19 Bird Scene - August & September 2014

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BIRD ISSUE NINETEEN: AUGUST/SEPTEMBER 2014

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THE MAGAZINE FOR HOBBYIST BREEDERS AND CONSERVATIONISTS

THE NATIONAL EXHIBITION 2 014

2014 A BREEDING SEASON TO FORGET!!!

BY ROSEMARY LOW

PART TWO

WHAT TO DO ABOUT GEORGE BY EMMA FREEMAN

3R ISS D UE N 2 O 20 VE 0 O 14 M UT BE R

LEAR’S MACAW

FR EE

By David Allen, Lizard Canary Breeder and panel judge


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CONTENTS

BIRD SCENE: AUGUST / SEPTEMBER 2014

CONTENTS DONATE TO OUR CONSERVATION FUND…

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INTRODUCTION TO 19TH ISSUE OF BIRD SCENE

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2014 A BREEDING SEASON TO FORGET!!! By David Allen

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WIRE CAGES PART II YEAR TWO THE VERDICT? By David Allen

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WHAT TO DO ABOUT GEORGE By Emma Freeman

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WHO’S TRAINING WHO? By Amanda Cole

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THE NATIONAL EXHIBITION By Les Rance

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ON THE COVER

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LEAR’S MACAW PART II By Rosemary Low

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BIRD SCENE: Issue Nineteen: August / September 2014 BIRD SCENE is run by The Parrot Society UK, 92A High Street, Berkhamsted, Hertfordshire, HP4 2BL, England. FOR SALES AND EDITORIAL ENQUIRES Telephone or Fax: 01442 872245 Website: www.theparrotsocietyuk.org E-Mail: les.rance@theparrotsocietyuk.org

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INTRODUCT

Les Rance, Editor, The Parrot Society UK | www.theparrotsocietyuk.org | les.rance@

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his is now the nineteenth edition of Bird Scene, how quickly three years goes when you are working on a project like an on-line magazine, this is the first FREE on-line bird magazine produced in the UK. At 48 pages this is quite a big read! Every time we post the Parrot Society magazine I cringe at the cost and after the recent changes when postal costs increased further the distribution expenses have become very costly, I just do not know how smaller clubs with limited funds will be able to continue printing a member’s magazine, maybe E-magazines are the way to go? This must be a great worry to many club officials. An e-magazine does not have this problem, or the expense of colour printing and from a slightly technical viewpoint the images do not need to be of such high resolution as those required for a printed magazine. As a result of increases to the costs of both postage and printing I am really pleased that we decided to produce Bird Scene as a FREE e-magazine. We have learnt a great deal over the last three years about this way of communicating with bird enthusiasts and I am sure that this knowledge will become more and 4

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more valuable as we see further increases in costs associated to paper magazines. Not directly related to Bird Scene but a project that has been helped tremendously from what we have learned about on-line magazines is work I am undertaking to produce our Parrot Society magazine (which has been published for 48 years) in an on-line format for overseas readers this will be especially appealing for members in Ireland who have to pay high postage costs to receive the paper magazine. I hope that this version will be available for 2015, sounds a long way off but it is only 3 more editions! Regular readers will know that Bird Scene has been produced to publicise The National Exhibition held each year at our October Sale Day/Show and to promote our Conservation efforts for threatened parrots in the wild. Previous editions are still to be found in an archive at the foot of the Home Page of our website and if you would like to see earlier versions then do please visit the Bird scene archive at www.theparrotsocietyuk.org. In this edition we have an excellent article on the experiences of David


TION

BY THE EDITOR

LES RANCE

@theparrotsocietyuk.org Allen a Lizard canary breeder with wire breeding cages and also from the same contributor an article entitled ‘2014 a breeding season to forget!!!’ I would like to thank David for his contribution to this publication, without the work that they invest we would have little to publish. Unfortunately there seems to be a spate of thefts mainly from exhibitors keeping valuable show birds, please see the advice that John Hayward gave on this serious problem in the 18th issue of Bird Scene by going to the archive at the foot of our Home page website. In this issue I have included a very interesting article by Emma-Kate Freeman entitled ‘What to do about George’. George is a beautiful Goffins Cockatoo. Also an excellent article by Lovebird enthusiast and Treasurer of The Parrot Society Keith Jones on the Blue-masked Lovebird. For our conservation item I have selected the second part of the article on the Lear’s Macaw which the Society has just started to support. I do hope you enjoy reading this edition as much as I have in selecting the items to appear. BIRD SCENE 5


Things didn’t start off well as two of the pairs I put down, turned out to be four hens! This could be seen as a good thing but it meant switching cock birds around the bird room. This was followed by pairs taking a long time before they laid…

BY DAVID ALLEN

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his year’s breeding season has been a very trying one. I had high hopes for what I might achieve this year but as all best laid plans they didn’t turn out the way I wanted. I put more pairs down than I have for a number of years, but this was for two reasons to try and increase the number of Blue Lizards I breed and to look at improving the quality in my 06

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Lizards with the birds I had brought in. Things didn’t start off well as two of the pairs I put down, turned out to be four hens! This could be seen as a good thing but it meant switching cock birds around the bird room. This was followed by pairs taking a long time before they laid, whether I had not judged them being fit when I paired them up I don’t know and when I did


FEATURE

2014 A BREEDING SEASON TO FORGET!!!

finally get pairs to lay the eggs were either clear or dead-in- shell. The first nest that hatched was a nest of 5 and it was of my Forino frill’s which turned out to have a very good season, as I only keep 3 pairs. I spoke to other breeders who were also having problems, but they could seem to pin point their problem down to one reason, for me it was not so easy. I was BIRD SCENE 07


having a number of different reasons for my breeding season not going as planned. I also had hens not feeding the chicks I even had one hen eating the eggs, although grit was available for her in the cage. I also had some hens leave the eggs for no apparent reason. So Why? Well that is why we are in the hobby, if it was easy and plain sailing every year we would not enjoy it but it is still very frustrating when it is you! But although it has been a frustrating breeding season I have still bred some birds which hopefully will turn out worthy of putting on the show bench. I have bred a few Blue Lizards not as many as I would have liked but I have a few to show at the Show in October hopefully. But my main success has been with my Fiorino Frill’s which I introduced into my bird room a few years ago. I only keep three pairs and my aim is to breed one round and use them as

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I spoke to other breeders who were also having problems, but they could seem to pin point their problem down to one reason, for me it was not so easy. I was having a number of different reasons for my breeding season not going as planned. feeders for my Lizards. As I find them very good feeders. I had brought in a variegated white hen from Mrs Bhorn Bolton and had high hopes for this bird it had come from stock that I had sold her, which she had been successful with on the show bench. This bird did do very well raising 4 in the first round 3 in the second and 3 in the third and in every round she laid 5 eggs and hatched all 5 although she never raised all 5 I still feel this is a successful story so it’s not all bad news this year. Which makes me even more frustrated with my Lizards! Well what I need to do now is look forward to the 2015 breeding season and a bumper year fingers crossed.


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WIRE CAGES PART II YEAR TWO THE VERDICT? BY DAVID ALLEN, LIZARD CANARY BREEDER AND PANEL JUDGE

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his is my second season using wire breeding cages. I have 8 single wire breeding cages which I purchased at the start of last years breeding season as a trial. But I felt the birds were not settled into the cages to give a true result. This season I used all 8 single cages for breeding with a selection of the types of birds I keep, which are Lizards and Fiorino’s. So what were the results? Well they were very mixed as was my season breeding as a whole a very trying one. But I must say I bred as many birds in these cages as I did in my normal wooden cages. However, this was mainly down to the performance of the Fiorino’s as I had three pairs in the wire cages and they bred very well raising a total of 14 chicks from 3 pairs which is more than I had from all my other pairs of Lizards! I like the cages and think they have a lot of advantages over the wooden cages, but there is a few things I would like to change with them. The positive for the wire cages for me are: the plastic tray on the bottom of the cages which can easily be cleaned and washed out. The seed hoppers I also like as they are held in place by a wire door and they have a small perch on the front which means the birds are not standing on the floor while feeding so their feet keep cleaner.The cages I have are coated in plastic so they can be wiped down and they do not rust. BIRD SCENE 11


FEATURE

My birds seem to be very flighty in these cages which I found strange as I would have thought they would have been steadier. The cages also were singles so you could not separate the hen and cock if I need to, you had to remove the cock totally.

The negatives, are the doors are small, well for my hands they are small anyway. This also meant that the nest pans I had originally wanted to use would not fit through the door. Although the pans I did get for these cages I did like. My birds seem to be very flighty in these cages which I found strange as I would have thought they would have been steadier. The cages also were singles so you could not separate the hen and cock if I need to, you had to remove the cock totally. I had two blocks of 4 cages which I put together and due to this I placed a sheet of board in between the two blocks so the pairs in each cage could not see each other which would probably cause the pairs not to bond properly and would probably disturb each other. I have been looking for wire cages that meet all the factors I would like and as of yet I have not found any. And I don’t want to buy cages that are not what I really want. 12

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But I am still looking!! I will carry on using these cages next season as I think the experiment is still not fully completed. So watch out for part three in 2015.


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ome have described George as a character, I can think of many other ways to describe him but not in polite company. The simple facts about George are that he’s a thirteen year old, male, Goffins Cockatoo who joined our flock three years ago but that’s about all that is simple about George. He’s a very complex little bird and even after three years I still don’t feel that I know him or understand what motivates him. George joined our flock when his owner contacted us as she really didn’t know what else to do with him; she had taken him in from her daughter some years before and had given him the best of everything in life. But still George had started to pluck his feathers and unfortunately it became a habit. If feather plucking was his only problem then she could have coped with him but George, in true cockatoo style, was also unpredictable, a loving, sweet companion one moment and the devil’s spawn the next. She was extremely truthful with us when we went to visit them but for our sins we still took him in. My first impression of George was that he was a real little sweetie, a sociable little fella who liked to be the centre of attention. As soon as he spotted us he started to bounce up and down calling out ‘Hello George,’ in a squeaky little voice, the head came down for a tickle and we’d made friends. While the adults chatted, George entertained us with his repertoire, continually breaking into his own version of ‘Always Look on the

?

WH DO GE

BY EMMA FREEMAN 14

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HAT TO O ABOUT EORGE

FEATURE

Bright Side of Life.’ But before we could get too enchanted with him, his owner told us that although George loved to cuddle in her dressing gown and lay on his back to have raspberries blown on his tummy he had recently taken to flying at visitors and attacking their faces and wouldn’t think twice about biting her if she was talking on the phone or vacuuming around his cage. She had two other parrots and wanted to find a home for George as his behaviour was becoming more and more unpredictable. Her avian vet had told her that he was over bonded with her and that he needed training. Okay, I thought, we’ll just make sure that we both handle him equally and start some training with him, that doesn’t sound too difficult. That was before we tried to get him into a travel cage! Oh, George stepped up quite readily but as soon as he saw the travel cage he was off, hopping around the room from one surface to another, he thought it was the best game ever, George hop, we chase, George fly, we chase, George hop onto a hand, we get excited at finally catching him, George fly, we chase, we cup his wings, George bite, we cry, George hop. In the end, sheer persistence won out and George was safely in the cage but realisation dawned that George was not going to be an easy conquest. Our first course of action was to take George to an avian vet to check that the feather plucking wasn’t due to an underlying medical condition. George was given the all clear physically and the

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Emma with her Umbrella Cockatoo

vet confirmed that it was a behavioural problem. Every winter George snips all the feathers on his chest, shoulders and sometimes his wings and tail, the bottom of his cage looks like it’s been hit by a snowstorm. It’s particularly upsetting to see him frantically picking at himself but thankfully he only snips the feathers and is so far leaving his skin alone. Spring and summer see him almost fully feathered again and unrecognisable from the bald scrawny fella he is in the winter. In the mornings George would come out to share some porridge with me and investigate the kitchen, he wouldn’t sit on a parrot stand, preferring to perch on the back of a chair or a door handle, this was fun as it meant he could take discreet little chunks from the woodwork when my husband wasn’t looking, of course it was me who got the blame for not watching him. I had the brainwave of putting up a window perch and after weeks of trying to entice George onto the unfamiliar perch, he finally decided

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he quite liked it but only when he realised he could chomp his way through all the rubber seals around the window! Getting George to go back into his cage was still a problem at this stage and involved a lot of chasing and muttering rude words under the breath, that was George of course, not me. I realised that George was partial to almonds and decided to use them to train him. He stepped up easily but flew away as soon as he saw that we were approaching his cage. I placed the almonds at strategic points on the door of his cage, making sure he saw me do it, he was then eager to sit on his cage and munch the treats, I then placed an almond in his pot while he was watching me, as soon as my back was turned he hopped in to get his almond and I, quick as a flash, shut the door, locking it securely and rubbing my hands, pleased that I’d outsmarted him. After a time I only had to show him the almond and he’d go into his cage and wait for his treat.


FEATURE For the first few months George seemed to settle in well and showed no signs of aggression, we made sure we didn’t over handle him and tried to encourage him to play independently. Unfortunately George didn’t like anything new and wouldn’t go anywhere near a new toy even after weeks of trying to introduce it slowly to him. My plan of giving him lots of things to chew to try and stop him from chewing his feathers wasn’t going very well, he turned his nose up at chewing toys, preening toys, foraging toys, kitchen rolls and branches from the garden. I decided to try a regime of bathing him daily but guess what? George didn’t like to be bathed either, so I eased back to twice a week as I knew it was causing him stress. It was still summer at this point and George was an affectionate little companion, prone to bursts of hyperactivity but basically a happy little chap. He was mostly feathered and we hoped this would continue. We took George, along with our other parrots, to our educational talks at schools, fetes and other events and he quickly became a favourite with everyone, he was such a cheeky little character, saying ‘hello’ and ‘goodbye’ at the right times and singing and dancing with anyone who would

take the time to stop and say hello. But, as with most cockatoos, (the males in particular), there is a darker side to George, one that I cannot pretend to understand. October came and George started to pull his feathers, it was devastating to see him frantically picking at himself, no matter what we did, he continued to pluck and along with the plucking, his behaviour changed. He became more and more unpredictable, one moment he would be enjoying a cuddle and then he would turn and bite and he started to fly at visitors in full attack mode, he became cage territorial as well and would attack your fingers as you removed the pots from his cage. He didn’t want to come out of his cage and if you had the audacity to clean in or around his cage he would fling himself at the bars, screeching and flapping. I spoke regularly with his previous owner and she confirmed that this was a cycle that repeated every year. I talked to other parrot owners and read everything I could find on feather plucking to try to find some solution to his problem, however the more I read, the more I realised that there is no single answer to feather plucking, it appears to be as individual as the bird is. I felt totally helpless but I had no choice but to stand by and watch as my cheeky little George

We took George, along with our other parrots, to our educational talks at schools, fetes and other events and he quickly became a favourite with everyone, he was such a cheeky little character, saying ‘hello’ and ‘goodbye’ at the right times and singing and dancing with anyone who would take the time to stop and say hello.

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October of the following year I was prepared for the snow storm in the bottom of the cage but his behaviour was worse than before and this year the aggression has escalated again, to the point where most members of the family refuse to enter the room when George is out.

turned into a bird I didn’t recognise. Amazingly, by the end of Spring George’s feathers were almost normal again and he seemed much happier, back to his singing and dancing self, he was still neurotic and hyperactive at times but was happy to play on his cage or fly over and come and sit with us on the sofa. I knew he was back to his usual self when I noticed missing chunks of wood work in the bird room and he started to chew cardboard boxes again instead of himself. October of the following year I was prepared for the snow storm in the bottom of the cage but his behaviour was worse than before and this year the aggression has escalated again, to the point where most members of the family refuse to enter the room when George is out. He has plucked himself so badly that he can’t fly which is good for us as it means he can’t fly and attack anyone but not so good for him as it’s pitiful to see him so frustrated. He is still a menace though, as he might not be able to fly but George can hop, he’s a master at hopping and is unbelievably quick when he wants to be. At the moment he refuses to step up and will bite me as soon as look at me so the only way I can get him back into his cage is to wrap him in a towel. I hate doing this as I feel it is breaking any trust that he has in me. Training him is impossible when he 18

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behaves like this; in fact any interaction is undertaken at your own peril. So what do we do about George? Believe me, I have been tempted to ‘move him on’ to another home, it isn’t pleasant to live with such an aggressive bird and it is distressing to know he is unhappy in our care but how do we know he would be happier elsewhere? Would we not be guilty of passing the problem to somebody else? We are his third home already and realistically there aren’t many people who want to take in an aggressive, psycho, feather plucking, swearing, hormonal cockatoo. Without knowing the reason he behaves the way he does it is virtually impossible to find a solution to his behaviour. We have tried many different toys to stimulate and keep George busy and active, we have tried training him, interacting with him, teaching him to play independently, bathing him regularly, bird safe alternative remedies, a varied and healthy diet, a new cage, foraging toys, time outside in the sun, trips out of the house and much love and affection. We are not without experience as we have kept parrots for twenty years and have a wide circle of parroty friends to ask for advice but having tried everything we can collectively think of we are at a loss to help him. We have recently thought about finding a mate for George and building an outdoor aviary but pairing


FEATURE up cockatoos is not an easy task and can result in fatalities, not something I want on my conscience. We have also considered putting him in a large, mixed bird aviary but suspect he wouldn’t cope well as he often can’t fly. There is no easy answer to George’s problems but having lived with a bird who feather plucks I now feel quite strongly that those people that claim that feather plucking is due to boredom, neglect or abuse are over simplifying the problem. George has been given everything that we could think of to make life in captivity as good as it can be, he shouldn’t have been bored and he certainly has never been neglected or abused now or at any time in the past, yet he still plucks his feathers. I know of many other birds that have been neglected and abused and they never pull a feather in their life. I don’t know why George started feather plucking, I do know that it has become a habit, much like biting your fingernails, a habit which is proving very difficult to stop. George is our responsibility and we, as his owners, are responsible for his well being and I hate to think that we have failed him in not understanding his behaviour. I’m sure there are other members reading this who can relate to George’s story as his behaviour is not unusual especially in Cockatoos, it has made me question whether Cockatoos

should be kept as pets. A couple of years ago I would have answered differently, based on my own experiences with our Umbrella Cockatoo Louis who is a little darling but I have spoken to more people who have a story like George’s than those who have lived for many years happily with a pet Cockatoo. And that was where the article was going to finish, until George met Linda and George and Linda fell in love and George went to live with Linda and George is now known as Gorgeous George! Linda is not another Cockatoo she’s a friend who came to visit, George perked up as soon as they were introduced and spent the rest of the evening going out of his way to charm her. It worked. Once we had all got over the shock of George’s new love affair and his usual behaviour was spelt out in no uncertain terms to Linda, surprisingly she didn’t flinch or run straight to the door, it was tentatively suggested by Linda that she took George in on a trial basis. I had no doubts that Linda would give George a very good home as she has had some great success in the past with difficult birds (I secretly call her the parrot whisperer).My feelings were mainly of guilt, I felt guilty that I was passing on a problem and giving up on George, now two months on and George happily settled with Linda I realise that I was more guilty of believing that only I

Once we had all got over the shock of George’s new love affair and his usual behaviour was spelt out in no uncertain terms to Linda, surprisingly she didn’t flinch or run straight to the door, it was tentatively suggested by Linda that she took George in on a trial basis.

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…when I told him he was to be a good boy for Linda he looked me straight in the eye and said ‘byeee’ and turned his back as they went through the door. could help George. Sometimes it is in the best interest of the bird to be re homed elsewhere, regardless of the owner’s feelings. When I feel bad about George going to his fourth home, I only have to remember him hopping willingly into Linda’s travel cage and when I told him he was to be a good boy for Linda he looked me straight in the eye and said ‘byeee’ and turned his back as they went through the door.

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My Dad and I would spend hours travelling the English country side attending Bird shows and always looking to expand our ever growing collection of birds. I was under the impression that I had quite a bit of knowledge on keeping birds; I can now say how wrong I was.

WHO’S TRAI

H

ave you ever asked yourself this question about your companion Parrot, are you doing the training; or is she/he training you? I have come to the opinion that my Parrot has in many, many ways, trained me! No, she is not in control of me, but I certainly

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needed to rethink my ways of conformity towards her, by doing this we are only now beginning to live in harmony with each other. This time last year I was about to become the proud owner of a 17 week old female Blue-fronted Amazon. I


ARTICLE BY AMANDA COLE

INING WHO? had waited for this moment for years. As a young child I was surrounded by numerous house pets, including a beautiful Yellow-headed Amazon, and various aviary birds. My Dad and I would spend hours travelling the English country side attending Bird shows

and always looking to expand our ever growing collection of birds. I was under the impression that I had quite a bit of knowledge on keeping birds; I can now say how wrong I was. My knowledge was no greater than a ‘grain of sand’ when it came to the time when we

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brought our baby Amazon home! I bought (Molly), our Amazon, from a reputable breeder. She had been hand reared well, all health checked, D N A tested, wormed, fully weaned, etc, etc. We had bought her a huge cage, numerous toys, play stands, good quality parrot seed, pellets, fresh vegetables and fruit was in abundance, you name it she had it!! This bird was going to have a fantastic life! I had this idea in my head that Molly would be living amongst the family, out of her cage more than in, joining in with breakfast, dinner and tea, accompanying us on trips, generally conforming to ‘our ways’. It was going to be a piece of cake, after all I did handle the birds in our aviaries years ago, and

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more so, I had brought up 3 children, managed a home, and a husband!!! Owning a baby Amazon parrot would be a breeze, how wrong was I, and how naive of me to think that it would definitely be as easy as that. For some bird owners it is exactly like that, which must be great, but sadly for many others; it is more about what you are just about to read next!!! Prior to bringing Molly home I bought a couple of books on ‘keeping parrots, these books were ok; however the advice was quite conflicting. I was under the notion that when you bring your bird home, if she/he seems willing to come out of its cage after short time, then you should allow it. Maybe this is the case for


FEATURE

I bought (Molly), our Amazon, from a reputable breeder. She had been hand reared well, all health checked, D N A tested, wormed, fully weaned, etc, etc. some birds, but for our parrot it was not the right thing for us to do. It all seemed so simple, take the baby Amazon out of its cage, sit on the floor with the family members(preferably in a circle), and gently pass the parrot from one person to the next, talking calmly etc, etc, after all baby Amazons DO NOT BITE!!!!!! So after a few attempts of getting the bird ‘to step up’ she came out with us that is where the trouble began. Molly was not happy to be passed from person to person, but rather she wanted to fly around the room, land on my shoulder, and attempt to bite anyone who came close to touching her. When I attempted to get her on my hand I would receive a very hard bite, she certainly wasn’t beaking, or steadying her balance; these were blood drawing bites!! How could a baby Amazon bite so hard when all we had heard was that they were cuddly, loving birds?? What was wrong with ours, we thought? We had her checked out by a vet but all was well, thankfully. Please let me make this very clear that this behaviour was very unusual at such a young age, I was told that over and over again, but that did not help me in any way. After a few weeks I had no choice but to call the breeder, I was in need of help and advice. I had already bonded with Molly and had no intentions of asking the breeder to have her back. The breeder

had no reason for this behaviour, she had heard from the other people that had bought the two other parrots, (Molly’s brother and sister) and they were absolutely fine, no biting at all. I had to ask myself what we were doing wrong. I felt a failure, so disappointed and very badly bruised!! All I wanted was for us to love her, and to be loved by her. Eventually it got to the point where I dreaded getting Molly out, and yet she was so keen to come out!! I therefore had to put layers of clothes on under my jumper, and sadly even resorted to gloves of which she took no notice!!! I banned the children, and husband from coming into the room where she was out, this wasn’t to protect her, but to protect my family from the hard, blood drawing bites, I also didn’t want to be bitten anymore. As you can imagine this caused a great deal of tension within the family, many times I would be told to get rid of that’ nasty bird‘!!! The situation became so desperate, that I decided to call a well known Parrot expert. We had a long

I dreaded getting Molly out, and yet she was so keen to come out!! I therefore had to put layers of clothes on under my jumper, and sadly even resorted to gloves of which she took no notice!!! I banned the children, and husband from coming into the room where she was out, this wasn’t to protect her, but to protect my family…

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From reading just one of the few books that I bought on Parrot problems by Barbara Heidenreich, I learnt so much, and the techniques that Barbara uses were different to what I had heard before. I began to learn why parrots act or behave the way that they do, all about their natural inbuilt instinct to survive, how parrots don’t hate people… chat, she did give me some good advice but she stressed that she had not come across this behaviour at such a young age, she advised me whether I should think of re homing her as an Aviary bird, but definitely not as a companion bird. I was heart broken at the thought of possibly having to do this, it worried me that if I did re home her; what would become of her? Despite the fact that she bit me so bad I still loved her so much. Being determined not to give up on her I set about researching for hours on the internet, some advice was good but so many things did not work. I tried all that there was to try, unbalancing the bird on your arm if its about to bite, distracting it, squirting it with a small water pistol, getting her to step from one hand to another, giving her the evil eye, putting her back in her cage, you name it, I tried it!!! After 8 months of trying different techniques I came across Barbara Heidenreichs Web site www. GoodBirdInc.com. (Good Bird Magazine,

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PO Box 684394, Austin, TX 78768.) I emailed Barbara and she kindly sent me some advice from her website. I also found out that Barbara had written books on parrot behavioural problems, these included screaming, biting, cage bound birds, feather plucking and much more, plus DVDs on parrot training etc,etc. Barbara is a well known animal trainer in America she also travels to many other countries throughout the world. From reading just one of the few books that I bought on Parrot problems by Barbara Heidenreich, I learnt so much, and the techniques that Barbara uses were different to what I had heard before. I began to learn why parrots act or behave the way that they do, all about their natural inbuilt instinct to survive, how parrots don’t hate people (like I had become to believe!). These books taught me so much about my bird, how to NOT force her to do something she does not want to do, to respect her, and to try to look at the situation like a parrot does. Yes, she did seem keen to come out with us in the beginning when we first brought her home, but she was a little baby, she didn’t know what was right for her. There were times that I can see now, when we did force her to step up, she was really telling us in her own way that she wasn’t happy to do so, I just didn’t read the signals!!!! We had reinforced, and sadly taught her to bite, our ignorance had caused this bad situation. From reading Barbara’s books, it was clear that she is in favour


FEATURE

of reinforcing good behaviour, ignoring the bad, but also actually giving the bird the right to say ’no‘ to something that we want it to do. If within a few seconds that you ask a command, hold a treat out, and if the bird doesn’t comply promptly, then to actually walk away from the bird with the treat, but to return a few minutes later and try again. No it’s not letting the bird have its own way, but its giving the bird respect by letting it have a choice to do the command promptly; or in a few minutes later. In no way should you force the bird to do something it just doesn’t want to do, if you do, your more likely to receive a bite! If when your bird really

If within a few seconds that you ask a command, hold a treat out, and if the bird doesn’t comply promptly, then to actually walk away from the bird with the treat, but to return a few minutes later and try again. misbehaves then give her/him ‘time out’ in its cage for only a very short time. There are so many valuable techniques that Barbara uses, and I can say that I have put them into practice and they are WORKING!! My beautiful Molly now ‘steps up’

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onto my hand willingly, without biting and receives her treat for doing so. She enjoys to lay on my lap whilst I stroke her head and her beak, the beak that would once pierce my skin so often. Molly loves to be sung to, and she falls asleep on my arm. My children can stroke her head through the bars of her cage, and my husband, who she would hiss and lunge at in her cage; can now talk to her through the bars, take treats from his hand, and mimic the words she knows to him. We have still got a long way to go. My next step is to have Molly come out of the cage when one member of the family is in the room, of course I will stay out of the room because she is bonded to me, but I can now teach my family members how to reinforce good behaviour like I do. Hopefully one day we can let her join us at the table, watch TV out of her cage with us, even come in the shower but that would be out of the question just yet!!! I’m leaving those decisions for Molly, however we will endeavour to help her make up her mind, and in her own time!! I am very grateful to Barbara for her techniques that were suitable for my individual bird; without these techniques that have helped me understand my bird unfortunately I may have given up and parted with my beautiful Blue-fronted Amazon. I would urge anyone in this situation to not give up, but on the other hand do not punish yourself if you have to resort to re homing your bird. If you can just manage to spend some time researching what will work for your bird 28

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then you may find that you can live in harmony with your beloved companion parrot. I have had to learn that what we may want from our bird isn’t what she/he wants at the moment, but that’s not to say she/he won’t change its mind in the future! I hope I have encouraged even just one person by this story? Don’t give up hope, there is help out there. If you find yourself in a similar situation to mine, just pause a minute and ask yourself what is my parrot thinking right now, how do they see the situation through their eyes? Keep calm, smile at them and try again, even if you are afraid inside, try not to show it! You will be pleasantly surprised, when the bird that you so feared, that annoyed, or ruled the roost, will warm to you and behave the way that suits you both! If I can do this, then so can you!

DONATE TO OUR CONSERVATION FUND… CLICK THE LINK BELOW: http://www.theparrotsocietyuk.org/donations.php


FEATURE

I have had to learn that what we may want from our bird isn’t what she/he wants at the moment, but that’s not to say she/he won’t change its mind in the future! I hope I have encouraged even just one person by this story? Don’t give up hope, there is help out there.

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THE NATIONAL EXHIBITION 12TH OCTOBER 2014 22

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FEATURE

ARTICLE BY: LES RANCE

P

rogress with the background tasks associated with this year’s National is excellent and all the entry wrist bands, car parking passes and Officials badges will be sent to the Show Secretary’s early in September. Our sponsors, Johnston and Jeff and the Birdcare Company are again providing excellent rosettes that I am sure will be greatly appreciated by the winners as they are of very high quality. The Parrot Society can only thank the bird club officials that have all worked so hard to increase the number of exhibits year on year and made this exhibition the success it has become. We were pleased to announce last year that the Norwich Canary Club, Yorkshire Canary Club and the Border Canary Club had joined our ranks and were exhibiting their member’s birds I understand they experienced a very successful show and are looking forward to this year’s event. Eight years ago The Parrot Society started out on a venture of hopefully rebuilding “The National Exhibition” that had been run up until 2003 at the Birmingham NEC. The defining factor was whether it was possible for all branches of our hobby to jointly pull together and ‘make it work’ after recording such a success in the first year the question was then whether the enthusiasm would be sustained. It has indeed worked each year since

the first Show in 2007 the numbers of exhibits have increased and we are working hard to ensure that even more varieties of exhibition quality canaries are on the show bench for this year’s event. By combining this exhibition with the already highly successful Parrot Society October Sale Day at the superbly equipped Staffordshire County Showground a large proportion of the exhibitors were familiar with both the location and the available facilities. UK bird exhibitors now view this event as the premier ‘all variety show’ on the UK calendar. We are delighted that the exhibition is obtaining increasing support from both continental judges and breeders who travel long distances to attend this event it is exciting to think that in a very short time this exhibition has been able to attract these dedicated fanciers from all over Europe. The continental influence is not only limited to the fanciers, there is an increasing demand from continental traders to attend this event, further increasing the range of products available to all our

We are delighted that the exhibition is obtaining increasing support from both continental judges and breeders who travel long distances to attend this event…

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enthusiastic visitors. As it is located on the A518 only a few miles to the east of junction 14 of the M6 so vehicles can quickly arrive at the Showground. Arrangements are well in hand for the next Show on Sunday 11th October 2015. A meeting with representatives of all the supporting clubs was held at The Quality Hotel Coventry on Sunday 27th April. Each time we organise this Show we aim to improve both the exhibitor experience and that of the viewing public and the points discussed at this meeting prove invaluable in ensuring improvements continue to achieve these goals. The minutes of the meeting are printed at the end of this article. “The National Exhibition” has been kindly sponsored once again by Richard Johnston of Johnston and Jeff

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and Malcolm Green of The Birdcare Company, who have both supported us from the start. This year their generous sponsorship has also financed additional new staging as exhibits are set to increase and the added attraction of supplements and bird seed as prizes can only help increase the numbers benched. We are indebted to the management and editorial staff of Cage & Aviary Birds magazine for the production of a very well designed insert, with our contribution being the collation of the information from all the exhibiting clubs. The supplement will appear in their 2nd September 2014 edition and will as previously carry advertisements from all the exhibiting clubs and details as to who to approach to obtain the Show Schedule for your chosen species. This


FEATURE

DONATE TO OUR CONSERVATION FUND… supplement has now become a feature of “The National Exhibition”. Since the show took on the name “The National Exhibition” in 2010 the demand for trade space has significantly increased, with some new traders making their first appearance this year. So whatever your bird keeping requirements they will be on offer at Stafford on 12th October. The Sandylands Centre and half of the Argyle Centre will again be used to accommodate the exhibits with the ‘booking in’ and club stands filling the remainder of the Argyle Centre. This facilitates the management of the exhibition during the judging of the birds and allows both exhibitors and general visitor’s access to the exhibition at the earliest possible time on the day.

CLICK THE LINK BELOW: http://www.theparrotsocietyuk.org/donations.php

The Parrot Society Council members hope that all the exhibitors and the officials of the specialist exhibiting clubs have a very enjoyable day. The Parrot Society would like to thank the clubs for all the kind words and support that you have given us. It will make this year’s “National Exhibition” a pleasure to be involved with.

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Photograph Steve Brookes

DONATE TO OUR CONSERVATION FUND… CLICK THE LINK BELOW: http://www.theparrotsocietyuk.org/donations.php

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VATION• R E S C ON

R E V A S T N I ON O C

C

N

•C RVATIO E N • C ONS

VATION• R E S ON NSERVATION• C

PART TWO

O NS

VATION• R E S C ON

O NS

ERVATION•C

ERVATION•C

NSERVATI O N •CO

ONSERVATION

ERVATION•C ONS

LEAR’S MACAW O

ARTICLE BY ROSEMARY LOW

I

n the first part of this article, published in the 17th edition of Bird Scene, Rosemary Low described how the emotional impact of seeing this special species in its natural habitat prompted her to ask the Parrot Society to donate towards its conservation. And they came up trumps! The fruits of the licuri palm (Syagrus coronata) should form at least 90% of the Lear’s Macaw’s diet. The licuri bunches contain approximately 330 fruits, the average length and diameter of the fruits (nuts) being 2cm and 1.4cm respectively. The macaws open them by means of perfect transverse cuts. Unfortunately, there is a long history of exploitation of the palm by local families. The fruits are collected and the palm fronds are used in the wax and soap industries and to make hats and domestic utensils, also for handicrafts. Some families are dependent upon the

palm for up to 90% of their income. The pulp of the mature fruit is used as food for humans, cattle and even chickens. The palm trees used to be felled to make way for land for pasture and agriculture. These palms are usually located in open areas but, traditionally, fires are lit to prepare pastures which means the whole licuri population of an area could be destroyed in a few days. However, in the caatinga habitat -- Brazil’s semi-arid region where Lear’s is found -- the main threat to licuri palm survival is the cutting of leaves to feed cattle and goats. This is particularly harmful in years when the region is affected by severe droughts. Due to overgrazing, there is no licuri regeneration where there are goats and cows; the cattle feed on the licuri fruits that fall to the ground and on the seedlings. These palms are endemic to Brazil, BIRD SCENE 37


extending from the north of Minas Gerais state to the south of Pernambuco state, including Bahia, Alagoas and Sergipe. It seemed to me that conservation of the licuri palms is almost as important as that of the macaw itself. Loro Parque Fundacion which was one of the first organisations to help conserve this iconic macaw. With its knowledge, expertise and commitment, this organisation has done much more than captive breeding in its breeding centre in Tenerife. In its most recent effort it joined forces with the Arara-Azul Institute in Brazil, to focus on raising awareness of local communities in supporting sustainable use of licuri palms (as explained in the March issue of the Magazine of 38

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the Parrot Society (pages 28-29). This project is co-ordinated by the National Centre for Research and Conservation of Wild Birds (CEMAVE), part of the government’s ICMBio. In 1998 a grant of $200,000 was made to the Lear’s Macaw committee that had been set up by the Brazilian government. The grant was made to facilitate protection of the Lear’s habitat, and for conservation and educational programmes. IBAMA had started a recovery programme for Lear’s Macaw in 1993, with the creation of the Working Group. Subsequently a committee was formed, whose composition has been periodically revised. A full time field team was established to carry out periodic


FEATURE

censuses, study breeding behaviour, survey breeding areas, document the locality of licuri palms and to establish an experimental licuri plantation. In order to inhibit the trapping and illegal trade in the macaw, efficiency of law enforcement was considered essential. In 2001 IBAMA developed, through its specialised centre CEMAVE, a partnership with Proaves (Brazilian Association for Conservation of Birds), in Jeremoabo. This programme is funded by those organisations and by Fundacion Loro Parque. The second programme was developed in Canudos by the Biodiversitas Foundation. Since 1989 it has had a strong surveillance programme with a permanent team composed of four

people working on a daily basis in the areas used by the macaws. No doubt a larger team would be employed if the funds were available. Biodiversitas has also and carried out research on the macaw’s biology. An environmental education programme was developed, including giving lectures to elementary schools and lectures and workshops to students. The illegal capture of wildlife is also covered. Much of this work is carried out by Kilma Manso whose report appears in this issue. ICMBio coordinates the Captive Program. Without the work of these two organisations, especially in protecting the macaws from poachers, the population could not have grown so rapidly. In 2008 Lear’s Macaw was BIRD SCENE 39


down-graded from Critically Endangered to Endangered. By 2010 the population was believed to number approximately 1,125 individuals. In 2006 the estimate was 500 individuals. The increase was partly the result of improved protection measures, also due to improved censusing techniques. The latest census was carried out in November 2013 by scientists and 30 volunteers, mainly students sponsored by CEMAVE. The result, according to ICMBio/CEMAVE data, was an estimated 1,283 macaws, an increase of 20 individuals from the 2012 figure. It is thought that the increase might have been greater but for the severe drought in the region. The two most important roosting/ breeding sites are protected. Toca Velha is within the Biological Station of Canudos, owned by Biodiversitas Foundation. It was created in 1989 with 160 ha and has since been increased with the purchase of land to 1,450 ha. The aim is to conserve the macaw and all the biological diversity and to create

The two most important roosting/ breeding sites are protected. Toca Velha is within the Biological Station of Canudos, owned by Biodiversitas Foundation. It was created in 1989 with 160 ha and has since been increased with the purchase of land to 1,450 ha.

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a RPPN (Private Reserve of Natural Heritage). This is a voluntary act by the owner who does not lose ownership. In this kind of conservation area research is allowed and it is open to the public with tourism, education and recreation purposes. There is also an educational centre in Canudos, with videos and books that can be consulted by teachers and students. The second roosting/breeding site is in the Ecological Station of Raso da Catarina, a Federal Conservation Unit, in Jeremoabo. It is adjacent to the Serra Branca Farm owned by Otávio Nolasco. For many years he has been protecting the macaws with guards that patrol the area to deter trappers. He also provides corn and licuri nuts to try to prevent the macaws travelling too far in search of food, where they might be shot. Why do Lear’s macaws need our help when their numbers continue to increase? The answer is that without ongoing protection and assisting farmers, the population would soon decline. Biodiversitas started a unique programme in 2005 to compensate farmers whose corn crops are eaten by the macaws. Note that half the Parrpt Society’s donation has gone to this project. Parrots International, in the USA, has been a major contributor. Speaking at their 2010 conference in San Diego, the director, Mark Stafford, reported that in April 2006, 12 tons of corn were distributed -- and the same amount


FEATURE


again in November. In 2010, the quantity had increased to 33.6 tons which cost about US$5,000. This is organised by Kilma Manso who formerly worked for the wildlife police, catching parrot traffickers. She is passionate about preventing Lear’s Macaws from being shot -- which is what happens when the poor farmers of this inhospitable region have their crops devastated. During my visit in September 2013, we went with her to one of the farms to see a corn crop that had been totally destroyed. Some farmers are sanguine

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about this, now that they know they will be given vouchers to exchange for sacks of corn, after Kilma has assessed the amount of crop damage. Most farmers know about the corn subsidy programme and take part. This is not a cheap scheme. More than 1,000 sacks of corn will be needed every year. This is not easy. Kilma must cover more than 5,000 square km (1,930 square miles) -- an immense area. In early March Kilma e-mailed me as follows: I have just returned from another field expedition to survey the corn fields


FEATURE

Another aspect of the conservation programme which could be implemented if the funds were available would be to give seedling licuri palms to farmers. If the trees thrived, the reward would be sacks of corn. These palms are not easy to cultivate: little growth is seen during the first eight years.

damaged by the Lear’s Macaws. The surveys are not yet finished because the number of damaged corn crops is so high and located very far from each other; so, we are making another field expedition to conclude the survey next week. I am now organizing all the documentations and equipment we will need to travel. I have stopped all my other work demands in order to finish this project as soon as possible. The farmers need the corn to feed their cattle and goats, and they can be upset if they need to wait for a long time to get their reimbursement of damages!

More staff are needed to do this. As the population increases the Lear’s Macaws fly over a larger area to find food. Kilma told me sadly that at least ten were shot in 2013. With more staff the education programme and the corn compensation scheme could be extended, thus reducing the threat to the macaws in areas not protected. Another aspect of the conservation programme which could be implemented if the funds were available would be to give seedling licuri palms to farmers. If the trees thrived, the reward would be sacks of corn. These palms are not easy

BIRD SCENE 43


In recent years there have been several studies of the breeding habits of Lear’s Macaw. These birds nest in cavities in sandstone cliffs, of which the two most important localities used are 38km (24 miles) apart. Searches for other nesting cliffs must continue. to cultivate: little growth is seen during the first eight years. Breeding In recent years there have been several studies of the breeding habits of Lear’s Macaw. These birds nest in cavities in sandstone cliffs, of which the two most important localities used are 38km (24

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miles) apart. Searches for other nesting cliffs must continue. Eggs are usually laid in November or December and the last young leave the nest in April -- the month in which most young fledge. During the breeding season of 20042005, an extensive search for nests was carried out. Fifty-six cavities were found occupied at Serra Branca and eleven at Toca Velha. Nine nests were monitored during the whole breeding season, and the breeding success registered was 1.22 young/monitored nest,. The population increased by about 80 individuals. Five years later, observation of nesting cavities at both sites in 2010 led to


FEATURE

The uncertainties on future population projections for Lear’s Macaw call for new monitoring and conservation efforts. Further monitoring must focus on the breeding fraction of the population rather than on overall population size (Pacífico et al, 2014).

an estimate of 114 breeding pairs, representing just over 20% of the population. It has been suggested that the large non-breeding population could mean competition for food by breeding pairs with non--breeding macaws, especially in times of food scarcity. Each breeding pair normally produces one or two chicks. This contrasts with only one chick for the Hyacinthine Macaw. Young of cliff nesters, such as Lear’s, are less susceptible to predation. The uncertainties on future population projections for Lear’s Macaw call for new monitoring and conservation efforts. Further monitoring must focus on the

breeding fraction of the population rather than on overall population size (Pacífico et al, 2014). The World Parrot Trust was one of the first organisations to support the conservation of Lear’s Macaw. In the Spring 2014 issue of their magazine PsittaScene renowned Brazilian ornithologist Carlos Yamashita, who is an authority on the threatened parrots of Brazil, made a very interesting suggestion. It concerned the now extinct Glaucous Macaw (Anodorhynchus glaucus), which is very closely related to Lear’s. It differed mainly in the slightly different plumage coloration. The two

BIRD SCENE 45


species probably shared a common ancestor only a few thousand years ago. His idea is that Lear’s should be introduced to the Glaucous Macaw’s historic range in Rio Grande do Sul (southern Brazil) and Argentina where the palm trees on which the Glaucous fed and former nesting cliffs still survive. He suggests that Lear’s Macaws confiscated from poachers and captive-bred birds could be used for this purpose. Indeed, should the time come when the Lear’s population has outgrown the cliff nests available at the two most important sites, perhaps even translocation might be considered? Surely nothing should be ruled out to

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ensure the survival of this charismatic macaw. The extinction of the Glaucous -- which disappeared before anyone realised -- is a chilling reminder that Lear’s is a highly vulnerable species which almost went the same way as the Glaucous. It was saved just in time -but we must never let up on our efforts to ensure its survival. That is why I am so grateful to the Parrot Society for the current support it is providing. Reference Cited: Pacífico, E.C., E.A.Barbosa, T.Filadelfo, K.G. Oliveira, L.F. Silveira and J.L.Tella, 2014, Breeding to non-breeding population ratio and breeding performance of the globally Endangered Lear’s Macaw Anodorhynchus leari: conservation and monitoring implications. Bird Conservation International, February: 1-11.


FEATURE

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PREMIUM PARROT FRUIT

Composition: medium striped and white sunflower, safflower, whole maize, clipped oats, pumpkin seed, flaked peas, puffed maize, papaya, banana, currants, pineapple, apricot, brazil nut kernels, walnut halves, peanuts, monkey nuts, pine nuts, chillies, rosehips, carrot. Wonderful. Suitable for: Macaws and large Hookbills, African Greys, Amazons and most Parrot types except Galahs (we do a special blend for Galahs).

THE FINEST BIRD FOOD CONTACT: JOHNSTON & JEFF LTD., BALTIC BUILDINGS, GATEWAY BUSINESS PARK, GILBERDYKE,EAST RIDING OF YORKSHIRE HU15 2TD T: 01430 449444 www.johnstonandjeff.co.uk mail@johnstonandjeff.co.uk Johnston & Jeff foods are only sold through retailers. Please contact us if you need information on your nearest stockists, our mail order partners, and for information and feeding guides. We reserve the right to add to the composition of our blends if we find a better grade or wish to enhance the menu. Please check our web site for up-to-date details.