Yves Villers: Eric, from where does your interest in birds come ?
Eric Van Tendeloo: I have always had an interest in birds, since my earliest childhood. I was about 20 years old the first time I came to the bird-market in Brussels.
YV : Do you remember the first time you took part in the market ?
EVT : Yes, the first time I came here, I had a small calculator lent me by a friend and I drove a car that belonged to some relatives. I was nervous at first, because the market was a strange and unknown place for me. However, I met some people I had known when I was young and I have renewed my friendship with many of them.
YV : Do you have an anecdote you could tell about your experiences here ?
EVT : Yes, I remember well a client who was there during my first appearance at the market and who would never miss paying a visit to my mobil boutique. One day, after stopping by, he passed away on the bus while returning home, but his family carried on the tradition of visiting my booth each Sunday.
YV : How has your business been changed by the laws from the Convention of Washington about the selling of birds ?
EVT : Although these laws have concerned me, they really haven't changed anything. Most of the birds targeted for protection by the Convention of Washington are parrots that are now raised in captivity and are therefore free to be sold. There is only a bit more administrative paperwork that needs to be carried out. As for the sale of the wild-trapped indigenous birds, it was outlawed in the Summer when I was 16 years old and so it has actually been surpressed for some time now. It is sad that as the years passed, a few people continued to deal in the protected wild birds and caused the finger of suspicion to be pointed at us all. Even though most of us did not sell anything except legal birds, there were proposals to surpress the whole market.
YV : What is the most valuable bird you have sold at the market ?
EVT : It is difficult to say for sure. It was probably a mutation of some type of parrot; prices of these birds can easily exceed several thousand Francs.
YV : What is the largest number of birds you have sold in one day ?
EVT : The most birds I have sold in a day would be somewhere around 200.
YV : Does the weather play an important role in your success at the market ?
EVT : Naturally, the weather has a big effect. But if it is bad, often many amateur breeders will come early in order to replenish their supplies of feed.
YV : Do the French and Flemish-speaking people have different interests in what they wish to purchase ?
EVT: French-speaking people show an interest in birds that are excellent singers and have good colors. Flemish-speaking people tend to look for birds that will perform well as breeders in the aviary.
(Interview realized during the autumn 1997)