For the love of birds!
Most people go to Wildlife Parks or the Zoo to get their colourful bird sanctuary fix, not Tony Ford, he’s one of the lucky few to have one in his very own backyard. This isn’t any old aviary; it’s even got the comfortability option to perch yourself on a lounge and enjoy the view.
Unfortunately, these images don’t do the birds or the space justice, the only way I can describe the space is like walking into a day spa.. minus the day spa and add in the tranquillity of birds cheeping around you, surrounded by lush green space.
“I started when I was a kid, I was seven or eight-years-old when Dad brought me an aviary.” Tony explained, “It’s just been a hobby that’s grown and grown, my very first breed were zebra finches and red head finches which are pretty common around here.”
“When I first moved out to where I am now, I had eight to ten small aviary’s. I actually went out of birds for a couple of years, I sold everything that I had, I lost interest. Then I caught a canary out here and you can’t have one canary.. once I got a pair of birds that was the end of me! So, I thought, I’ll build a cage, and I built this. I always wanted to build an aviary like this, I was in the building game at the time, I pegged it out and it took a couple of years to build, beginning in 2002 I let my first set of birds in here in 2004.”
Tony’s passion is evident in each explanation he gives, “I just enjoy coming out and mowing the lawn, doing the edges, the birds just fly around me, I trim the trees and do the garden, it’s very relaxing, they reckon fish and birds are the most relaxing things you can surround yourself with”.. and yes there is also a pond inside. “It’s just great to sit down and relax and enjoy them, they know they aren’t going to get hurt in here.”
“When I was right in the game I would have up to 700-800 birds at a time, there are a lot of birds that I wanted to specialise in and it’s gone from there, I might have 300-400 birds now, I’m just enjoying it these days. As you get a bit more experienced you move onto the hardier birds, like the star and ruddy finches. The birds all have their different habits and quirks and you’ve got to cater for all of them. You’ve also got to take into account a lot of birds need live food, but it’s just routine and habit for me now.”
What can only be described as a five-star hotel for birds, in winter there is a room available for their comfort with little light heaters on.
“I have busloads of people come out here and look around, I had 20 young overseas Vets come from the TAFE college to have a look around and they were blown out of the park. I also do a few talks around the area, actually my next stop is to the Central Coast, it’s just a great hobby to meet people and I have been very lucky in that it has taken me to some amazing places around the world.”
“There’s probably not many in backyards like this, I was lucky I had the opportunity to do this and I thought why not, it’s very tranquil and easy to come in here to relax, forget and unwind.”
When the question was asked, “Are you still adding to the aviary each year?” a great big smirk took over Tony’s face, “Ohh I shouldn’t but I do.. I went to Gunnedah last week and I brought a few more, I told meself no! But I did it, they get me every time.”
“It’s not just breeding birds, it’s creating something that is visually appealing, something that people walk in and can say.. wow! It’s very satisfying when you see the expressions on people’s faces, you think, you might have something special here.”