Aviculturist Naveed Sheikh has made a big success of breeding parrots
There are bird lovers who keep them as pets, and then there are those who breed birds with great love and care, albeit for commercial purposes. Muhammad Naveed Sheikh belongs to the latter category.
A young, bearded man, Sheikh wields immense power on the twittering inmates in the aviary he’s built in the backyard of a private school in Lahore that he heads. The place is worth a visit — it has large flocks of birds, chiefly parrots.
The parrots here are of many varieties — lovebird, cockatiel, parakeet, cockatoo, macaw, sun conure, rosella, lorry and ring neck, to name a few. Their prices vary according to their size, colour and specie.
An aviculturist by profession, Sheikh studied business administration from England before he thought of turning his hobby into a profitable enterprise. He also considers it “a healthy occupation.”
As a number of bird markets, especially those dealing in parrots, have come up in Lahore, it is safe to say that Sheikh has struck gold. He also has an eye on a growing clientele that makes online sale and purchase of parrots.
Sheikh says that he suffered a huge financial loss when he began in aviculture, back in 2009. “But I didn’t lose heart,” he tells TNS, in an exclusive chat. “In fact, I promised myself that I would take it to the next level.”
At that time, he bred different kinds of birds. “Then I changed my way of breeding [the birds] and turned to the mutation of lovebirds.” He started researching on the subject, using various means and visiting different quarters to gain practical knowledge. He also consulted international aviculturists like Johnny King (Australia), Tony Silva (USA), Sam Gays (England) and Dirk van den Abeele (Europe).
He started afresh circa 2013, and became a pioneer in the promotion of lovebirds breeding and the art of mutation. Over the past decade or so, he has been mutating lovebirds and breeding them.
Sheikh is also decidedly the first breeder of birds in Pakistan who shares his knowledge through videos, pamphlets, graphs and write-ups. He has also started a YouTube channel on lovebirds’ breeding, care, feasibility and promotion.
At a time when a number of bird markets, especially those dealing in parrots, have come up in Lahore, it is safe to say that Sheikh has struck gold. He also has an eye on a growing clientele that makes online sale and purchase of parrots.
He believes in “fostering quality and expensive species under ordinary and common lovebirds. This way, one can get extra clutches of young birds in every breeding season. Otherwise, the lovebirds breed only three times in a season.”
“I’ve got almost all varieties of lovebirds including the Albino, Opaline, Parblue, Parblue/Ino, Fischeri, Cremino, and Pale Fallow. I have my own breeding setup where I produce top-quality birds,” he says.
Fischeri is the cheapest of these bird, priced at Rs 500. The price of the most expensive birds tops Rs 200,000.
Sheikh claims that anyone can become a breeder as well as mutate lovebirds and make good money. “You may start small, with one or two pairs that can be adjusted in a room that is properly ventilated.”
He also says that the pandemic hasn’t hit the business: “In fact, [the business] excelled as people were homebound and craved entertainment.”
Sheikh concludes by saying that breeding parrots is “a full-time but well-paying job. And if you learnt mutation, you could earn even better.”
He advises the youth to get into this business, especially as it requires very little investment.
Aside from running his online channel, where he talks about lovebirds’ mutation, pairing, combinations and genetics, he recently organised a one-day workshop on the subject, which was open to public and free of cost.
The writer is a senior reporter at The News