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|BRANCHING OUT IN AVICULTURE!
Highlights of the AMERICAN FEDERATION OF AVICULTURE'S National Convention
Copyright © 2009 Linda S. Rubin
AFA Specialty Vice President & Pubic Relations
|Houston, Texas - energy capital of the world and largest city in the Lone Star State - home of the Houston
Astrodome, Johnson’s Space Center, and blues capital where some of the greatest recordings in the history of
American music were cut - could not have been a more perfect venue, if you were lucky enough to attend the AFA’s
35th national convention in August. Furthering its educational commitment to its members and the public, the AFA
has run annual conventions each year packed with a cornucopia of avicultural activities ever since the Federation’s
founding in 1974.
According to AFA President Jim Hawley, the convention theme - branching out - aptly signifies “aviculturists
branching out in an effort to expand aviculture. We are encouraging young people. We are working with novice
aviculturists. We are defending the privilege to participate in every aspect of aviculture. We are branching out!”
And branching out we did - across the multi-faceted tapestry of aviculture - thanks to the hospitality of the Lone Star
In addition to the traditional superb lineup of national and international speakers on a plethora of topics, there was a
genuine appreciation for the wide diversity offered, insightful viewpoints shared, and well, just plain fun! Whether you
signed up for one full day of seminars or the entire action-packed three days of talks, there was no shortage of
activities, events, and festivities from which to choose.
What made the convention so novel - and so very unique from any other - were the variety of special meetings and
events throughout the week. Pre-convention activities included the AFA House of Delegates Meeting for the voting
delegates representing the AFA affiliated local clubs and specialty organizations. Those in attendance at the meeting
included AFA delegates, state coordinators, committee chairs and officers prior to the start of the main program.
This year’s concise, well-planned lineup started out with an update on the budget by CFO Brent Andrus, followed by
presentations on AFA conservation grants and avian research from Dr. Janice Boyd; an update on avicultural
legislation and the Endangered Species Act by AFA Legislative Vice President Genny Wall; the eagerly awaited
Fundamentals of Aviculture II course, becoming available in early 2010, presented on behalf of Education Chair Dr.
Benny Gallaway by President Jim Hawley; and the by-law amendments for the official vote by the AFA House of
Delegates presented by Second Vice President Mary Ellen LePage. Immediately following the meeting we loaded up
the buses for a special trip to the Houston Zoo with a behind-the-scenes tour for those who purchased tickets in
That evening’s agenda included a President’s Gala to meet and greet the convention speakers and commercial
vendors in the Exhibit Hall, which included an inviting spread of refreshments and an opportunity to network, while
renewing old friendships as attendees strolled among the many enticing bird products, art, jewelry, books, feed, and
other fascinating items on display. To AFA President Jim Hawley’s surprise, a mouth-watering chocolate birthday
cake appeared, accompanied by a rousing chorus of Happy Birthday to celebrate his special day.
The Exhibit Hall remained open throughout the convention talks from Thursday through Saturday with many
opportunities for attendees to visit. Inside the exhibit hall - and next to the AFA Store filled with AFA memorabilia
including convention tee shirts, mugs, logo pins and an array of other avicultural “must have” items - the AFA Daily
Raffle Tables, Specialty and State Baskets, and top Super-8 Drawing Prizes were set up. The convention art of this
year’s theme bird, the Blue-headed Parrot, painted by international artist Wayne E. Smyth were on prominent display.
Both the artists proofs of a pair of Blue-headed Parrots, and five Blue-headed Parrots in flight, were generously
donated by Wayne E. Smyth for the closing banquet auction.
The talks and presentations covered a wide variety of subjects. Whether you were interested in avian medicine, avian
reproduction, social interaction of aviary and pet birds, or working with challenging species, there was an abundance
of information for everyone at all levels of interest. With 30 convention speakers presenting over 35 topics to choose
from, how could you lose!
Beginning with James C. Hawley, Jr.’s “President’s Welcome,” highlights from the first full day of speakers included
keynote address by internationally renown Dr. Ian Tizard, on “Disease, Death and Extinction: The Significance of
Infectious Diseases in the Life of Wild and Captive Birds,” the director of Loro Parque Fundacion in Tenerife, Spain,
Dr. David Waugh, on “Nest Boxes in the Wild: Conservation of the Cuban Parakeet,” and avian veterinarian, Dr. Darrel
Styles, on “Physics of Feather Color Generation in Parrots and Basic Avian Genetics of Psittacine Color Mutations.”
Other topics included Dr. Jean Dubach on “Who’s MY Daddy? How Genetic Analysis Can Answer Basic Questions.”
Roger G. Sweeney on “Considering Avian Social Systems in Aviculture,” Tony Pittman on “The Slender-billed Conure
in the Wild and in the Aviary,” and Cheryl Burns on “Bird Folk Basics: Websites.”
An immensely poplar, well-attended talk was presented by the U.S. Management Authority for CITES (Roddy) R.
Gabel, who offered an update on Federal wildlife regulations pertaining to the import, export and interstate
commerce of birds, and the upcoming meeting of CITES Parties occurring next year. The unending questions
brought about a continued session scheduled later the same afternoon.
Second day convention highlights included such notables as Australian aviculturist Matt Baird on rose-breasted
cockatoos titled, “The Galah in Australian Aviculture,” (including an array of color mutations at the end), who also
spoke previously on “Yellow-tailed Black Cockatoos”; Donald Brightsmith on “Psittacine Nutrition Research:
Tambopata to Texas and Beyond”; Bonnie Zimmerman with Dr. Stewart Merz on “Project Abbotti: Conserving the
World’s Rarest Cockatoo”; and Roger G. Sweeney on “Behavioral Solutions in Avicultural Management.” Additional
talks included the president of the Pionus Breeders Association Mark Sargent on “The Blue-headed Pionus Parrot:
An Avicultural Perspective,” Bill Van Pattern on ‘Walkabout with Mike Fidler: The Gouldian Finch,” Dick Schroeder
continued page 2.
|Permission to reprint granted to AFA Affiliated Organizations
Reprinted from the AFA Watchbird publication of the
American Federation of Aviculture, Inc. www.afabirds.org