EDITORIAL PAGE It Seems to Me ...


Change is ablowin' in the wind.
Gone are the old days when exotic
birds could be imported from anywhere
and quarantine hadn't been
invented yet.
Nowadays, a few birds are imported
from a few Third World countries and
they go directly into governmentcontrolled
quarantine stations. There
are permits, vet inspections, health
certificates, fees and folderol which
are always connected to governmental
And what the future holds, who
knows? You can bet, however, that
there will be more and more regulations
regarding wild birds and the
multi-million dollar business of
It seems to me that there are at least
three ways to react. First, you can hole
up with your shotgun and blast away
at the authorities until you, yourself,
go up in a great puff of smoke (this
happens a lot here in L.A.). This might
be a more memorable exit than you
have any right to, but, in the long run,
you can't win that war.
Second, you can scoop seed left and
right into the bird cages, eyes glued to
the seed bucket, blithely unaware of
the real world. Again, you will not
prevail. One day you'll look up in
amazement at what the new aviculture
is like. And you could even wake
up in a jail cell scratching your head
over what violation got you there.
Third, you can make informed decisions
about the oncoming rules and
regulations and manage your birdkeeping
in such a way as to minimize
the effect the new laws have on your
operation. We all do this regarding the
universally hated - but inevitable -
income taxes. We learn the rules. We
hire tax experts. We organize our
affairs to ensure our maximum benefit
(within legal bounds, of course). I
think we should try this little known
and seldom used method with respect
to our aviculture, too.
Gentle reader, it pains me to have to

point out that many conservationists
and ecological "Greens" look upon us
as the last remnants of Genghis Khan's
pillaging hordes. In some quarters,
our reputation ain't so hot. If, in the
old days, we "took," I believe that
now we have a chance to "give back."
Not that anyone's eff01ts can perfectly
restore the earth to its pristine condition,
but we can do several things
which, in my view, will add legitimacy,
purpose and responsibility to
the sometimes misunderstood field of
• The first thing you can do is check
out the Model Aviculture Program
(MAP). This voluntary program has
established guidelines for responsible
bird husbandry - recommendations
for safety zones, accurate record
keeping and inspections by a veterinarian
of your choice, for example -
things most responsible aviculturists
do routinely. This program doesn't
record how many birds you have or
what kind. The inspecting vet will
recommend that your facility be approved
or may recommend changes
that will improve the quality of life for
the birds in your charge. I feel that this
is an excellent program and that MAP
certification will become a badge of
honor to distinguish the professional
and responsible aviculturists from the
others. Send a self-addressed,
stamped envelope to MAP, P.O. Box
1657, Martinez, CA 94553 for an information
• The second important thing you
can do is to get involved in the AF A
Exotic Bird Registry. It is my sincere
belief that gradually increasing
governmental control will eventually
require all exotic birds be registered
just as automobiles and dogs are now.
Indeed, the Wild Bird Conservation
Act of 1992 contains some language
that may eventually cause every
imported exotic bird to be marked. No
mark, no control. Currently, marking
includes leg bands, microchips, tattoos,
etc. Since all of these things can

be moved from bird to bird, they will
not satisfy the demands of the government
when it becomes more serious
about bird control. I believe that the
only acceptable bird marking for the
future is DNA "fingerprinting" and
that the marked birds should be registered.
There is an article on this subject
in the making.
Take heart, though, there are a number
of pluses to having your animals
marked and registered - especially if
you do it before the mandate hits. The
State of Arizona, for example, requires
that all horses have a registration slip
similar to the one for your car that you
carry in your glove compartment. It
has cut the horse-stealing (a very big
business here in the West) by 90%.
Marking and registering can serve to
protect your valuable birds in a similar
manner. There are many other management
benefits to having registered
birds and I believe that the bird fancy
needs to gear up to the idea and get
going. Information on the AF A Exotic
Bird Registry is available by calling
1-800-BIRDCALL or by writing the
AF A Home Office.
• A third exciting thing is going on.
The AFA has taken the initiative and
actually put some scientists in the field
in the first step of the AF A Recovery
and Management Plan for the Redfronted
Macaw. Actually, the first step
was taken several years ago when an
AFA member put together a computerbased
model conservation management
program for this CITES
Appendix I endangered parrot. And
now AFA-sponsored scientists are in
the field in Bolivia conducting an
important conservation-oriented study
that, hopefully, will provide a basis for
moving this macaw from CITES
Appendix I to Appendix II. This Recovery
and Management Plan may
also serve as a model that can be
implemented in conservation studies
of other birds. There isn't room in this
editorial to lay out the details of this
program but we'll try to get an article
for an upcoming edition of Watchbird.
Well, now you know some of my
thoughts on modern aviculture. Two
of the "Opinions" letters express
related thoughts. The old ways are
fading, new things are coming
and I've pointed to three new things
that I like. We are very interested in
what you think. What is your opinion?
Send us a letter. •