Board Member Biographies


Joe Baker

Joe Baker owns and operates Birds of Paradise Aviaries. Joe has lived in Hawaii for over 39 years. Born and reared in Middletown, Ohio, Joe graduated from Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute in Troy, New York, with a Bachelor of Science. Although his degree is in Mathematics, most of Joe's courses were in the field of Computer Science. At that time no undergraduate degree in Computer Science was offered. While in college, Joe received a Naval ROTC scholarship. Upon graduation, Joe was commissioned as an Ensign in the U. S. Navy. After six months at Submarine School, Joe was ordered to duty upon the USS Carbonero (SS 337), home ported at Pearl Harbor. After a year, Joe was transferred to Fleet Operations Control Center Pacific where he put his computer skills to work. After becoming a civilian near the end of the Vietnam War, Joe went to work for a computer manufacturer, providing technical support to users and sales support for the sales staff. Joe also worked in the law enforcement field writing computer software for various national, state and local law enforcement agencies. Some of his work is still standard of the industry. After 9/11, Joe talents were again sought by various agencies of the federal government, but he preferred to remain a private citizen doing what he loved.

Joe Baker has been an animal lover his entire life. His interest in parrots was sparked over forty years ago when Joe saw a bird at the Cincinnati Zoo that he thought was the most beautiful bird he had ever seen. "Someday I'm going to own one of those", he thought to himself. The bird? Well, it was a Sun Conure.

In 1983, Joe persuaded a friend of his to give him a bird in his care that was being neglected. That bird was a Mitred Conure. Utterly fascinated by this wild creature, Joe remembered his trip to the Cincinnati Zoo years before and, deciding that two birds couldn't be much more work than one, answered an ad for a handfed baby Sun Conure. This led him to the home of Dick Hart and Hiroshi Tagami from whom Joe purchased his first baby. The bird? Well, it was a Sun Conure.

Joe and Dick became good friends. Joe was a quick learner and Dick began teaching him about raising birds and handfeeding. It was through Dick that Joe met Joyce Ferguson who instilled in him her love of the Eclectus species. Through Joyce, Joe met Laurella Desborough. Joe’s bird population began to slowly grow. He was breeding Congo African Greys in the second bedroom of his Waikiki condominium. He had seven clutches in two years – 27 babies! That early success helped Joe decide to open his own bird breeding business.

In 1989, Joe left the wilds of Waikiki and moved to wilds of the Big Island, the island of Hawaii, where he resides today. Joe had amassed a collection of about 70 mostly proven pairs of about 35 different species. He owned and operated Birds of Paradise Aviaries, supplying handfed baby parrots to pet shops and private individuals in Hawaii and beyond. Joe is now "semi-retired" from the bird business and is a substitute teacher at High Schools in the Puna District on the Big Island. He still keeps in touch with breeders across the US and helps them find buyers for some of the rarer species of birds. His breeding efforts now are primarily breeding the Hawkhead Parrot. He has been very successful with his pairs over the past eight years.

Joe has served in numerous positions for two different bird clubs in Hawaii and has been the Hawaii State Coordinator for the American Federation of Aviculture for the past ten years. Joe and Laurella Desborough are the representatives to the AZA Bird Coop for the Eclectus species. Joe’s other interests include tournament bridge and rock music from the fifties and sixties. Joe's biography has been included in various editions of Who's Who for over 20 years.

Laurella Desborough

Breeder of exotic birds for over 20 years, including amazons, greys, cockatoos, brownheaded parrots, hawkheads and mini-macaws. Specializing in Eclectus parrots and Vasa Parrots.

Current Legislative Coordinator for the National Animal Interest Alliance Trust,, and Past President of the American Federation of Aviculture - AFA,

Co-founder and BOD member of the Model Aviculture Program. MAP is a service organization for aviculturists in the United States which provides certification through a voluntary inspection program, and which spurred the organization of similar programs in other countries.

Current Memberships:

• American Bird Conservancy
• American Federation of Aviculture
• American Pheasant and Waterfowl Society
• Avicultural Society of America
• Florida Federation of Aviculture
• National Animal Interest Alliance
• National Audubon Society
• National Avian Welfare Alliance
• Organization of Professional Aviculturists

Articles published: Bird Talk, Bird Breeder, AFA Watchbird, Bird World, BIRDS USA, World of Parrots, ASA Avicultural Bulletin, Avizandum (South Africa), American Cage Bird, Pet and Aviary Birds, Pet Product News, and Hablemos De Loros (Spain).

Co-Author: A Complete Guide to Eclectus Parrots by Arthur, Bauer and Desborough published in 1987. Out of print.


Brian Speer, D.V.M

Veterinary advisor for The Eclectus Group, Dr. Speer received his DVM degree from the University of California at Davis in 1983. Board specialty status was earned through the American Board of Veterinary Practitioners in February 1996, and certification in the European College of Avian Medicine and Surgery (ECAMS) in May, 1999. Brian is the recipient of the Lafeber Practitioner Award, 2003, and Speaker of the Year award for the North American Veterinary Conference, 2006. Brian served as chair of the Aviculture Committee for the Association of Avian Veterinarians on their board of directors and is past-president. He currently chairs the Aviculture committee for the AAV and is a consultant for the Veterinary Information Network.

Brian is well published in the AAV annual proceedings, has served as guest editor for the journal Seminars in Avian and Exotic Pet Medicine, Veterinary Clinics of North America, and has authored chapters in several recent veterinary medical texts on a variety of avian medical topics. He co-authored "The Large Macaws" and "Birds for Dummies".

Graham Taylor

We are pleased to have Graham Taylor of Australia as our Avian Consultant.  Aviculturists from Down Under have been breeding eclectus parrots for many years. Graham has had a great deal of experience with eclectus parrots in the wild, as well as many years of familiarity with the breeding and hand  rearing of eclectus parrots in captivity. He will provide us with information and insights from the perspective of this unique background.

His book, entitled “Eclectus Parrots An Experience”, was published in 2003 and sold around the world. The second edition should l be available for release in 2008.