In Laney's words: excerpt from her Keynote Address at American Federation of Aviculture, August 2016
“I wanted to learn more, and a friend suggested that I volunteer at the Houston Zoo bird department. Late 1991, I made arrangements with the Bird Curator and started taking care of the Macaws every Sunday. Lo and behold, I saw my first Caninde Macaws (as they were called at the time). Both were young and had been raised by wild-caught pairs at different facilities.
I attended my first bird conference in August 1992. The American Federation of Aviculture (AFA) convention was in Miami, and afterward there was a tour of the private breeding facility, Luv Them Birds. My tour guide was Rick Jordan who worked there at the time. I saw my first pair of wild-caught Caninde Macaws. Turns out they were the parents of the F1 male at the Houston Zoo. After I got home from AFA, we heard about a pair for sale in Houston.
Back then, there were almost no wild-caught BTMs offered for sale. When birds did become available, the price was not inconsiderable. But I knew I had to buy this pair. So, Ira was named after the IRA I raided and Eureka for the exhilaration of my achievement. We acquired them September 1992. Legally imported in 1982 at an undetermined age, they had been together for 10 years, but never attempted to nest at their previous homes in Florida and Texas.
I had no breeding experience at all. I can imagine that others might see this as a huge and costly leap of faith – or the ego of a fool. But it was one of those things that defies explanation. I simply knew that it was my destiny to work with BTMs. When I first said this, my husband told me what William Jennings Bryan had to say about destiny back in 1899:
“Destiny is not a matter of chance; it is a matter of choice.
It is not a thing to be waited for, it is a thing to be achieved.”
My gut told me they previously failed to reproduce because they were not happy with the way they were set up. We moved them into a suspended cage located inside an enclosure that provided an outdoor environment while affording total privacy. We experimented and the efforts paid off. Ira and Eureka hatched and raised 2 offspring in 1993.
Ira and Eureka were excellent parents and produced a number of offspring over the years. They are Euphoria, Ecstasy, Miracle, Legacy, Dream, Glide, Marvel, Fenix, Precious, Bliss, Prodigy, Xena, Dicha and Foster. We lost Ira in 1998 due to old-age related health issues.
My parent-rearing crusade had been rooted in the early give-and-take discussions among zoo staff about the merits and needs for parent-rearing psittacines in captivity. Primarily, parent-rearing is necessary to assure future domestic breeding birds that can perpetuate their unique species-specific cultural identity.”