Aviculture is the keeping and breeding of birds. Aviculturists are the individuals who practice this type of animal husbandry, and an aviary is the enclosure where the specimens are housed. Wayne Oliver is an aviculturist, as was his father. Wayne’s avicultural experience dates back to the age of seven when he bred his first pair of parakeets in 1969 under his father’s guidance. Over the years Wayne has successfully worked with several species of birds. Wayne is working with the Village of Manchester to secure proper zoning and documentation for River Bend Gardens to operate our aviary, a private bird farm where our philosophy is working with a limited number of species in large enclosures focused on parent reared offspring for sale to zoological parks and/or avicultural collections. With the approval of the Village, Wayne will next secure the appropriate state and federal permits as part of the aviary’s organization. In relationship to the botanical garden, aviaries will be landscaped into the garden and presented at various points along the three plus miles of trails on the property.
It would seem fate has determined the first species River Bend Gardens will be working with as the Greater Prairie Chicken Tympanuchus cupido. According to The Birds of Washtenaw County, originally a resident of the state, the Greater Prairie Chicken, never common in Washtenaw County, was extirpated from the state in the early 1980s (Payne 1983:19). The few historical county records from Washtenaw County were all from Manchester and Sharon Townships in the southwest corner of the county, the last a bird heard by L. Walkinshaw on 21 May 1940 (Burrows 1954:33). River Bend Gardens is in the area of Manchester & Sharon Townships, and with the help of my friend Steve Oehlenschlager, after an 80 year absence, we will bring Greater Prairie Chicken to Michigan from his aviary in Minnesota.