Katie Goens graduated from MU in 2012 with a bachelor's degree in animal sciences and a minor in captive wild animal management. She is currently a supervisor at Tyson Foods. She raises birds for a hobby and is passionate about animals and their well-being.
A lot of people ask me what got me so interested in birds, and I don’t really know what to tell them. Maybe it was when I found an injured wild indigo bunting at the zoo. I picked the tiny creature up to find it help, but the poor thing was beyond saving and died in my hands. In its last few moments of life, I felt a connection to it. I decided I wanted a tiny bird in my life to look after. That was about six years ago.
Now I have a flock of over thirty finches. Most are the offspring of my own original birds, but I do bring in a few outside birds to prevent inbreeding and keep my stock strong; some have come as far as California and New Jersey. I focus on Gouldian finches, an endangered species native to Australia. They come in many different colors, and present their own challenges when it comes to their care.
I have learned a lot about bird nutrition, behavior, life cycles, and even diseases by observing them. I have made a documentary on them, and have hand-raised abandoned babies. They inspired me to buy a microscope so that I could diagnose and treat them better than any local veterinarian could. I have helped many people start their own little flock, guiding them through the challenges of bird keeping. One time I was invited to the vet school to talk about properly caring for birds, which was really exciting. I travel to national shows, and even placed 3rd in my division!
Raising birds has proved to be an expensive, sometimes frustrating, but very rewarding hobby for me. My house is filled with the songs of happy and healthy little birds, and I have made a lot of friends with similar interests. One day I do hope to get involved with a more exotic species of bird — maybe toucans; and build large outdoor aviaries for them. I would also like to teach others that birds are not a simple pet you can throw in a small cage with seed and water and expect them to be okay. Birds need and deserve so much more than that.
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