There is Work to be Done
My husband, Paul, and I retired to Florida to enjoy the sun,
sand, and leisurely lifestyle of retirement. It was a radical
change from working and Jiving in New York state. We bought
a cockatiel, which sparked our interest in birds. Shortly
thereafter, we joined a local avian club affording us the
opportunity to meet other bird lovers and began to acquire a
novice degree of knowledge about birds. Gradually we
expanded our family of feathered friends and became submerged
in the world of aviculture; thus ending the leisurely
During the past ten years we have been involved with birds,
there have been many a vi cultural advances in research, feeding
programs, avian medicine, and most notably legislation.
Government agencies on local, state and federal levels are all
taking a serious look at various aspects of bird ownership,
breeding, and transporting. Recently, federal legislation was
passed that will greatly affect our breeding programs by
imposing restrictions on various species being imported and
requiring breeding accountability. The mechanics for administering
this legislation are not yet in place, but will be shortly. In
addition to current federal legislation, we can surely expect that
further regulations will be generated to govern our activities.
I believe it is now time for avian clubs to take a serious look
at their purpose and re-think their responsibilities to the
industry, the membership and, most importantly, the birds.
There are professional organizations that establish and maintain
operating standards; thus are regulated from within. I
propose that avian clubs establish and maintain a set of
standards for membership.
Initially, a group from your club, or group of clubs in an area,
would set forth written standards for bird owners and breeders.
This should include minimum cage requirements, feeding
programs, record keeping, isolation, incubation, baby care
procedures, banding, sanitation, and safety requirements.
Where State avian federations exist, it may be possible to
solicit their help in order to establish uniformity for all clubs
within the state.
All current members and new applicants would be required
to submit to a membership team's inspection to certify that
sta?dards are being met, with reinspections on an annual basis
to J~sure that these standards are being maintained in order to
retam club membership. Once the team feels that birds are
being ade~uately taken. care of, certification of membership
and comphan~e can be Issued. Persons not meeting standards
would be advised of the deficiencies and given a time frame in
which to co~ect the pr?blems and re-apply. Naturally, owners
of a~ _occasJ.onal pet b1rd wou.ld fall into a separate category
requmng ~mque st~dards .. This program would require a paid
membership comnuttee With funds being obtained from a
It may very well become necessary to take such steps in the
near future, so starting now could be very advantageous.
Primate breeders are currently subjected to inspections from
outside, therefore, it is not improbable to assume that aviaries
may become subjected to similar regulations. Clubs that set
precedents by establishing standards will be in a viable
position to negotiate with other agencies and to cope with the
This is an ambitious program and one that would require a
lot of work and money, but would constitute a valuable
accomplishment in the avian field, one that would earn the
respect of local, state and federal officials. Such a program
would be educational for the bird owners and definitely
beneficial to the birds. Club membership should be an earned
All of your members will not be willing to participate in this
program. Therefore, a "Friends" program should be in place
to continue generating the necessary revenue to run the club.
Friends could continue to enjoy club activities in the same
manner as today. The primary difference might possibly be
their inability to purchase or sell birds depending upon the
extent of future regulations that may be imposed on aviculture.
The regulations being imposed on the avian industry are
primarily for the purposes of insuring humane treatment of
birds and preserving endangered species. We have all seen
conditions that are less than desirable. Ultimately, those of us
who Jove birds want the best for them. Clubs are in the best
position to reach the majority of bird owners. Therefore, it
should be our responsibility to act as role models by setting
precedence. Is there a better way to advance our cause and
truly protect our interests?•