Bird Endowment

Jack Rickman

Abstract


The egg that became Bird Endowment Inc. was most likely laid in the early morning hours of a warm Spring night in 1990, an otherwise unremarkable occasion with the exception that it also was the 20th reunion of Laney Rickman's high school graduation class. That was a party of celebration; long and hot tales of most sorts and cold wines of cheaper varieties and lesser origins than the Champagne appellation they mocked.

 Arriving home after the late party, Laney rushed upstairs to check on her very first pet bird, a weanling Half-moon Conure a friend had given her just days earlier. Both of her house dogs greeted her at the door to the room where the conure had been left in a large pet cage on a table. Ominously, the larger dog la 110- pound Weimaraner-Shepherd cross Qllad a mouthful of feathers. He had once before torn up every feather pillow in the house. These, however, were not the feathers of pillows. Quite unlike pillow feathers, these were green. No, these surely were the feathers of conure.

In the ensuing hysteria, Luna [l]he Half-moon Conure !was found underneath a low chair, alive and perfectly whole excepting a tail. Little Luna apparently had squeezed between the cage bars without any help from the dogs, not understanding the old adage that fileedom may be just another word for everything to lose.tx more secure protection was bought the next day. Until then, house dogs were yard dogs.

You can see that if the big Weimer-cross tnarned Pavo, which is IDrkeyun Central American Spanish, but that's a bird of a different feather [had been successful that night, Laney's love for psittacines might have perished in its first, early blush. And, along with it, the eventual hatching of Bird Endowment.

As it would be, however, Luna thrived, became skilled at flying and even learned to call Bava, Pavorrat least Laney swears those were the words cwhen he wanted to ride around on the dog's back after they became tolerant housemates. With his newly realized flying skills, Luna was able to overcome what at one time had been a life-threatening situation.

Her growing interest in psittacines inspired Laney to volunteer as a keeper in the bird department at The Houston Zoo the following year after she had acquired a mature male Scarlet Macaw. It was here she met the first Blue-throated Macaws of her life and learned that in the wild they weren't being quite as resilient as Luna at co-opting lethal threats to their survival.

With each passing year, Laney became more involved with parrots and more concerned with the plight of Blue-throated Macaws. She shared her concerns with other people. In 1998, more than 50 interested people joined Laney as Founders in start-up funding of Bird Endowment Inc. as a 501 (c) (3) organization. The non-profit's stated mission is the well being of all birds.

 The primary concentration, however, is breaking the extinction vortex in which the Blue-throated macaw struggles.

An ex situ conservation breeding program that empowers parent rearing by Blue-throated founder pairs became the primary component of the overall effort which is called Saving the Blues. The objective of the domestic breeding program is to perpetuate from generation to generation the intact species culture that was brought here with the wild-caught founder birds. The goal is to have a back-up captive population with a language and culture as near as possible to their wild cousins in Bolivia. Bird Endowment's abiding principle is that this goal can be achieved only through parent fledging of offspring. This captive parent-rearing effort is centered in the breeding facility known as The Blues Conservatory. It is located in the beautiful Guadalupe River Valley in Texas.

In 2002, Bird Endowment published data from the International Studbook for the Blue-throated Macaws for North American aviculturists. That CD was the first popularly available copy in the United States of the European and international information, which had very few North American listings. Studbook keeper Matthias Reinschmidt, bird curator at Laro Parque Fundacion in the Canary Islands, cooperated with BE to provide and explain data.

 


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