Interview with David T. Longo, the successful exporter and breeder of parrots. PART II

March 13th, 2015 | by LubosTomiska
Interview with David T. Longo, the successful exporter and breeder of parrots. PART II

Read also the first part of this interview:

Interview with David T. Longo, the successful exporter and breeder of parrots. PART I


When did you start working as a bird trader? What do you like about this job?

I started seeking birds for other breeders around 17-18 years ago, I saw it was a way to help support or sustain my hobby or future profession. I think it is most rewarding being appreciated when birds are delivered. Having value to all the aviculturists who have a difficult time finding mates for all their single birds that are not easy to come by and of course pairs that they dream of wanting but think it will never be within their reach. I also love meeting all the interesting people that enjoy the same world wide hobby of birdkeeping as I do. It is always great conversation to talk about with any walk of life, sharing the joys and sorrows of these charming creatures, it really does bring out the best in humans. What I find more tedious is the frustrations dealing with foreign agencies and synchronizing both to work simultaneously. This hard work involved nobody sees and typically entails very little appreciation. At the end of the day, most want the birds at the lowest cost and they want it yesterday. I can find birds at the prices people want to pay but the birds are rarely exceptional stock, older birds past reproduction or lingering health issues. When I find the perfect birds, they are not happy with the cost. At the end of the day, no cliche rings more true in this hobby than, You always get what you pay for“



Hyacinth Macaws are also a part of David’s collection


Do you have your own quarantine station?

Yes, we have 2 of them here in Canada and currently building holding facilities in 2 other countries.

What species of birds do you trade with?

Since I moved to the country home in 2004, my interest in all kinds of birds have diversified because I was able to house many more types than just psittacines that I could not work with in the basement of a rural city home. We have entered new markets now that I represent or work with more zoological specimens such as flamingoes, softbills/passerines, cranes, ibis, penguins, corvids, cracids, galliformes.

Do you also trade with pets or only birds for breeders?

I also represent several canadian aviculturists that produce many psittacines who do not have the time or patience to market their own birds. They enjoy breeding birds and sometimes finding places for these birds is not the enjoyable part of the hobby. I fill this gap to satisfy both the producer and end user.


Me & Asha at TZ 07_3(1)

David trades all kind of birds, not just parrots.


I’m pretty sure you have rich experience with diseases and other health issues in parrots. Can you describe what are the most common ones when you import some birds to quarantine?

You are correct, when housing birds indoors, we do not have a choice but to learn to manage disease. The only experience I have had with wild birds out of S. America was Papillomatusus in some A.chloropteras and A.dufresnianas. I did what most did not think of doing and I get on a plane to select and survey all the birds prior to export. I have hired avian veterinarians to fly in and assist me in surgically sexing hundreds of birds at a time then banding them accordingly, keeping the birds with young active gonads to export. Further, I extract blood samples from representative birds and get them tested for disease prior to export. They recieved clean bills of health for the major concernable psittacine diseases.

Can you compare the mortality of imported birds now and let say 15 years ago?

With wild caught birds under my care in one or two shipments a decade back and more, I would yield between 10- 15% loss 1-2 weeks of birds landing and adjusting in quarantine. This was when times of year were not in our favour shipping beginning or tail end of winters. So you are removing them from their favourable conditions and moving them into a different environment with different climates, does not always bode well for their respiratory systems. I do not like these scenarios but most of the time, our hands are tied and we have to make the best of the situation. You must have extremely acute and sharp senses to see who is not feeling well, not eating or being picked on in a group of birds and remove them instantly into their own isolated enclosure. If they are species with strong flocking instincts, you need to remove 2-3 and isolate them together. Captive bred birds I can confidently say losses are in between 1-3%

What is the range of your business? You trade with birds only in America or Europe and Asia as well?

We have and continue to move birds on all continents, even Australia consulting for non-commerce. Asia is a new market I have began working with the past 6-7 years. We have sent to at least 4 countries there so far.



The shipment of flamingoes…


Where do you buy the birds? From trappers, local traders, …

It is a sensitive topic in today’s market because many feel if they have wild caught birds in their collection, or others know they do, they are primarily responsible for these birds being pulled from the wild and this is simply not the case. We try not to work directly from the source country if the birds someone is seeking is already well represented genetically in captivity. I will purge all my resources I can before considering wild caught birds; they are a last resort. Many also forget that CITES responsibility is not only providing permits to move birds across international borders but also does annual census with other N.G.O.‘s as Birdlife International for these birds so countries have quotas for this very important reason. This is to ensure the stability of the populations of the particular species reproduction rates are thriving and sustainable in their native soil. Typically, these birds I source come from local suppliers and other aviculturists with surplus birds from their successful captive breeding programs to enter new breeding programs.

You have mentioned that you have imported birds to Asia in the last years. What asian countries are the biggest customers?

Phillipines, South Korea, Taiwan, Hong Kong, and now as of recent, Jordan and Pakistan.
Taiwan and Hong Kong are very loyal.

On what continent do you buy the birds mostly – South America, Africa or South-east Asia?

It all depends what species clients are looking for. Primarily here or EU, if I cannot find what we are looking for then we find aviculturists or suppliers in South America, Africa or Asia. One has to remember, the birds cannot come directly to Canada from these 3 continents, no countries on any of these continents are open to Canada which makes me tap into the creative areas of import/export and how to get these birds to the client. We can export to any country but are limited in our options to import.

From what countries in South or Central America it is still possible to export parrots?

Majority of them have export quotas. Brazil is the only one with high restriction where it only allows captive bred to second generation (F2) of any native fauna to export. I wish Australia would follow suit.



The Red-billed Toucan in David’s facility


Can you describe the possibilities of import to US and Europe nowadays?

Since 2004, being the only import/exporter here in Canada trading in other countries, I lost nearly 80% of business because I too was sending birds in transit through Europe from other countries, then directly here. I am still to this day dusting myself off from this ill-placed legislation. EU does allow importation from 4 countries, Canada, U.S., Cuba and Israel, I have not recently verified this but these are the only countries so far that are able to fulfill all the EU’s criteria. The problem is the nature or way this business operates is not broken down to a perfect science. Every country has different policy and governments within these countries all have different criteria to meet. These processes can never be timed perfectly and of course, part of my responsibility is to pacify disgruntled clients with clear explanations of these obstacles. I should have had my facility accredited for EU approval a couple of years ago already but life got in the way. It is on my high priority list to complete this when we move this next month. Importing psittacines into US (with the exception of 19 common species) is near impossible, unless you are part of Captive Breeding Programs with FWS there is so much legislation to import psittacines with CITES, WBCA, government controlled quarantines. Sadly, a few importers with careless import standards ruined it for the rest of the avicultural community 20 years back.

Since 2004, we can’t bring any parrots to Europe. Are there any exceptions? Can you tell us more about this?

Yes, there are exceptions, many know the rule of non-commercial or personal use birds, 5 or less if you accompany them from their source country into EU. Also, if I am not mistaken, the rule is no more wild caught birds can enter, so captive bred birds are allowed to enter from approved countries as long as the exporter co-operates with the European Comission’s criteria.



David with Scarlet Macaws.


Do you think that the situation will be better in the future?

This question opens up a big can of worms for me. I have a grim and frustrating view of the future, there is so much animal rights propaganda and legislation constantly surfacing without warning, just like the EU in 2004. This tactic is done on purpose to give us little time to prepare to defend these frivolous bills before legislation is passed. I like to think I am optimistic person but at this point, there are organizations out there that have turned radical and against the very fabric of which it was created that has caused more damage to the wild parrots than aviculture. The voice of the people with zero animal experience accompanied with easily swayed emotions and opinions give their vote…. and there are thousands of them! It is a numbers game and we are losing. If we do not take a more proactive stance against these parties and legislation, in another 10-20 years there will be no more moluccan or citron cockatoos for our future generations to enjoy in aviculture, only photographs in our avian libraries and feather samples in airtight bags. It is a double edged sword; in Australia, black cockatoos will not be exported but the governments support and condone farmers to poison them by the millions. Not as many people outside Australia get to enjoy the black cockatoos in our collections but it keeps the market values high on them. Indonesia, Honduras, palm oil plantations are taking over all the rainforests and birds are dissapearing at an alarming rate. Try to export these cockatoos to ensure a safer future in captivity with responsible keepers, not a chance. Cut down their nests or homes, turn them into teak or other exotic woods into bedroom furniture and cultivate the land to farm palm oil, it’s OK. Why is this ? Because it’s a losing battle when we as aviculturists are small and fragmented when we compare to monster logging corporations which is an industry worth billions of dollars of generated revenue per annum, this sustains these respective country’s economies. We need to remind the undeducated that deforestation is the number one cause responsible for a staggering 98% of species decimation, not us birdkeepers!

Thank you for the interview David. When I would like to buy a bird from you what should I do?

First, it always depends what species we are talking about. Second, we look at availability here in Canada or US or other countries. Third, we decide if Appendix 1 or 2 and any specific laws or health requirements involved with the respective countries so I know what work is involved and the possibilities of it coming to fruition.





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