2020

AAV Member Since: 

2016

What was the first bird job you ever had?

The first job I had working with birds was at a mom-and-pop pet store near my hometown. They hand raised parrots and offered boarding services for all kinds of exotic animals. This was where I became acquainted with and fell in love with birds. I was taught how to trim nails and wings (of which I have since learned many different techniques!) and how to hand feed the babies, monitoring and recording their weight throughout the day. I have since been fortunate to get to know many of the other incredible families that make up the wonderful class of Aves!

Most memorable AAV experience or contribution

The most memorable AAV experience was starting up the first AAV student chapter at my school, Virginia-Maryland College of Veterinary Medicine. I was a first year vet student and someone asked if I was interested in starting an AAV student chapter at the vet school. I had learned about AAV when I was in high school and first looking at what it takes to become a bird vet. I was ecstatic to do anything bird related, let alone help start the first AAV chapter at our school, especially so early in my vet school career! It was a lot of hard work and planning, but later that year we got the club up and running. There were only a handful of us in each class who wanted to work on birds, but we found each other! Our school's teaching hospital didn't see birds (or any exotics) and as a result we didn't get many opportunities during our curriculum to learn about feathered things. This made any avian education we could receive invaluable to us. Since then, we have had the honor of hosting many incredible speakers who freely gave their time to visit and educate us through weekend lectures and labs. We were able to learn and practice many clinical skills during these meetings that will be sure to benefit us in our future careers. The AAV community is full of so many compassionate, generous, and highly skilled veterinarians. I am honored to be learning from the best!

What is your favorite avian species and why?

There's just something about macaws that I can't help but love. They are loud and kooky, can be difficult and sassy, but are also so silly and playful. I currently have a 22 year old severe macaw named Wiley who has taught me so much about what it takes to be a good bird parent (parront?) and I am learning new things every day! I also have a blue-crowned conure named Petrie, and 2 green-cheeked conures, Navi and Kiwi. I am certainly partial to all of these species!

Best benefits of AAV membership?

The networking opportunities are probably some of the most valuable benefits of AAV membership. I have met and learned from so many wonderful veterinarians in AAV. These examples range from finding speakers for our student chapter meetings to connecting with AAV members for externship opportunities during my clinical year of school. I would not be where I am today without the help of so many wonderful, kind, and compassionate AAV members. I look forward to continuing on as a member after graduation!

If you had not chosen your present career, what would you be doing?

I would most likely have gone to music school. I have been playing piano since I can remember and guitar for 18 years. I have learned bits and pieces on a handful of other instruments over the years (mandolin, harmonica, ukelele, violin and banjo) but my two favorites will always be piano and guitar. Years ago, my best friend and I used to play fairly regularly at a local cafe and it was some of the most fun I have ever had!


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March 2020: Isabelle Kwon

Posted By Administration, Tuesday, March 10, 2020

AAV Member Since: 

2019

What was the first bird job you ever had?

My first bird experience was working with non-releasable raptors as part of an environmental education program called Wild Ontario at the same time that I began my undergraduate studies in 2014. Almost 6 years later, I am still involved with the program, helping with the daily care and training of falcons, owls, and hawks, as well as delivery of programs that educate the public about native raptor species.

What is your favorite avian species and why?

Chickens will always hold a special place in my heart. I have been doing research on the behaviour and welfare of domestic chickens in the meat and egg industries for the last 5 years and have fallen in love with their intelligence and personalities, which can be just as fascinating and entertaining as those of companion parrot species.

Best benefits of AAV membership?

An AAV membership provides a lot of resources to veterinary students interested in avian medicine. I find that these can be fun to go through when I want to take a break from studying for my classes in vet school. I'm also looking forward to the potential connections that I might be able to make through my membership.

If you had not chosen your present career, what would you be doing?

My first real love before animals in general was dinosaurs, so I might have ended up in paleontology. Otherwise, I am also passionate about animal training, and considered working towards becoming a professional animal behaviour consultant specializing in avian behaviour at one point.

What was your favorite class or activity in vet school/vet tech school/college?

I'm currently only in my second year of vet school, but my favourite class at the moment is Principles of Disease in Veterinary Medicine. It is an enormous amount of content to learn, but it made me realize that I also have an interest in pathology. Getting to learn about the occasional avian-specific disease is also a bonus.


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February 2020: Dr. Susan Tyson-Pello

Posted By Administration, Thursday, February 13, 2020

AAV Member Since: 

2011

What was the first bird job you ever had?

During college, I started as a veterinary technician at an exotics clinic in North Jersey.

Most memorable AAV experience or contribution

Participating in my first surgical lab was the most memorable. Since attending my first AAV conference I have signed up for a hands-on lab every year. It is great to see my mentors enjoy teaching as much as I enjoy learning. It's even more amazing to be able to then pass on that knowledge to new veterinarians and students. I'm looking forward to serving as AAV's Hands-on Workshop Coordinator for ExoticsCon 2020!

What is your favorite avian species and why?

It's hard to just pick one! My favorite psittacine would be a cockatiel with their sweet but spicy personality, my favorite regional wildlife species would be the great horned owl with their strength and fierceness, and who doesn't love chickens and waterfowl!!

What was the last interesting avian medical or surgical issue you dealt with in your work?

Rose-breasted galah with granulomatous cellulitis, dermatitis and osteomyelitis of the left wing and left distal phalanx of digit 2, cultures revealed MRSA. The bird was wasting away but after a full wing amputation and digit amputations, it is now thriving and pain free.

Best benefits of AAV membership?

I love that AAV fosters collective learning, sharing of knowledge, and fostering of new veterinarians.

If you had not chosen your present career, what would you be doing?

Wildlife rehabilitation

What was your favorite class or activity in vet school/vet tech school/college?

I participated in a dairy cattle practicum in college which I loved. In veterinary school my exotic rotations were my favorite. I had the opportunity to spend 4 weeks at LSU which grew my love for wildlife.


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January 2020: Dr. Amber Lee

Posted By Administration, Wednesday, January 15, 2020

AAV Member Since: 

2012

What was the first bird job you ever had?

My residency was officially the first job I had with birds. Unofficially, I bred and raised Australian native parrots throughout my childhood and this is where my love of birds came from.

Most memorable AAV experience or contribution

A highlight was being awarded an International Scholarship to attend my first AAV conference in 2012 in Seattle. I met such amazing colleagues that I am friends with and get to see every year at the conference!

What is your favorite avian species and why?

I have a soft spot for cockatiels, I love them because they were the first bird I owned, and the reason I became a veterinarian. As I have worked more with birds, I love Caiques, they are such clowns and I love their personalities.

What was the last interesting avian medical or surgical issue you dealt with in your work?

Recently I was able to treat a chicken with lead toxicity that required a blood transfusion. This was such a cool case because I was able to work with a local rescue to obtain Roosters that were her blood donors.

Best benefits of AAV membership?

I love being able to connect with other like-minded veterinarians, going to the annual conference to learn and get the latest up-to-date information. Additionally, AAV have worked hard in recent years to provide a lot of educational tools for members including client information sheets and online webinars.

If you had not chosen your present career, what would you be doing?

Probably an ornithologist working in conservation field work.

What was your favorite class or activity in vet school/vet tech school/college?

My favorite class was our Avian, Exotic and Wildlife Course, I knew from the beginning what my professional goals were so I couldn't wait for the official learning of avian medicine in the last couple of years of the course.

Describe an anecdote that would be of interest to your colleagues

Coming to the US to study Avian medicine has been a huge journey for me, but I am so grateful for the opportunities I have had. During my residency I lucky enough to work with Bald Eagle, this was such a special moment as these birds are so majestic and special. But my advice to recent and new graduate veterinarians interested in avian medicine is to find a great mentor and make the time to learn from them.

Do you have a favorite tip or trick for clinical avian practice that you can share with AAV members?

I love using the lone-star retractor, it is such a versatile surgery tool. It is great for coelomic surgery but I also use for avian dystocia to help dilate the cloaca and find the oviductal opening. It has many uses in small mammal and reptile medicine too.

More About Dr. Lee  

Dr. Lee has found social media to be a useful tool – you can find her on Twitter @DrAmberLee and Instagram @dr_amber_lee. She shared a few photos from recent cases to give us a glimpse of her work as an avian veterinarian.

 

 

 


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December 2019: Morgan Young

Posted By Administration, Wednesday, December 11, 2019

AAV Member Since: 

2018

What was the first bird job you ever had?

A wildlife rehabilitation center that worked to a large degree with different avian species, especially raptors.

Most memorable AAV experience or contribution

Recently our club was able to take a field trip to a wonderfully run non-profit parrot rescue (the only one in the state of Iowa). It was a great learning experience thanks to the expertise of our advisor, Dr. Bianca Zaffarano!

What is your favorite avian species and why?

Turkey Vultures--sadly misunderstood but incredibly intelligent! I love their individual personalities and the significant roles they play in their ecosystems.

Best benefits of AAV membership?

The student portal is great! I have used the externship locator and I plan on applying for scholarships for externships as well as our student chapter for club events. I also love the Online Education Portal. The topics and video presentations are a wonderful tool for filling in some gaps were the school curriculum may fall short. They have also given me ideas for new topics and wet labs for our club!

If you had not chosen your present career, what would you be doing?

I'm confident I would still be working with birds in some fashion. My BS degree focused on wildlife care and many people in my field find jobs at zoos, conservation centers, and wildlife rehabilitation centers. I have one friend who is an aviculturist at the International Crane Foundation--very cool!


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November 2019: Dr. Lara Backus

Posted By Administration, Thursday, November 14, 2019

AAV Member Since: 

2013

Most memorable AAV experience or contribution

My most memorable experience was when I went to the AAV conference for the first time during veterinary school. This was the first time that I had been surrounded by other people who were passionate about avian and exotic medicine and I was blown away by all of the knowledge that was being shared. This was also the moment that convinced me that I wanted to pursue a career in avian and exotic medicine.

What is your favorite avian species and why?

My favorite avian species would have to be a cockatiel, even though they're one of the most common birds we see. I just think they have so much personality that even when they're being sassy in the exam room I can't help but find them cute.

Best benefits of AAV membership?

For me, the best part of AAV membership is the access to a wide variety of avian medicine knowledge, either via contacts with colleagues or the research posted in the Journal of Avian Medicine and Surgery. I feel like one of the more interesting parts of avian and exotic medicine is how much we all still have to learn about our patients and each new bit of knowledge we're able to obtain is invaluable.

If you had not chosen your present career, what would you be doing?

If I hadn't chosen veterinary medicine I probably would have done something related to music, most likely music education.


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October 2019: Dr. Seth Oster

Posted By Administration, Thursday, October 17, 2019

AAV Member Since: 

2010

What was the first bird job you ever had?

Prior to going to college I never had a chance to work with birds. After starting college and trying a few different jobs trying to build my resume for vet school, I found a job at the Southeastern Raptor Center working in their education collection. This was a great opportunity, as not only did I get to work with great birds, but I got to teach the public about them and their value in our ecosystems.

What is your favorite avian species and why?

I love black vultures. They are incredibly intelligent birds. In a lot of ways they have very similar behaviors to many of our companion birds. I have had the chance to work with several educational black vultures and they are as nice as any psittacine I have met. Due to their intelligence, I have seen them become very crafty trying to outsmart their trainers, and often times we have had to implement foraging programs similar to what I would recommend for a companion bird. Vultures get a bad perception of being messy and lazy. Take some time to meet one of these birds if you have an educational program near you.

What was the last interesting avian medical or surgical issue you dealt with in your work?

We recently saw a falconer whose Harris hawk had suffered a very distal fracture of the right tarsometatarsus. We had a very limited amount of bone to work with, but were able to place a type II external fixator on the leg. Within 3 hours of recovery, the patient was weight bearing on the leg and able to grasp with the foot. I am always amazed at how quickly these patients can recover from something that would seem so debilitating to us.

Best benefits of AAV membership?

The chance to meet and interact with fellow bird nerds has been amazing. When I came through vet school, Auburn only had a raptor program. I had no chance to get any exposure to companion birds through my school work. Attending AAV's conference back when it was in Seattle, I had the chance to meet some clinicians that later would allow me to come visit their clinic while I was in my senior year. This was a chance to expand my knowledge beyond what I could achieve at my school. Since graduating, networking with fellow members has continued to provide me with opportunities to learn and grow as an avian veterinarian.

What was your favorite class or activity in vet school/vet tech school/college?

While in undergraduate and vet school, I worked in a raptor rehabilitation center. This was by far my favorite activity during school. It kept me focused on what I was working towards and let me see the application of my classes. Plus it was nice to get outside and do some work rather than sitting inside studying.


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