This is the official website for the activities of Scott Ford, DVM, Dip. ABVP (Avian).
Dr. Ford's Background
I became fascinated with birds when I was a teenager. I was hooked on birdwatching and hoped to one day walk in the footsteps of Roger Tory Peterson and be an ornithologist. I spent many an intense hour dissecting road-kill specimens and staring through binoculars, trying to absorb every detail about how birds worked and how they lived. I attended my first 2 years of college at Sheldon Jackson College in Sitka, Alaska and it was there that I had my first opportunity to work with bald eagles. Those familiar with the Alaska Raptor Center of the early-90s may recall Buddy the bald eagle, who I trained and accompanied on many trips to educate others about wild birds. I soon changed my degree objective from ornithology to the pursuit of avian medicine. I attended veterinary school at Washington State University and afterwards strived to get into an avian-exclusive practice situation. I practiced at a small animal, bird, and exotic clinic in Washington for 4 years before returning to Sitka and serving as the Staff Veterinarian at the Alaska Raptor Center for 2 years. I was an associate veterinarian at the Medical Center for Birds, an avian-exclusive practice in the San Francisco Bay Area, for three and a half years. I practiced and learned from Dr. Brian Speer, a well-known and widely-published avian veterinarian (and a great mentor). Thanks to his tutelage and a lot of elbow-grease, I passed my avian specialty board examination and became the first board-certified avian veterinarian licensed in Alaska. I began offering avian veterinary care in select Alaska locations in 2007. I was an associate veterinarian at the Bird and Exotic Clinic of Seattle in 2008-2009. Then I worked independently for a few years before relocating to Wisconsin where I am the sole avian specialist in the state. I've continued to be active in wild bird research and medicine while also seeing pet birds part time at a local clinic. In my spare time I fly, create digital art, and write fiction.
What is Specialty-Level Avian Medicine?
What can a specialist offer that others may not? Well, at the very least, avian specialty certification means that the veterinarian is especially dedicated to avian medicine-- to the point that they would sweat and stress for years to earn the title! Because of the time/residency requirements, a specialist has the knowledge base and experience to be able to more efficiently work through cases without the expensive "shotgun" approach of a list of diagnostic tests. Lastly, there is also an appreciation for the complex interrelationships of nutrition, environment, and natural biology in contributing to behavior and physical health. More and more, we are realizing that we need to work with owners not only to address the immediate physical needs of birds, but also the biological, behavioral, and social needs of them as well. This means having a good understanding of ornithology, the science of birds in their natural habitat. This also means scrapping the old notions of one-size-fits-all and coming up with new paradigms of medicine for EACH taxonomic group or even species of birds. In other words, there is no therapeutic, diet, or behavioral modification answer that fits EVERY species. Instead, what works for a blue-front Amazon may not work for a Solomon-Island eclectus, a Congo grey parrot, or, maybe not even for a closer relative like a yellow-nape Amazon. A specialist can appreciate these complexities and, with their experience, will be able to efficiently guide you through problems since they know what types of problems are more likely from one species to another. You will be less likely to get blanketed with a bewildering array of tests and tentative answers, and the higher bills that generally accompany this approach. Instead, there will be management and options tailored to the species and age of the bird and in tune with your expectations for the bird.