It?s for the birds ? parrot lovers flock to Grafton
By JULIA ILES
NEVILLE Connor reckons bird lovers are born that way.
He is renowned as an expert in the breeding and keeping of black cockatoos.
"Bird appreciation is something you are born with," he said.
"But if you asked me 30 years ago, I would never have thought I would be a professional bird farmer."
In fact Neville and his wife Noddy, who for 25 years have run Casuarina Parrot Gardens at Ramornie, know so much about black cockatoos they wrote a book about the species.
And as good timing would have it, they decided to launch the book, A Guide to Black Cockatoos ? as pet and aviary birds, earlier this month at the bi-annual Aves International parrot convention in Grafton.
Parrot enthusiasts from every continent on earth attended the convention.
Only 10 locals attended the conference, with the bulk of the 242 delegates hailing from Europe, the United States, South Africa, the Middle East and Asia. Scandinavia boasted more delegates than any other region, with more than 20 people from Denmark and Sweden attending.
The conference included an eclectic line-up of aviculture experts, including American speaker Natasha Schischakin.
The convention, organised by the Northern Rivers Avicultural Society, is specifically designed to address issues relating to parrot species in captivity.
Grafton has hosted the conference since 1993.
Neville's highlight of the conference was the talk given by Rachel Antigua, an aviculturalist who runs a 1000-bird sanctuary in the Israeli desert.
During the conference an emphasis was placed on the importance of professional relationships between breeders.
"If our birds were hit by a disease such as what happened in North Carolina, where birds have been hit by the Nile Virus, we would be reliant on Singapore or Thailand to provide us with new birds," Neville said.
Noddy said she always knew she would work with animals, but she admits it takes a lot of effort.
"There are huge sacrifices, especially when you have to get up to feed the babies every four hours with a syringe, more often if they are under six grams," she said.
The couple's book provides extensive information on housing, nestlogs, taxonomy, feeding, incubation and hand rearing.