History of Hartman Aviary and The Parrot University

Steve's initial goal was to Selectively Breed for Domestic Temperament to develop a better pet Blue and Gold Macaw over a 20-year period. A breeding facility was developed and 25 ex-pet Blue and Gold Macaws were collected. In 1980 the rule of thumb was that personality was 10% nature and 90% nurture. Today with gene mapping it is known that personality is at least 50% dictated by genetics and most scientist believe they will find the number is closer to 60%.

The initial strategy was to develop a well-functioning flock of parrots from stock that had been raised in a pet environment. These birds would eventually learn the appropriate social behavior necessary for a parrot to live in a flock, select a mate and then successfully reproduce. Housing large numbers of parrots in a breeding farm environment requires the individuals to be able to communicate well with each other. Most of these birds spent the first six months of life in a quarantine facility or pet store. By the time a parrot is six months old, they have learned approximately 90% of everything they will learn in their life. Most captive environments do not provide the stimulus necessary to develop a full functioning, flock oriented parrot. Over the past 20 years, Steve has studied the needs, wants and desires of parrots to determine what steps are necessary to reprogram their brains to a level acceptable for long term survival in our homes.

Due to a lack of interest in selective breeding by other psittacine aviculturists, Hartman Aviary expanded their attention to over 60 species. By determining the natural needs of parrots through insight and environmental research, Steve was able to develop the initial processes of domestication. This domestication process requires careful selection of appropriate genetic lines to enhance the kind and gentle traits of parrots and eliminate the aggressive traits that are useful in the wild. We have selectively produced several species to the third and fourth generation, including umbrella cockatoos and greenwing macaws. This shift to domestication will allow parrots to live happier lives in our captive environments.

Hartman Aviary may be the only large producer of high quality, selectively bred, domestic baby parrots in the world. It is a 20,000 square foot, high tech, indoor and outdoor facility providing the highest quality experience for parrots. Thousands of baby parrots have been produced at this facility. To date, we have no knowledge of any baby contracting a contagious virus while in our facility. Additionally, we have one of the best disease-free records of any breeding facility in North America.

THE PARROT UNIVERSITY HISTORY
The Parrot University evolved out of the need to develop new husbandry practices and educate others in the industry. It is necessary for all areas of the industry to cooperate and evolve symbiotically for all to thrive and provide the best long term pet experience for the parrots we raise.

One of the first priorities at Hartman Aviary was to set up our own vet clinic to provide for our flock. In 1980 Dr. Barbara Oglesbee, the professor of avian medicine at The Ohio State University Veterinary Teaching Hospital joined the team. Soon we developed an awareness of the veterinary advantages of having a long term association with a stable flock of 300 parrots. With Dr, Oglesbee on staff we developed a regular schedule of inspection and care of each bird. The huge time demand of taking care of normal problems and doing regular preventive physicals on all the birds required the readily available extra hands of the OSU vet students. In 1980 Dr. Oglesbee turned our regular schedule into an accredited course for her students. Over a 12 year period about 120 vet students were each able to get 40 hours of hands on experience. Because of the number of students and low number of avian cases that present themselves at vet schools most students get only a few hours of experience with parrots.

A very active involvement with many national and international avicultural groups and exposure to many collage level research and conservation programs greatly increased the aviaries exposure to information. This association led to many published articles, TV and newspaper exposure, and consult requests from zoos, parks and governments.

Allowing the birds to thrive in the semi-wild aviary and in pet environments required leaving all of the birds flighted. Experience with 2,800 flighted parrots since 1984 has revealed a great deal regarding the importance of flight on the mental and physical health of pet birds. This experience led to the development of products like The AVIATOR Harness, The AVIATOR Flight Line, The AVIATOR Yard Perch and the Bird Sitter DVD.

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