32 Bird Scene - November & December 2016

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BIRD ISSUE THIRTY TWO: NOVEMBER / DECEMBER 2016

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THE MAGAZINE FOR HOBBYIST BREEDERS AND CONSERVATIONISTS

THE NATIONAL EXHIBITION FEEDING OUR BIRDS BY: ALLAN F. MANNING

IS 2 SUE JA 3 20 NU 3 O 17 AR UT Y

ZEBRA FINCHES KEN LOCKWOOD AND GERALD MASSEY

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SHOW REPORTS RECEIVED


BRAZIL 2016 Released to celebrate The Parrot Society’s 50th Anniversary, Brazil 2016 is a companion publication to Brazil 2011 and is again lavishly illustrated. Both volumes will be available at the Parrot Society stand at the forthcoming National Exhibition of Birds, organised by The Parrot Society UK, to be held on Sunday 9th October, at Stafford County Showground, ST18 0BD. There will be a further discount for both editions purchased together, and they will make ideal Christmas presents!


CONTENTS BIRD SCENE: NOVEMBER / DECEMBER 2016

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

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NATIONAL EXHIBITION SHOW REPORTS RECEIVED Photographs Neil Randle

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ON THE COVER

BIRD ISSUE THIRTY TWO: NOVEMBER / DECEMBER 2016

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SURVIVAL OF THE SCARLET MACAW IN CENTRAL AMERICA Rosemary Low FEEDING OUR BIRDS Allan F. Manning

THE MAGAZINE FOR HOBBYIST BREEDERS AND CONSERVATIONISTS

THE NATIONAL EXHIBITION

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SHOW REPORTS RECEIVED

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ZEBRA FINCHES KEN LOCKWOOD AND GERALD MASSEY

FEEDING OUR BIRDS BY: ALLAN F. MANNING

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IS 2 SUE JA 33 20 NU O 17 AR UT Y

ZEBRA FINCHES Ken Lockwood and Gerald Massey

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BIRD SCENE: Issue Thirty Two: November / December 2016 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 The views expressed by contributors to this magazine are not those of The Parrot Society UK unless otherwise explicitly stated

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INTRODUCT

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

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ell here we are the thirtysecond edition of Bird Scene. What a cracking National Exhibition we have just experienced the P.S. Council were delighted by the 6,100 visitors to the event and very heartened by the favourable comments from our trade supporters many along the lines of ‘the best sale day ever’. As the roof of Bingley Hall has now had the £1,000,000 refurbishment and the lighting issues have been sorted we had very few problems this year. Our campaign against the sale of obviously wild caught birds that are filtering through the borders of eastern states within the EU seems to be having the desired results and we hope that this will improve the prices for breeders in this country that genuinely breed these rarer species. The clubs associated with the National Exhibition were full of praise for the way the exhibition is developing and with 4,510 exhibits they have every reason to be happy it might sound very confident but an 11% increase in birds staged next year would take us to the magical 5,000 birds a number not seen at any UK 04

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show since 2003 when the last Birmingham NEC National was held. I am sure it can be done and it would be great to achieve this figure in 2017. Neil Randle our resident photographer was busy all day and managed to take 1,000 pictures, he was working very hard and this will give us plenty of material for future publications. The autumn months are always so busy for the Parrot Society office as no sooner have we finished The National Exhibition than we start to build up for our ‘Help Bird Keepers’ Show also at Stafford on Sunday 4th December this year. Tickets and tables can be booked from the PSUK Shop on our website. We are really becoming attached to this publication because it is without doubt ‘the way to go’ possibly the most interesting question in relation to ‘New Technology’ is when will all bird keepers have both the interest to grasp this type of publication and when will they have the hardware to access this form of offering? Bird keeper’s already have a hobby and a very rewarding one it is; they do not need computers and all that goes with their purchase, installation and maintenance.


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BY THE EDITOR

LES RANCE

@theparrotsocietyuk.org

Currently they can obtain everything they need via bird related paper magazines but eventually that will change and when electronic magazines become accepted by the majority clubs will have to take the hard decision as to whether to continue with the paper magazine. But may I say that at present The Parrot Society have no plans to go down that road. 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 on the Home Page of our website and if you would like to see earlier versions then do please visit the Bird Scene archive. I do hope you enjoy reading this issue of Bird Scene as much as I have putting it together.


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ZEBRA FINCHES ARTICLE BY: KEN LOCKWOOD AND GERALD MASSEY

STARTING UP WITH ZEBRA FINCHES t is always pleasing to hear of people who have decided to take up Zebra finches, whether it is as a collection of birds in a garden aviary or with a view to breeding and – eventually – exhibiting them. From time to time we are approached by newcomers who want to know where to get stock. We are always willing to advise. However, we firmly believe in putting first things first and council strongly against even beginning to look for birds until an adequate aviary or birdroom has been set up.

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It is best to build up a fund of knowledge before doing anything at all – and there are several ways of doing this starting with books. In our experience, some of the books available on Zebra finches offer very little in the way of practical advice that can be applied to the fancy in the UK today. We are referring in particular, to some publications from the USA. An admirable book, which we frequently recommend is Chris Blackwell’s ‘Keeping and breeding Zebra finches’ These days videos have a great deal to offer hobbyists and in our branch

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ofthe fancy the best offering is Peter Harrison’s ‘Breeding Zebra Finches step by step.’Other advice is available from the Zebra Finch Society. Then there is the Cage and Aviary Birds, which not only offers informative articles but also permits readers to keep up to date with what is happening in the fancy. There is a tendency for people who are interested in one particular type of bird to ignore the articles about other species. This is a big mistake. Over the years we have learnt a great deal from articles about other branches of the hobby. In an article about budgerigars, Terry Pilkington related how he and his wife’s birds had benefitted from being given filtered water rather than water straight from the tap. We immediately began giving filtered water to our Zebras, still do and we are convinced that they are the better for it. Before setting up an aviary or birdroom it is best to visit an experienced Zebra finch fancier to get some idea about suitable layouts. Joining your local cage bird society will put you in touch with other bird keepers, but if you find difficulty making your own contacts, you can take advantage of the Zebra Finch Society’s area representative scheme. This puts you in touch with someone who not only knows a lot about Zebra finches, but also has local knowledge.

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When starting up in a hobby, people tend to worry about apparent problems that, to the experienced person, are really not important. Being able to get good advice, quickly, can make all the difference. Even if the birdroom you first visit is large and impressive, we advise starting with a fairly modest set up and to build up from that. It is a mistake to spend lots of money at the outset, just in case you change your mind. Laying out a fortune and then breeding nothing in your first year can be so disheartening as to cause anyone to give up. As individual breeders, our progress, as far as the birdroom size is concerned, was similar. The first birdroom was a 6ft x 4ft shed. The next step was to 6ft x 10ft and then when that was outgrown to 12ft x 8ft. We now both have fairly large establishments, each measuring 12ft x 30ft.

Even if the birdroom you first visit is large and impressive, we advise starting with a fairly modest set up and to build up from that. It is a mistake to spend lots of money at the outset, just in case you change your mind. Laying out a fortune and then breeding nothing in your first year can be so disheartening as to cause anyone to give up.


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If you have no interest in pedigree and do not intend to show your birds, an aviary in which the birds fly freely is ideal – but take advice on how many pairs can be comfortably accommodated in the space available. If your intension is to exhibit, you need to breed your Zebra finches under controlled conditions and that means having cages, preferably within a birdroom. Once you have your birdroom erected (we will assume it is a timber construction) there areone or two

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refinements that can make life better for both you and your birds. Lining the walls with hardboard – melamine faces, if you can afford it, will give the room’s interior a pleasing appearance and also make it easier to keep clean. In our view it is essential to insulate the cavity between the outer wall and the lining. We also recommend installing a supply of electricity to the birdroom, though this is not a job to be undertaken by anyone who is not qualified to do it. For everything


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If you have no interest in pedigree and do not intend to show your birds, an aviary in which the birds fly freely is ideal – but take advice on how many pairs can be comfortably accommodated in the space available.

else, the ‘Do-it-yourself’ approach is acceptable, but electricity is far too dangerous to be messed about with by the amateur. Electric lighting is the main requirement – particularly by anyone who is out at work all day. In the middle of winter, many fanciers go out to work in the dark and by the time they return home it is dark once more. If you want to look after your birds properly and have time to observe them during winter evenings you need extra lights.

One of the main considerations, when setting up a birdroom, is to avoiddamp and draughts. Zebra finches can withstand the cold, but if damp and draughts are inflicted upon them it can damage their health. We have found that insulating a birdroom dramatically cuts down internal condensation – an insidious form of damp. With the room’s structure completed, you can now think about cages – their form, size and number. There is no simple answer to the question “How many cages should I start with?” It all

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FEATURE depends on your circumstances.Our usual answer is “Having as many as you feel you can handle comfortably.” In practice, for newcomers, that usually translates to something between six andtwelve cages. An ideal size for each individual cage unit, for one breeding pair, is 24 inches long x 15 inches high and 15 inches deep. However, single cages are not the best solution. It is far better to have cages that are two or three times that length, which can be converted into individual units by inserting divider slides. Then, the removal of one or two slides can give different permutations of flight cages – up to 6 ft long. These are ideal for housing groups of birds, such as youngsters who are being weaned. As you become more established (and your birdroom gets bigger) inside flights can be installed. So now you are ready to acquire some birds. Another question we are frequently asked is “What are the best colours of Zebra finches to start with?” In our view, the best colours are the ones you like the best. It would be counterproductive for us to advise getting Normals when the colour that attracted a person to Zebra finches in the first instance was white. To begin with a colour that you are not very keen on is to risk becoming

disillusioned. We would like to think that a newcomer to Zebra finches will still be keeping them in 10 years time. On the other hand, a newcomer with no hard and fast preferences might benefit by getting a few different colours and decide which ones he or she likes best after they have gained some experience of breeding them. Having said that, if you start with more than one colour it is best to choose those that can be used for interbreeding, from the exhibition standpoint. For example, Normals go well with Fawns and Chestnut Flanked Whites fit in well with Lightbacks. By contrast, Pieds and Penguins do not mix. If you were to interbreed with these colours, you would be highly unlikely to breed anything useful and, worse, could be setting back your exhibiting ambitions by some years. Your own local contact or ZFS area representative can be very useful

Another question we are frequently asked is “What are the best colours of Zebra finches to start with?” In our view, the best colours are the ones you like the best. It would be counterproductive for us to advise getting Normals when the colour that attracted a person to Zebra finches in the first instance was white.

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Having read about exhibition Zebra finches and watched videos you should have some idea of the sort of birds you are looking for, but it is still best to choose a breeder you feel you can trust and ask his advice – particularly about the way the birds you acquire should be paired.

at this stage putting you in touch with breeders who specialise in your chosen colours - and have had some success with them. Having read about exhibition Zebra finches and watched videos you should have some idea of 14

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the sort of birds you are looking for, but it is still best to choose a breeder you feel you can trust and ask his advice – particularly about the way the birds you acquire should be paired. We have deliberately left the way you


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should feed your birds until this point because, if at all possible, you should base your feeding regime on that of the fancier/or fanciers who supplied you with your initial stock. Many will give you small quantities to last a few days

until you can arrange for a regular supply. However the basic requirements are a seed mixture, an egg-based softfood, grit and water. As far as the seed is concerned foreign finch mixtures and mixed millets are suitable. We find the BIRD SCENE

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most economic and nutritious way of supplying our birds’ seed requirements is to use a millet-rich budgerigar mixture – which also happens to be the cheapest in the suppliers range. There are more good proprietary, eggfood mixtures on the market now than there have ever been before. We find it difficult to understand why breeders buy a specifically-balanced product and then add other foods – such as more eggs or carrot – to them. Our grit mixture consists of small mineral grit and oyster shell, in equal quantities. Cuttlefish bone is also provided as are millet sprays. As already explained, we offer filtered tap water. The only additive we feed is a mineral/vitamin supplement that is added to the drinking water at the

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rate and frequency recommended by the manufacturer. Again there are lots of good products of this type on the market. With a good, balanced diet such as the one we have described we see no reason for feeding other ‘extras’ – home grown, collected from the wild or purchased. BREEDING ZEBRA FINCHES One of the many challenges of breeding Zebra finches is that no two breeding seasons are ever alike. For example, in both our birdrooms, at the start of one season we had problems because the birds were too fit. This manifested itself in hens laying another clutch of eggs before they had finished incubating the first.By the second and


FEATURE third breeding rounds came around they had settled down and their breeding behaviour was normal. We believe that a major reason for the disrupted first round was the weather being unseasonable. The seasons of the year appear to have become mixed up so that we get warmer than usual days in winter and colder than usual days in summer. To some extent, this has always happened but it is becoming the rule rather than the exception. So for the next breeding season we put down most of our pairs to breed in mid-December. The contrast with the previous year was marked. Rather than being paired at the height of condition, our Zebras were put together as they were coming towards that peak. This time, the breeding pairs went about their business steadily and sensibly. Of course, there were a few pairs that did not get off to a good start, but their second round coincided with the timing of last year’s first rounds, so nothing was lost. We were only able to make this early start because our birdrooms are draught and damp free – and equipped with electric lighting and heating. Electric lighting has become an essential for most Zebra finch breeders. With artificial lighting available, those who have to go to work in the daytime can carry out jobs, such as feeding, in the evening, even in the depths of

winter. Although you need to study your birds carefully, and make adjustments to get the best out of them, there are breeding basics that remain fairly constant though there is no need to get too anxious just because the timing of a particular phase of the breeding cycle is not exactly to the book.For example, we would expect the first egg to be laid around seven days after pairing, but it can be as soon as four days. In the opposite direction, even a successfully paired hen can take up to three weeks before laying. If no egg appears by that time, we may well come to the conclusion that the birds concerned need to be found new partners or given a rest in the flights. You should not get over anxious, neither can you afford to be complacent.The vast majority of Zebra finches get on well with their breeding partners but, very occasionally, one attacks the other. So there is a need, be

One of the many challenges of breeding Zebra finches is that no two breeding seasons are ever alike. For example, in both our birdrooms, at the start of one season we had problems because the birds were too fit. This manifested itself in hens laying another clutch of eggs before they had finished incubating the first.

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Softfood that is too wet causes messy parents, chicks and nestboxes and is more likely to turn sour. We stopped feeding bread and milk for this reason and now use one of the good propriety softfoods that are advertised in Cage and Aviary Birds.

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FEATURE it ever so slight, to keep an eye on the pairings until they have settled. Another area which is not an exact science is the time between an egg being laid and hatching. Although the accepted time for the incubation period of a Zebra finch egg is supposed to be 14 days, there are exceptions. Occasionally, one will hatch after only 13 days and, if a hen does not begin incubating from the first egg, it can take a day or two longer. Do not discard fertile eggs just because they have not hatched when a book states that they should have done. We begin feeding slightly dampened softfood to breeding pairs 14 days after the first egg was laid – regardless of hatching or non hatching – and then continue on a daily basis. Softfood that is too wet causes messy parents, chicks and nestboxes and is more likely to turn sour. We stopped feeding bread and milk for this reason and now use one of the good propriety softfoods that are advertised in Cage and Aviary Birds. Because Zebra finch hens lay eggs on successive days, you can usually expect a chick to hatch every day if the hen sat from the first egg. So with a fair number of eggs in a clutch it is possible to end up with quite a range of chick sizes in the same nestbox. If we feel there is a risk of the youngest chick being squashed

or neglected we transfer that chick to a nest that contains chicks nearer its own size. Again do not be too anxious or you will finish up with chicks fostered all around the birdroom and – although you can take the precaution of moving the chick to a pair with different coloured youngsters- too much movement can make accurate important record keeping more difficult than it needs to be. The other time we tend to foster chicks is when there is only one in the nest. Hens seem to feed better when they have a few chicks demanding food, whereas those with only one to look after can become lazy. Anyone who thinks that a single chick, that gets all the attention, will develop more quickly than one in a nest of four has never bred Zebra finches. The other advantage of taking a singleton from the hen is that it lets her get back to producing what will, hopefully, be a full fertile clutch the next time around. The main reason for the nestbox inspections – which are carried out every day once a chick has hatched – is to check that chicks are being properly fed. So we inspect boxes in the evening rather than early in the day before proper feeding has begun. It is not easy to decide what to do about a hen that appears not to be feeding her chicks properly. If you panic, you can finish up with more

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You can expect Normals and Fawns to develop most rapidly of all the varieties and so they are usually ringed younger than, say, Penguins and other non-standards which develop more slowly.

chicks being fostered than are with their own parents. In our experience, just because a hen behaves like a poor feeder with one nest of chicks, it does not necessarily mean she will be the same with her next brood. Sometimes a hen neglects her duties because she wants to start laying again. Dirty nestboxes are not easy to account for. The obvious reason would seem to be diet – particularly the softfood.However that does not begin to explainwhy you can have adjoining pairs, on the same diet, and one nest is dirty and the other oneis clean. Even so we have found that cutting back

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on the amount of softfood being given to a pair with a dirty nest can often overcome the problem. Whatever the cause, nestboxes should never be left dirty. They should be cleaned or replaced. We overcome this by using cardboard nestboxes replacing as necessary. Another area where what the book says and what happens in reality can be in conflict is the timing of close ringing chicks – a must if you intend to exhibit the Zebra finches that you breed. Official rings can be obtained from the Zebra Finch Society. You may read that the Zebra finch


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chicks should be ringed when they are seven days old, but it is impossible to be that precise and so the timing should be taken only as a guide and each chick should be judged on its own merits. You can get variations between the sizes of chicks of the same variety, even in the same nest, but the greatest variation in size occurs from variety to variety. You can expect Normals and Fawns to develop most rapidly of all the varieties and so they are usually ringed younger than, say, Penguins and other nonstandards which develop more slowly. It may be tempting to ring a chick too

young, to make the job easier and to ensure you do not miss ringing it. Too often, this can result in the ring falling off and being lost in the nestbox. Once a complete nest of chicks has been rung we discontinue nestbox inspections. Unnecessary disturbance can cause the chicks to leave the nest before they are fully feathered. A chick without many feathers, marooned on a cage floor, can become chilled and, if undetected for too long a period, can die. At this stage of the breeding cycle, a second nest box can be very useful. It can keep chicks warm, prevent them from being ejected or feather plucked by their parents – and permit the hen to get on with laying the next clutch of eggs without having chicks climbing all over her. And so the cycle starts again.

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

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BEST IN SHOW

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The Australian Finch Society Report By: Michael J Baldry

Best Australian in Show and Best Current Year Owner Bred Australian in Show - Blue Faced Parrot Finch. Cage on the right.

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he Australian Finch Society held their National All Finch Show at Stafford on Sunday 9th October 2016, dedicated to Mick Lees, A.F.S. Patronage Secretary who was a wellrespected and long-standing Member of the A.F.S. The A.F.S. Stand on the balcony had a very busy time mainly due to the number of members sale birds and miscellaneous sale items. Mr David Harris the A.F.S. Chairman stated that the Bird Sales had reached a record level on the day. As for the A.F.S. Bird Show according to the A.F.S. Show Secretary Mr John Boulton the number of birds entered was up on last year but benched birds at 75 was similar to last year and made a brilliant display of most species on the A.F.S. mandate. Many thanks to all the Members who officiated at all levels and also to all Members who supported the Bird Sales and also entered the Bird Show. So thank you for making this Memorial Dedication to Mick Lees a Special Day.

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Best Waxbill in Show Red Faced Pytila Mr Lee on left and Mr D.Wanless A.F.S.Judge on the right

Results of The National All Finch Show, Stafford October 9th 2016 Best Australian in Show: Blue Faced Parrot Finch by Mr J.Harris. East Anglian Branch Best Australian in Show: Hecks Grassfinch by Mr J.Harris. East Anglian Branch. 2nd Best Australian in Show: Red Headed Yellow Gouldian by Mr J.Richards South West Branch 3rd Best Australian in Show: Cherry Finch by Mr & Mrs Harris East Anglian Branch


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Best Adult Waxbill in Show Cordon Blue

Best CYOB Australian in Show: Blue Faced Parrot Finch by Mr J.Harris. 2nd CYOB Australian in Show: Diamond Firetail by Mr S.Moore 3rd CYOB Australian in Show: Read Headed White Breasted Gouldian by Mr D.Mc Divitt.

Best Adult Waxbill in Show: Cordon Blue by Mr & Mrs Harris, East Anglian Branch. 2nd Best Adult Waxbill in Show: African Silverbill by Mr J.Boulton East Anglian Branch.

WAXBILL CLASSES

Best CYOB Waxbill in Show: Red Faced Pytila by Mr G.LEE, O.M.J. East Anglian Branch

Best Waxbill in Show: Red Faced Pytila by Mr G.LEE, O.M.J. East Anglian Branch.

2ND Best CYOB Waxbill in Show: Blue Billed Mannikin by Mr G.LEE, O.M.J. East Anglian Branch

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CCBA NATIONAL Report By: Simon Meredith & Peter Finn

Mark Higginson, best novice melanin

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his year’s National was an excellent turnout with nearly 300 birds entered into the CCBA section, Simon Meredith judged the champion section and he said “An early start at the judging staging to get enough time to finish & study all exhibits” was in order with exactly 180 champion birds entered. The first hour was challenging as wonderful autumn sunshine was penetrating the window but did the birds no justice, therefore as I was sharing with novice section staging we turned the staging 90 degrees which was somewhat better! There were a few standout birds - Ron Hills - int red cock & non int red both challenged for top spot the intensive red just edging ahead on colour, although the non intensive was lovely in type, feather & frosting. A good coloured Non Intensive red Ivory

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Dan Poxon , best novice lipochrome

from Steve Maloney & nice colour but lacking head quality intensive from Ron Hill rounded off the red Ivory section. Melanin’s were in good numbers and notable birds were int red black cock of Mick Burke’s - showing superb colour & ultimate melanin markings which started right at the beak, unbroken wide and jet black. This bird went in to take best in section. One bird I noted on my schedule to find out who it belonged to was a superbly coloured int red Isabel (which also belonged to Mick Burke) this bird finished 2nd in the class but it had awesome colour and Melanin’s, with superb flank markings. This bird just needed another couple of weeks. A mosaic red agate pastel belonging to Bright & Luff was also of merit able quality showing beautiful ash grey satiation but just lacking slightly on head pattern to take it all the way! Simon Meredith


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Young Karl Lewis receiving his award from Chris Smith for best junior exhibit at the National, having already won best junior in the CCBA section .

(Left) Ron Hill who took best champion lipochrome, and on the right Mick Burke winning best champion melanin and also best coloured canary in show .

Peter Finn judges the Novice birds: I have judged the National show many times over the years but it still gives me a buzz. It’s great to meet all my friends from the fancy. At this year’s show, the novice colour canary section was very impressive. In the lipochrome section there was some good competition in the red classes. The final outcome was an impressive variegated intensive red taking the top award. The owner of this bird was Daniel Poxon. When this bird went up for Best in Show award, it came very close to the Champion exhibit. The novice Self section had smaller classes but had some outstanding birds. The final winner from this section was an

intensive red Isabel. The owner of this bird was Mark Higginson. Over the last few years there has been a massive improvement in the quality of the novice colour canaries. Many novice birds are now equal in quality to many of the champion birds. Thanks to all my stewards and helpers for making the show run so smoothly. Peter Finn The show over all was a huge success but the story of the day was our own colour canary junior Karl Lewis who won best Junior in the whole national show with his superb intensive yellow lipochrome, a day I imagine he will remember for a long time collecting his glass award.

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Irish Fancy Report By: Maurice O’Connor

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lthough Entries were Down On Previous Years, Nevertheless 150 Irish Fancy were Exhibited, Those were Judged By Phil Lloyd From Wales, Phil Chose A Clear Buff Flighted Hen Which Was owned By M,O’Connor as Best Champion & best Irish Fancy In Show, She also took the Award For best Flighted Canary & second best Exhibit in Show, Best Champion un/flighted went to a light variegated buff Cock owned by Eammon Wolohan, Best Champion opp-Sex went to a clear yellow Cock owned by Graham Brunt. Best Novice was awarded To Lee Kotkowicz’s Light variegated unflighted buff hen, Lee also took the award for best Opp-sex with a clear yellow cock Ged Morrison took the award for Best Novice Flighted with a neat clear yellow cock, Best ladies exhibit to a clear yellow hen owned by Lynn Gill, The overall Standard was High.

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Lovebird (1990) Society Report By: Les Rance

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he birds shown by Stevie Stewart achieved some excellent results winning Classes 1,2,3,4,6,8 and 16. Class 8 was for Best Peach-faced and Best Mutation. Class 16 was Best Abyssinian Lovebird.

Allen and Iris King won class 7 and staged Best Masked Lovebird and Best Eye-ringed in class 11 and also Best Black-cheeked in class 14. Best Fischer’s in class 10 was won by Garry Steptowe.

AGM The Fiftieth Annual General Meeting of the Parrot Society UK will be held on Sunday 20th November 2016 at the Old Palace Lodge Hotel, Church Street, Dunstable LU5 4RT at 2.30 pm. 1. Election of Officers. One nomination received for Chairman Mr A K Jones One nomination received for Treasurer Mr K Jones There have been 3 nominations received for the 3 vacancies on Council. David Dickason Vicki Hammond John Hayward 2. Approve Minutes of the 2015 A.G.M. 3. Matters Arising. 4. Receive the Chairman’s Report. 5. Receive the Treasurer’s Report. 6. Approve the Financial Report.

AVIAN ID

WANTED ALL PARROTS Wanted All Hand Reared Parrots Wanted All Parent Reared Parrots Wanted All Breeding Pairs and Singles Good Price Paid For the Right Bird Smethwick Pet, Hill Street Smethwick, B66 2AS Call mobile 07462 301701 Or call 0121 5651187

Approved ring supplier to Parrot Society UK

PO Box. 107 Truro, Cornwall, TR1 2YR. Call or Fax (+44) 01872-262777. Email: info@avianid.co.uk For Rings of Distinction Mention when phoning that you are a Parrot Society member

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BY ROSEMARY LOW

SURVIVAL OF THE SCARLET MACAW (ARA MACAO CYANOPTERA)

IN CENTRAL AMERICA

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any people, even those with no interest in birds, are familiar with the Scarlet Macaw as a symbol of the tropics. Its image decorates shirts, curtains and other fabrics, and even handbags, and is the subject of almost every kind of art form. The serious plight of this species in Central America, where it occurs from south-eastern Mexico to Panama, needs to be emphasised. It was only in 1994 that the macaws from Central America were recognised as a separate sub-species, Ara macao cyanoptera, in a paper by David Wiedenfeld. It is distinguished from the nominate race by the yellow median and

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secondary wing coverts being tipped with blue and lacking the green band that separates the yellow area from the blue tip. In A. m. macao, all yellow feathers with blue tips have a green band separating the yellow and blue. The overall appearance of the wing of Ara macao cyanoptera is one with little or no green. In contrast, individuals of nominate Ara macao macao have varying amounts of green in the wing (Wiedenfeld, 1994). This is the only sub-species recognised in the Scarlet Macaw. However, birds from the south of the range, from Brazil and perhaps other localities, have a reduced

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area of yellow on the wings. These birds are also smaller, so it seems that size decreases from north to south of the range. The range in Central America extends to Costa Rica and that of the nominate race is variously described as commencing in Costa Rica or Panama. Although it is stated that further study is needed to determine to which sub-species the Costa Rican birds belong, they look like cyanoptera.

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I want to draw the attention of aviculturists to the fact that trying to keep cyanoptera separate from the nominate race is of the utmost importance. This Central American form is declining so fast in the small countries in which it occurs that it is in serious danger of extinction. It is already extinct in some parts of its range. For breeders to pair together the two different forms could only be described as irresponsible. However, not all aviculturists are well


FEATURE

trees, such as Ceiba pentandra, and these may be very scarce in fragmented forested areas. One study in Mexico indicated that unless there is 3km between each breeding pair, aggressive encounters are likely. Scarlet Macaws apparently prefer trees that are not covered in vines which assist predators to reach the nest. In Belize Sharon Matola and Eligono Sho studied the macaw in the Upper Macal area. During 2001 one nest that they monitored lost both young to a tayra (Eira barbara). The tayra had climbed a nearby tree that had vines along its trunk and observed the young. When they left the nest they landed, on their first flight, in a low bushy area and the tayra killed both of them.

informed about the differences so I hope those lucky enough to possess these gorgeous birds will hurry outside to check their breeding pairs! The two usual reasons for parrot declines apply strongly to this macaw. They are poaching for the pet trade and loss of habitat. While these reasons apply equally to the Scarlet Macaw in South America, its range there and the much larger forested areas increase its possibility of survival. Scarlet Macaws nest in very large

HABITAT We tend to associate large macaws with the Amazon, with its still extensive areas of rainforest. However, Ara macao cyanoptera is also found in open habitats in Central America. According to Wiedenfeld (1998) in Honduras and Nicaragua it does occur in tall, evergreen tropical forest, but is more common in lowland gallery forests in the pine savannas and formerly in the mixed pine /broad-leaved wood1ands of the lower mountainous areas. It also inhabited the tropical deciduous forest of the Pacific Slope of Central America. In the lowland BIRD SCENE

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© Janet Jean-Pierre Lyndall

pine savannas of the Mosquitia region of Honduras and Nicaragua, Ara macao cyanoptera can be encountered many kilometres from broad-leaved forests and feeds on the seeds of Caribbean pine (Pinus caribea) . STATUS The Scarlet Macaw was listed on Appendix I of CITES in 1985, thus acknowledging that it was threatened by trade in wild birds. However, IUCN and BirdLife International place the Scarlet Macaw in the Least Concern category. While recognising that it is declining, due to habitat loss and “exploitation” (trapping and poaching), its large range is the justification for this category. The status of sub-species is not usually considered when categorising species for

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the level of threat or endangerment. However, BirdLife International concedes that cyanoptera has been assessed as meeting the IUCN Red List criteria for Endangered, on the basis of declines which are believed to exceed 50% over three generations. Endangered is the category in which it is placed under Mexican law. When Wiedenfeld described the new subspecies he stated that it was in danger of extinction and that although once widespread in southern Mexico and northern Central America, cyanoptera has been reduced to a small number of birds in isolated populations. It is extinct in El Salvador and had been almost completely extirpated from the Pacific slope in Mexico, Guatemala, Honduras, and Nicaragua by the 1980s. There is a small remnant population on the Peninsula of


FEATURE Cosigüina, Nicaragua. In Panama, it has almost gone from the mainland, although a few pairs are rumoured to exist in the Cerro Hoya National Park on the Azuero Peninsula. The only viable population is on Coiba Island where about 200 birds survive. On the Caribbean slope, the macaw now occurs in Mexico only in the Selva Lacandona, in the forest of south-west Belize, in the south-western Petén region of Guatemala, north-eastern Honduras (Gracias a Dios and Olancho departments, perhaps also Colón), and eastern Nicaragua. Because the populations are so fragmented, and none are large, the chances of them surviving over the long term are very poor. MEXICO The range and populations of the Scarlet Macaw in Mexico have suffered a catastrophic reduction during the past 30 years or more. Formerly it occurred in the states of Tamaulipas, Veracruz, Oaxaca (last record in 1961), Tabasco, Campeche and Chiapas. According to Juan Carlos Cantu (personal communication 2012) it is difficult to estimate numbers in Mexico because the main population, in Chiapas, moves in and out of Guatemala. It is restricted to the rainforest in southern Chiapas in Lacandona near the border with Guatemala, along the banks of the Usumacinta river. A 1996 estimate

suggested that fewer than 200 pairs resided in Mexico. A more recent estimate suggests 500 individuals. Several attempts have been made to count them but only estimates of abundance during the breeding season (October to January) and between years have resulted, with no complete counts. There is a small population of about 50 birds in Las Chimalapas, a reserve bordering the states of Chiapas, Oaxaca and Veracruz but it has been reported that serious conflicts between the communities there prevent access. One of the most heavily traded populations of Scarlet Macaws was that in Mexico. During 1981 to 1992, before the USA passed the Wild Bird Conservation Act (WBCA), 2,148 Scarlet Macaws were legally imported into the USA. (We can guess that this meant at least 10,000 had been captured, allowing for mortality and illegal export). But when one market closes, others open. So the capture of Scarlet Macaws and their chicks continued. Only once in every few decades does someone with the will, foresight and initiative of Juan Carlos Cantu comes along to do something to alert his nation to an impending extinction. After researching the problem for two years, he published his findings and presented them to the government. As a result, a law to stop the capture of wild-caught parrots came into effect on October 14

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2008. The law also prohibited the export of Mexican parrots. The government then published a 57-page action plan in December 2009 entitled Programa de acción para la conservación de la especie Guacamaya roja (Ara macao cyanoptera). In February 2009 Defenders of Wildlife, Teyeliz and PROFEPA (Federal Environmental Agency) launched a campaign to publicise this. Maria Elena Sanchez Saldana commissioned a series of posters so beautiful, on high quality glossy paper, that the demand for them was enormous. The messages, used with

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stunning images of Mexican parrots, are positive ones, such as “You can save it!” and “Don’t buy!” They tell people that the solution is in their hands. Maria Elena said: “We want to make people fall in love with the parrots. They have to realise that if they buy them, they are the last part of the chain that is leading to their extinction”. While laws and education were being strengthened, another strand of the drive to save the Scarlet Macaw in Mexico was coming to the fore. Near Cozumela, in the Xcaret Riviera Maya’s famous park, a breeding programme had become so


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successful that it has found its way into the Guinness Book of Records. A representative of Guinness World Records, made an award to the Xcaret Macaw Breeding Centre in recognition of the hatching of 105 Scarlet Macaws and Military Macaws in 2009. This was the first time that Guinness gave one of its prestigious certificates to a programme to breed a species threatened with extinction. In 2010, 136 chicks hatched. Founded in 1992 with four breeding pairs, the centre had 772 macaws by 2010, 90% of which were hatched in the park.

In April 2013 the long-awaited first releases occurred in Aluxes Park in Palenque, Chiapas. The birds were first subjected to genetic analysis to ensure they were cyanoptera. The first 17 macaws released were joined by eleven more on June 29 2013. At the end of July it was reported that all 28 birds had survived. Dr Alejandro Estrada, director of the programme, reported joyfully: “The sky of Palenque is gradually getting filled with red-yellow-blue stripes!” More macaws will fly free to re-establish the species where once it was common. The next release will take place early in 2014.

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Cape Parrot (Poicephalus robustus robustas)

FEEDING OUR BIRDS BY: ALLAN F. MANNING

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peaking to many Parrot like bird keepers throughout the country considerably disturbs me when you talk about how they are feeding their birds. In this respect I do not believe that most bird keepers are researching how and what types of food they should be giving to their birds. Each species in the wild has developed their individual way of living, feeding and breeding over thousands of years. As such we are not

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Pair of Bronze-winged Parrots (Pionus chalcopterus chalcopterus). Male looking out of the nest box entrance.

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FEATURE going to change this over just a few hundred years that we have been keeping them in captivity. We need to do more research into how each species of the birds we keep feed in the wild and take a lot more notice of some very valuable work that some people throughout the world are doing in this respect. One of the most extreme examples of how birds exist in the wild is the CAPE PARROT. This species is found only in South Africa where its preferred living, feeding and breeding is within the Yellowwood tree forests. However, continued land conversion and transformation by the South African Government is a serious threat to the survival of these forests throughout the country. As a result these forests are now very patchily distributed due to extensive logging in the past. These beautiful birds are the only Cape species endemic to South Africa and professor Colleen Downs from The School of Life Sciences, University of KwaZulu-Natal, South Africa has been carrying out counts for the past 16 years of how many birds there are throughout the country. She has various nominated places throughout their known territories where her teams of counters in May each year carry out a count of how many birds are sighted in each location. From this a good approximation of how many birds there are throughout the country is determined each year. The very disturbing result is the fact that each

year the figure reduces and in 2013 they could only count just under 1600 birds. These birds feed predominantly on the fruit of the Yellowwood trees which they very highly prefer above all other forest fruits. They will fly great distances between the highly fragmented Yellowwood tree forests to catch the Yellowwood trees seasonal fruiting periods. When breeding they usually nest in dead Yellow wood trees laying three eggs of which only one or two chicks now seem to survive. This being due to the vast time it takes the parents to cover the sparse locations of Yellowwood trees etc., to obtain their preferred foods. However, since the reduction of Yellowwood trees throughout South Africa the birds have been getting the dreaded BEAK and FEATHER DISEASE. As a result if this continued loss of the Yellowwood trees is not stopped it will surely wipe out this beautiful bird. So does the Yellowwood tree fruit contain something that prevents the birds from getting beak and feather disease? The South African Government has now recognised the

We need to do more research into how each species of the birds we keep feed in the wild and take a lot more notice of some very valuable work that some people throughout the world are doing in this respect.

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problem and employed Steve Boyes to look into the conservation of all wildlife throughout the country and something he has discovered may assist in the finding of a cure for this deadly virus. What he done was to catch four wild Cape Parrots that were heavily infected with the beak and feather disease and put them in a small flight and fed them on a diet of about 80% of the fruit from the yellowwood trees. Within a few weeks the disease started to clear and in 2 months all the birds were completely clear of the disease. He then opened their flight and let them all go back into the wild. So, DOES THE FRUIT OF THE YELLOW-WOOD TREE HOUSE A SUBSTANCE THAT IS THE CURE FOR AVIAN BEAK AND FEATHER DISEASE? Or maybe our birds get beak and feather disease because they cannot get food similar to what their system has adapted to over thousands of years in the wild? This study of the

Cape Parrot (Poicephalus robustus robustas)

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FEATURE Cape Parrot is a good guide as to why we need to take more notice of what our birds feed on in the wild and try to simulate this in captivity as close as we can. How often do we hear Lory and Lorikeet keepers say how they feed liquid nectar to their birds and discuss what nectar mixes are the best. In fact liquid foods for these birds are taking them away from their natural way of feeding. Their main natural diet is pollen, insects, the petals of certain flowers, flower seeds and fruit etc., with only a small part being nectar. However, this is at last being homed in on now by many Lory and Lorikeet keepers throughout the world. Many keepers in Europe and in America are now feeding their birds with powdered nectar mixes sprinkled over diced up fruit and vegetables etc. This is giving much better results in keeping and breeding the birds and it gives them much better feather colour and general contentment. However, in the wild they also eat a lot of small seeds especially those that are not quite ripe. As a result it is also beneficial to give them a small variety of seeds from Safflower down to millet seed. This is a much better way of feeding them and it is as close as we can get to how they feed in the wild. The closer we get to feeding our birds on what they feed on in the wild the more success we will get with breeding our birds in captivity. So let us look

at some of the other birds we keep and in particular what they feed on in the wild. Most of the tree dwelling Cockatoo’s and Amazons eat various seeds, fruit, berries, nuts and insect larvae. However, they also eat many fruit tree buds where they get enzymes and many trace elements from. Therefore in captivity we should give them a good seed mix with a large variety of nuts mixed in. We should also give them a variety of fruits and berries that are nearly always available from most Supermarkets etc. Powdered Biotin can be purchased from Horse tack shops and I have found the best type is “Biotin Plus” which is a powder that can be sprinkled onto their fruit and vegetables. This is not only good for the birds but greatly assists the youngsters in the nest to grow to the biggest size possible from the genetic make up of their parents. In the wild they get biotin from chewing the bark of various trees which also gives them many enzymes not available in their other foods. Birds like the Pionus variety eat a lot of fruit, flower buds and berries in the wild and in captivity we should also give them nuts and a small amount

This study of the Cape Parrot is a good guide as to why we need to take more notice of what our birds feed on in the wild and try to simulate this in captivity as close as we can.

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Galah (Eolophus roseicapilla)

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Most of the ground dwelling cockatoos such as Galahs and Corellas need a larger variety of smaller seeds in their food such as a good budgie mixture with a very small amount of Hemp seed. of cheese to compensate. Most of the ground dwelling cockatoos such as Galahs and Corellas need a larger variety of smaller seeds in their food such as a good budgie mixture with a very small amount of Hemp seed. The larger African parrots need a good seed mixture as for Cockatoos but with more nuts such as walnuts mixed in. In fact walnuts are the best all round nuts for our birds anyway and they are easily available and quite cheap to buy especially in most street markets etc.. Oil Palm fruit is also very good for African parrots but you need to try various ways of giving it to them to help prevent wastage and it can be very messy on the birds feathers. Small African parrots such as Senegal’s, Meyers, Ruppells, Redbellied and Brown Headed etc., need more peanuts but make sure all peanuts are shelled before giving them to your birds as quite a lot of the shells house aflotoxins which can make your birds ill and even kill them. Most birds eat the peanuts and throw away the shells which does not cause a problem. However some birds such as Ruppells do eat the shells which can be a very serious problem. It is interesting to note that peanuts are

actually a type of bean and not as beneficial to their health as other nuts. The best nuts for your birds in the best nutritional order are walnuts, hazelnuts, almonds, brazil nuts, pecan, pistachios and cashews. The smaller African parrots also eat more berries and flower buds than the larger birds and Senegal’s will eat and benefit from figs. Birds like Conures eat many more berries, buds, small nuts and seeds in the wild and will benefit also from a course biscuit meal with a small amount of Bee pollen mixed in with it. Most of the Grass Parrots and parakeets that feed on the ground in fields and pastures etc. eat small seeds in all weathers. As such in captivity they benefit from soaked seeds and pulses etc., in addition to the normal small seed mixes that are available.

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