As part of the 50th anniversary celebrations of the Bird Garden at Harewood, Bird Keeper Lisa Bath takes five away from a busy schedule of bird keeping and studying.
What is your role in Harewood Bird Garden?
My job title is bird keeper, which means I look after a group of aviaries containing birds such as Vietnam (Edward’s) pheasant, Java Sparrows and Red-crested turaco, but mainly I care for parrots.
I also perform any incubation and hand-rearing that is required. This usually consists of endangered species, sick chicks or eggs and chicks which are abandoned by their parents.
What is your training or background that led to this role?
I enjoy formal learning, so I have completed a BSc in Animal Management and an industry standard qualification, DMZAA (Diploma in the care of zoo and aquarium animals).
I also volunteered and completed work experience at Blackpool Zoo and Harewood, as well as previously working at Living Coasts in Torquay. Presently I am studying to gain an MSc in Zoo Conservation Biology.
Can you describe what a typical day might look like?
Morning-8am start preparing food for all the birds and animals, followed by feeding and watering everyone.
Afternoon-jobs such as cleaning and gardening inside the aviaries, health checking the birds and aviary maintenance, such as building nest boxes and feeding tables.
During our open season we also give public talks and feeds three times daily.
Favourite and least favourite part of the job?
Favourite-I just enjoy being around the birds and watching their behaviour.
Least favourite-Losing birds. You can become very attached to some, birds so losing them can be hard.
What would you do if you weren’t doing this job?
I always wanted to be a detective like Inspector Morse or Miss Marple, but I’m not sure I’d be any good at it.
Which are your favourite birds?
Parrots are my favourites, especially the Brown lories, as they are cheeky and playful.
What is the importance of Harewood Bird Garden?
Personally, it is the opportunity to work with amazing birds and rare species. I feel that collections such as ours are important to help breed and conserve endangered species such as Bali starlings, Edwards pheasants and Palm cockatoos,
It also enables visitors to learn about the importance of conservation and sustainability of environments, to engage with wildlife and learn about birds they would not normally get to see. I feel it is important for everyone to be aware of the amazing wildlife we have on this planet and why each species is unique.
Celebrations of the Bird Garden start when Harewood opens on 21 March. Find out more about the full season of events, workshops and exhibitions.