AVIARY NESTING SHRUBS.
Acacia howittii ‘Honey Bun’ (dwarf wattle) Ht 1.5m
Baeckea virgata ‘Miniature’ (or Dwarf) Ht 2.5m
Callistemon (dwarf bottlebrushes): ‘All Aglow’ Ht 2.5m
‘Better John‘ Ht 1.5m
‘Green John’ Ht 1.5m
‘Captain Cook’ Ht 2.5m
‘Matthew Flinders’ Ht 1m+
‘Saint Mary Mackillop’ Ht 2.5m
‘Scarlet Flame’ Ht 2m
Casuarina glauca ‘Greenwave’ (dwf sheoak) Ht 2m
Melaleuca linariifolia ‘Claret Tops’ (dwf paperbark) Ht 1.5m+
Rhagodia spinescens (creeping salt bush) Ht 0.5m
Westringia fruticosa ‘Naringa’ Ht 2m+
Climbers…many, try the Wonga vine (pandorea pandorana)
Abelia grandiflora ‘Compacta’ Ht 1-2m
Escallonia ‘Dwarf Pink’ Ht 1-2m
Euonymus ‘Easy Hedge’ Ht 1.5m
Food plants Chickweed, Guinea Grass, Panic Veldt grass (in the shade), Barnyard grass, Summer grass. Summer Grass is a member of the digitaria genus which has been shown to be a key genus for bird and human health (Google Fonio – Digitaria exilis).
HOW CAN BIRD CLUBS ADAPT TO THE 21ST CENTURY?…… Or will they slowly fade away?
© By Don Burke
I have been a bird lover and keeper since I was 6 years old in 1953. My greatest childhood memories all centre around birds. Some of my best friends throughout my life have been birds. I have learnt to speak several bird languages (body language that is) and I love nursing the sick ones back to health.
But times are tough for bird clubs and bird people at the moment. WHY?
Well, for most of the last century, suburban backyards were wastelands dominated by outhouses, laundries and clothes lines. The rest was some messy grass and maybe an ugly vegie garden and a mongrel dog. Please note that here I am only dealing with normal suburban backyards, not acreages.
The kids squatted in areas up the back; no-one noticed or even cared much. So, kids had land rights. They built cubby houses, played in dirt or sand heaps, or kept birds in ratty asbestos-riddled fibro humpies. We called them aviaries; they were pig ugly, but no-one cared at all.
Many kids had birds since there was nothing else to do.
Today kids have millions of incredible fun things to do, living as they do, in a cyber-bubble, and serviced by helicopter parents. The backyard is now a fully-landscaped entertaining and recreational paradise filled with manicured lawns, swimming pools, an outdoor high class dining area (they’re hardly just barbies any more), an upmarket vegetable garden, outdoor lighting and speakers, and expensive kids’ plastic play equipment. The whole shebang is the status symbol that the family presents to the world. No longer are we all judged by our front lawn & garden: it is the backyards that we are judged by.
…No backyard land rights any more for the kids, and no more ugly buildings for people of any age. That is, NO MORE UGLY AVIARIES.
So, what do we do?
We must do ALL of the following:
- Invent ways of attracting the kids
- Reinvent our clubs
- Develop beautiful aviary designs
- Work with designers to include aviaries into house designs
- Reach out to the public about what we do
Kids will probably not come to club meetings at night – and I don’t blame them. Meetings are long and boring and old people argue with each other. Current kids are fundamentally different to us old fogeys. No young generation has ever been this different. Today’s kids are vastly more peer-group focussed than ever before…A cyber bubble, remember?
- All bird clubs must elect a Junior President who is in charge of all things that the kids need and want. The older members must totally support the Junior President in all things.
- The kids must be supported in setting up their own social media platforms (eg Instagram). Maybe they may wish to have cyber bird shows: computer bird competitions via photos…or whatever. But it must be their own idea. And maybe older people should be excluded from these activities: kids like their own space.
- All kids must have an experienced person available as a mentor if they wish it.
- The Junior President must be supported in any and all new ideas that the kids put forward. No more bullying by old people.
Reinventing the Clubs
Maybe we should consider whether club meetings should continue to be held. Maybe only the annual general meeting should be retained.
- Perhaps we might consider substituting weekend aviary visits for meetings.
- If the state or central clubs won’t do it, maybe we should have a media person who is charged with the responsibility of getting our New Message out to the public. Which in turn means that we have to develop our New Message.
- We also need to liaise with councils about aviary rules and regulations. Here we need to be very proactive.
- Our existing show committees might need to consider what the aim or function of each and every show is. In Sydney, the finch clubs did a feature display at the Sydney Royal Easter Show…I refused to support them. I see no point in showing people how we used to keep birds in the 1950s!
- If we get a chance to show the world what we are about, we need to show them tomorrow – the fantastic NEW world of beautifully designed innovative finch aviaries etc etc.
- Thus, we need to develop strategies and general planning BEFORE we show off our wares. Going to a major event like Sydney’s Royal Easter Show with an old, tired exhibit is like turning up for a job interview unwashed, in dirty old clothes and thongs.
Beautiful Aviary Designs
Finch Aviaries CAN be absolutely beautiful. Yet so many look like Pentridge jail, some even like Auschwitz.
- Many use ugly building materials instead of classy, modern materials that match or blend in with the house.
- To cut to the chase here, the assemble-yourself aviary kits sold at bird shops and through magazines are remarkably ugly and go a long way towards putting most people off keeping birds forever. “No Joshua, you can’t have one of those ugly bird cages!”
- Finches don’t damage plants much, so planted, landscaped aviaries are easy to develop.
- For an old Italianate house, the aviary might include white concrete columns, cement rendered walls, or even red texture brick walls.
- Obviously, you should match the colours and roof of the aviary to those of the house.
- If your garden has a certain style, match the aviary to that style. We did a tropical Thai garden once on Burkes backyard where we made the aviary into a Thai Temple (for African love birds).
- There is also a need for better designed aviaries that take up very little space in small backyards. Aviaries that are 2m high, 2m wide yet only 1m deep.
Working with Designers
This is the key to everything. Creative landscape designers can easily reinvent aviary design.
- The idea is to try to develop superb aviary designs for modern display homes in new estates. All of a sudden, prospective new home buyers would be exposed to the exciting world of keeping birds. Here I am talking of, say, an easy-care light grey aviary full of say, 5 pairs of beautiful marked white zebra finches.
- Or maybe, the aviary could be part of the house. It could be against a window of the house planted with lush, colourful tropical plants and with 3 pairs of red-faced parrot finches inside.
- Or you could go the whole hog with an all-glass conservatory/aviary adjoining the house, full of bleeding heart pigeons or java sparrows.
- Imagine a square central courtyard aviary inside the house full of white doves.
- If you can find just one garden designer who is keen to try this out, that designer could very well get a lot of business out of these innovative designs
- The great news here is that as with saltwater fish aquariums, koi carp ponds and swimming pools, some of your members could earn a bit of extra money regularly servicing the aviaries. This service should be advertised on the display aviaries.
Reaching Out to the Public
This is so important. Various animal groups have convinced the public that only they really care about the poor suffering animals…and that we, the people who keep birds in cages and aviaries, are utterly cruel bastards.
- The public have no idea of what we do. They just “know” that our birds are miserable.
- We need to reach out to the public and tell them the truth. We need to show them the caring, dedicated bird breeders who spend vast hours getting fly maggots, termites, seeding grasses, nesting material, charcoal, grit, and mixing up complex egg and grain mixes etc.
- We need to show how gentle and utterly devoted these kind people are to their birds.
- We need to show how happy and healthy the birds are and how much they like their owners and their safe lives.
- We need to show how these birds give so much happiness and purpose to the lives of both old and young people.
- We need to align ourselves with at least ONE modern, adventurous Bird Shop in each city to show the public amazing birds in amazing aviaries: just as is currently done with the incredible aquariums full of Discus fish or Saltwater Fishes at the Elite pet shops. If we can’t equal these displays we are in real trouble. As above, servicing these aviaries by our members is essential.
There Is a Great Story Here – Isn’t It About Time That We Told Someone About It?