The Model Aviculture Program or MAP

What is MAP?

The Model Aviculture Program or MAP is a voluntary aviary inspection and certification program for aviculturists. MAP is a non-profit service organization, not a private business. It has been in effect nation-wide since 1990. In the early eighties a plan was proposed for a model state program for pet birds, the National Cage and Aviary Bird Improvement Plan (NCABIP). NCABIP was promoted and discussed within the poultry industry, the pet industry and the avicultural community. Aviculturists noted that the plan would be administered by state agencies and would require rather strict control over purchases and sales, even over advertising. The aviculturists facilities as well as the birds and records were to be completely regulated by state agencies or their appointed agents. NCABIP did not address the real concerns of the aviculturists, but rather the concerns of the state and the poultry industry. These concerns centered around disease control and transmission. As a result of this proposed NCABIP, concerned aviculturists decided to work together to design a program which would be beneficial to aviculture.

How Did MAP Originate?

In January of 1985 the first meeting was held to discuss a model plan for aviculture. From that time until January of 1990, regular working sessions were held which resulted in the Model Aviculture Program. Avian veterinarians were asked to participate in the planning of MAP. Included in the discussions were the concerns voiced by the Department of Agriculture about escaped birds posing a potential threat to agriculture, the concerns of the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service that escaped birds may displace native species, and the concerns of the Center for Disease Control regarding avian diseases, such as psittacosis, that may be transmitted to humans.

What is MAP Based Upon?

The primary focus of the design of MAP was on establishing basic standards for the routine practices of husbandry and record keeping for exotic species. These standards as presently incorporated in MAP are those that are commonly practiced by most serious bird breeders, bird trainers, and bird curators. They include routine quarantine of new acquisitions, a system of identification for each large bird (not necessarily of each finch in a flight), a protocol for servicing the aviary birds that does not transmit disease, nursery practices that prevent disease transmission and routine record keeping on aviary birds and nursery birds. Successful bird breeders and bird keepers recognize that certain protocols are necessary for the maintenance of health and the encouragement of production from breeding pairs. Systems they have developed to accomplish health and production may vary. MAP does not require that all systems be identical, but rather that the system in place in each aviary is working well.

Who Operates MAP?

MAP is supervised by a nine member Board of Directors consisting of five aviculturists and four avian veterinarians who meet bi-annually to review the work of MAP and revise the guidelines or initiate other changes as needed. Routinely, board members respond to questions from the avicultural community, present slide programs on MAP and the avian veterinarians advise veterinarians who may have questions regarding the inspection process. One clerical worker prepares the materials to be mailed to applicants and to participants. Recently the MAP Board has established an Advisory Board consisting of prominent aviculturists and avian veterinarians from across the U.S. to provide valuable advice and input to the program to ensure that the needs of the avicultural community are being met my MAP.

What is the MAP Process?

Individuals write, call or fax a request for information regarding the program. They are sent a set of MAP Guidelines and instructions on how to prepare for an inspection. Those who are interested in becoming MAP certified send in a completed application along with appropriate fee ($100. For sixteen or more flights, and $50. For fifteen or less flights for the initial inspection). The applicant is sent a numbered inspection form in triplicate, along with a letter indicating that the next step is to schedule a visit by their veterinarian. The veterinarian inspects the facility, including breeding aviaries, nursery, record-keeping system, food service system, quarantine area and hospital or isolation area. After completing the inspection form, the veterinarian returns it to the MAP office where it is processed by staff. Questions are weighted and qualification for certification depends upon achieving enough points to indicate that basic standards are being met. Two question must have a yes answer: Is there a safety door/aisle system in operation? Is there a functional record keeping system? Most aviculturists who have been working successfully with birds for several years have established practices which enable them to qualify for MAP certification. Upon qualification for certification, the applicant is sent a numbered and dated certificate, along with a sheet of MAP logos, and a set of sample record forms for a variety of uses: weights, production records, etc.

What About Renewing MAP Certification?

The first certification extends from one year from the date on the certificate. The following year, an application for renewal is submitted, along with half the first year fee; i.e., if the first year application was $100., the second year is $50. The renewal certification is for two year periods. The MAP fee is separate from any fees charged by the inspecting veterinarian. Often aviculturists will combine the MAP inspection with other routine veterinary work that they have scheduled for birds at their facility.

Why Do We Need MAP?

For the past fifteen years rules and regulations on a local, state and national level have been considered and proposed by officials, often at the request of animal welfare proponents or animal rights activists. These regulations may or may not be realistic or address the concerns being stated by their backers. Nevertheless, there is a strong movement to regulate the pet bird industry. Since the early eighties animal rights groups have attempted to ban the importation of wild caught birds into the U.S., to prohibit interstate transportation by air, and to regulate ownership and care of exotic birds within the U.S. When there is a law or regulation in force which deals with aviculture, there will be regulations in association with that law, including permits, fees, licenses, inspections and a definition of legal and illegal activities under those regulations. Sometimes even specific stipulations about the housing and care of exotic birds have been proposed.

MAP Fills The Bill

MAP provides a mechanism whereby the avicultural community can be self regulating, while at the same time avoiding the necessity of involving state or government agencies in the process. This becomes a means for indicating that basic standards of care and housing and record keeping are being met, while at the same time the individual bird breeder maintains his or her privacy. MAP does not ask what species are being kept or in what numbers. MAP inspection and certification is about the process and management of the aviary, not about specific species or number of individual birds.

Where Has MAP Made A Difference?

MAP has made a difference in individual states where regulations are being considered. Proponents of bills will indicate that there needs to be an inspection program put in place. When legislators are informed about MAP, they are no longer convinced that the state needs to put a program in place because the private sector is providing a program that meets the concerns of animal welfare groups and state agencies. Individual aviculturists who are being harassed or threatened by neighbors or local activists often seek MAP certification to assist them in protecting themselves from harassment. Some MAP applicants want to be able to receive surplus birds from zoos who require MAP certification. However, the majority of MAP applicants are aviculturists who are interested in participating in a program that exemplifies standards of good husbandry and management and provides them with evidence of their compliance with these standards.

The Three Key Elements Of MAP

The first element is the USE OF MODELS OF HUSBANDRY PRACTICES involving the areas of quarantine, safety systems, caging, nutrition, nursery, and record keeping. Models can be applied to a variety of set-ups in avicultural facilities. Guidelines were designed to provide instruction on each area within the facility. These guidelines are for the use of the aviculturists in planning or improving their facility and to provide assistance to the veterinarians when they are inspecting the facility.

The second key element is the USE OF THE VETERINARIAN AS INSPECTOR. The veterinarian who inspects the bird farm facilities is chosen by the aviculturist. The veterinarian imparts the authority of a state licensed professional to the MAP process, while maintaining the confidentiality of the aviculturist. Avian veterinarians helped design the MAP; their medical experience and knowledge has provided the needed complement to the experience and knowledge of the aviculturists in creating a program that is effective and useful.

The third key element of the MAP is the USE OF THE CLOSED AVIARY CONCEPT. Avicultural facilities which use this concept have an effective means of disease control. The closed aviary concept provides the aviculturist with a means to secure and maintain flock health, to isolate and control disease outbreaks in flights or in the nursery, and thus to reduce losses and achieve production goals. Applying the principles of the closed aviary concept to avicultural husbandry practices lays the foundation for a successful bird farm.

What Is The Closed Aviary Concept?

The closed aviary concept is the utilization of the basic principles of designated areas within the facility and controlled flow of human, animal, and supplies traffic. Traffic control is used to reduce the transmission of clinical and subclinical disease during movement within individual areas and within the aviary facility as a whole. Record systems that are generated and used in management are used to help clarify and monitor potential problems. Putting this concept into practice requires defining separate areas within the facility, each with a distinct location. These areas are as follows:

  • Quarantine: the area where all new birds are housed for a period of time to determine their condition of health through observation and appropriate testing. The quarantine area should be serviced last each day or by a different service person.Breeding: Adult breeding stock are housed in species appropriate set ups so that production of eggs or young is enhanced.
  • Nursery: the nursery is where young are fed and raised when not being parent-reared. Nurseries may vary according to type of species being raised, i.e., a waterfowl or pheasant nursery would require a different set up than a nursery for psittacine chicks. The nursery is potentially a high risk area for disease outbreak.
  • Isolation: this is the hospital area where a sick or injured bird can be kept apart from the breeding collection and the nursery. This area must be separate from the Quarantine area.
  • Food Storage and Supply: Food storage, preparations and wash areas may be combined. Planning the aviary design to control and monitor the traffic flow of birds, feed and water bowls and service personnel between each area in the facility is critical for the prevention and control of disease transmission.

In addition, air flow in enclosed quarters should be designed so that air from the isolation or quarantine areas does not enter the nursery, breeding area or food preparation area.

A MAP For the Future of Aviculture in the U.S.

The MAP has been endorsed by the Board of Directors of the American Federation of Aviculture as a viable program for inspection and certification by aviculturists. MAP has the active support of several major zoos, including the San Diego Zoo, which only permits the sale of surplus zoo birds to private sector individuals who are certified MAP participants. MAP has been presented to the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, Office of Management Authority, as a private sector organization designed to improve captive breeding of birds in the U.S. MAP has been presented to the U.S. Department of Agriculture as a viable means of self regulation by the avicultural community. The MAP Board of Directors has shared with the Canadian and Australian avicultural communities the basic plan to use and modify according to their needs. The avicultural community in Canada is in the process of establishing their own MAP program.

The MAP Was Designed for Flexibility

MAP has been designed to be responsive to the needs of the avicultural community, whether the aviculturist is a beginner with a very small collection or an aviculturist with a large breeding farm or a serious hobbyist with a collection of rare birds. The basic principles that apply to exotic bird care and breeding are the same, whether the facility is a room, a building or outdoor pens or flights. MAP was designed to do its part in upgrading and maintaining good husbandry and record keeping practices by aviculturists and thus to promote the advancement of aviculture and to protect the interests of aviculturists in the U.S. Further information on MAP may be obtained by writing to: MAP, P.O. Box 1657, Martinez, CA 94553-0657, or faxing 510-372-0306, or calling: 510-372-6174.


May I have the veterinarian of my choice inspect my aviary? Yes.

I live in a remote area, 60 miles from an avian veterinarian, can I use a local veterinarian who is good but generally sees cats and dogs? Yes. Although it is recommended that the inspecting veterinarian be an avian veterinarian, it is not required.

Do I have to have all the answers on the Inspection Form correct in order to be certified? No. Passing inspections is based on percentages. The aim of the inspection is two-fold, to promote education about management of exotic birds and to determine what improvements would be beneficial to each applicant’s management practices. The two questions which must have a ‘yes’ answer are No. 8 (Is there a safety system in operation?) and No. 26 (Is there a functional record keeping system?) Refer to the guidelines for further information. If you still have questions, call or write MAP.

How can I find out about avian veterinarians in my area? MAP will provide a list of veterinarians in your area who are members of the Association of Avian Veterinarians (AAV) upon request. If there are none, select a well-respected local veterinarian and ask him/her if he/she will perform the inspection for you.

How did MAP come to be? In the early eighties the National Cage and Aviary Bird Improvement Plan was publicized and discussed across the U.S. Aviculturists in Northern California decided the plan did not address the needs of the birds and started working on the MAP, a plan designed by Aviculturists for Aviculturists. From 1985 through 1989 this group of bird breeders, joined by several avian veterinarians, worked to put together a voluntary non-government run plan. MAP was designed to provide certification of bird breeder’s facilities, management practices and record keeping. The plan has to be simple and effective. In addition to certification, the plan would provide information on bird care and management, important government regulations, and provide a high profile for breeders with good management practices so that they would find it easier to sell their birds. A higher quality healthy bird is the product of good management. For those selling to the pet industry or the general public, certification provides a seal of approval. Certified participants who indicate they want to have publicity will be a part of a list of certified MAP participants publicized to the pet industry.

Do you have to register with the government? No. The Map Board designed MAP to be separate from government, both state and federal. It is a private non-profit service organization, similar to the poultry industry associations which are government approved, but not government administered.

I am a veterinarian, can I inspect my own aviaries? No. That would be a direct conflict of interest. You must contract with another veterinarian.

Where does the application money go? At present, the money is used to pay for copies, printed matter, inspection forms printed in triplicate, stamps, post office box rental, general office supplies and hourly secretarial wages.

I don’t have suspended flights. Can I still pass MAP inspection? Yes. Whether you have suspended flights, small breeding cages or walk-in aviaries, you can still pass a MAP inspection because the inspection is not based on the types of cages; it is based on management and record keeping.

How much time do I have to prepare for the inspection after receiving the forms? As much time as you need. MAP does not set a timeline for applicants.

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