We live in changing times. The old style aviculture
really is gone. What will replace it? How can we strengthen our position? How do we become more organized and professional?
From its inception, I have felt that the AFA Exotic Bird Registry was one of the keys to our survival. It was presented in a preliminary state a couple of years ago and has since been refined and streamlined. I wanted to get a complete update so who better to ask than the AFA's Executive Director, Robert]. Berry?
Mr. Berry's response was so clear, forward-thinking and complete that you all deserve to get it first hand. The following interview presents my questions to Mr. Berry and his lucid responses.
These things impinge directly on what kind of aviculture we will have tomorrow. Pay attention.
Why was the AFA Exotic Bird Registry Established?
The AFA Exotic Bird Registry was developed in 1994 as a service to our members, and to the avicultural community in general, to assist in the management of their collections and to enhance efforts to establish long-term, self-sustaining, genetically stable, captive populations of exotic birds.
What are the Primary Benefits of the Registry?
• First, the Registry is a management tool.
The Registry is intended to serve as a central repository of information on the numbers and kinds of birds that are being kept and bred in aviculture. In addition, the Registry serves to compile population information, or demographics, which, once a significant database is established, will give a general index on the ages, sex ratios, the degree of relatedness (inbreeding coefficients) in the captive population, the numbers of individual specimens reared annually, etc. This kind of valid statistical information is currently lacking particularly for private avicultural efforts. This has a major negative impact on efforts to establish the credibility of private aviculture. We have no proof of the success of our efforts. Without this kind of information we cannot hope to manage captive populations successfully or convince others of the merits of our efforts.
If we are to succeed in maintaining the majority of species that are in captivity today for the long-term, it is essential that we begin compiling these data. These data are not just for our own use in managing our collections.' These data will be critical for the use of future generations of aviculturists. This is a legacy that we owe to the future.
Unless we act now, species that are
common in our collections today, could become aviculturally extinct in the near future. With only limited or no access to additional breeding stocks for a wide variety of species, avicultural extinction is a very real possibility. This should be a cause for major concern within the avicultural community as this will affect each of us either directly or indirectly. In this sense the Registry is a "noble" effort in helping to ensure the future of aviculture. The reality of avicultural extinction, is a new concept for many of us. In the new age of aviculture in which we are now living, just being able to breed a species in captivity is not enough. It is essential that we improve our skills, increase our knowledge and develop the tools that will enable us to sustain our birds, not just in the short term, but in the long-term and the decades that lie ahead. The AFA Registry is a critical and valuable tool for this purpose.
Additional specimens for some species will never be allowed importation into this country again! This is a sobering reality for the future of aviculture in the United States.
• Second, the Registry is a marketing tool.
With increasing emphasis by conservation, animal rights organizations and others that only captive-bred birds should be acquired as pets, a registry system that certifies the captive-bred status of specimens will likely become a valuable marketing tool in the future. For the livestock trade in general, the registered animal is always perceived as having greater monetary value.
• Third, the Registry is a documentation and identification tool.
All specimens submitted for registration must be positively identified by any one of several acceptable methods (e.g. banding, microchipping, DNA sampling). The common and scientific names, the origin of the specimen (whether wild-caught or captive-bred) the estimated age or hatch date, the sex of the specimen and specific identification information such as band or microchip numbers are all recorded on the face of the Registration Certificate.