In Laney's words: excerpt from her Keynote Address at American Federation of Aviculture, August 2016
“In 1994, Jack and I left Houston and moved our macaw project to a 20-acre farm overlooking the Guadalupe River Valley of South Texas. Observations in our 1994 multi-cage aviary had made apparent to us the privacy needs of paired Blue-throated Macaws. These thoughts coalesced into a new design for housing the second Founder Pair who arrived in 1997.
Our Prototype aviary is 10 feet high by 10 feet wide by 28 feet long structure. Its floor is five feet above ground. A protected indoor area contains the nest box, feeding station, and keeper work area.
Remember that first wild-caught pair I saw in Florida in 1992? Well, five years later my fantasy became reality. Hence their names, Fantasy and Prophecy. I met Bob Berry at that American Federation of Aviculture convention. It was his pair on breeding loan at ‘Luv Them Birds’ in Miami. After Bob moved back to Houston, he sold the pair to me.
Fantasy and Prophecy, our Founder Pair #2 nested for the first time with us in 1999. We were excited they would have the opportunity to raise their own chicks. Our joy soon turned to heartbreak. They became overly anxious when the chicks were hatching because of their previous experiences with having their eggs pulled for artificial incubation. They were trying to get the chicks out of the eggs too fast, resulting in dead, mutilated chicks.
I consulted various vets, breeders, etc. for help with this problem. No one offered positive feedback. I was unwilling, however, to admit defeat with this wild-caught pair because of their long-term importance to captive breeding. We devised a plan for the year 2000. My task would be to ‘buy some time’ for the hatchlings. Three dummy eggs were placed in a brooder and kept warm. The plan was that as an egg was first pipping externally, it would be switched to the warm brooder and replaced in the nest with a warm dummy egg.
Eggs hatched, and chicks rested in the brooder. They were fed Pedialyte until they had a strong feeding response. Then placed back into the nest and dummy eggs removed. One at a time as in the natural process. Because of our nest box lockout, I was able to do all of the switching without the adult birds being aware of it. The parents took good care of hatchling after I returned it to their nest.
The plan worked, and this pair raised a number of chicks over the years.
Aretha Franklin Blues was the first chick raised by Fantasy and Prophecy after the rehab routine. She remained with her parents for almost a year.
In 2001, they raised Layla and Buster Blues. In 2002, they raised Bonnie Raitt and Koko Taylor. They produced chicks for a couple more years after that.”