James R. Millam

James Milam

Position Title
Professor Emeritus



Jim Millam joined the Department of Avian Sciences in 1982 after receiving his Ph.D. in animal physiology from the University of Minnesota. His research specialty was avian reproductive physiology with specific interests in gonadotropin-releasing hormone (GnRH) physiology in turkeys, the reproductive physiology and behavior of parrots, and endocrine disruption in songbirds. His research was supported by such agencies as the USDA, NSF, EPA, and DoD, as well as a bequest to the Psittacine Research Project. Dr. Millam was a member of graduate groups in physiology, animal behavior, animal science and avian sciences. His teaching included courses in environmental physiology, avian physiology, avian management and avian reproduction. Professor Millam retired in 2012.


  • B.S., Biology and Psychology, University of Minnesota, Minneapolis, MN. 1973.
  • M.S., Animal Physiology, University of Minnesota, St. Paul, MN 1977.
  • Ph.D., Animal Physiology, University of Minnesota, St. Paul, MN, 1981.

Research Interests

Neural control of turkey reproduction - Most birds breed seasonally and most temperate-clime species limit seasonal reproduction with some form of photorefractoriness, a physiological process that results in gonadal involution. We are using neuroanatomic techniques and exploiting the behavior of long day-induced immediate early gene responses to elucidate neural circuitry mediating photorefractoriness and to learn how thyroid hormone contributes to the development of photorefractoriness.

Parrot behavior - Feather-damaging behavior (FDB)is the single greatest reason companion parrot owners seek veterinary care. We are trying to understand how to provide parrots with behaviorally appropriate environments. For example, we found that providing over-sized pellets that birds can manipulate with beak and feet increases foraging time by hundreds of percent, achieving a much more wild-type behavior pattern. We are currently studying the impact of bathing behavior on natural behavior patterns.

Selected Publications

Rozek, J.C. and J.R. Millam. Preference and motivation for different diet forms and their effect on motivation for a foraging enrichment in captive Orange-winged Amazon parrots (Amazona amazonica) (In press.)

Rochester, J.C., W. Forstmeier and J.R. Millam. 2010. Post-hatch oral estrogen in zebra finches (Taeniopygia guttata): Is infertility due to disrupted testes morphology or reduced copulatory behavior? Physiology and Behavior. 101: 13-21.

Siopes, T.D., M.Q. Steinman and J.R. Millam. 2010. Initiating egg production in turkey breeder hens: thyroid hormone involvement. Poultry Science 89:2265-2272.

Fox, R.A. and J.R. Millam. 2010. The use of ratings and direct behavioral observation to measure temperament traits in cockatiels (Nymphicus hollandicus). Ethology (In press.)

Rozek, J.C., L.M. Danner, P.A. Stucky and J.R. Millam. 2010. Over-sized pellets naturalize activity budgets of captive orange-winged Amazon parrots (Amazona amazonica). Applied Animal Behaviour Science. 125:80-87.

Webb, N.V., T.R. Famula and J.R. Millam. 2010. The effect of rope color, size and fray on environmental enrichment device interaction in male and female Orange-winged Amazon parrots (Amazona amazonica). Applied Animal Behaviour Science. (In press.)

Kim, L.C. and J.R. Millam. 2009. Preferences of Orange-winged Amazon parrots (Amazona amazonica) for cage enrichment devices. Applied Animal Behaviour Science 120: 219-234.

Rochester, J.R., K.C. Klasing, L. Stevenson, M.S. Denison, W. Berry and J.R. Millam. 2009. Dietary red clover (Trifolium pratense) induces oviduct growth and decreases ovary and testes growth in Japanese quail chicks. Reproductive Toxicology. 27:63-71. [Abastract]

Rochester, J.R. and J.R. Millam. 2009. Phytoestrogens and avian reproduction: exploring the evolution and function of phytoestrogens and possible role of plant compounds in the breeding ecology of wild birds. Comparative Biochemistry and Physiology 154: 279-288.

Steinman, M.Q., S.C. Dinius, T.D.Siopes and J.R. Millam. 2008. Photostimulated expression of type 2 iodothyronine deiodinase mRNA is greatly attenuated in the rostral tuberal hypothalamus of the photorefractory turkey hen. Journal of Neuroendocrinology 20:1260-1269. [Abastract]