46 Bird Scene - Spring 2020

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BIRD ISSUE FORTY SIX: SPRING 2020

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THE MAGAZINE FOR HOBBYIST BREEDERS AND CONSERVATIONISTS

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M E 1S R E T D 20 JU ITI 20 NE ON

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THE GLOSTER FANCY SPECIALIST SOCIETY

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AFRICAN LIONS, PARROTS AND KAZA

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THE LEAR´S MACAW OF TENERIFE ARE FLYING IN BRAZIL


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CONTENTS BIRD SCENE: SPRING 2020

CONTENTS DONATE TO OUR CONSERVATION FUND…

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

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AFRICAN LIONS, PARROTS AND KAZA By Dr. David Waugh

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REPORT: THE NATIONAL EXHIBITION 2019 Les Rance

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50TH ANNIVERSARY OF THE PARROT SOCIETY UK - PART 3 By Alan Jones

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ON THE COVER

THE LEAR´S MACAW OF TENERIFE ARE FLYING IN BRAZIL By Rafael Zamora 36

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THE GLOSTER FANCY SPECIALIST SOCIETY By John Herring 06

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BIRD SCENE: Issue Forty Six: Spring 2020 BIRD SCENE is run by The Parrot Society UK, Audley House, Northbridge Road, Berkhamsted HP4 1EH, 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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Les Rance, Editor, The Parrot Society UK | www.theparrotsocietyuk.org | les.rance@

INTRODUCT U

nbelievably, it is now just over three years since the up listing of African Grey parrots that had been added to Appendix 1 of CITES on 4th February 2017 and we are still advising people on what is required from DEFRA to ensure that all Greys that are sold have the correct Article 10 papers. If you are thinking of buying an African Grey you must ensure it comes with the yellow CITES documentation, (Article 10 certificate) this document has an embossed seal in the bottom right hand corner. It is an offence to buy a Grey if it is not correctly licenced. At this time last year we were still in the midst of Brexit negotiations and although things are now becoming clearer on that subject there are a lot of trade negotiations that have to be completed. Exactly where that will leave captive bred bird imports from the EU will be interesting especially in relation to CITES import and export licences. Do not forget that the vast majority of birds are covered by CITES legislation as they are in Appendix 2. However, in addition to CITES Licence requirements there is the possibility that quarantine will be re-imposed on birds coming from mainland Europe. This would make quite a difference for companies who import birds for the pet industry as at the present time, as far as I am aware, there are no functioning 04

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quarantine stations for birds in the UK. These facilities can be quite expensive to both build and maintain and therefore anyone thinking of building one will obviously think very carefully before they go down that route. This may well mean a dire shortage of stock for the pet trade. The weather is being very kind to us with a temperature today of 12C but the strong winds and heavy rain from the two recent storms have given some aviculturalists based on flood plains a very difficult time. I am sure that the mild temperatures will not last. In the early spring of 2019, many of my hens started to lay but the vast majority of the eggs were infertile. I have this year covered many of the nest box entrance holes with plywood to keep the hens out of the boxes, they do not like it but what else can I do? In 2019 during March and April the temperatures were lower than in February, one day my wife and I sat in the garden in the sunshine with a cup of tea. Bird keeping is a relaxing past time, however, for hobbyist breeders that keep their birds in unheated aviaries through the winter it can also be a worrying time, let us hope that we do not experience a cold period that lasts too long into spring. Those who keep their stock in breeding rooms where they can easily turn up the heating however


@theparrotsocietyuk.org

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BY THE EDITOR

are in a far more satisfactory position. In this edition of Bird Scene, we are very pleased to have two excellent articles. The first by Dr David Waugh ‘African Lions, Parrots & KAZA’ and the second ‘The Lear’s Macaw of Tenerife are flying in Brazil’ by Rafael Zamora Padron the scientific director of Loro Parque Fundation, two excellent reads. This is now the 46th edition of Bird Scene, how quickly nine years can pass when you are working on a project – 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. Postal costs appear to have increased far faster than inflation and if The Royal Mail are not careful they will find that their income will reduce even further as people and businesses send less and less by conventional means. With CPI, inflation now running at 1.6% costs continue to rise. These costs obviously affect bird clubs when the show schedules have to be posted to potential exhibitors and equally it affects the exhibitors when they return their entries. In addition, how much longer will bird clubs be able to afford to post magazines to their members? This must be a great worry to many club officials. Fortunately, with an e-magazine we do not have this problem, or for that matter

LES RANCE

the cost of colour printing. Because of increases to the costs of both postage and printing, I am pleased that we decided to produce Bird Scene as a FREE e-magazine. We have learnt a great deal over the past nine years about this way of communicating with bird enthusiasts and I am sure that this knowledge will become more and more valuable as we see further increases in costs to paper magazines. It must not be forgotten that more and more people have Broadband services and are able to access this format of communication than when we started in 2011. We are always happy to receive articles about the species that are being exhibited at The National and are very pleased to give publicity to the club supplying the information. Regular readers will know that Bird Scene has been produced to publicise The National Exhibition held each year at our October Sale Day/Show at Stafford County Showground, which will be held on Sunday 4th October 2020, and to promote our Conservation efforts for threatened parrots in the wild. An archive of earlier editions of Bird Scene can be found on the Home Page of our website www. theparrotsocietyuk.org so if you would like to see earlier versions please do log on to our site. BIRD SCENE 05


BY DR. DAVID WAUGH CORRESPONDENT, LORO PARQUE FUNDACIÓN

AFRICAN LIONS, PARROTS AND KAZA Adult male African lion (Panthera leo) in Angola.

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he African lion (Panthera leo) is a natural icon, revered as much as it is feared, and its legendary strength is reflected in the many ways in which its image is used in human societies. Wild lions require wild areas to survive, which have intact communities of large herbivores, their principal prey, intact habitats, and low human impact. Lions are thus ideal indicators of the health of


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Map of the Kavango Zambezi Transfrontier Conservation Area (KAZA)

ecosystems, and where you find lions you frequently find parrots. Furthermore, lions are of immense value for successful ecotourism in Africa, which can bring socio-economic benefits that outweigh any disadvantages to African people. In crude terms, a living lion is worth more than a dead one. However, all is not well with lions in today’s world. Lions are potentially dangerous to humans, and the conflict which has existed for millennia has seen the progressive shrinking of their geographical distribution globally. In more recent times in Africa, ever more people converting more land for agriculture and other activities has increased the pressure on lion populations. A once widespread and

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common species is now under serious threat. Lions have vanished from more than 80% of their historic distribution, the population in Africa has undergone a reduction of approximately 45% over the past 25 years to 2018, and the total wild lion population is currently estimated to be as low as 23,000 mature individuals. This situation has led the Loro Parque Fundación (LPF) to support a concerted effort to ensure that the lion never joins the ranks of extinct species. Helping to safeguard the natural integrity of large areas for lions can improve the protection of a cascade of other species, including parrots of course. The LPF has teamed-up with other organisations to obtain the information essential for wildlife managers to understand the distribution,


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African lion and parrot habitat in south-east Angola

population size and major threats to lions in the Kavango Zambezi Transfrontier Conservation Area (KAZA). Established 2011, KAZA is an area of about 519,000 km2 spanning five southern African countries: Angola, Botswana, Namibia, Zambia and Zimbabwe. The vision of KAZA is to establish a world-class transfrontier conservation and tourism destination area. LPF’s partners in the KAZA lion project are Futouris, the environmental association of tour operators based in Germany, and Panthera, the world’s leading organisation for the conservation of cat species. Within the boundaries of KAZA four native species of parrots can be found alongside the lions. The most widespread and common is Meyer’s Parrot

(Poicephalus meyeri), occurring throughout Zambia, most of Zimbabwe, central and south-east Angola, north-east Namibia, and north and east Botswana. The subspecies in KAZA is transvaalensis although damarensis might just tip-toe into KAZA across its far western border in Angola. Meyer´s Parrot inhabits savannah woodland, riverine forest, secondary growth around cultivation, and dry Acacia shrub-lands with taller trees, especially baobabs, feeding on fruits, nuts and seeds, the latter often very hard-shelled. In parts of Zambia it has the reputation of crop raider. Another species of Poicephalus is also widespread in KAZA, the Brown-necked Parrot (P. fuscicollis suahelicus) which, although common in some areas, in general is much scarcer

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than Meyer’s Parrot. It occurs throughout virtually all of Zambia, being generally uncommon in woodlands and encountered more frequently in the lowlands, as is also the case in north-central and southcentral Angola. The species clings-on only in the extreme north of Namibia and Botswana, but occupies the northern twothirds of Zimbabwe, where it is widespread in the main river systems. Brown-necked Parrots appear to be more nomadic than other Poicephalus species, this being related to seasonal movements in search of favoured fruits. The remaining two species of psittacines are lovebirds, and both face challenges

Brown-necked Parrot (Poicephalus fuscicollis suahelicus)

Meyers’ Parrot (Poicephalus meyeri)

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Nyasa Lovebird (Agapornis lilianae)

for their future survival. The Nyasa Lovebird (Agapornis lilianae) is now classified as ‘Near Threatened’ due mainly to unsustainable levels of trapping for the international cage-bird trade and local sale in Zimbabwe and Zambia. Furthermore, in KAZA its population has been substantially reduced by flooding by Lake Kariba of a large section of the Zambezi valley. The only other area of occurrence in KAZA is further north in Zambia along the Luangwa River. Other reported threats are predation by invasive species and unintentional mortality from pools poisoned by hunters to catch larger birds. The total population is estimated to number less than 20,000 birds. The Nyasa Lovebird is strongly association with mopane woodland in the south of its distribution, but also inhabits tracts of Acacia in alluvial and riparian forest.

Black-cheeked Lovebird (Agapornis nigrigenis)

It feeds on grass seeds, including thatching grass, wild rice and millet, sometimes acquiring pest-status by smallscale farmers. Last but not least, the Black-cheeked Lovebird (Agapornis nigrigenis) is a threatened species, classed as ‘Vulnerable’ principally due to the gradual drying out of pools within its very restricted BIRD SCENE

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The researchers have found a strong relationship between large carnivore population densities and the frequency of tracks along transects… distribution. Found in only 2,500 km2 of core breeding areas in the south of Zambia, its small population of no more than 15,000 individuals and possibly as few as 3,500 continues to decline. Blackcheeked Lovebirds inhabit deciduous woodland dominated by mopane, where permanent surface water exists which is not regularly disturbed by humans and livestock. They need to drink twice each day, interspersed with foraging in riverine vegetation and agricultural areas adjacent to woodland. Like the Nyasa Lovebird, A. nigrigenis feeds mainly on seeds of annual grasses, other annual herbs and ripening seeds of millet and sorghum crops, which can create conflict with farmers. Because of its precarious situation, the LPF supports an additional

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Searching for lion tracks, and listening for parrots.

project dedicated entirely to the conservation of the Black-cheeked Lovebird. In the KAZA project, there are two regions of initial interest for the conservation of lions within their habitat. The first region has been in south-east Angola, specifically the Mavinga and Luengue Luiana National Parks (84,400 km2) and surrounding areas in Cuando Cubango Province. In Angola, protracted political conflicts in the recent past led to the decimation of wildlife, and there is a lack of knowledge of the wildlife species that still exist in the country, including lions and parrots. In general, the KAZA region is renowned for its assemblage of large mammal species (at least 195 species have been recorded), including the charismatic African elephant (Loxodonta africana), buffalo (Syncerus caffer), giraffe (Giraffa camelopardalis),


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and both black (Diceros bicornis) and white (Ceratotherium simum) rhinos. To determine the current distribution of lions, leopards (Panthera pardus), cheetahs (Acinonyx jubatus), African wild dogs (Lycaon pictus) and spotted hyaenas (Crocuta crocuta), and their herbivore prey species, as well as estimate their respective population sizes, the project team has been counting identifiable footprints and other tracks along transects. The researchers have found a strong relationship between large carnivore population densities and the frequency of tracks along transects. The project is also using camera traps to inventory wildlife, targeting areas with concentrations of wildlife, such as saltpans, saltlicks, and key rivers, which are mapped in the process.

The first results of the survey of 1,222 km of transects show that for every lion there are almost 5 cheetahs, and more than 8 African wild dogs, 22 leopards and 45 spotted hyaenas. The frequency of “capture” of these predators by camera Image of a surprised White-backed Vulture (Gyps africanus) captured by a camera trap.

Installation of a camera trap.

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traps shows a similar pattern, although cheetahs appear less frequently. The camera traps reflect the “mammal-centric” nature of the project, and although to date there are 5,978 captures of images of birds, they are not identified to species. Without doubt, lions are scarce in this region, and certainly absent in the parts of the survey area where signs of people and livestock were most frequent. By contrast, most other carnivore species and elephants are more widely distributed, as is Meyer’s Parrot. The Brown-necked Parrot scarcely makes an appearance in this region. 14

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The project is continuing, with the hope of finding higher concentrations of lions, and another phase of the project is now operational in Hwange National Park in Zimbabwe to monitor the movements in the population of about 500 lions by attaching satellite transmitters to some key pride members. About 58,000 hectares are being monitored to detect traps and other illegal forms of hunting. One expected result will be the identification of priority habitat in Hwange, where Meyer’s and Brownnecked Parrots are both likely to be found.


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THE NATIONAL EXHIBITION 2019 BY LES RANCE

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he National Exhibition is organised by 18 bird clubs who have a strong interest in exhibiting cage birds. The exhibition of birds has been an interesting hobby for many bird enthusiasts over very many years. The ‘backbone’ of cage bird exhibiting developed in the coal mining areas of the UK with coal miners using canaries to check for carbon monoxide poisoning in the coal pits. Canaries were far more susceptible to this fatal gas than humans were and when the canary died; the miners knew that it

was time to leave the mine before the gases overwhelmed the humans. Over the years, The National Exhibition has been held at a variety of large halls. I have personal experience of attending The National held in the late 1960’s at Alexandra Place in North London and also at The National Exhibition Centre in Birmingham. Cage and Aviary Birds ran these shows, when the giant IPC Magazines Ltd up until 2003 owned the publication. The Parrot Society organised a meeting in 2006 to discuss the possibility of arranging an exhibition alongside our successful sales events at Stafford County Showground every October. This suggestion was very well supported by the clubs who are now regular attenders at this one day event. Historically The National Exhibition like a number of other specialist shows was a

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two day event but as these require an expensive overnight stay most exhibitors prefer to attend a one day event. We have been very fortunate to be supported by Richard Johnston the managing

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director of seed wholesaler Johnston and Jeff Ltd from Yorkshire. His sponsorship has included a tonne of seed for the winning exhibitors, some high class rosettes, entry wrist bands and beautiful glass trophies for the winners of the five main


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categories, these the exhibitors keep. In addition Ray Howells of Birds and Things donates a cut glass rose bowl for The Best in Show and Steve & Claire Roach of Rosemead Aviaries award a similar prize for the best junior exhibitor. Keith Jones the Parrot Society Treasurer is The National Exhibition co-ordinator.

Progress with the background tasks associated with this year’s National is excellent. We will again be holding a meeting with the organising committee in Coventry on Sunday 10th of May to review the 2019 event and make improvements for the 2020 show, which will be the 13th we have held at Stafford County Showground. All clubs that

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participate in The National Exhibition are invited to attend this meeting. 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. It is very important to ensure that everyone is kept 20

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well informed about the progress being made with the organisation of such a challenging event. 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 that the London Fancy


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Canary Club, who joined our canary clubs five years ago for the first time are again exhibiting their member’s birds this year. The Parrotlet Interest Group who also joined the ranks of exhibiting and their birds will again be in The Parrot Society

section where there is a good-sized show schedule to cater for these miniature gems of the parrot world, the list of classes had been expanded for 2017 and this expanded schedule will be retained for 2020. The Irish Fancy International will this year be organised by Maurice O’Connor. In addition, the Yorkshire Canary Club who exhibited in 2019 will be

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there, so we will have a vast array of canaries at The National. Thirteen 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

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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


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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 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. 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 one of their editions near the end of August 2020 and as previously will carry advertisements from all the exhibiting clubs and details as to who to approach to obtain the Show Schedule for your chosen species. This 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 Sunday 4th October.

The Sandylands Centre and the Argyle Centre will again be used to accommodate the exhibits with the ‘booking in’ filling the remainder of the Argyle Centre. Club stands will be in the Prestwood Hall. 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. 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.

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


50TH BY ALAN K JONES

ANNIVERSARY OF THE PARROT SOCIETY UK PART THREE

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he morning continued with our prestigious speaker from the USA, Dr Mark Stafford. The atrocious weather conditions of the day before had caused travel disruption for many of our guests, but none more so than Dr Stafford and his wife Marie. They flew in from America to London’s Heathrow on Friday morning to be told that their connecting flight to Manchester had been cancelled owing to the strong winds and heavy rain. A possible alternative of a train from Euston to Manchester was also cancelled because of a 06 24

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landslide. Eventually British Airways managed to fly this exhausted couple from Heathrow to Cork, and then back to Manchester, from where they caught a train to Chester. They arrived at their hotel at nearly 11.30 pm, with no luggage other than their carry-on bags – this had been misdirected amidst all the chaos! Fortunately their luggage was delivered to the hotel late on Saturday – after his presentation. The following morning saw Mark, brighteyed and cheerful, walking round to the


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Mark Stafford in action at the seminar

He then launched into the most fascinating, fact-filled presentation entitled “What’s so special about parrots that makes them worth conserving?” At the end of this breath-taking lecture, we were left in no doubt that they are indeed very special birds.

corner shop to pick up some essential toiletries, and then there he was at the podium of our seminar at 11.30 am, ready and raring to go, in the clothes he had travelled in! He appeared completely un-phased by the whole experience, and started by describing his background. Dr

Stafford is a dentist by training, but also the founding director and president of Parrots International, which is a notfor-profit organisation dedicated to promoting and BIRD SCENE 25


After mentioning the work of Parrots International and its conferences, acknowledging along the way the contribution made by PSUK to corn subsidies etc. in parrot conservation in South America he generously waived any claim to travel expenses offered by the Society for his attendance at this weekend. fostering international co-operation in the conservation of endangered parrot species. Its basic premise is that “Conservation happens in the wild”. Mark Stafford began by showing pictures of some of his collection of macaws and cockatoos, and posed the question “What creates this enthusiasm that we all have for parrots?” After mentioning the work of Parrots International and its conferences, acknowledging along the way the contribution made by PSUK to corn subsidies etc. in parrot conservation in South America, he generously waived any claim to travel expenses offered by the Society for his attendance at this weekend. He then launched into the most fascinating, fact-filled presentation entitled “What’s so special about parrots that makes them worth conserving?” At the end of this breath-taking lecture, we were left in no doubt that they are indeed very special birds. Dr Stafford’s talk examined the intellectual, social, physiological and anatomical adaptations of parrots and how 26

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these adaptations relate to their lives in the wild and in captivity. He started with confirmation of the evolution of birds from reptilian dinosaurs, with parrots and Corvids (crows) reaching the pinnacle of intelligence and social activity amongst avian species. Parrots can learn and perform quite complex tasks – Mark cited the work of Dr Irene Pepperberg with her African grey parrot Alex – and they have curiosity, use tools, and complex social interaction. In fact, captive bred parrots that are not allowed social stimuli, by being brought up alone; suffer from retarded development and a lack of psittacine social skills in later life. They have complex vocal ability, with latest research suggesting that several sounds can be combined to form meaningful ‘sentences’. Parrots eagerly learn ‘human’ communication, yet no human has ever learned the language of another species. Dr Stafford illustrated this with some entertaining video clips of conversations and interactions with his own parrots. Geographical dialects are recognised in parrot groups, but these are learned from adults in the flock, rather than being instinctive. Most parrot species roost communally, and many species (especially in South America) indulge in co-operative breeding activity, with


FEATURE An Alexandrine Parakeet showing eye focusing on the food item in its foot, while still being able to watch for danger. Again a variety of feather colours - pink, red and black from pigments, green a combination of yellow and blue. Shows the powerful hooked beak and the fleshy tongue typical of parrots.

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Blue-fronted Amazon as we see it, and then how it may be visible to another bird that has the advantage of ultraviolet receptors in its eyes.

sharing of the raising of young, nest building and mutual protection. The use of simple tools has been observed in the wild in large macaws, Kea, Palm Cockatoo and the African grey parrot, as well as being reported regularly in companion parrot species such as Goffin’s Cockatoos and the Greater Vasa. Many video clips of ‘dancing’ parrots demonstrate that they have a genuine innate sense of rhythm. Then followed the first of some fascinating facts and figures relating to the anatomy and physiology of intelligence. Mark told us that the total brain density of parrots is twice that of primates, whilst the grey matter (important in processing conscious information) has four times the density in parrots compared with primates. Further, humans and chickens have just 19% of their total brain neurons in the grey matter, whereas parrots have 70% of their neurons in this processing section of the brain. All this means that there is a 28

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greater density of processing power in a smaller volume, offering some four times the processing speed and reaction time in a parrot against that of a mammal. This obviously has significant influence on their ability to fly rapidly through trees and to evade predators. Mark then moved on to the special vision of parrots. Humans have three types of colour receptor cells (or cones) in their eyes, capable of detecting Red, Green and Blue wavelengths of light. Combinations of these three basic colours give us the spectrum that we see. Parrots however have four types of cone, with the fourth receiving ultra-violet wavelengths.

Blue-fronted Amazon parrots were studied under UV light, with particular reference to their wing and head feathers. These are areas of the body most used in courtship display. Sex of the birds was determined with 100% accuracy using the colour difference.


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Moreover, in parrot retinas, each cone has four oil-droplet filters, being respectively polarising, clear, yellow and red. Thus – we have just three simple colour receptors, whilst parrots have four types of cone, each with four filters, giving an effective sixteen combinations. They can see more colours and shades than we can, as well as UV and polarised light. A parrot can look up into an intensely bright sky and see a distant dot as a hazardous bird of prey, while we will be simply squinting against the dazzling light. Anyone who is colour blind will know that taking away just one of our colour receptors makes a big difference to our visual perception. Ultraviolet light does not penetrate through glass, so imagine then how a parrot’s normal perception of its world will be drastically altered when housed indoors. No wonder that parrots want to take flight and escape into the rich colourful outside world when they see an open window or door! There is no doubt that a parrot’s world looks very different to a human’s world. This perception of ultraviolet light is important both for feeding and courtship in parrots. Ripe fruit glows with UV reflectance: Mark showed pictures of him walking around a supermarket with his Green-winged Macaw, with the bird ‘identifying’ the ripest apples! Male and female plumage that appears identical to us with our limited faculties will be very different to a courting parrot’s eyes. Thirty

A Sun Conure, showing yellow and red feathers coloured with psittacofulvin pigments; dark blue and black containing the pigment melanin; blue feathers from light refracting through the feather structure; and green colouring being a mixture of yellow pigment and blue refraction.

Blue-fronted Amazon parrots were studied under UV light, with particular reference to their wing and head feathers. These are areas of the body most used in courtship display. Sex of the birds was determined with 100% accuracy using the colour difference. Patagonian Conures were studied in a similar way, and cock birds were found to reflect far more bright green under UV light, while hens reflected more blue, and their red abdominal patches appeared different between the sexes with UV reflectance. BIRD SCENE

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Parrots however can not only change the shape of their lens, but also have muscles that influence the cornea, meaning that they can focus on something as close as just ½” from the eye, right up to infinity. Going back to the evolution of birds from dinosaurs, Mark stated that the first feathers were found as modified scales in a 400 lbs ostrich-like creature, and that these primitive feathers appeared only in the adult creature. This suggests that feathers were first used for display and courtship purposes, rather than for flight.

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Every feather on a bird’s body may be individually moved and controlled voluntarily by muscle contractions. Dr Stafford then moved on to the methods of colour production in birds’ plumage. Melanin is a pigment providing black colour, but blue colour is demonstrated simply by the refraction of white light through the hollow structure of feathers. There is no pigment involved here. Equally, white is shown by complete reflection of light when no melanin or other pigments are present. Most birds produce yellow and red pigments from


FEATURE Main Picture: A Military Macaw taking a proffered nut, again able to keep an ‘eye’ on the treat as well as potential predators. Bright red brow coloured with manufactured pigment, shades of green resulting from a combination of yellow pigments and blue refracted light. Below: A Pyrrhura conure, showing its nictitating membrane (third eyelid).

carotenoids, which are largely obtained from dietary components, whereas parrots manufacture yellow and red psittacofulvins. Having dealt with colour, Mark returned to visual acuity by explaining that humans have muscles in the eye that change the shape of the lens, allowing focus on objects just 8” from the eye. Parrots however can not only change the shape of their lens, but also have muscles that influence the cornea, meaning that they can focus on something as close as just ½” from the eye, right up to infinity. Watch your parrot holding something in its foot while it eats,

and observe the eye flicking from a downward view of the food up to watch its surroundings. More facts and figures followed swiftly: human retinas have some 200,000 cones per mm2 but parrots have twice as many at 400,000 cones per mm2. Moreover, humans have just one nerve fibre (axon) serving 7 cones, to take impulses to the brain. Parrots have one axon for each cone, thus having seven times more efficient nerve fibre transmission. The central part of the retina – the fovea – is the area of sharpest focus in the eye, and this is far larger in

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parrots than it is in man. There is also a major difference in image persistence – the ability to detect flicker. Humans can see images changing no faster than 50 or 60 cycles per second (hertz), and films on television will therefore appear to us as a fluid motion. Parrots can detect up to 140160 hertz, so such a film would appear as a series of rapidly changing individual pictures. All these facts, coupled with the superior processing power of the brain mentioned earlier, ensure that parrots are successful at avoiding danger and flying at speed past obstacles. Still with eyes, Mark told us next that parrots have voluntary control over the muscles that dilate and constrict the pupils of their eyes. This ‘flashing’ or ‘pinning’ is used to communicate moods such as anger, fear or excitement.

In common with most prey species, parrots’ eyes are on the sides of their heads, giving a 330° angle of vision. Not only that, but their brains can process and track two separate images simultaneously on either side of the head. Against that however is that the angle of forward binocular vision is very small, so judging distance for parrots is more difficult. They compensate for this by ‘sampling’ – moving the head back and forth quickly and comparing the different angles of view of an object to calculate distance away. Finally, there is the ‘third eyelid’, or nictitating membrane – a semi-transparent structure that can protect the eye against dust or wind when the bird is flying. Dr Stafford moved on to other senses, describing how the delicate ‘hair cells’ in a parrot’s ear are capable of regenerating if

A Panama Amazon parrot resting on one leg. Its other leg is drawn up into its body feathers. Colour again mostly green, being a combination of yellow pigment and blue refraction. Some pure yellow and red pigments showing also.

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FEATURE A Double Yellow-headed Amazon parrot, showing ‘pinning’ of its pupil, elevation of feathers on its neck and its wings, and spreading of its tail feathers, all controlled by voluntary muscle contraction, and in this case demonstrating a threat display.

Photo © Dr Jan Hooimeier

damaged, unlike those of humans which cannot, leading to permanent loss of hearing. The apparently simple syrinx at the base of the windpipe is the organ of voice production. This contains two separate membranes, each with their own neural connections, allowing the production of two separate, simultaneous sounds. Humans utilise just 2% of the air passing through the larynx for sound production, whereas parrots are able to make use of 100% of the airflow. Now wonder their ear-splitting vocalisations may be heard for miles! The powerful and characteristic hooked beak of parrots is well supplied with nerve

endings sensitive to pressure, touch, texture, resilience, temperature and pain. Both upper and lower portions of the beak articulate separately against the skull, and they grow continuously throughout life. Parrots’ body temperature is higher than humans, at 104°F (40°C), allowing nerve impulses to travel faster and muscle action to be stronger, once again aiding explosive flight and fast reactions. The disadvantage is that energy expenditure is high. Heat may be generated by shivering the pectoral muscles, and the body feathers make a very efficient insulating layer to retain body heat. Conversely, parrots seek out shade and are inactive in the heat of midday. The

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feet and legs, having just scales but no feathers, run the risk of losing heat as blood flows through them. This is overcome with a counter-current exchange mechanism, whereby the arteries and veins intertwine, so that warm arterial blood flowing to the toes warms returning venous blood. Parrots can also reduce blood flow to one foot at a time while resting, and they will stand on one leg and raise the other up into the plumage to retain heat. This ability to stand on one leg is assisted by a ‘ratchet’ action in the tendons, allowing the locking of the limb without sustained muscle contraction. Parrots’ heart and circulatory systems, as well as their unique lungs and air-sac respiratory cycle, all contribute to greater efficiency in blood flow and gaseous exchange compared with mammals. Dr Stafford concluded this epic presentation by saying that “Parrots run supercharged, but they don’t burn out”. All his fascinating facts and figures demonstrated these birds’ unique superiority over mammals of a similar size

Dr Stafford concluded this epic presentation by saying that “Parrots run supercharged, but they don’t burn out”. All his fascinating facts and figures demonstrated these birds’ unique superiority over mammals of a similar size and weight, yet their potential life spans are so much longer.

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Mark and Marie Stafford on the right, opposite Susan Kidd, and the Saturday evening meal. Contingent from Denmark in the background.

and weight, yet their potential life spans are so much longer. Even so, in captivity, potential longevity is not always reached. A study of parrots kept in zoological collections revealed that a few individual birds had lived for 30 – 90 years, yet the average lifespan of zoo parrots was no more than 12 years. Mark Stafford undoubtedly proved his point that ‘parrots are worth conserving’, and left us all over-awed with the depth of knowledge and information presented on these fascinating birds.

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


SALE DAYS IN 2020 SUMMER SHOW: Sunday 5th July 2020 NATIONAL EXHIBITION: Sunday 4th October 2020 ‘HELP BIRD KEEPERS SHOW’: Sunday 6th December 2020

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THIS IS JUST A NOTI FICATION OF DATES PLEASE DO NOT BO OK UNTIL YOU SEE FULL DETAIL S IN THE MAG AZINE All our shows are he ld at Staffordshire County Showground, Westo n Road, Stafford ST 18 0BD.

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BY RAFAEL ZAMORA PADRÓN SCIENTIFIC DIRECTOR OF LORO PARQUE FUNDACIÓN

THE LEAR´S MACAW OF TENERIFE ARE FLYING IN BRAZIL T

he six Lear’s Macaw (Anodorhynchus leari) born in the Loro Parque Foundation and moved last August to Brazil for their reintroduction in nature have already managed to adapt to the harsh conditions of their habitat in the Caatinga and are now flying free in the wild. The six most suitable specimens were selected for this reintroduction.

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These birds descend from two couples that the Government of Brazil transferred to Loro Parque Fundación in 2006 and since then, more than 30 specimens have been bred in Tenerife. During this time, 15 specimens have been sent to Brazil. The last 6 ones are part of a project that aims to introduce gradually individuals to nature. The selected area


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The large aviary is well integrated into the surrounding nature and has Licuri palms.

for this reintroduction is a remote, semiarid environment where only two specimens remained isolated for many years. The population was strongly decimated in the 90s by the illegal bird trade. The two remaining specimens will serve as guides on this specific biome, so that the released individuals can develop independently.

The Brazilian field researchers have built a large aviary for this reintroduction with the support of Brazilian institutions and the wind power company Enel. Within the large aviary are Licuri palm trees, from which the macaws mainly feed. The aviary

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is equipped with a separating grid in case the birds need to be kept separate. It also has flaps that can be kept open or closed. One of the biggest challenges was to get the Lear’s Macaws to eat the nuts of this palm just as quickly as the wild ones. As the 6 macaws were used to soft food, they first had to learn to crack the hard nuts. A few months later they were able to break them without any problems. Since he wild macaws fly long distances, we trained during the release preparation the endurance of the specimens. The recognition of dangers and enemies were equally important in order to survive long term. Another challenge was to prevent them The two wild specimens near the reintroduction aviary. Photo: Joao Marcos Rosa

Above: To break the nut of the Licuri palm fruit requires skills. Their high water content is essential for their survival. Photo: Joao Marcos Rosa. Left: A released macaw eats the fruits of the Licuri Palm. Photo: Joao Marcos Rosa

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drinking water from the troughs. The water was removed step by step and the researchers were amazed when the birds soon no longer missed it, and then completely dispensed with it. At the same time, we provided them with ripe and unripe Licuri fruits. Latter to stay hydrated by eating it because of their high water content. When the first specimen was able to estimate the distances correctly and to return safely to the release aviary, the flaps were opened for the rest of the

group. First for a couple that always were observing the first one during his explorations. And in the end, the remaining three were released, which immediately flew into the wild with confidence. The palm trees in the area were provided with large bunches of Licuri fruits to avoid overexertion during their first foraging for food in the wild. Also to ensure that the macaws that remained in their familiar environment for the first few months could find similar conditions without flying far away.

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Photo: Joao Marcos Rosa

Near the enclosure, two feeding bowls were placed in a raised position. There we lay Licuri fruits every day, so that the new inhabitants of the Caatinga always have a safe food. Thanks to the Loro Parque Fundación, this species could be saved from extinction and reclassified. The successful release of these 6 specimens into the wild will continue to be monitored by Brazilian scientists who, in direct collaboration with the Loro Parque Fundación, are following the development of the project.

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Photo: Joao Marcos Rosa


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Current environment of the Lear´s Macaw

Acknowledgements This project has been possible thanks to the important support and collaboration of Brazilian and international institutions that were fundamental in different phases of the release project: expert researchers of the Research and Conservation Group of the Arara-Azul de Lear, through Qualis

Below: The specimens were weighed and marked with rings. They were also equipped with GPS tracking devices to track their behaviour.

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Consultoria Ambiental; actions executed within the National Action Plan for the Conservation of the Species; Enel Green Power Brazil, in charge of the integral financing of the project and the Community of Cercadinho, Campo Formoso / Bahia. Also relevant for their support have been the Architecture Association of Cristina Dénes, for the creation of the project of construction of the nursery of adaptation of the araras in the Area of Freedom of Wild Animals, and the collaboration of Antonio Carlos Canto Porto Filho and Francisco Antonio de Oliveira, for the donation of materials. Also: the National Centre for Research and Conservation of Wild Birds; the Fazenda Cachoeira Scientific Hatchery for conservation purposes; the Centre for Conservation and Management of Caatinga Fauna (CEMAFAUNA); the National Cente for Research and Conservation of Wild Birds (CEMAVE); the Scientific Hatchery for conservation purposes; the Bahia Institute of Environment and Water Resources (INEMA); the Max Planck 42

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Institute of Environment and Water Resources of Bahia (INEMA); the Institute of Biodiversity Development (ICMBio); the Institute of Wild Spaces (IES); the Institute of Ornithology (MPIO); the Zoology Museum of the University of São Paulo (MZUSP) and Nitro Imágenes, a multidisciplinary team that has made it possible for Tenerife macaws to fly in Brazil. Researchers and collaborators: Erica Pacífico, general director of the project, Thiago Filadelfo, field researcher, Patricia Mendes Fonseca and Fernanda Riera Paschotto. Assistant biologists: Angelo Brasileiro, Luciana Leite, Carolina Prudente, Gabriela Favoretto, Rafael Paulino and René Santos - Luciana Leite - specialists in environmental education, Carolina Prudente, Gabriela Favoretto and Rafael Paulino - specialists in animal behaviour (all three work with psittaci forms in their master studies, and Gabriela specifically with the parrot species A. Leari. Máximo Cardoso field leader.


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Thanks to the Loro Parque Fundación, this species could be saved from extinction and reclassified.

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BY JOHN HERRING SHOW SECRETARY & TREASURER

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THE GLOSTER FANCY SPECIALIST SOCIETY FANCIERS’ W

elcome to our Fancy. This article is intended for the use of new and prospective fanciers to enable them to understand the basic definitions used within the fancy. It cannot provide all the information available and you are advised to join a local club and /or seek assistance from an experienced fancier locally. This article was originally written with canary fanciers in mind but most of the information is equally applicable to budgerigar and foreign bird fanciers. Clubs, & Meetings: There are many types of club: Cage Bird Societies, Foreign bird clubs, Aviculture Societies, and then there are Specialist Clubs or Associations.

GUIDELINES

Cage Bird Societies: These normally cater for fanciers across a broad spectrum of interests including foreign birds, budgerigars and canaries. They provide an extremely valuable service to the fancy and often are the newcomer’s first introduction to bird keeping. Most CBSs will invite guest speakers to their meetings, often from Specialist societies, their meetings being held monthly or fortnightly. Their members are usually from a local area. Specialist clubs: These cater for one variety only and afford the fancier the opportunity to obtain a greater depth of information on their chosen fancy.

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Some produce handbooks once or twice a year. They rarely meet as frequently as the CBS The main officials within a club are: President: A senior member who, although not necessarily active, will act as a mentor and guide to ensure the club runs smoothly. Chairman: Officiates over club meetings and generally oversees the successful performance of the other officials.

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Vice Chairman: In the absence of the chairman will undertake his duties and often have certain special tasks allocated. Secretary: Deals with all Club correspondence and records or “minutes” the club meetings. A CBS secretary usually organises the club programme throughout the year. Treasurer: Responsible for all club funds including collection of


FEATURE

subscriptions and payment of club bills. In some clubs one person may be the secretary/treasurer. Show Manager: Responsible for the smooth running of the show, including provision of staging, allocation of stewards and all the organisation on the day. Show Secretary: Accepts exhibitors` entry forms, records the entries and issues cage labels for individual entries at the club shows. At the show he will present judges with a book detailing numbers of classes and the number of exhibits within each class. He produces a results and award sheet and transfers entry money to the treasurer. Types of Show: The main show season for canaries is from early September to mid January and shows are held by most Specialist

The main show season for canaries is from early September to mid January and shows are held by most Specialist societies and CBSs. These can be “open“ or “members” shows. Open shows allow any fancier to exhibit, whereas a member’s show is only for fully paid up members of the club

societies and CBSs. These can be “open“ or “members” shows. Open shows allow any fancier to exhibit, whereas a member’s show is only for fully paid up members of the club. In addition Budgerigar Societies (BS) hold a “nest feather” show, usually in June which is purely for young birds (about 6 weeks old). Show Status: Fanciers joining a club as an adult, without any previous experience, will exhibit as a Novice. Most Specialist have their own rules but usually, 5 years after joining, a Novice must transfer into the Champion section for exhibiting; a notable exception is within the Gloster Fancy where Specialist clubs affiliated to the Gloster Fancy Canary Council. UK allow a period of up to 7 years as a Novice. Juniors are accepted until they are 16 when they become Novices. A Junior’s status is not affected if a Novice or Champion shows from the same address. The Budgerigar Society has a four stage system; Beginner, Novice, Intermediate and Champion. Show Cages and Show Standards: Each variety has its own show standard and type of show cage. A bird will not be accepted at a show if it is not in the correct type of cage, one bird per cage. Details of cages and

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standards are obtainable from most Specialist societies and a useful reference book is Canary Standards in Colour by GT Dodwell and John W Hills. This gives show standards and cage details for most popular varieties. The Show Schedule: Members of a club will be given a show schedule sometime before the show which will detail the classes available for competition and sales classes, if provided. It is important to become familiar with and understand the schedule, as a bird entered incorrectly cannot be re-classified and at most shows, certainly when a show catalogue of exhibits is made, it will be “wrong classed”. Included will be an entry form. On completion this is returned to the show secretary with entry fees. It is advisable to keep a copy of your entries. Feather Types: There are 2 main types of feather and it is most important to be able to identify these to ensure birds are entered in the correct class. These are Buff and Yellow although the terms “non-intensive”/ “intensive” and “mealie”/ “jonque” have been used in the past. Yellow feather has colour through to the very tip of the feather and often appears to be brighter in colour than the equivalent buff feather

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where the feather tip has no colour and often appears “dusty”. It should be noted that “yellow” in this context does not relate to the colour of the bird ie a “yellow” feathered bird can be green in colour and many “buffs” are yellow in colour. Should you have any difficulty with this aspect of identifying birds, it is advisable to consult an experienced fancier as this is important when pairing birds for breeding as well as exhibiting birds. Certain varieties also appear in “dimorphic” form (a special type of broad buff feather). This need not concern the newcomer at this stage. Classification: The age of a bird is broadly measured by the stage of development of its feathers, and this is reflected in the way a show schedule is laid out. Nest feather relates to the feathers a bird creates while growing in the nest and will usually be formed during the first 3 weeks. At about 6 to 10 weeks the next stage of development starts. This is the first moult when all but the tail and primary or “flight” wing feathers are replaced, for this reason the bird is now described as “unflighted” because it still has the flights produced when in nest feather. These flights are not replaced until the bird has its second moult the following year and then


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becomes a “flighted” bird. Classes are normally held for unflighted and flighted birds and for show purposes a bird is classified as unflighted in the first show season. The Show Schedule: To understand a show schedule and complete an entry form it is essential to understand the basics regarding classification and types of feather. A typical schedule will be divided into sections for each

variety and within each section into subsections for buff feathered birds, yellow feathered birds and also various colours e.g. cinnamon or white/allied to white classes. Note that a fawn (now referred to as white in New Colours) is a combination of white and cinnamon and is included in the white classes. Within each section there will be usually separate classes for unflighted and flighted birds. Always study the schedule carefully

There are 2 main types of feather and it is most important to be able to identify these to ensure birds are entered in the correct class.

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before completing your entry form and it is advisable to keep a record of your entries. Judges: To be accepted as a judge in most varieties, it is necessary to have completed 5 years as an exhibitor at Champion level and some governing bodies e.g. the CCBA conduct a series of examinations to ensure the newly appointed judge will perform to an acceptable standard. Stewards: They are responsible for presenting the entries within each class, in turn, to the judge at the judging stand. With the chief steward responsible for ensuring all entries are present. Exhibitors can learn a great deal from a judge by stewarding but should always listen and observe without comment. It is the steward’s responsibility to ensure that all birds are supplied with adequate water.

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Booking in: On arrival exhibitors will be expected to present their own birds for booking in. Show cages should always be clean and a club is entitled to refuse entry for a filthy cage on the grounds of hygiene i.e. the risk of disease to other birds and also because it does not favourably present the fancy to the general public. A steward will book in entries against those on the entry form and record any absentees. This is important as the show secretary will make up a judging book for each judge, indicating the number of entries per class and much time can be wasted searching for an entry that is absent. Judging: Each class will be judged, class winners retained and they then reappear to be judged against each other for the various prizes in sub sections and then sections, culminating in awards for best in section and or best in show. The stewards return all birds to their staging, check birds are watered and attach any rosettes that have been won. A show cage should never be placed on the floor and when exhibitors are allowed into the show hall they are not permitted to remove exhibits from the staging


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Lifting: After awards and prizes have been presented, when notified by the show manager, exhibitors will be allowed to collect or “lift” their birds. A steward will assist each exhibitor to collect their team and using the entry form will check that all birds are owned by the exhibitor. Some clubs allow exhibitors to lift their own birds. The show manager then checks that everyone is satisfied they have their own birds, and then exhibitors may leave. Etiquette: When judging is completed exhibitors may discuss the exhibits with the judge. However, during judging no comments on the exhibits should be made and a judge should never be informed “this is my bird” when judging is in progress.

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