Parrot Society of New Zealand

Parrot Society Convention 2018

 Dr Andrew Digby (NZ)


Dr Andrew Digby is the Science Advisor for Kākāpō and Takahē with the New Zealand Department of Conservation. He is responsible for providing scientific advice to direct conservation efforts for both of these endangered species. This involves reviewing research, organising field trials and data collection, analysing data, and collaborating with the many external international experts who assist with the recovery programmes. Andrew has a PhD in Conservation Biology from Victoria University of Wellington, focussing on kiwi behaviour and conservation. He had an earlier career as a research astronomer, with a PhD in Astrophysics from the University of Edinburgh, and a postdoctoral fellowship with NASA in New York conducting exoplanet research.

The kākāpō: conservation science in action

The kākāpō (Strigops habroptilus) is the world's heaviest and only flightless parrot. Four decades of conservation effort has seen the species bounce back from the brink of extinction, with the population tripling from a low of 51 birds in 1995 to 152 today. However, kākāpō are still critically endangered, and face threats from inbreeding, disease and low fertility.

Dr Andrew Digby from the Department of Conservation Kākāpō Recovery Programme will highlight the ground-breaking conservation and management behind the recovery of the species, including advances in genetics, artificial insemination, nutrition and technology. He will describe the challenges for the future of kakapo, and the innovative and collaborative methods used to find solutions to them.

We here at the Parrot Society of New Zealand are so incredibly greatful for the time that Dr Digby is sharing with us and sharing updated information and strategies to secure the future of this fascinating parrot.



Gavin White (NZ)

GavinWhiteGavin White is a well respected aviculturist within New Zealand and is regarded as an authority here for the breeding of the "brush tongued" parrots. Gavin along with his very understanding wife Linda, have an extensive collection of Lories and Lorikeets with many breeding successes including the delicate and beautiful Goldies Lorikeet.

Gavins presentation will focus on his management and breeding of this delightful species, identifying the highs and lows of working with these birds.

Read Gavins biography below.






I live in Kerikeri, Bay of Islands in the winterless north of New Zealand. Now retired after commercial beekeeping for 45 years producing speciality honey products for locals and export markets. Now currently a Queen Bee breeder again for local and export also. With the current demand I still produce two thousand queen bees a year, pocket money allows me to attend a parrot convention in Australia each year.

My first introduction to bird keeping was with Bantams and Pigeons when I was about eight years old. In the early sixties I had Budgerigars and Lovebirds but lost interest when cars and girls came along. My interest was rekindled 20 years ago when my wife and I were in Australia visiting our children and seeing the Aussie birds in their natural habitat.

I purchased a real cross section of species when I started again, to see what I liked the best. I decided that the Lori and Lorikeets and medium sized Australian parrots are the species that I prefer. My collection now is about 60% Lori and Lorikeets and of late the rare and difficult to breed species is what I have been concentrating on. I have been having reasonable success with a Goldies Lorikeet breeding program over the last 15 years.

I do have grave concerns on the numbers of species that we have lost in New Zealand over recent times and unfortunately there are a number that will follow the same demise if nothing is done. 
























Rachel Riley - Aus










Rachel Riley is a professional avian behaviour and training consultant, and owns and operates Parrot Life Behaviour and Training. Running since 2013, Parrot Life Behaviour and Training offers in-home and online consultations for companion parrot owners (often on a referral basis from avian vets) and a range of workshops and training courses for parrots and their owners. Parrot Life®is based in Perth, Australia, but is expanding into New Zealand in 2018.
















Rachel has had many years working with parrots and birds of all shapes and sizes, in the conservation field as well as focusing on her passion of behaviour and training in more recent years. Parrot Life® also has a strong conservation focus, with one of the main contracts being the avian management at Kaarakin Black Cockatoo Conservation Centre, where Rachel and the Parrot Life® team work intensively on onsite husbandry, diet, volunteer training, cockatoo rehabilitation and movements, release assessments and training of non-release birds for display and education. Rachel holds a Post Graduate Diploma in Zoology from Massey University, New Zealand.

For more information please visit .





Dr Scott Echolls (USA)

DVM, Dipl ABVP (Avian Practice) -Utah (USA)


Dr Scott Echols grew up in Texas and received his BS from Texas A&M University and DVM from Texas A&M College of Veterinarian Medicine. Upon completion of veterinarian school, Dr Echols moved to California to work with Dr Brian Speer and completed his residency in avian medicine and surgery. Drs Speer and Echols worked on many avian projects including developing flock health programmes, new surgery techniques and diagnosing and treating kidney disorders in birds. Both doctors continue to collaborate on multiple avian subjects and co-teach at conferences worldwide.


After spending 5 years in California, Dr Echols moved to Austin, Texas to become the Director of Avian Medical and Surgical Services at Westgate Pet and Bird Hospital for the next 9 years. At this point, Dr Echols continued to develop new techniques in avian medicine and surgery and began a prolific writing and speaking career.


In 2009 Dr Echols formed Avian Mobile Surgical Services with Dr Brian Speer and Now Dr Echols provides avian surgical consultation services throughout the United States and acts as a visiting professor at multiple veterinary schools. was created to provide educational material designed to improve the lives of captive birds. Such releases as Captive Foraging and the Expert Companion Bird Care Series DVD's have sold and been viewed worldwide and have received high praise.
Additionally, Dr Echols is the co-creator of the Lafeber Critical Care Series videos which were designed to help veterinarians handle emergency situations with birds and other exotic animals.


Dr Echols is a past president of the Association of Avian Veterinarians, he is a reviewer for the Journal of Avian Medicine and Surgery, and recipient of both the TJ Lafeber Avian Practitioner of the Year Award and Texas Non-Traditional Species Practitioner of the Year Award and founder of the 'Reproductive Problems in Ducks' and 'Nutrition for Pets' forums on Facebook.

A relatively recent project that Dr Echols has been part of is the Grey Parrot Anatomy Project, which has created new collaborations and numerous new findings that are sure to apply to all birds and much more.

Again some of our committee members have been fortunate to meet and hear the work that Dr Echols brings to our hobby. Using up to date technological advancements to discover new findings that we have never been able to observe in the past.




Dr Stacey GelisDrStaceyGelis1

The Parrot Society of New Zealand is again excited to finally bring Dr Stacey Gelis to New Zealand. A highly respected Australian veterinary practitioner who has a professional and personal connection to aviculture in Australia. 
Members of The Parrot Society have had the privelege of meeting Dr Gelis and have appreciated his professional yet practical and understandable presentations.


Stacey has been an avian veterinarian for over 25 years, working in both private practice and zoological facilities. During this time he has developed a broad expertise not only with psittacine birds, but also finches, softbills, galliforms, waterfowl and ratites. He has been involved in the import and export of birds, as well as working with endangered parrots including the orange-bellied parrot. Stacey has published much of his work in scientific and avicultural journals as well as contributing chapters to several avian veterinary texts. He has also lectured at veterinary conferences and avicultural conventions. 


His particular areas of interest include nutrition and diseases of loriinae, gastrointestinal diseases of birds and diseases of finches and softbills.

Stacey has also been an aviculturist for over 30 years, having kept and bred a variety of psittacines, finches, softbills and poultry. His particular avicultural interests include lories and lorikeets, Psittacula and Australian parrots.





Alycia Antheunisse (USA)


Well here we are with our mysterious guest speaker.
Our convention is turning into an event of "Firsts".... 
We are so pleased and honoured to be hosting Alycia Antheunisse.... wife of Eric Antheunisse and co owner of Cedar Hill Birds.
This will be the first time that Alycia has travelled overseas and the first time presenting with her husband at the same event. We felt extremely lucky that Alycia is taking the courage in stepping on a plane to get here!!! 
Alycia has a passion for educating others and the interest for Aviculture in the changing world ahead.
We can not wait for them both to spend time with us and look forward to gaining from the extensive avicultural experiences that Alycia will share with us.

Alycia has always had animals in her life. She was born into a ranching family and lived on a 500 acre sheep and cattle ranch until she was 22 years old. Working with her grandfather every day taught her the respect of animals, common sense, and a deeply rooted work ethic that keeps her grounded in what is now one of the largest and most respected exotic bird businesses in the world.

AlyciaAntheunisse2In 1996 Alycia reconnected with her now husband, Eric Antheunisse, founder of Cedar Hill Birds. Together they have built a business that circles the globe and incorporates all facets of aviculture.
Today, Alycia is instrumental in all aspects of handrearing: from nestbox to perch, public and resale. She also runs the office and keeps all records in accordance to protocol and client stipulations. Although she tends to be more involved with the public, education, etc, Alycia does enjoy the breeding aspect of aviculture as well. Together she and Eric work daily to provide their flock with the proper diet, environment, and enrichment that leads to consistent and strong production in what would be considered a commercial setting. Streamlining their operation has proven beneficial for all species, conures to macaws, lories to cockatoos.
It wasn’t until her children entered high school that Alycia began to see a dire need to expose young adults and even adults to the wonderful world of Aviculture. Alycia has worked extensively with her son and daughters FFA chapter (Future Farmers of America) to introduce the members to care, hand rearing, handling and breeding of exotic birds. She hopes to be able to offer an apprentice program to qualified students that wish to learn more and in turn continue educating and inspiring more people to participate in the hobby and industry.


Eric Antheunisse (USA)


We are proud to bring Eric Antheunisse back to our shores. Sharing his experiences with breeding parrots. A couple of our members have been fortunate to visit Eric's breeding farm located in the U.S.A and experienced breeding parrot species on a large scale. Eric, along with his wife have established the reputation for breeding Conures, however, a wide range of species are represented within their collection.
Read more about Eric below and convince yourself to be part of our event next year....

EricAntheunisse2For over 30 years Cedar Hill Birds has done business by these words: family, ethics, conservation, quality and success. By the age of nine, Eric Antheunisse had a poultry and water fowl collection most fanciers would be envious of. As his passion grew Eric immersed himself in the trade and breeding of parrots. He traveled the western United States with his parents visiting other breeders, quarantine stations and the like learning everything he could. 
In 1997 Eric met his wife, Alycia who quickly learned the ropes of the avicultural world. In 1999, Alycia and Eric had the first of two children, Ashle. In 2001, their son, Brenden was born. Both children have been brought up with the great appreciation for our feathered friends and are handy helpers around the ranch. Our children help in every aspect of care, feeding and cleaning, socializing, shipping and customer service. It is important to us that they understand the responsibility we have taken upon ourselves to raise these creatures. They surprise us day in and day out with their comprehension and knowledge of our business, passions and goals. 
Now, with a family, and a successful exotic bird business, Eric has not deviated from his childhood enthusiasm. Not only does he travel the world speaking of his experience in aviculture, but Eric also specializes in CITES export, commercial breeding, retailing, and continues to consult for breeders around the world. 
It is with his years of experience, compassion and drive that continue to make Cedar Hill Birds a successful and reputable breeder of exotics worldwide.




















Anil Garg (India)

AnilGarg 1

Anil’s passion for animals of all descriptions was evident from a very young age. His first foray into animal breeding was with mice and rats when he was around 6 years of age, from here his interest rapidly grew and he soon built up a small collection of exotic birds including Cockatiels, Diamond Doves, Peach-faced Lovebirds and various finches. The lovebirds soon bred for him and that was it…Anil was well and truly hooked!

Since these early days, Anil’s passion has only increased and he now maintains a large and varied collection of exotic parrots across two large facilities. Species range from various conures, such as Pearly, Crimson-bellied and Patagonian, lories including Red and Blue, Dusky and Ornate, caiques, and most of the African species including Red-bellied, Rüppell's, Jardine’s and Capes to Hawk-headed Parrots, various Amazons, such Cuban and Double-yellow Headed, numerous cockatoos including Goffin’s, Palms and Red-tailed Blacks, and Macaws including Scarlets, Great Green, Red-fronted and Blue-throated to name but a few!

In addition to 100+ species of parrots that Anil holds across his two facilities, he also keeps various species of tamarins and marmosets as well as numerous reptiles. Primates and reptiles are another great passion of his. And let’s also not forget the wallabies and the Capybaras!

AnilGarg 2

Anil is also a founding member and the inaugural and current secretary of the Avian Society of India or ASI as it is more often referred. The ASI represents the first society of its kind in India and aims to not only share experience and knowledge, but also to bring breeders together under the umbrella of a national organisation that represents aviculture and aviculturists from the ground level up.

Away from the birds, Anil runs several companies, across a number of fields, the main two being the software companies Pty Ltd and, along with businesses in both the confectionary and fertilizer manufacturing industries.

Anil will be sharing the work that he has done to promote aviculture within India and breeding successes he has had. A hobby that has exploded within his country over a small amount of time, bringing a new, fresh and exciting dimension to aviculture and conservation within India and also globally. We warmly welcome Anil to New Zealand during April 2018.

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AnilGarg 4

Dr Jason Crean (USA)DrJasonCreen

Jason Crean, MS, EdD is a degreed biologist, an avid aviculturist specializing in the propagation of green aracaris and white-backed mousebirds, President of The Avicultural Society of Chicagoland, and First Vice-President for the American Federation of Aviculture. Crean often speaks to avicultural groups across the country and acts as consultant to zoos and other institutions, including the Wildlife Genetics lab at Loyola Medical Center and Chicago Nature Museum. He specializes in taking actual scientific research, like that of the Genetics lab, and incorporating it into classroom lessons to illustrate how science affects conservation. As Education Chair for the AFA, he has begun incorporating this work so students around the world can view the importance of Aviculture in their classrooms. He also runs a live animal education program that does free interactive programs for a host of different audiences.


Dr. Crean is also a biology instructor at the high school and university levels and a curriculum designer and instructor in the Education Department at the Chicago Zoological Society. Crean has been awarded the Presidential Award for Excellence in Science Teaching, the highest award a teacher can receive in the US, by President Obama in 2009, the 2010 High School Science Teacher of the Year by the American Association for the Advancement of Science, as well as awards from the National Science Teachers Association, the National Association of Biology Teachers, the Illinois Science Teachers Association, among others. Most recently he was awarded the 2016 Golden Apple award for excellence in teaching. He serves as President for the Illinois Science Teachers Association, President for the Illinois Association of Biology Teachers, and sits on the Board of Directors for the Association of Presidential Awardees in Science Teaching and the College Board's National Science Advisory Panel.


As a committee we have observed the work that Jason has been involved in over a few years and we have been inspired by his passion to share his knowledge and experiences with others.
He is a pioneer in developing alternative feeding opportunities for our birds to enjoy with extremely positive feedback from users of his methods.
We are truly honoured to be able to host Jason during our convention and thank him for his commitment to ensure a successfull event.