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Sunday, March 25, 2012



The following is an article that appeared in the Culver Alumnus magazine or newsletter on October 1932 on page 14.  Culver Military Academy is located in Indiana. Spelling as in the article.

Ranch for Fine Feathers
"Zoology, or that part of it which deals with the vertebrates that move on wings, has always been the favorite science of Burton C. ("Ski to you) Tremaine, 11ema&ss. The rara avis has a fascination that he cannot resist. When he was growing up Ski managed an aviary which was populated mostly by proud pouters and cocky fantails. He frequented the bird cages at the zoos and lost no opportunity to visit exhibitions of fowl, live or stuffed.
The strange creatures from distant lands, the bright fellows with frills in their tails and shakos on their crests, attracted him most and his determination to know more about them, from what wild domains they came and how, set him on a quest that has led to a unique and singularly satisfactory outcome. 
He has become a bird man in a plural sense, for he is both an able aviator and a partner in one of the country's principal commercial aviaries, a bird ranch in Van Nuys, California, known as Bird Wonderland, Inc."
"Ski" Tremaine, '11, with his Pitcarin Mail Wing - (click on image to enlarge)

"Athirst for knowledge about birds, Tremaine once stopped in Washington D.C. and talked to government experts in charge of the importation of birds. From them he learned many things of interest. He learned that the bird business, that is, the importing and breeding of strange and valuable species, was a growing industry. What was particularly of value was the discovery that, although rare birds were being imported by the thousands, the supply never filled the demand.
On going to California several years ago he was impressed by the fact that no estate was complete without an aviary and that every back-yard in the less pretentious districts had a bird cage of some sort.
He found that many of the Hollywood celebrities owned aviaries in which thousands had been invested. John Barrymore had a collection of precious specimens valued at $25,000; Lupe Valez had assemled canaries of every known variety; DeWitt Jennings had a congregation of parrakeets that were famous; Polly Walker carried a half moon parrakeet on her shoulder; Edgar Rice Burroughs, the Tarzan author, had a colony of queer birds planted near his study window, and at Cataline Island, William Wrigley Jr., had the largest known bird collection.
From these observations sprung the idea of Tremaine's bird ranch. On a site on Ventura Boulevard between Santa Barbara and San Francisco, Bird Wonderland was established and incorporated. (Note: the error in geography here is in the original document).  C. B. Glick, an expert in ornithology became Tremaine's associate. Glick manages the ranch and looks after the importations. He has personally led the ranch's expeditions to capture specimens.
 Several thousand pairs of breeding birds are housed on the ranch and the business has grown tremendously. Bird Wonderland has customers all over the United States and Canada and it supplies dealers and zoos as well as individual fanciers and per purchasers. A retail store has been built on the ranch and it carries on a thriving mail order business in bird cages, bird seen and one or two specials, such as miniature cacti gardens and water lillies.
"There is an ever increasing interest in birds and animals," says Tremaine.  "Witness the great crowds that have flocked to such feature pictures as Congorilla and Bring 'Em Back Alive. The book stores are full of books about adventure in connection with the capture and study of bird and animal life and the thoughts of the adventurous are turned to the Orient and the distant islands of the sea. Interest is not confined to wild life. The frontier has been gone a long time and we have lived in the machine age long enough to make animals almost a curiosity."
Last year the Bird Wonderland ranch sent its agents to Singapore, which is regarded as the bird market of the world, to establish a compound for assembling birds and shipping them to the ranch. This compound will be maintained permanently and standing arrangements has been made for certain sources in foreign lands.
"It is a delight to visit Bird Wonderland where you find birds from every corner of the globe" writes a Hollywood columnist. "There are Mandarin ducks, Formosan teal (siad to be the fasted birds with a speed of 110 miles an hour), egret, herron, golden pheasants, white Java sparrows, ring-neck parrakeets, Brazilian cardinal, finches of various kinds and other queer and beautiful creatures."

Bird depot established by Tremaine's ranch at Tanjong Katong, in Malaya, which abounds with the products the ranch imports and markets in the United States.  (click on image to enlarge)

In the ranch's flocks are eight varieties of parrakeets, five kinds of love birds, no end of canaries and finches, a paradise whydah (an ornamental bird with an arch tail often twice as long as the body0, Java rice birds, Japanese tumblers (called the upside down bird because they tumble continuously from their perches and think nothing of making a complete sumersault on the way down), diamond doves, South American bugle birds, India thrushes, Japan robins, taking hill mynahs (from the lower slopes of the Himalayas), parrots from Mexico and Central America, cockatoos and macaws.
Parrakeets are bred on an elaborate scale to keep up with the demand for them as pets. About 5,000 are kept in the aviary and as many as 500 are shipped monthly on standing order to one dealer in Chicago. The parrakeet is a species of parrot distinguished by their small size, their long tails and a striking difference in color between the male and female.  They are found principally in India, northern Africa, Malaysia and Australia. A species of African parrakeets makes a display of affection and is commonly called the "love bird."
Finding some time ago that there is a steady demand from hospitals an laboratories for small monkeys needed in medical and other scientific experiments, the ranch introduced a line of Java monkeys for this trade. It also imports huge snakes from the jungles adjacent to the Malayan peninsula for sale to carnivals, side shows and similar menageries.
$ 25,000 Pet Cargo
Last October Glick brought in specimens valued at $ 25,000 in one shipment. In the lot were lemurs from Borneo; a white langur from Siam; an adjutant stork from New Guinea, whistling gibbons from Borneo, a tree kangaroo from Australia, a Malayan bear cat, an assortment of pythons, a pair of Victoria crested pigeons, a collection of pea fowls from Java, and a weeping sapajou, a monkey that 'laughs and smiles', but is called a weeper because of the mournful cries it makes when it is sad or lonesome.
Tremaine is in the insurance business in Cleveland (Ohio) and divides his time between that city and California where his chief interests are the bird ranch and aviation. He pilots his own plane, a Pitcarin Mail Wing. It is a two-seater with a Wright 225 horsepower motor.
His nickname has no relation to hjis enthusiasm for flying. He acquired it while he was at Culver; why local history does not reveal. He was in Company A, then commanded by Don Pierce, Eward W. Mason was the first lieutenant and Thomas A. Gabel was the second lieutenant.

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