Once he gets his aviary built, bird lover Dr Sam Lin of East Tamworth Dental Care in NSW is planning to expand his collection of cockatiels and conures.
“At present, mornings are pretty noisy at my house. I keep my three cockatiels and two conures in a dedicated room inside my home. They’re not large birds but they’re loud. At 6.30 every morning, it’s a cacophony of noise. It’s like an alarm clock for me as I get up at that time anyway. I’ve stood outside to test whether it’s annoying the neighbours but, thankfully, it’s all okay.
“Cockatiels are beautiful birds with a crest that rises when they’re angry, interested or happy. Conures are medium-sized parrots with wonderful personalities. I breed both species and had about 10 birds at the peak. Breeding birds is tricky because you have to use an incubator that’s both temperature and humidity controlled. The babies need to be fed three times a day which involves running home at lunchtime to feed the birds. Hand-rearing birds gives a much higher survival rate and makes them used to human interaction. Birds are a great first pet for children, teaching them responsibility, gentleness and animal handling skills.
“The care and maintenance of birds needs to be taken seriously but is fairly easy. Droppings need to be removed every couple of days and a balanced diet is essential. I’m about to start constructing an aviary in my backyard that will house about 20 birds.
“I train my birds so they can ride on my shoulder, have a fly around outside and return when I call them. I just whistle and they fly straight back. There’s always the fear that you’re going to lose them to the wind or a cat or if they get a fright, but it happens rarely. A lot of bird owners clip the wings of their birds so they can’t fly. I don’t agree with that; a good fly around is part of keeping them healthy.
“I’m not a member of any bird lover groups—I haven’t got it quite that bad yet. I’m a member of a few Facebook groups but those forums are all about swapping information. They can be very helpful.
“Birds are animals that reciprocate affection and if you put in the time and dedication, they’ll return it tenfold. Conures don’t mimic sounds but they can make all kinds of squeaks and squawks. Cockatiels can’t speak but they can mimic melodies of certain songs. And that’s why my house sounds like a madhouse at 6.30 every morning.”