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  Contra Costa Avian Society

        PO Box 1873   Martinez, CA. 94553


     Propagation Through Education & Conservation. Since 1983

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Most of us struggle in deciding who gets to visit our aviaries,

how do we screen them, and how do we help them understand

what the limits of the visit are? John has provided some sound

tips or “rules” that may help in educating visitors as to the visiting

privilege we are allowing and the etiquette they should observe.

Visitor Etiquette In Aviaries by John Del Rio

In my 20 plus years of being keenly interested in exotic birds I have been very fortunate to be able to tour many different bird collections of all sizes and types and this continues to be a great joy for me. Most of these collections are not normally open to the public or are what you would describe as "tour friendly." Here are a few words of advice from my perspective if any of you are fortunate enough to see an aviculturist's private collection and are new to this sort of thing:

1. EXPECTATIONS—Make it known to the aviary owner (whether they be someone you know or a new friend) that you don’t expect to see all of the birds or get to go everywhere in their facility and you will be satisfied with whatever areas they choose to share with you. This takes the pressure off the owner to be able to comfortably tell you "no, we can’t go into that area, let’s go over here instead" or "I can't take you in there because I have got a bird on eggs," etc. If you don’t break that ice with the owner then you may end up getting your feelings hurt along the tour, or worse yet, the owner may hesitate to say no to you to spare your feelings and then you jeopardize the birds that shouldn’t be bothered at that time.

2. PHOTOS—Ask permission to take photos before you whip out the camera. Make it clear to the owner that you do not want to be intrusive and you certainly do not want to take a photo of something that they may not want exposed. Ask them to tell you ahead of time if they want something avoided and by all means respect their wishes. There may even be certain species that the owner will allow you to take photos of but because of security reasons will not want you sharing those photos with others. In those cases, you should keep the photos private.

3. BIOSECURITY—Expect to be asked to wash your shoes, step into a disinfectant bath or wear shoe covers. Don’t take offense to being asked. In fact, it would be wise if you suggest the idea.

4. NOISE—Keep your voice down. Always keep the noise level to a minimum. I have a very loud and deep voice and this is always a struggle for me—especially when I am so excited to see a particular bird species. Ask the owner to tell you when it may be especially important to whisper in a certain area of the tour to keep from scaring a sensitive bird.

5. CONFIDENTIALITY—If the facility doesn’t normally give tours and you were lucky enough to get one, keep that information close to your vest unless you know for a fact that the owner doesn’t mind you sharing your experience with others. You would never want to ruin your chance of being invited back and you would never want to put the aviary owner in a bad position.

6. TIME—Show respect for the owner’s time and don’t linger too long unless invited to do so. It is always better to leave a little too soon than to be asked to leave because you stayed too long.

7. GRACIOUS—Be extremely grateful and thankful to the owner for the tour. Knowing all the risks and apprehension that aviculturists have regarding giving tours we need to really show how much we appreciate the opportunity to see the collection. It really is a gift from them to you. A thank you card is a polite gesture.

8. REMEMBER—Once the privilege and hospitality has been extended to you to take a tour of a private aviary, it is your responsibility to remember the feelings of excitement you had to see those birds. Then, when one day someone politely asks to see your bird collection, you can return the kindness and give someone else a thrill.

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Visiting Rules by Marcy Covault

In addition to aviculturists (experienced or beginners), perhaps it would be a good idea to have a set of rules and why they are important to give to non bird-savvy visitors (who may be potential customers) before we allow them to visit our aviaries.

When we are dealing with the public, it is important to be polite and positive, while educating others about aviary etiquette. The majority of people will respond well to rules when they understand the reasoning behind them. Those who don’t are probably not people you want in your aviary anyway!

A few examples of my current policies are the following:

  • I do not give tours of my aviary to the general public. It is on an individual basis at my discretion, and through setting up an appointment. No “drop-ins!” This is my home, not a store, and therefore there are no "store hours." You are a guest, and I am allowing a visit to help in your education and/or because you have expressed interest in a particular species I raise or a bird I have for sale.
  • Do not visit pet stores or other aviaries BEFORE you come to mine, as I am concerned about inadvertent disease transmission. If you have birds, I ask that you wear clean clothes and not handle your birds before you come to visit. I will ask you to sanitize your hands before you touch any of my birds.
  • Hats or caps should be removed before entering my home. My birds are startled by them because they don’t see them regularly. Do not wear bright colored clothing, as some birds react negatively to that. Remember that you are hundreds of times larger than a bird, and a bright red (for example) stranger coming towards them can be alarming and trigger the prey-flight response.
  • Speak softly and move slowly around the birds. You are a giant stranger to them, and as prey animals, their natural instinct is to be wary, no matter how tame they are. Birds in a pet store typically are more used to strangers, but in a home, they likely are not.
  • Keep children under your control at all times. Children are still much larger than the birds, and quick movements and loud talk can cause a flight response in the birds. Even a child’s stuffed animal may startle a bird, so holding it up to them, even as a friendly gesture, is not a good idea.
  • Do not let children put fingers in cages. Although the birds are more likely to move away from them, an occasional individual may view the finger as an aggressive incursion into their territory and bite it. It would be a shame for a child to have a traumatic experience before they understood the wonder of birds.
  • It is likely that part of my aviary will be off-limits. For example, most of my breeding pairs are not “pets,” so they do not like strangers in their area. I am considerate of their welfare more than I am interested in satisfying curiosity. However, I will be glad to answer questions you may have.



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