Roland Cristo

Legislative Liason
Roland Cristo

I am what is called a true “birdaholic.” I was born in the San Francisco Bay area of Northern California, and I’ve been watching birds in aviaries since I was born as my dad raised birds most of his life. I was also going in and out of aviaries at an early age, and I remember checking Button Quail nests waiting for their little bumblebee like youngsters to hatch. Overall I have been working with birds since the mid 1940’s.

My wife Ilana and I specialize in Lories and various softbill bird species. We are very active in monitoring and fighting adverse legislation related to aviculture as well as in educating people from our local and state area as to how to fight the same. I started hand raising native birds at 8 years of age. I grew up working with finches, softbills and raptors, but I didn’t get involved in parrot type bird species until my teens.

At the age of 14, I had the distinct privilege of feeding Mr. Alex Isenberg’s softbill collection for a summer while his regular keeper was on vacation. He had one of the largest private collections of softbills in the U.S. They ranged from Andean Hummingbirds, Woodpeckers, Cocks of the Rock, Birds of Paradise, Quetzals, Mot-Mots Touracos, Shamas, Toucans, etc. He had aviaries that covered grown trees. The job of feeding the birds required 8-9 hours of each day.

I joined the American Federation of Aviculture in 1974 while living in Colorado. According to Jerry Jennings, I was the first member from out of the state of California. In 1977, I was co-founder of the Foothill Bird Fanciers in Auburn, California, which was immediately affiliated with the AFA. I have been a club delegate since 1977, and in 1981 we founded the first Lory Society. On the Board of Directors for the Aviculture Society of America, I was a licensed falconer in the state of Washington for 7 yrs.

In 1984 I started working with several aviculturists and thus was a co-founder and a board member of the Model Avicultural Program, a private non-profit certification process for the certification of avicultural facilities. In 1990, I also became the co-founder of Advocates for Bird Conservation which is an organization whose purpose is to establish breeding facilities for endangered species. In addition in 1994 I became a co-founder of the American Lory Society.

In 1997, with my wife Ilana, we put on the first “Bird Breeders Symposium” sponsored by the Foothill Bird Fanciers with all profits going to the AFA. We were also participants in the Solomon Island bird breeders Consortium the next year. Also in 1998 I helped form the California Avicultural Legislation Association, an organization created to monitor city, county, and state regulations, as well as proposed laws that are adverse to the needs of Aviculture. I have spoken at 3 AFA conventions since 1985 as well as at local clubs within California since 1977.

In 2007 I began working on the Finch & Softbill Save program committee for the National Finch & Softbill Society. We’re currently working on a 3-tier program with the 3rd tier being stud books and consortiums. We have a stud book program and species coordinators established as well. Five years ago I received the prestigious Avicultural Lifetime Excellence Award from the Avicultural Society of America. I also received the prestigious National Aviculturist Recognition Award (Level A) from the National finch and Softbill Society in 2012.

Currently I have worked with and bred more than 200 species of birds. I have hand raised over 100 species of birds including 5 species of raptors, 3 species of Woodpeckers, Magpies, Crows, Jays, Orioles, etc.


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