It is difficult and takes many years of training to become a specialist bird vet. Most Avian specialists spend about 5 years post graduate studying before they undertake the bird specialist vet exam. While any veterinarian can be expected to treat a sick bird in an emergency situation, many vets prefer working with species with which they are more familiar and will refer birds to bird vet clinics, such as Bird Vet Melbourne, that are specifically set up to handle bird patients and whose avian vet staff have post-graduate qualifications in Bird Medicine and Surgery.
To train to become a specialist bird veterinarian, the bird clinic or avian hospital needs to be modern and well equipped. Some equipment includes a dedicated X-ray room with digital x-rays, a dedicated bird isolation ward – in the bird vet clinic, endoscopic equipment suitable for avian use. Micro surgical instruments and magnification for the intricate detail that is needed for avian surgery.
In Australia, there are two recognised levels of training/examination & post graduate qualifications in Bird Medicine: Fellowship (FANZCVS) or Membership (MANZCV) in the Australian and New Zealand College of Veterinary Scientists. To become an avian specialist one would need to obtain a fellowship in Avian health or its equivalent. Dr Phil Sacks and Dr Michelle Sutherland both have MANZCVS post graduate qualifications in avian medicine. Dr Sutherland has nearly completed a 2.5 year training program that will entitle her to undertake examinations to become a specialist bird vet.