Prepared for the 1994 CITES CONVENTION


C onservation and aviculture: do these
two words even belong together in a
sentence? For most of its history, aviculture
connoted, at best, the breeding of
birds for profit. At its worst, avi.culture is
associated with poor breeding practices
(such as inbreeding), instances of poor
husbandry and abusive conditions, and
the capture of wild birds, either for
breeding or for sale. In orne instances,
bird collectors have even hindered conervation
efforts. When pleas went out
for the 26 collectors who are believed to
own Spix's Macaws to donate or lend
their birds for breeding, many refused
to admit they owned the birds. Others
simply refused.1 As none are held by
zoos and they are probably extinct in the
wild, it may be impos ible to begin a
captive breeding program (Frank, 1992) .
o wonder conservationi ts had little
good to say about the pet bird industry.
Today, pet bird ownership is on the
rise. With this increase has come an
increasing awareness of conservation on
the part of bird breeders, sellers and
owners. Through publications reaching

over 200,000 readers, organizations such
as the American Federation of Aviculture
(AFA) have steadily focused attention on
conservation is ue such as the status of
various wild populations, habitat loss,
and the need to prevent the trade of wildcaught
birds (Clubb, S. 1992). One popular
magazine, Bird Talk, carried no articles
about conservation during its first
three years of publication (88-90). Since
then, partially in response to reader demand,
the magazine regularly features
articles about endangered species.2 The
AFA al o assists conservation efforts directly
by di tributing surveys to member
at conferences (Allen and Johnson
1992) and in its Watchbird magazine.
For example, the October/November
1993 issue carried a survey from the
American Zoological and Aquarium AssoCiatton

(AZA) Passerine Taxon Adviory
Group about the owner hip and
breeding of passerines. The AFA conventions
feature leading conservationists
such as Don Merton. He gave two
talks at the 1993 meeting the first on
the application of avicultural techniques
to save the Black Robin, the other on
efforts to save the Kakapo. Ulysses Seal
spoke at this year 's International
Aviculturalist~ ociety meeting, as did
Rosemary Low and Dr. Carlos Yamashita,
of the Brazilian Ornithological Society.
The AFA has al o made direct financial
contributions to conservation of the Bali
Mynah, Bahama Parrot and other bird
species through its Conservation Small
Grants Fund.
Concern is developing into action. This
paper examines two formal program
for bird conservation involving private
aviculturalists, along with orne of the
infgrmal and indirect contributions of
private aviculture to conservation breeding