THE PHILADELPHIA AVICULTURAL SOCIETY’S 4TH ANNUAL BIRD OWNER’S DAY BIRD EXPO
This educational and entertaining event was held on June 21, 1992 at Gratz College, just outside of Philadelphia. Lectures were delivered by Richard M. Schubot, of the AVICULURAL RESEARCH AND BREEDING CENTER, JAMES J. MURPHY, amazon expert, John Vanderhoof, developer of the dry lory diet, LORIES DELIGHT, Carol Anne Calvin, finch enthusiast, and Liz WIlson, bird behavior specialist. A veterinarian was available for surgical gender determination. Many vendors and manufacturers were on site providing a bird supply supermarket. Hobbyists also had birds for sale at the expo.
Richard M. Schubot was the first to speak. He showed slides of his extensive Cockatoo, Macaw, Eclectus, and African Grey breeding complex located in FLorida. The lecture centered around the tendency in various species of Cockatoo for the cocks to mutilate or murder the hens. Charts were shown illustrating the probabilty of this tragedy for the majority of Cockatoo species. The methods to stop the horror included large cages and a severely wing clipped cock paired with a full flighted hen. Nest boxes were constructed with two holes to make sure that the hen could not be cornered by an irate mate. The most innovative scheme involved having a veterinarian affix an acrylic ball to the point of the cock’s beak. This operation limits the scope of the mayhem. The plastic ball falls off by itself after a period of time that varies from species to species.
Mister Schubot also showed slides and discussed Beak and Feather disease. He does not hold much hope for an immediate vaccine. He mentioned that even if a serum is sold, it will be in short supply for a long time. His facility now quarantines all new acquisitions for three years and pulls all eggs, in order to prevent the spreads of PBFD.
Identification of the subspecies of eclectus parrots was also discussed.
Schubot also mentioned a common sense method for checking to see if two birds in adjoining flights are pairing up – look at the droppings on the floor! If the droppings are as close together as possible, then you can be certain that the birds are trying to perch next to each other.
Later that day Richard Schubot made another slide presentation. He now showed various aspects parrot husbandry, as practiced by AVICULTURAL RESEARCH AND BREEDING CENTER. The birds are housed in suspended, “Noegel-California”, welded-wire cages. Water is supplied by a central system using LIXIT valves. The nest boxes are made of plywood and are hung outside of the cage. Richard Schubot finds the chewing of wood conducive to initiating nesting activity. The larger nests are now being lined with welded wire to prevent complete destruction. He is not completely comfortable with this innovation. He worries that a bird may get a nail caught and in this way lose a toe, or even a foot. Mister Schubot states that for most parrots, a dilapidated nest may be removed for repair or replaced. He warns that this is never done in the case of the Leadbeaters Cockatoo. With this specie, the nest must be repaired as best as possible while on the cage. It must never be removed for the Leadbeaters considers its nest a “personal possession.”
Diet was also covered. The birds get a wide variety of fresh and cooked foods in a mash. Seeds, including sunflower, are also provided. Peanuts are no longer offered, due to the possibility of toxic fungus. All the birds get small amounts of animal protein.
The morning’s next speaker was John Vanderhoof, California lory lover. Slide after slide showed his vast breeding collection of these beautiful birds. The dietary requriements of the various species was also discussed. He states that most do well on his dry diet, supplemented with fresh fruit. This did differ for a few, particularly the smaller birds. These do require nectar
. One slide showed a charming scene of his daughter playing with a whole flock of hand-raised lories.
Mister Vanderhoof related his experiences with the Tahiti Blue Lory. He has, as of yet, not been succesful with this specie. The males are hen killers.
He also told of how escaped lories do not flee his premises, but `hang around’ like cats. Dishes of food are placed out for these birds that are flying at liberty. To retrieve them, it is only necessary to place food inside a flight. The lories will fly right in of their own volition. Mister Vanderhoof remarked on how the patterns under the lorie’s wings can only be appreciated while watching the birds soar overhead.
Carol Anne Calvin showed video tapes of her beautifully planted finch flights. Ms. Calvin stressed how important it is to promote captive breeding. If this is not done, most finch species will disappear from our collections. She also stressed how important it is to keep one variety to a flight. Often she keeps one pair to a flight. For social species a number of pairs will be kept in separate flights that are close together. The birds can see and hear each other, but are unable to interfere with one another.
James J. Murphy, Washington state amazon expert, showed us slides of his extensively planted outdoor operation. His birds are first housed in single species flocks. There they are allowed to pair up naturally. Once the birds have bonded, they are then placed in their own flight. Again, the `Noegel-California’ welded-wire, suspended cages were used. Most flights seemed to be about 8′ or 10′ long by 3′ or 4′ square. Water was supplied by rabbit style gravity waterers.
Trees, bushes, and vines surround each and every flight. The foliage is selected to serve a number of different purposes. It provides shade and privacy for the pairs. The plants are also all edible, at one stage or another, to provide nutrition and diversion for the birds. James J. Murphy considers the psychological needs of the birds to be of supreme importance. He also has dogs and chickens running around his farm. These neighbours also help to entertain the parrots. He stressed that there is no `magic-bullet’ in aviculture, rather success is an incremental process of combination. Nutrition, proper housing, privacy, natural pairing, and entertainment must all be considered when caring for parrots. He allows that the one quantum-leap advance for bird breeding was surgical gender determination.
These parrots receive a wide range of foods. The basic diet is a cooked mix of rice and beans.
For the six weeks of Washington’s inclement weather, the birds are again returned to flocks. They are kept during this time in large flights inside of a one story building. This is again in keeping with nature for, out of the breeding season, most parrots do join in large flocks.