Opinions

Carol Anne Buckley, Stash Buckley

Abstract


Sayeth the wizard, "let us tell you of the days of high adventure, " as he recounted tales of Conan.

We first began keeping finches about 10 years ago. Before that were the days of wholesaling reptiles. Back then, breeding reptiles was practically unheard of. Since stock was so easily accessible and prices were so low, why bother? When we first started doing birds, the same was true for finches, except for the Australians. Breeding the African and Asian Estrildids was practically unheard of since, once again, prices were so low and replacement stock readily available. Besides that, it was far too difficult.

Regardless what the so-called experts say, the Australian finches we have today in this country are in no way due to the expertise and diligence of American breeders. If one checks the list of current importers of birds, there generally seems to be an overemphasis on Australian blood. If it were not for the European breeders, we would not have these birds today.

Go one step further. If it were not for the constant influx of these birds for replacement stock, we still could not keep them going. In fact, America has been called the great consumer of birds, importing more than any other nation. Where do they all go?

We have heard it stated that the Europeans do it better because they have been doing it longer. Wrong! The Europeans do it better because they do it better. In America, birdkeeping is a hobby. In Europe, it is a passion. Americans usually don't like the word "passion." It seems to imply some sort of fanaticism. Here in America, if it is not full of "fun and facts" or implies work rather than playtime, then it is something which somehow must be avoided.

Remember, in Germany after World War II, German aviculturists still had flocks of Red-headed Parrot Finches (Erythrura psittacea) in their aviaries. To this day, Germany is probably still the world leader in breeding wildcaught birds.

Gunter Enderle, the owner of Nekton in Germany, and a man we found very personable, inviting us to see his facilities, has one of the world's most impressive collections of Estrildid finches. He breeds the rarest of the rare from wild caught stock and passes the offspring on to his fellow breeders in Germany. We could certainly use an aviculturist of his caliber in this country.

For years now the threat of the closing of importation has loomed over our heads. There still has been no serious attempt to get domestically-bred strains established. Now we are receiving more and more phone calls and letters asking us where to get the birds of which we write in our articles. Sadly, more often than not, these birds are no longer available. We have had ample opportunity to breed them in the past, but too many aviculturists have gone for the quick fix of fleeting glory at the shows as opposed to the daily grind of stay-at-home diligence.

In the U.S., any breeding is incidental-here "the show is the thing." Even more disturbing is the more these people claim to he different, the more they seem to follow the same consistent pattern. They claim now to be "serious" about these birds. They want to breed them and need information on where to get their stock. When we tell them the prices importers ask, they are stunned. A prominent importer once told us, "Americans simply won't pay more than $100 for a pair of finches." This obviously reflects on an insecure attitude towards the breeding and general husbandry of their charges.

In fact, the trend seems to he, if an aviculturist is fortunate enough to breed a difficult finch, the offspring are quickly sold for financial gain, the breeding hen dies and the aviculturists are left with nothing. Is this finch aviculture?

We have taken a look at what is currently happening in the world of reptiles and were pleasantly shocked. We can recall no magazine on the subject 10 years ago. Now there is a wealth of publications dealing with reptiles and amphibians (the "herps")-some national, some international, and some published by local societies. Most are good and some are...


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