International Ornithological Association
Founder Member COM-UK

Affiliated to the Confederation Ornithologique Mondiale

The History Of The COM

An international organization of bird lovers existed as early as 1900. This was the:


This organization was headquartered in Germany. Countries such as Switzerland, The Netherlands and Belgium had associated members. Members were mostly canary breeders. Especially for them, the Association, with the aid of Dr. Woll, had developed an entirely novel judging system. In addition the organization included judges. A German-language newspaper, the “Algemeine Kanarienzeitung”, was issued to provide information to the members.
The records do not tell us how long the Association functioned as an international organization.


A meeting was convened in Antwerp, Belgium on September 5th, 1925, to establish international cooperation. Countries represented were Belgium, France, England and The Netherlands. It is not clear however, whether this attempt resulted in the successful establishment of an international organization.

In 1948, the desire to renew old international contacts was again felt. At an exhibit at Haarlem in The Netherlands, in November of 1948, this effort was made. Prominent among visitors to this show were exhibitors from Belgium, and especially, Brussels.

An international exhibit was held at Brussels from February 26 to March 6, 1949. Bird fanciers from The Netherlands, England and France were invited to take part in it. A long-cherished wish was realized during this show: the founding of an international organization of bird fanciers. Messrs. P. Regibo from Brussels, Belgium, H. Lashbrook from Surrey in England, and J.H. Noordzij from Rotterdam, The Netherlands were the driving force behind the international organization. The statue bears their signature.


The 1950 international show in Brussels had to be cancelled due to an outbreak of Newcastle Disease. Fortunately, the First International Conference did take place, leading to the creation of the:


With headquarters in Brussels. Countries represented were Belgium, England, France, Italy, The Netherlands, and Switzerland. Germany, Australia, Denmark, Spain, Finland, New Guinea, South Africa and Czechoslovakia were represented by power of attorney. A charter and bylaws were approved during the conference. The International Exhibit of February 1951 at Brussels was the venue for a two-day meeting of the A.O.I. The Board of Directors was expanded and its composition modified to accommodate the requirement of the charter that the secretary and the treasurer be of Belgian nationality.
No more information can be found on the A.O.I. after 1952.
The records have shown that breeders of song canaries were not very welcome at the A.O.I. For this reason, a number of representatives from Germany, The Netherlands and Belgium and some observers from other countries, convened at Vaals in The Netherlands to establish their own international organization.

Present at this meeting were Messrs. Cichon, Walschot, Pfäffle and Haveneth from Germany, Konings, van Geneygen and van Baelen from Belgium, and Hogenkamp, Odekerker and Heffener from The Netherlands. An international meeting was called at Tilburg, The Netherlands, on December 15, 1951. There it was decided to organize an international exhibit in 1952. The organizing committee was comprised of messrs.

H. Heffener, The Netherlands, chairman
L. Tielens, Belgium, secretary
Serge Lucas, France, member
J. Haveneth, Germany, member
A. van Geneygen, Belgium, member
C. Vaccani, Italy, member

It is not clear whether the exhibition was ever held. An international meeting did take place though, at Tilburg in The Netherlands, in November 1952. This meeting saw the birth of the:


Countries and regions represented were Belgium, France, North Africa, The Netherlands, Italy, Germany, Canada and the United States. Mr. Heffener from The Netherlands chaired the meeting. The task at hand was building up this organization. On February 14, 1953 an international meeting was called at Utrecht, The Netherlands, during which the organization took on a definite form and statutes and bylaws were drawn up. The main focus of the organization was to be breeding of Song, Colorbred, Type and Hybrid Canaries. The seat of the organization was to be in The Hague, The Netherlands, home of the chairman. The executive committee consisted of:

President H. Heffener The Netherlands
Secretary L. Tielens Belgium
Belgium: A. v. Geneygen, Rosseau
France: L. Serge, Me. Serge, Bouleau
The Netherlands: A.C. Bakermans, Wouters ,M. Jochemse

The First World Canary Show, organized by the C.I.C., was held at Utrecht, The Netherlands in 1953.


During C.I.C.’s second meeting, convened on February 6, 1954 at Antwerp, the following countries were represented: France, The Netherlands, Germany, Belgium, England. Also attending, represented by power of attorney, were North Africa, Spain, the United States, Canada, Argentina, Uruguay, Cuba, and India. At the meeting the contribution per member country was set. Furthermore, it was decided to organize an international judges’ conference during the international show. The statutes were modified and accepted to reflect the redesigned organizational structure. To facilitate communication among members, a new monthly called ” l’Europe Canaricolore “, was published by C.I.C. director Savino Fernando from Italy. The 2nd World Show was held at Antwerp in 1954.

In 1955, during the 3rd World Show at Tourcoing, France, another international conference was held. Italian, Portuguese and Brazilian societies joined C.I.C. as new members. At the start of the conference, France’s Mr. Cioutat asked to briefly address the meeting in a personal capacity. He expressed his regret at the existence of two separate international ornithological organizations, i.e. C.I.C. and A.O.I. In his opinion, these two organizations were not based on a sound and stable legal foundation and he therefore asked the delegates to the conference to look into the possibility of arriving at a single world-wide organization by allowing C.I.C. and A.O.I., as well as all other federations not affiliated with these two associations, to merge. To this proposal he added his personal vision for a good solution. It was recommended to appoint an honorary committee comprised of ornithologists of world renown: His Excellency Prince Murat from France and prof. Gigi from Italy. He further proposed to appoint two presidents: one for countries speaking Germanic languages and one for those speaking Romance languages. A third president was to be an international lawyer, for which he proposed His Excellency Baron Jurion from France. In addition several vice-presidents could be appointed, for instance drawing from the presidents of member organizations. Finally, all organizations or federations were to appoint two representatives to the new international ornithological organization.


Since Mr. Cioutat was not a conference delegate, but a member of A.O.I., he then left the meeting. At the end of the conference Mr. Cioutat’s plea for a Global Confederation was discussed. Eventually it was agreed to work towards forming a friendship-based international organization rather than a dictatorial one. C.I.C. refused to accept any type of pressure. It was willing to cooperate with all other organizations in an amicable fashion and felt that every federation should be free to join or not join.

The delegates then gave the board free reign to come to a satisfactory solution.
An investigation into the possibility of merging existing organizations, as was requested by the members, got off the ground in 1956. A first step towards this goal was accomplished throught the efforts of Mr. Paul Meunier, representing the A.O.I at the meeting on February 4, 1956, during which C.I.C. members agreed to a merger with the A.O.I.
In fact the A.O.I. had earlier, at its November 26, 1955 meeting at Milan, voted to approve the intended merger.

Further preparations for the merger took place at Geneva between Mr. Bolzonella from Italy, representing the A.O.I. and Mr. Lambert from France speaking for the C.I.C. At a follow-up conference at Paris on March 18, 1956, delegates from both organizations came to an agreement. An interim board was formed comprised of the following gentlemen:

Dr. Cesar Bossi, administrative and executive president
H. Heffener, technical president
U. Bolzonella, vice president
J. Lambert, vice president
L.J. Tielens, secretary-general
M. Cruat, treasurer – assistant secretary.

An International non-profit organization was established which would carry the name:


COM Logo

At its foundation, C.O.M. had a country membership of 16, encompassing 27 organizations. The 1956/1957 members included Germany, Argentina, Belgium, Brazil, Canada, Cuba, Spain, France, Great Britain, The Netherlands, Italy, India, Portugal, Switzerland Uruguay and the United States.

Within a few short years C.O.M. grew into a vigorous organization with members all over the world. However, according to the bylaws, only country representatives were eligible for membership. As a result individual organizations were unable to join. This lead to the establishment of a second international organization in 1965, the:

Which allowed membership of distinct federations. In 1966 the O.I.O included associate organizations from Belgium, Germany, France, The Netherlands, Italy, and Sweden. It remained in existence until 1996 at least, although no information has been found on the organization after that year.