A.F.A. visits ... Hawley's Bird Haven the Aviaries of Jim and Marilyn Hawley


Many aviculturists have entered the bird fancy in the last 10 or 15 years and are now among the "middle-timers" and hold positions of importance in various avicultural organizations. Ask around at your next club meeting. How many folks will you find who have had birds for over 20 years? Next, ask the "old-timers" in your area how long they've been in birds. I think you'll be surprised at how many have less than 15 years experience and really qualify as "middle-timers". Don't get me wrong, these folks are doing an excellent job in aviculture and form the bulk of our leadership and energy. Indeed, it was only about 15 or 20 years ago that American aviculrure really took off and became the strong and popular fancy that it is today.

cattered among this huge matrix  of veterans with 15 to 20 years in aviculrure you'll occasionally find a trueoldtimer who still has the energy to feed a few birds and can get to the dub meetings on his or her own power. Such a one is Jim "Bean Counter "Hawley.

Although Hawley looks like a young man and his wife, Marilyn, looks like a beautiful college girl, it is my belief that he has been working with birds for over 40 years. The fact that he has children in college (and one grandchild) should put him in the 40 year plus category and he has been fooling with birds from the day he could crawl. It all adds up to me. When I first visited the Hawleys in 1994 I was hugely impressed by the great variety of birds I saw at their place. There's a story behind this, thought I, so I asked a few questions.

It all began near Phoenix, Arizona where Hawley became an infant volunteer for his grandmother. She raised Budgies, Cockatiels, Canaries and finches. Young Hawley started "doing" her birds as soon as he could spill seed and water. With Granny's collection in his resume, Hawley began hanging out at the bird farm of Bernard Roer, one of the most experienced aviculturists in the States. One could scarcely find a better mentor. As Hawley romped in the heaps of feathers and chased chickens, Roer would snatch him by the ear and instill some avian responsibility. By the age of six, Hawley had absorbed enough bird sense to have his very own bird, a beautiful Budgie.

As most of you know, when the "bird bug" bites it is absolutely necessary to increase the number of birds in your care. Even at this tender age Hawley was bitten. He soon felt the irresistible urge to lay in a number of common alley pigeons. These were quickly upgraded to fancy pigeons such as fantails, rollers, tumblers and pouters and Hawley was on his way. He has never looked back.

Then disaster struck. Hawley's little brother developed a serious allergy that didn't permit any birds on the property. This had an effect on Hawley that is evident to this day-he became a creative, crafty finagler of deals designed to let him keep his birds. According to his wife, he is still a master at it. Wherea she has the class and style that should have her eating bonbons and having her nails done, Hawley has somehow finagled her into feeding birds, cleaning cages and all the other chores attendant to bird keeping. Indeed, she is the real overseer who keeps t11e kids and hired help on their toes at the bird farm. And this finagling trait carries over into other parts of Hawley's life which may partly explain why he is such a good Chief Financial Officer for the AFA.

But back to the brother's allergies.

Hawley managed to finagle "buddy" deals with various neighborhood kids to relocate bis bird cages where he could still make the rounds and take care of his beloved birds. Most of the deals worked out. But in one case he had about 15 pheasants in a friend's backyard. Returning from a weekend outing with his family, Hawley learned that the folks who had his pheasants also had a weekend affair and invited enough folks over to eat 14 pheasants under glass. There was one bird left-in the freezer.