What is an Aviculturist?
I will give my personal thoughts and definitions of each type of bird owner, keeping in mind, of course, that these are nothing more than opinions based on my own feelings during my relatively short bird-keeping tenure.
1. Pet Owner: Someone who keeps a bird/birds in their home, in a non-breeding situation. They may be a novice, and feed whatever is in the pet or grocery store, or they may do a lot of research on their species kept, providing foods and environments as authentic to habitat as their knowledge, access to materials and pocketbooks allow....but do not experience the full life cycle of their species. This is not a negative, in any way.
2. Bird breeder: Someone who keeps birds in pairs, allowing them to reproduce, for pleasure, for profit, for a variety of reasons, but all of which include the potential and hope for progeny as a result. This is not 'bad', either. Most of these people enjoy the birds that they keep and follow good husbandry practices...but their source of information is often only casual observation, and generally does not include research, study or belonging to clubs or organizations.
3. Aviculturist: From the article by Dr. Brian Speer on the MAP website: For definition purposes, aviculture should be viewed as productivity-oriented avian stewardship. In simpler terms, it is bird-keeping for some form of productivity goal attainment. Productivity, in this light, should be viewed in a much more broad sense than reproductive success.
In other words, while progeny are generally very much hoped for, the study, the flock interaction, the desire to propagate and work with a particular species or multiple species are satisfactory goals themselves. Aviculturists belong to organizations, where they can meet with other aviculturists, sharing ideas and IDEALS, whether writing them for trade publications, speaking at clubs, mentoring people interested in learning more about bird species. They remember the budgie that opened a new world for them, and they take time to answer questions and write articles for pet owners, because they know somewhere out there is another little boy or girl who wants to know just as badly as they once did. Aviculturists attend conferences, and listen carefully to all the lectures, because they understand that in sharing, something that works for currasows, for example, might also be applied in an appropriate form for eclectus (thank you, Isolee) and because learning about any bird is fascinating. Aviculturists rejoice when another one of their number achieves a First Breeding, whether they themselves have been unsuccessful with that species or whether they have ever had a desire to even keep that species, because they know the sum total of knowledge of birds has just increased, and may prevent that species from becoming extinct in its natural habitat. They plan their rare vacations around opportunities to see birds in their native habitat or to visit with other aviculturists.
For more information on Aviculture, please visit these sites:
Avicultural Society of America
American Federation of Aviculture