Shannon Murphy

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  • Avian Sciences Graduate Group Alumni

Major Professor: James Millam
Home Department: Animal Science


  • M.S. Avian Sciences UC Davis - 2011
  • B.S. Biology, Towson University, 2008

Thesis Title
Bathing and Preening Behavior in Captive Orange-winged Amazon Parrots (Amazona amazonica)

Current position
Biologist for Consulting Firm

Research interests
My interests include all aspects of captive parrot welfare as well as training via operant conditioning. My research at UC Davis will focus on assessing the motivation of socially isolated Orange-winged Amazons (Amazona amazonica) to gain access to live video and audio playback of conspecifics. Millions of parrots in captivity are socially isolated from either conspecifics, nonconspecifics, or both. Allowing socially isolated parrots to interact with other parrots via webcam could be an improvement to their captive environment. I am also interested in the etiology of stereotypic and feather damaging behavior (FDB), and how to prevent or diminish such behaviors in captivity. FDB is one of the greatest concerns regarding parrots in captivity. FDB is hypothesized to develop as a form of redirected foraging. It has recently been found that Orange-winged Amazons (A. amazonica) prefer feed pellets of a size that resembles natural foods (e.g., palm nuts), and which increase overall levels of foraging behavior to that approaching birds in the wild. We hypothesize that naturalizing the foraging time budget of captive parrots may diminish FDB. Our research could have widespread implications for the millions of parrots kept in captivity.