We sold no birds at all in our hometown of Corsicana, Texas. Pictured above is a typical shipment of birds.
My name is James McDonald. My wife Brenda and I made our living for 25 years in the exotic bird and animal business before retiring in the year 2000. The small pet birds such as parakeets, cockatiels, finches and lovebirds were the number one sellers then and remain so today. What follows is how our business began. I believe that our story as told below could be repeated by many others, if they are only aware of the opportunity and take action. It is for that reason that I have written this book.
In 1974 my wife and I were both working at public jobs. We had been married for several years and knew that at some point we would like to have a family, and both of us wanted her to be able to stay at home and raise the kids. However, my job had not exactly put us in the upper tax bracket, so we desperately needed her income if we were to have the additional expense of raising a family. I began to look for things that she could do at home to supplement our income, but it seemed like virtually everything I researched was in some way some type of a scam or a rip-off, as someone was always wanting to sell me a bill of goods of some description.
I knew of two different people in my area that were raising parakeets in small buildings in their backyard. Both had been doing it for a number of years and appeared to me to be doing pretty good at it, since each had expanded during that time. A visit with them was encouraging, and after several months of in-depth research, we decided that it was in fact a legitimate business, and being animal lovers, we thought it would not only be profitable, but also fun. We started our bird business on a part time basis in our backyard in 1975 with a small 12x18-ft. building that I built myself. By 1976 my wife was doing well enough with the project that we decided to expand the business. We built several more small buildings and the birds continued to do well and she was soon able to quit her job and take care of the birds on a full time basis. In 1977 our first child was born and she was now the stay at home mom that she had always wanted to be.
By 1978 the business was booming and she was making much more money than I was. We now began to more fully realize the potential of the bird business. Seeing the opportunity for even more expansion, I quit my job and we both went full time with the birds. We expanded into other varieties of pet birds and the business was simply so good that we could not keep up with the demand. At that point, I began to recruit others to raise birds for us and we became a nationwide wholesale distributor by 1980. Ours was still a mom and pop operation with the mom now also raising our two boys. During the next 10 years, not wanting the headache that comes with a lot of employees, we decided to remain a mom and pop operation, finally hiring a single employee in 1990. I hasten to add that the year we started, 1975, the U.S. economy went into a recession. The economy also experienced another recession in 1980, 82, and another in 1991 as well as a war in 1991. Throughout it all, the pet business boomed. We continued to experience explosive growth and in 2000, after 25 years in the business, after having sold approximately one million birds, at the age of 50 we sold our business and retired to the Texas hill country. The pet business truly allowed us to live “The American Dream” of owning our own successful business.
While we bred thousands of birds ourselves, we just could not keep up with the demands of our customers, and through the years we personally helped many people to establish very profitable businesses breeding pet birds. Only since retirement have I had the time to devote to writing a book to show others on a nationwide basis how to breed parakeets, cockatiels, lovebirds and finches for profit. While there are other books written on the subject of pet birds, they are written primarily for the hobbyist who only keeps a bird or two for pleasure. This book is different. It is written for the individual who wishes to derive an income from the pet bird business and is based on our 25 years of experience.
Brentwood House Publishing