Prologue: an introduction to this issue


B eginning in this issue and continuing for a year, we will celebrate the 25 years of the AFA's vital support of American aviculture. Our theme is "recognizing the past, looking to the future."

Representing the past, we will present significant articles from early Watchbird magazines. They will have a different style headlines and will carry the date they were first published. How many of the early authors will you recognize? Perhaps more than you think.

As we deal with our current times and look to the future, we will include our usual excellent selection of fresh and contemporary articles-things you need to know to keep on the cutting edge, and things to educate and entertain you.

But how did the AF A come into being? What is the AF A? Perhaps a short history will help.

Because of a very costly outbreak of Exotic Newcastle Disease in 1972, all bird imports were banned. The ban was lifted, though, when quarantine procedures were established. This was the first time since the 1930s, however, that aviculture had come forcefully to the attention of the government-and they were nervous about everything to do with birds.

In 1973 the California state legislature, for reasons that are still not clear, drafted a bill that, in effect, would ban the keeping of all wild animals in captivity including virtually all of the bird species kept in aviculture. Four or five southern California bird clubs raised money and sent their own representatives to Sacramento to appear at the hearings. Bird people mounted enough resistance to delay the bill until it died a natural death.

When five or six clubs each paid to send their own people to Sacramento the air fare and hotel expenses were multiplied by the number of people

going. Finally, in late 1973 five of the most active clubs, under the leadership of Jerry Jennings and Joseph Griffith, got together and conceived an idea for an umbrella educational organization-a federation of clubs, as it were.

Various members of the clubs met almost weekly to firm up the concept of a federation. These gestation meetings took place in homes and small meeting rooms and were very lively and enthusiastic-heated comes to mind. But they worked, and now we proudly celebrate the 25th anniversary of the AF A's conception.


In early 1974 the American Federation of Aviculture actually became a legal entity. Gradually more and more clubs joined and the AF A became truly national.

It took until August 1974 for the AFA to publish its first periodical-the AFA Watchbird. M. Jean Hessler was the first editor and I, your humble servant, had the privilege of an article in that very issue. As you will see, the Watchbird attracted top notch writers from around the U.S.A. and the world to present the best in avicultural literature. The AF A itself became involved in all aspects of aviculture and has had a very great impact on the current state of birdkeeping. But for the AFA's efforts, there would probably not be any birdkeeping now.

We invite you to share with us during the coming year, the celebration of 25 years of history combined with a great thrust into the future. This is just the beginning, folks.