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My First Bird Convention
It is not that I am new to birds kept in captivity. As a matter of fact, I own 10 exotic birds and founded, with the assistance of a dear friend, the Big Apple Bird Association, a bird club that existed for 11 years. My friend claims that I taught her a lot about keeping pet birds, yet she recently taught me a few things herself. Over the last 5 years she has gone to one specific yearly "bird" convention, and this year, for the first time, I accompanied her. Actually I drove, and she navigated, and we set off to the "19th Annual Convention of the Bird Clubs of Virginia." The Bird Clubs of Virginia is a no-fee federation of independent Virginia clubs working together as a 501(c)3 non-profit organization. After many hours in the car, we arrived to be greeted by a "flock" of my friend's "bird friends." At first I felt like an outsider looking in. However, after some quick introductions, I felt right at home. I immediately realized that "bird lovers" or, to phrase it differently, "human servants belonging to birds" act pretty much the same anywhere in the country. The common thread is the birds.
I was immediately impressed with my new-found flock. The Directors of the Bird Clubs of Virginia this year, had arranged for seven nationally-known speakers to present a full range of avicultural knowledge, information on events impacting the avicultural world, and various points of view. To raise money for the organization's future functions, giant raffles with exciting large prizes were offered, like digital cameras and DVD players. There was also a large area (several long tables) in the Product Mart area where smaller items donated by the vendors and individual participants were raffled several times a day. The Convention had a very large and professionally run Bird Mart where there were several dozen vendors selling bird toys, toy parts, cages, food, cage accessories (ladders, perches, cups, swings, etc.), books, magazines, memberships, and bird-adorned artifacts for humans: clothes, quilts, mugs, dishes, jewelry, paintings--you name it, it was in someone's booth. There was no limit to how much money you could spend, and how much room you would need to carry your "goodies" home. Public seminars and workshops were given by local club members on training, specific species, general bird knowledge and health. One of these events provided me with a wonderful seminar experience. Rick and Sue Hutson set up infrared cameras in the nest box of an Eclectus pair. The resulting "home movie" of the laying of the egg, the hatching of the egg, and the shared activities of the Eclectus parents in feeding and nurturing the baby were educational, funny and emotionally touching. I have not seen any professional videos of this type available.
There were a number of speakers and subjects to choose from at the convention that addressed such subjects as parrots in captivity, cockatoo behavior and rehabilitation, avian medicine research and solutions, homeopathic treatments and macaws. The speakers were followed by a question and answer period with the audience.
All the speakers that we heard were very good and informative, but there were several that stood out. They included Robert Dahlhausen, who presented cutting-edge information on avian medical research; Lisa Paul, who provided very valuable information on keeping your bird healthy and understanding what your veterinarian is telling you, and Dr. Benny Galloway, president of the American Federation of Aviculture. Dr. Galloway's presentation on Macaws was one of the funniest walks through avicultural history that I have heard, in addition to being very informative. Dr. Galloway also presented DVM Jerry DePoyster, Veterinary Medical Staff Officer with Animal Care, part of the U.S. Department of Agriculture. Dr. DePoyster is currently participating in creating the regulations that will be applied to birds, since they have come under the Animal Welfare Act by direction of the Helms Amendment. This change has the potential to have a profound impact on aviculture and bird owners in this country depending on how the Helms amendment is interpreted in the regulations used to enforce the Amendment. It was important to hear what Dr. DePoyster had to say first hand about the intentions of the people writing the regulations. My weekend at the convention "flew" by quickly. New friends were made, phone numbers and addresses were exchanged, and talk of the next year's meeting began. Now I truly understand why my dear friend returns to this convention year after year: education and wonderful new friends who will be there to support and help each other through the joys and sorrows of bird companionship. I too hope to return next year to the "20th Annual BCV Convention and Avian Products Mart" that will be held March 26-28 in Hampton, Virginia, at the Holiday Inn Select and Conference Center, 1815 West Mercury Boulevard at I-64, Exit 263B. (For further information contact the BCV at www.BirdClubsVa.org.)
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