Canadian Parrot Symposium

Canadian Parrot Symposium



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All material Copyright 19912002 by the Canadian Parrot Symposium unless otherwise noted. For permission and information about reprinting articles, please e-mail your request.

To Organize or Not To Organize: That is the Question

by George Rason

Aviculture, or keeping birds in captivity, has been around for many years. The Chinese were practising it over 4000 years ago. They developed the Society Finch or Bengalese aproximately 2000 BC. As this development took place so long ago, we are not sure what species were involved.

Aviculture has been practised by kings and by subjects, rich and poor alike. There is not any country that I know of that does not keep birds in captivity, and yet aviculture is not a science but an art. With modern technology it is becoming more scientific, but still depends on a great slice of what the gardening fraternity calls the "Green Thumb." Unfortunately, this is the very aspect that threatens aviculture in the modern world. If it's not organized to fit the floppy disc on the computer then it's out of step. We must remember that aviculture is an art, and art tends to be, on the whole, very individualistic; as do the people who perform it.

There are as many ways of keeping and breeding birds in captivity as there are stars in the sky. None are completely right nor any one method completely wrong. Why should we be surprised at this? We should not. There are nearly 9000 species of birds in the world. This is the very essence of what makes aviculture so interesting, and, I surmise, what has helped it survive so long.

Unfortunately, the modern world will no longer allow this carefree attitude to continue. All species are under great pressure of change, and as the human species increases, so the individual's freedoms decrease. We now see this threatening aviculture more and more. Declining resources cause government intervention in the form of restrictions in trade, use, and ownership. This in itself may be no more than an aggravation to aviculturists. These government activities and the reasons for them very often spawn special interest groups who unfortunately can have very narrow views. When these two ingredients are mixed the snowball effect soon kicks in and it's all downhill for aviculture. Through complacency, lack of interest, or being overly involved with our birds, aviculturists did not wake up until the snowball had become too large and too fast for individuals to stop.

As modern politics pays very little attention to individuals and more to the special interest groups, we as aviculturists must band together. As the old saying goes, "If you can't beat them -- join them." We must start developing our own organizations. I do not mean on the local level. This is being taken care of very well by the many clubs, some of which are very specialized or broad based. What we do need is a strong national organization that covers Canada from coast to coast. I personally would like to see it cover all aspects of aviculture with possibly branches for special interest groups. For example: Pheasant and Waterfowl -- Ratites -- Budgerigar -- Canary, Finch and Soft Bills. I have left the psittacines off this list for a reason. Of all the families the parrot is what is known in the zoo world as a mega species.

In the case of the parrot it's a whole family. When the layman thinks of cage or aviary birds it's normally "parrots...the bigger the better."

When different protectionist groups attack aviculture it's very often accompanied by a picture of a parrot usually appearing in some form of distress. As a group, whether we like it or not, we will always be at the front of any attacks. As such the best defense is to have a unified voice. Government agencies prefer to talk and sometimes even listen to an organization. An organization is in a better position to set standards acceptable to all with regards to Ethics and General Husbandry and to distribute new knowledge and findings which are occuring at an ever increasing rate. As the acquisition of birds by conventional means becomes more difficult it will be more and more the role of the organization to bring people with the same species together. This is required so as to form the long term captive breeding programs that will prevent many species from disappearing from aviculture. As any good organization will show, the bringing together of people with like interests will only help us all learn from each other's experiences.


George Rason

George Rason is a native of England who immigrated to Canada in May 1966. He and his wife presently reside close to their two children in the Sunderland, Ontario area. The quiet country setting is ideal for continuing their avicultural endeavors. His family has been involved in Aviculture for many years. In fact, George is the third generation to actively pursue this pastime.

George became an employee of the Metro Toronto Zoo in 1973. He retired this past May after holding the position of Curator of Birds for the past ten years. This, however, is far from the end of birds for George. He is presently working at expanding his own collection.

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