BIRD MAN: Dr Bob Doneley has been honoured as the world's top bird practitioner for 2018, and no doubt these macaws would agree.
BIRD MAN: Dr Bob Doneley has been honoured as the world's top bird practitioner for 2018, and no doubt these macaws would agree. Photo: UNIVERSITY OF QUEENSLAND

Dr Bob claims a world first for Aussies

LONGTIME Toowoomba veterinarian and avian specialist Dr Bob Doneley is the first Australian to win the prestigious TJ Lafeber Avian Practitioner of the Year Award.

Dr Doneley said he was proud to have been announced the winner of the world-recognised award at ExoticsCon in Atlanta, USA.

In clinical practice for 36 years, Dr Doneley owned the West Toowoomba Veterinary Surgery for 22 years from 1988-2010.

During that time, he was the first vet in Queensland and only the third in Australia to be certified as a specialist in avian medicine in 2003.

He is now an associate professor and, since 2010, the head of the Avian and Exotic Pet Service at The University of Queensland School of Veterinary Science at Gatton.

Dr TJ Lafeber was recognised as a pioneer in companion bird medicine and the award in his name is presented to "an outstanding practitioner who is advancing the quality of health care for companion birds”.

It is based on criteria including clinical excellence, innovation, contributions to the knowledge base, and caring and compassion to avian patients and clients.

In its tribute to Dr Doneley, the Lafeber Award stated, "as an educator, Dr Doneley has had an impact on countless students” across all five years of the veterinary course.

"The Avian and Exotic Pet Service sees approximately 1200 patients annually, of which 70 per cent are birds (both free-ranging and aviary or companion birds).”

Dr Doneley said that over the decades he had treated everything from finches to wedge-tailed eagles, geckos to pythons, and possums to kangaroos, including 2-3 native animals a day in his present job.

His interest in bird medicine developed shortly after he graduated in 1982, when he was asked to give a talk to a budgerigar association and, realising he had been taught virtually nothing on the subject as a student, set about remedying that.

He learned from the pioneers of bird medicine in Australia and overseas, and said he was pleased to be passing on that legacy.

Today birds are among the most popular pets in Australia, numbering over four million.

As well as a regular column in the respected Australian BirdKeeper magazine, Dr Doneley has written two books, has chapters in another 10, and contributed to chapters on health and disease in six ABK Publications on parrot species.

He is vice-president of the Australian Veterinary Association and president of the Avian Health Chapter of the Australian and New Zealand College of Veterinary Scientists.

Dr Doneley also presents at veterinary conferences around Australia and the world, at the Aves Convention, the Parrot Society and other bird clubs.