47 Bird Scene - Summer 2020

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BIRD ISSUE FORTY SEVEN: SUMMER 2020

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THE MAGAZINE FOR HOBBYIST BREEDERS AND CONSERVATIONISTS

FIORINO FRILLS WIRE BREEDING CAGE TRIAL

AU T 1S UM T N SE ED 20 PTE ITI 20 M ON BE O R UT

PIONUS IN NUREMBERG

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BY CHRIS SMITH


AS THINGS ARE KEEPING IN TOUCH WITH OTHER BIRD KEEPERS, SEEING OTHERS’ BREEDING RESULTS AND GENERALLY HAVING A CATCH-UP IS JUST ABOUT IMPOSSIBLE.

WHY NOT TRY THE PSUK FACEBOOK PAGE’S ‘COMMUNITY’ AREA? POST SOME PICTURES, ASK FOR ADVICE, SHOW OFF YOUR SUCCESSES (AND FAILURES), LET PEOPLE KNOW WHAT YOU’RE KEEPING AND HOW THEY ARE GETTING ON.

GIVE IT A TRY!’


CONTENTS BIRD SCENE: SUMMER 2020

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

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PIONUS IN NUREMBERG By Mike Roxx

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FIORINO FRILLS By Chris Smith

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WIRE BREEDING CAGE TRIAL By David Allen

ON THE COVER

BIRD ISSUE FORTY SEVEN: SUMMER 2020

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THE MAGAZINE FOR HOBBYIST BREEDERS AND CONSERVATIONISTS

FIORINO FRILLS

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WIRE BREEDING CAGE TRIAL

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PIONUS IN NUREMBERG

ED 20 PTEMITIO 20 BERN O

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BY CHRIS SMITH

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50TH ANNIVERSARY OF THE PARROT SOCIETY UK By Alan K Jones

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BIRD SCENE: Issue Forty Seven: Summer 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 A

s I write this introduction near the end of May 2020 I am mindful of the effects of our recent weather for breeders attempting to breed in aviaries. I can remember in February 2019, the weather was very kind to us with temperatures some days of 14C; which continued for so long that it brought some of my hens into breeding condition and egg production started. Sadly the majority of eggs were not fertile and temperatures in both March and April fell back. This year the spring weather has been much more, well, ‘spring like’ and so far the breeding season is going quite well. However, this year has seen the Coronavirus lockdown which has changed the lives for many of us with many people being furloughed from work. Difficulties shopping, through fear many people not wanting to go to hospital for fairly important treatment and few venturing to Accident & Emergency departments. Deaths associated to the virus are already over 36,000 and people have been confined to their homes for long periods. Fortunately, it appears that things are starting to improve and in the next two weeks it is hoped that non-essential shops will be able to open. At least bird keepers and breeders have a good hobby to give us something else to think about and carry on doing from our homes, we are ‘lucky’ that we can continue to enjoy our hobby, there are many others that are not so 04

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fortunate, certainly anyone who has a hobby involving sport has been very badly hit. Let us just hope that this nasty virus can be beaten and that we do not have another round of it in 2021. Believe it or not, it is now over three years since the up-listing of African Grey parrots that had been added to Annex ‘A’ 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, it is an offence to buy a Grey if it is not correctly licenced. Dare I mention Brexit? At this time two years ago I wrote ‘What is starting to interest us is the affects that Brexit will have on bird keepers and 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 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.’ Really, at the time of writing this Introduction nothing is any clearer!


@theparrotsocietyuk.org

TION

BY THE EDITOR

In this edition of Bird Scene we are very pleased to have three excellent articles, Florino Frill canaries also an experiment in all wire cages for breeding canaries and finally an excellent item from Mike Roxx ‘Pionus in Nuremberg’. This is now the 47th 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 a relatively low 0.8% 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 the cost of colour printing. As a result of increases

LES RANCE

to the costs of both postage and printing I am really pleased that we decided to produce Bird Scene as a FREE e-magazine. We have learnt a great deal over the 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. 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, unless it is cancelled due to the Coronavirus and to promote our Conservation efforts for threatened parrots in the wild. An archive of earlier editions of Bird Scene can be accessed from the link below the recent issues of Bird Scene. Black Palm Cockatoo at 6 weeks old

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Pionus - Bronze Wing

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FEATURE

BY MIKE ROXX

PIONUS IN NUREMBERG T

his article has been a long time coming for me, having never seriously thought about writing an article before, but reading all the stories in the Parrot Society magazine I felt a little inspired. I hope some people out there enjoy it as I like reading most articles on Parrots especially true stories… I have been a bird nut since my father came home I presume drunk from the pub with 2 quail and a chicken that grew into a massive Maran rooster! He gave them to me in the morning I think a little confused as to why he had them but am sure he was happy with my reaction, I was about 12 and this was the start of my love of all things birds, they had a great life although they went to live on my friend’s farm eventually. I have kept many other creatures, fish, reptiles, mammals but birds are my true love. I’m a late starter to Parrots and they tugged at my heart strings as in 2010 when I visited the Peruvian Amazon on a tropical fish collecting holiday, this was great and

the really excellent thing apart from the fish was the birds, it left a lasting impression on me and I will look forward to going back on more of a birding holiday in the future. The parrots were out of this world as anyone who has been to the Amazon will know, one species that I constantly saw was Brotogeris flying overhead, the American guide who was the only other bird man apart from me was always shouting out ‘canary winged’ ‘cobalt winged’ ‘white winged’ I seriously got neck strain looking up as well as eaten Brotogeris

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I had real trouble finding a Bronze Wing back in 2011 now there seem to be a few more around. Roz at Riverbank was and is a great help for advice and I went back there as she found me a unrelated male ‘Sixx’ from her friend so I could make an unrelated pair.

alive by the mozzies but it was worth it! I also saw many locals with pet Brotogeris and they were the most gorgeous birds in looks and personality to me especially after a local let me spend some time with their pet, I really didn’t want to give that little Canary wing back. I visited the markets around Iquitos and saw lots for sale along with other creatures, not in the best ways, all were in tiny cages and looking pretty scared. It was at this time that I made a decision to keep parrots and especially Brotogeris if I could find them when I returned to the UK. 08

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Back home in the UK I managed to persuade my then girlfriend to let me keep some parrots and started to look for Brotogeris, I had zero luck… apparently these birds used to be commonly imported but nobody made the efforts to breed them and they were difficult to find in the UK… What to do next? I didn’t want to give up the dream of keeping these amazing birds (I will hopefully return to Brotogeris in another article). Ok so no Brotogeris, so let’s look at what other South American parrots make good pets that are not too big and not too needy. I wanted birds that would be both pets and breeders not always the easiest balance in the same birds. It was then that I stumbled upon Pionus Parrots, I’m not sure from where, maybe an article in Parrots magazine or the internet maybe an Amazon wildlife program but I quickly became hooked on these especially for some reason the Bronze wings and Blue


FEATURE

heads. I had a plan, now to find the birds! Again this was not the easiest but a lot easier than Brotogeris. I first found a young Blue head male on the Isle of Wight and after exchanging phone calls and pictures with the seller Rickie I was on the ferry with a carrier to pick up my first ever parrot. I’ve kept lots of finches, canary, gamebirds, etc before but parrots interact with you so this felt like a real pet. This young male was one of five that these people keep. The parents in their living room along with a pair of macaws and the Pionus bred in a standard pet parrot cage right next to the massive macaws which looked strange and amazing. It was also there I saw some Parrot Society magazines lying around and asked Rickie about the Society, as a new Parrot keeper I wanted all the information and contacts I could get so decided to join as soon as I could. When I got young Ozzy home (all my parrot names come from the rock/metal music world as I am a big music fan) he very quickly started interacting and made a great pet. He was parent reared but Rickie and his family regularly take the babies out to play with them and do a lot of interacting so although he’s not hand reared he was almost the same He ‘stepped up’ from day one so I think this is a good alternative to hand rearing if you are not always at home or other commitments. If you can without the

parents taking your fingers off, it’s something I will be try in the future with some of my babies to see how well it works for me. Ozzy was quickly joined by ‘Von D’ a young female Bronze Wing as I really wanted both breeds, she is a hand reared bird from ‘Riverbank Aviaries’ in Norfolk, I had real trouble finding a Bronze Wing back in 2011 now there seem to be a few more around. Roz at Riverbank was and is a great help for advice and I went back there as she found me a unrelated male ‘Sixx’ from her friend so I could make an unrelated pair. The problem was the Blue head male started to show classic pairing


up signs with the female Bronze wing so I had to with a heavy heart… (Not!) find a female Blue head to make up the correct pairings after splitting them up. I took a risk when I found 2 Blue heads that were around 1.5 years old and were no longer wanted, they were fed mostly on seed, overweight and a little neglected. I had no idea on their sex and knew they were siblings but took the risk, bought them and sent off feathers for DNA, luckily I had a female and male. I took the birds to my local zoo trained veterinary surgeons in Kent and ‘Mark’ the owner again luckily said he would love a Blue head Pionus as the perfect pet parrot for his kids so the spare male went off to live in the best possible place a specialist zoo trained vet’s house and gets spoilt and loved rotten! The three of them lived together for a

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short while and Ozzy tried his luck pairing with both females, the other Blue head female which I had kept and was still quite overweight with bad looking feathers for some time I named ‘Mrs.O’ settled in well and was the best Pionus in temperament ever, this must be down to the very good habits of the Nola breeders in the New Forest where she came from. As quickly as the new male Bronze wing was ready for me I collected ‘Sixx’ and now I had my perfect foursome, split into 2 cages which was not so harmonious at first with Ozzy calling to Von D and Von D ignoring Sixx, I knew it would be difficult to do it this way but also realised it was just a matter of time before the right bonds were made to the right birds of the right species, luckily I was correct. Unluckily for me my bond with my girlfriend broke down leaving me with a


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bit of a dilemma! I had to get a flat while I got myself sorted and knew it was not a good idea to have the Parrots with me, although they can be quiet for long periods when one decides they want to make a bit of noise they will all go together and it can be pretty deafening, this was the surest way of me getting booted out prematurely! I could not sell them! No no no! This was something I could not face, I had so many conversations with friends and family saying ‘why don’t you just sell them’ unreal… I know inside of me and I am sure many parrot owners this is almost like parting with one of the best parts of my life and I was simply not prepared to think of that. But still I had to find them temporary homes, I envisaged for 6-12 months and they really had to go to a parrot person so all their needs could be looked after. This is no

I could not sell them! No no no! This was something I could not face, I had so many conversations with friends and family saying ‘why don’t you just sell them’ unreal… I know inside of me and I am sure many parrot owners this is almost like parting with one of the best parts of my life and I was simply not prepared to think of that. easy feat or is it cheap. I asked a few parrot people but nobody really had the space, I contacted a good friend of mine, well known here Stefano Salles the Parrotlet man and he luckily put me onto Les Rance (again needs no introduction here) and we cut a deal for him to look after the birds. It was a very hard day physically and mentally taking down their cages and packing the birds for the journey from Kent to Hertfordshire and when they were set up in Les’s purpose BIRD SCENE

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Frauenkirche Church on the market square at night in Nuremberg

built bungalow for parrots it was so hard to say goodbye to leave them, I still have shudders and makes me feel depressed now to think about that, it was probably worse than leaving the girlfriend! Anyway Les informed me that he was looking after as he put it other ‘divorce cases’ and I met his great and varied flock… I visited, I think 3 times over 1.5 years, a bit longer than I thought he would have to have them. It was funny how they ignored me at first, almost a bit like they were thinking ‘well if he’s going to leave us lets punish him with ignoring him’ but after 5 or so minutes of soft talking and whistles they are stepping up and on my shoulders giving me their love and that Pionus smell! One more big bit of tragedy before the happy ending… about a year or so since

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Les first had them I rung him up to see how they were doing and learned of some bad news. Les had been cleaning them out and Ozzy shot out the door through to the other room at other end of the building and out through a open window, this was typical of my bad luck that was


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happening to me, we done all the usual things for lost parrots with the ‘Lost Register’ through John Haywood, and Les even put the other Pionus outside in his aviaries to see if they could call to him but obviously the ‘wilds’ of Hertfordshire is too appealing to Ozzy and he’s joined the hordes of feral Ringnecks, or that’s the story I like to believe… I check sometimes with John Haywood and hope one day I do get that phone call that a Blue head Pionus has been found and he’s mine… He is ringed with a PSUK ring and micro chipped so if anyone comes across him please get in touch! So to the better part of the story and why it’s entitled ‘Pionus in Nuremberg’… In 2014 I got the chance to work on a European tour for a rock band as their tour manager, this was great visiting lots of European countries and generally having a great time along with some hard work. When in Europe we played in Nuremberg and I met and fell in love with my now Fiancee Sonja (yes a bit gushy but it happens!) I told her of my parrots and when I met her again after flying back to Nuremberg (long way for a date) came out with the brilliantly stupid line ‘love me, love my parrots’ but to be fair its basically true! So after around 6 months of backwards and forwards we both decided it would be great for me to come and live in Nuremberg with her… parrots as well. She was amazing at this

I had bought two good all wire travel cages and somehow managed to squeeze them in… I had to unpack a lot out of the car just to get the parrots in the cages! Les had arranged for a vet to check them and I had some German paperwork in case anyone official needed to see it, I also had my new Blue head male micro chipped. because she works trading in building supplies and tools so she suggested we could build our own aviaries a lot cheaper than cages and she had the perfect free room for this… my own parrot room… its great this true love stuff! I had a long two days, firstly collecting a new young male Blue head from Essex, I took him straight back to Hertfordshire to join the others. The next day I had the car jam packed with all I desperately wanted to join me for the first few months in Germany and headed back to Hertfordshire to pick up the Pionus, I had bought two good all wire travel cages and somehow managed to squeeze them in… I had to unpack a lot out of the car just to get the parrots in the cages! Les had arranged for a vet to check them and I had some German paperwork in case anyone official needed to see it, I also had my new Blue head male micro chipped.

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After about 3 weeks of cleaning, decorating and building the aviaries were ready. I am quite pleased with the finished results and hoped the Pionus would like them, they had never had so much room in a cage.

Finally we were off, around 3 hours to Dover, there I got stopped by customs, once they saw my jam packed car they really didn’t want to know! The female officer cooed over the parrots (what she could see of them) but they weren’t interested in any paperwork and waved me through and after a 1.5 hour ferry ride and about 8.5 hours the other side… a long way… I arrived at 6.30am and had to get the parrots sorted. When I finally did get them, fed, watered and settled I slept a lot! I had a lot of work to do in the coming weeks to make the Pionus a permanent home. I am very lucky in that Sonja is a trader and she trades in tools and building materials, she gets it all at trade price. She suggested in one of the spare rooms

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downstairs in the basement that was a junk room we turn it into a bedroom and we built aluminium aviaries! Great! This girl is a rare find and for me perfect. For a few weeks the birds stayed in their travel cages but they were out during the day often. After about 3 weeks of cleaning, decorating and building the aviaries were ready. I am quite pleased with the finished results and hoped the Pionus would like them, they had never had so much room in a cage. When I introduced them they looked lost and hardly moved, but the next day they were exploring their new living space. The aviaries are not massive at around 1.4m in length and 0.9m wide and 2m high, but they have performed some amazing flying acrobatics in there and get around


FEATURE

climbing the wire easily, they look very funny hanging upside down from the wire on the roof, like they are in their own private circus. I have found a cheap source of bird sand with mineral grit chunks in our local Hornbach a type of B&Q store with a pretty good animal supply section so use this on the floor and I can quickly scoop up the bird poop and dropped food with a cat litter scoop, for me this is very important to clean up quickly most days. Now I knew the Bronze wing female was making some different noises a bit panting and a bit wheezing which I put down to stress of being moved around so much but I also could tell she was ready to nest, she had long plucked her own breast and her partners head so much so I now think of him as a Turkey vulture! I put a nest box in for them within a few days of introducing them to their new aviary and within a day or two they were inside checking it out. Within a few more days she was almost permanently inside

and she continued to make these strange panting noises, I got quite worried at one point thinking there was something seriously wrong but my mind was put at ease when I worked out she only did this when she thought I was in the room otherwise she was quiet. I also know all about the wheezing noises Pionus make when they are stressed but this seemed different somehow and I am sure it is something to do with her breeding and not wanting to be disturbed. I tried my best to leave them to themselves but I have to admit I was impatient to see whether there were any eggs in the box and I had to check every 2 or 3 days, at first I couldn’t see and dare not touch her for fear of my fingers disappearing. I spoke to Kevin Pickup and he suggested using a bit of dowel wood to gently lift her enough to peek underneath her, I have to say this worked brilliantly and I admit I doubled up with some thin rubber backed gardening gloves, just in case!


I had almost given up thinking they were going to lay as I didn’t realise it would take so long from when she first entered the nest box, but in hindsight this is all still under 8 weeks from when they were first introduced to their new aviary home … Throughout this process I have sought the advice of other Pionus breeders which has been an invaluable source of information for me, you can find all on the internet but I like the reassurance of a person that I know has had results plus much that you read on the internet and some books seems to contradict sometimes quite drastically so you can be left rather confused. 16

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Anyway after about a total of 7 weeks of introducing the box I found 3 eggs underneath her. I had almost given up thinking they were going to lay as I didn’t realise it would take so long from when she first entered the nest box, but in hindsight this is all still under 8 weeks from when they were first introduced to their new aviary home and they were already into incubating as I had cut back checks to around once a week. I had not noticed much difference in time spent away from the nest box for the female during first couple of weeks to last couple of weeks so nothing seemed that different. In fact the only difference was a couple of weeks before she had laid I


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heard mostly and saw some copulation between the pair, this was only a period of around 3 weeks then it all went quiet apart from the panting noises when she realised I was in the room. So then the calendar came out and the working out for when I estimated the first egg would hatch, after the amount of action they had been having I was pretty sure they would be fertile! I got my estimate spot on I’m pleased to report and it was on a Sunday evening that Sonja said she thought the tumble dryer was making a funny squeaking noise only to then realise the noise was a chick that hatched, she called me down with a lot of excitement in her voice and she didn’t

have to say anything I could tell what was happening. We left them well alone until the next evening and then had a sneak peak to make sure all was fine and I was very happy with my first ever baby Bronze wing Pionus! The next babies hatched 2 days after the first one and last 3 more days after the second. I was and still am so thrilled! Things really flew by after this and as I write this they are just starting to pick at bits of fruit for themselves. I know weaning is a slow process and should not be rushed. I return to the UK fairly frequently and have to leave Sonja to do all the bird chores and if she cannot do all she calls in her daughter and father to

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help especially with baby feeds, this is a real family effort and luckily for me I now have this strong support! Ok a run down on my feeding of my Pionus. I feed fruit and veggies and soaked seed in the morning either prepared the night before or in the morning in a daze, now I have a new kitchen machine that chops the fruit and veg into handy small Pionus sized chunks which I think helps keep wastage down to a minimum as they have a good beak full before shaking their head and dropping the rest on the floor. As my mainstays of fruit and veg I feed sweet potato, carrot, cucumber, tomato, broccoli, peas, cauliflower, apple, melon, banana, and orange. I add any seasonal fruit and veg that I can find any bargains in our supermarket and some that we grow in the garden washing all and peeling most, also while I am away Sonja has been feeding cooked potatoes and natural yoghurt for example things I wouldn’t feed but gives them an interesting change I am sure. As I am 18

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sure all know, never avocado, just worth adding that as a warning. To this fruit and veg salad I add a sprouted pulse and seed mix, I wash this thoroughly lay them out in a tub then place a piece of kitchen roll over the top then add water gently till all are nicely soaked then put a lid on with just a corner open or cover in cling film with holes. I then leave them on a window sill for 24hrs then wash again thoroughly then put back on window sill same procedure as day before, another 24hrs and they are just sprouting nicely so I then wash them in a F24 solution for peace of mind and add a small handful to my salad mix. If it’s breeding time or just before or just after I add ad lib some Vesele Laga egg food which soaks up any excess water nicely once all mixed together. Almost forgot I chop the big beans into smaller bits as they ignore them otherwise, this seems to do the trick and they eat most, no matter what I do some ends up on the floor. This mixture is mostly polished off around 1 – 3pm, then I give them a


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handful of Vesele Laga P15 pellets which they absolutely love. I like to give them some pellets in their diet for the following reasons. If I have missed anything from their diet it’s bound to be in there, also if they ignore any foods they will be eating that substance in the pellet. The birds seem to really enjoy them and delight in chewing them up into tiny bits, again making a mess but eating plenty as well. They make an almighty row until they get given their daily pellets so I am happy that they really enjoy them in moderation, I also use the pellets as a means of treating the birds individually while keeping them tame with a little bit of training. At about 5pm I give them a small amount of Vesele Laga Amazone Parrot seed mix, never much, just a small handful. I feed Versele Laga as I find they make good products and have found them all in 15 - 25kg sacks at a reasonable price in Germany, also I like the fact that some of

the money goes to Loro Parque. Some last things I make available is whole cuttlefish bone and the pink iodine blocks wired to the aviary wire, along with plenty of hazelnut branches for them to chew strip and perch on, constantly moving them and adding new ones. I am still experimenting with flowering weeds mostly inspired by Rosemary Low’s books and talk at a previous Think Parrots seminar! I would love to try my luck with Dusky Pionus next. If there’s any Dusky breeders out there with or without babies please get in touch with me through the Parrot Society as I would love to keep these beautiful subtle coloured parrots and have a go at breeding them. As I said earlier I asked some breeders for some advice along this journey. I would like to personally thank Les Rance, Kevin Pickup, Stefano Salles, Guy Smith of FeathersInc, Roz at Riverbank Aviaries, Terry at New Forest Parrots and mostly Sonja, Brandon, Xenia and Paul for loads of support feeding and cleaning. BIRD SCENE

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FIORINO FRILLS I

first saw Fiorino canaries whilst judging Fife Fancy in Italy in 2005 and 2006 in Bologna and Rome. I became really taken with them at the 2009 World Show in Piacenza, Italy, where nearly 27,000 exhibits were on show with large classes of Fiorinos. The Fiorino is about the same size as the Fife Fancy, very active and as jaunty as the Fife but with voluminous, silky frills. The added benefit is that you can show these birds in the standard Dewar show cage, so no added expense in purchasing new show cages. Though I think when shown in the frill cage they tend to exhibit more boldly on the top perch. Being a relatively new breed I decided to do a little research on them and frill canaries in general. For whatever reason frill canaries have never become popular in Britain and did not merit a mention by eminent Victorian writers on the canary fancy, many of whom composed quite comprehensive works on the subject. It is believed that the frill mutation, which affects the formation and the unusual disposition of the feather, is said to have occurred in Holland in the early 1800s.

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FEATURE

BY CHRIS SMITH

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They were then known as “Dutch canaries” until such time as local varieties were developed around Europe and given separate names, e.g. South Dutch or Parisian Frill. The Fiorino is the youngest member of the frill family of canaries. It was created in Italy in the 1970s around the city of Firenze (Florence) from which it takes its name.

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Champion breeders began by breeding a small North Dutch frill to a Gloster corona. From these crosses and by the use of inbreeding the new Fiorino frill variety was created. The breed was distributed further to interested breeders and with more inbreeding the curling of the feather and size was improved. In the beginning the Fiorino was a fairly


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large bird and controversy developed between breeders over the pattern of frill, type and size of the bird. By 1982 meetings between the various groups had established a temporary standard and this was accepted by the Confederation Ornithologique Mondiale (COM). Today’s Fiorino is a 5” small frill family bird with specific type and curling of feather. It comes in a crested and plainhead form and has all the usual variety of colours for type canaries. It is a

small bird of somewhat North Dutch appearance, although it has a smaller body and the crest on the crown of the head distinguishes it from the North Dutch. There are three areas of the body where specific forms of feathering are given a distinctive name. The feathers on the back are divided by a central parting running downward from between the lower shoulders to the lower back. The frilled nature of the plumage results in

In the beginning the Fiorino was a fairly large bird and controversy developed between breeders over the pattern of frill, type and size of the bird. By 1982 meetings between the various groups had established a temporary standard and this was accepted by the Confederation Ornithologique Mondiale (COM).

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the feathers curling forward over the shoulders and wings, symmetrically on each side, rather like a cape. This feature is called the “Mantle”. The breast feathers,instead of running smoothly down the length of the body in the normal way, curl forwards and upwards over the breast bone and towards the throat like a ring (collar) around the neck. The curly feathers on the breast form a kind of frilly shirt –front with a collar, which all together is known as the “Jabot” or “Craw”. A bunch of feathers just above each thigh, curls outwards and upwards in a sweeping fashion around the wings.These frills are called the “Fins” or “Flanks”. The Kernow Old Canary Breeds Enthusiasts Club has given permission to reproduce the standard (attached) and a scale of points is shown. Like the Fife Fancy size is important and birds exceeding 130mm should be penalised on the show bench. Importance is given to the head and the neck, the crest should radiate from the centre forming a tight circle with the eye still visible. The plainhead should have a clear head free from any signs of a crest. The fins, mantle and jabot have equal points but the emphasis is on symmetry, and frills should be voluminous, full and curling. Non frill areas should be smooth and clean. Points should be deducted for missing fins, skewed mantles and unsymmetrical frilling on the jabot.

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I acquired my original stock from two English breeders and my good Fife friend Werner Van Dessel from Belgium and in 2010 bred 39 chicks from eight pairs. I was fortunate to acquire a self fawn plainhead cock and a clear white cock along with the normal green variegated birds, and so was able to breed a number of good white ground youngsters. During the show season I took a team of up to ten each time to four major shows Winning Best Fiorino on each occasion and best rare canary twice, at South Bucks All Canary Show and the All Variety Canary Show at Peterborough with a variegated white crest and a variegated green plainhead as pictured. In 2011 I raised 29 chicks and have had a superb start to the season winning Best Fiorino and Best Champion Rare Canary at the National Exhibition at Stafford with a green variegated crest, pictured. I have high hopes for a little buff lightly variegated hen and a self fawn hen which are just finishing the moult. I have sold all my surplus birds to a number of local breeders so we can build up a gene pool and exchange stock in the future. Recent breeding seasons have not been as good with only one clear Plainhead cock produced in 2014. But this year has got off to a great start with ten Fiorinos weaned on the first round and hens sitting on more eggs for the second round. Cannot wait for the National Exhibition in October.


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A bunch of feathers just above each thigh, curls outwards and upwards in a sweeping fashion around the wings.These frills are called the “Fins” or “Flanks”.


WIRE BREEDING CAGE TRIAL BY DAVID ALLEN LIZARD CANARY BREEDER AND PANEL JUDGE


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Trial - Part 1

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n the very first issue of Bird Scene (still available in the archive) David Allen gave us an excellent history and introduction into this beautiful canary. The Lizard is the oldest canary and by 1742 it was well documented as a spangled canary with dark wing markings and tail and “a spot on the head called a cap”. By the 19th century the Lizard Canary had been perfected. A bird depicted in a copy of The London Illustrated News on 12 December 1846 is as the Lizard Canary is today. There are a number of key points that differentiate the Lizard Canary from other varieties of canary, they are fairly easy to breed but there are a few rules that must be applied. A pair must be Gold or Silver it doesn’t matter which one is which. The cap type must also be considered when pairing two Lizards. Broken cap to Clear cap or Broken to Broken. But never pair two Clear caps together as this would probably give over Capped birds. The use of a non Cap to any of the types of Cap is also satisfactory. Why not check out the archive file and see David’s full article? He has now written about his ‘Wire Breeding Cage Trial’. I have been toying with the idea of wire breeding cages for a few years now. I can see the plus for them and I could also see some disadvantages as well. I have seen a number of different types of wire

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A number of British breeders are now using wire cages including my good friend and fellow Lizard breeders Rob & Tina Bunting. There are a number of companies now selling them in the UK so there must be demand for this type of cage. breeding cages when visited world shows. But Brian Keenan’s recent article about what type of breeding cages got me rethinking about this again. A number of British breeders are now using wire cages including my good friend and fellow Lizard breeders Rob & Tina Bunting. There are a number of companies now selling them in the UK so there must be demand for this type of cage. So I decided to try a few out for my 2013 breeding season. I bought two blocks of fours single cages which have doors at either end and one in the front. They have plastic trays but with no wire floor as many of these types of cages do. They are in white and look very nice and clean. These cages come complete with feeders and plastic perches, the feeders are similar to the type I currently use on my wooden breeding cages. I will use one for the canary seed and the other for conditioning seed. My intention is to use all eight cages for breeding in 2013


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I intend to make detailed notes of how my breeding season goes with these new cages and how the different types of nest pans perform. The outcome of this experiment will then be looked at and compared with my other breeding results in my old wooden breeding cages. my plan is to have 4 pairs of Blue lizard’s 2 pairs of normal lizards and 2 pairs of my Florinos. I feel I need to give these cages a good trial and by using all of them with a variety of the birds I breed it will give me a fair test. I have put some hens in two of the cages so far and am trailing which type of floor covering is best. I have a number of options for floor coverings. The two I am currently trying is sawdust and white paper. I have decided to use tubular drinkers in all the cages. Also in my trial I will use a variety of types of nest pans. Nest compartments on the outside of the

cage are one option, the other is nest pans on stands in the cage and the other is to hang the pan in the cage. I intend to make detailed notes of how my breeding season goes with these new cages and how the different types of nest pans perform. The outcome of this experiment will then be looked at and compared with my other breeding results in my old wooden breeding cages. This comparison will decide if I invest further in more all wire breeding cages or not. So watch this space for more updates on my experiment. The other beauty of these cages is they

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can easily be cleaned using a pressure washer at the end of the breeding season and they will not need repainting each year or so. Many have told me that they have taken to using them as there is nowhere for mite to get into like wooden breeding cages.

Trial - Part 2 This is my second season using wire breeding cages. I have 8 single wire breeding cages which I purchased at the start of last years breeding season as a trial. But I felt the birds were not settled into the cages to give a true result.

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This season I used all 8 single cages for breeding with a selection of the types of birds I keep, which are Lizards and Fiorino’s. So what were the results? Well they were very mixed as was my season breeding as a whole a very trying one. But I must say I bred as many birds in these cages as I did in my normal wooden cages. However, this was mainly down to the performance of the Fiorino’s as I had three pairs in the wire cages and they bred very well raising a total of 14 chicks from 3 pairs which is more than I had from all my other pairs of Lizards!

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Birds I’ve bred in wire cages: Blue Lizard that won the 2014 National

I like the cages and think they have a lot of advantages over the wooden cages, but there is a few things I would like to change with them. The positive for the wire cages for me are: the plastic tray on the bottom of the cages which can easily be cleaned and washed out. The seed hoppers I also like as they are held in place by a wire door and they have a small perch on the front which means the birds are not standing on the floor while feeding so their feet keep cleaner.The cages I have are coated in plastic so they can be wiped down and they do not rust. The negatives, are the doors are small, well for my hands they are small anyway.

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This also meant that the nest pans I had originally wanted to use would not fit through the door. Although the pans I did get for these cages I did like. My birds seem to be very flighty in these cages which I found strange as I would have thought they would have been steadier. The cages also were singles so you could not separate the hen and cock if I need to, you had to remove the cock totally. I had two blocks of 4 cages which I put together and due to this I placed a sheet of board in between the two blocks so the pairs in each cage could not see each other which would probably cause the pairs not to bond properly and would


FEATURE Birds I’ve bred in wire cages: Non capped Gold Lizard

probably disturb each other. I have been looking for wire cages that meet all the factors I would like and as of yet I have not found any. And I don’t want to buy cages that are not what I really want. But I am still looking!! I will carry on using these cages next season as I think the experiment is still not fully completed. So watch out for part three in 2015.

Trial - Part 3 This is the final part of my trial of wire breeding cages. I have made the choice not to go for any more, but what else then? And why you ask? I will try and explain my reasons, I knew what I wanted from a wire breeding cage but I was unable to find one the fulfilled all my wishes.

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Birds bred in wire cages: Crested Fiorino owned by Mrs Bolton

Also I found the birds were more flighty in the wire cages than in wooden cages which seemed strange to me, as I would have though it would have been the other way. But it was not. So at the end of last breeding season I decided I was going to revamp my bird room, and in this I would replace my wooden cages. The question was with what? I looked at plastic breeding Cages, but a friend had some and was not happy with them pointing out the problem he saw with them, so I had to look at some thing else. It looked like I would be going back to wooden cages, but which ones?

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Then I came across some cages made of UPVC, these would be washable and would not require painting, and they had removable trays which my current wooden cages didn’t have. But they were only available in doubles. I took the plunge and brought 8 double breeders which would go along the back of my revamped bird room. The bird room revamp involved lining the whole bird room out with insulation board, then papering it with lining paper which was then painted in a light colour. Carmel Cream which was left over from decorating my house. This was all done in less than a week, and I am happy with the result. My new cages arrived on the Friday and were in place a day later,now we just need to have a good breeding season. So to sum-up wire cages, I am pleased I tried them out but they just didn’t seem to suit my Lizards. I know many use them with great success on the continent, maybe the weather has a effect on this I am not sure. I have still retained the cages I brought and am using them to breed my Fiorino frill’s in.


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I came across some cages made of UPVC, these would be washable and would not require painting, and they had removable trays which my current wooden cages didn’t have. But they were only available in doubles. I took the plunge and brought 8 double breeders which would go along the back of my revamped bird room. So this concludes my wire cage trial, I would not say it was a complete failure, but I think I am more comfortable with the box type breeding cages. But I am glad I tried them because if I hadn’t I would always wondered about them. I must say though because they didn’t suit

me it doesn’t mean they will not suit you and your birds. I think it always worth trying different ideas, and thinking out side of the box.

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

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50TH PART FOUR

ANNIVERSARY OF THE PARROT SOCIETY UK

Rosemary Low

BY ALAN K JONES

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ext to take the podium was Rosemary Low, the well-known prolific writer on all things parrot, and regular speaker at conferences and meetings around the world. Her subject was “Parrot conservation in situ: a worldwide overview”, and this must have been one of the best presentations I have seen her give. Rosemary took us on a whistle-stop tour of the world in 45 38

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Delegates enjoying the sunshine at lunch

minutes, illustrating various conservation projects with many parrot species. Some are proving successful, others less so. Rosemary started by saying that parrots are the most endangered group of birds in the world, with 28% of nearly 400 species threatened, and 56% in decline. Most of this is the result of habitat loss and trapping of parrots, with the Far Eastern countries, South America, and Australia being worst affected. Conservation projects in general involve four techniques. The first is education of the local population (often targeting schools) about the value of their native birds and the plight they face. The second is preservation of the native habitat where possible, or planting of natural vegetation to regenerate damaged areas. This is difficult in many places, since conservationists are up against huge industrial conglomerates, hostile

governments, or local people trying to scratch a subsistence living by growing crops to feed their families. Planting ‘green corridors’ to link isolated areas of remaining normal habitat can aid the movement of birds and animals that are otherwise cut off. Such projects take considerable time and money. So thirdly, there is general funding, to assist research in the field, education and planting projects as outlined, wardens to supervise the ongoing protection of such areas, food replacement schemes, and the fourth category of providing artificial nest boxes. The latter was perfectly illustrated in the video from Ray Ackroyd, which opened the seminar. Most parrot species nest in trees – either in branches, or more commonly in hollow cavities within the trunk. These require mature trees, and where deforestation for logging or agriculture has occurred, these are in short BIRD SCENE 39


supply, and take many years to replace naturally. Rosemary illustrated various techniques, including wooden, metal, or plastic nest boxes mounted on smaller trees or artificial poles, or the deliberate creation of hollow cavities in branches large enough to take them. Rosemary commented that many of the larger groups involved in such projects, like the World Parrot Trust, the Loro Parque Foundation, and Birdlife International were well known, but that there were many smaller, less recognised local groups doing sterling work with little publicity. She started her world tour in Australasia, citing first the Carnaby’s Cockatoo, which has lost 93% of its native habitat to governmentsanctioned clearance for agriculture, timber and mining. The situation has been exacerbated in many areas by prolonged drought and fires. She said that written information Redfronted on many of these birds Kakariki 40

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is well out of date, as the situation is worsening so rapidly. This is particularly true of the Western (Stanley) Rosella, which is legally shot as a crop pest. The Barraband’s Parakeet has lost 75% of its original habitat, and whilst tree planting is taking place, it can take 100 years for suitable nest hollows to appear, so this is where some of the artificial hollowing is being done. Neophema species tend to nest in opentopped stumps, and these are also in short supply. The Black Palm Cockatoo has lost 85% of its native habitat, much of that to bauxite mining. And so the depressing list went on. Rosemary mentioned other important factors such as the discouraging of bees, snakes and other reptiles or small mammals from using nest holes, and the elimination of predators (many introduced and not native) such as cats and rats. Techniques used for the Kiwi of eliminating these predators from off-shore islands, or contained areas, and then releasing captive-bred birds into such areas have been adopted for the Red-fronted Kakariki. Radio tracking of


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Black Palm Cockatoo

Black Palm Cockatoo at 6 weeks old

The Black Palm Cockatoo has lost 85% of its native habitat, much of that to bauxite mining. And so the depressing list went on.

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Barraband’s Parakeet

The Barraband’s Parakeet has lost 75% of its original habitat, and whilst tree planting is taking place, it can take 100 years for suitable nest hollows to appear, so this is where some of the artificial hollowing is being done.

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such birds has helped to monitor the success or otherwise of such projects, and has been made easier by modern improvements in smaller size and longer battery life of such trackers. Our speaker then took us on a jump back to India, where she said that very few conservation projects existed, and there was little general ornithological interest. It has been illegal to catch wild parrots here since 1990, but this is not enforced, and 8 of the 12 native species of parrots are still regularly taken. Rescue Centres for Alexandrine and Derbyan Parakeets exist, but there are no Rehabilitation efforts. The situation is little better in Indonesia, which Thomas Arndt has described as being “20 years behind Brazil in parrot conservation”. Again, most of the problem is the result of heavy deforestation and illegal trapping. Better news came from Central and South America, with Rosemary citing the example of the Yellow-eared parrot in Colombia, where numbers have risen from 100 to 4,000 in 16 years. There is

considerable enthusiasm for educational projects involving schoolchildren, to tackle the problem at source. The fantastic importance of eco-tourism for bird conservation has been realised in many places, and the clay licks where parrots gather in their scores are very popular. However, in Peru, illegal trapping and the loss of nest sites by felling trees to collect fledgling birds is still a big problem. Of the 31 species of Amazon parrot recognised by CITES, 13 are listed on Appendix 1. Once again, most of the problem results from habitat loss and

Derbyan Parakeet

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Rosemary Low concluded her illuminating presentation with the good news that in October 2016 the popular African Grey Parrot (Psittacus erithacus) and the Timneh Grey (Psittacus erithacus timneh) would be upgraded to CITES Appendix 1, thereby making all capture and trade in these now endangered species illegal without special permit.

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over-trapping. In 1980, 20,000 Tucuman Amazon parrots were exported! The Atlantic rainforest in particular has suffered from deforestation as the human population expands rapidly. Also here, techniques such as education, predator control, the provision of nest boxes, and the moving of parrots to ‘safe’ estuarine islands has been working for species like Amazona brasiliensis. The highly popular (in aviculture) Pyrrhura species of small conures/ parakeets have suffered from the loss of native trees supplying food and nest sites. However, these endearing birds take very well to artificial nest boxes, and one such project for the Grey-breasted Parakeet and supported by The Parrot Society was illustrated in Steve Brookes’ later presentation. Rosemary mentioned the ‘barrier effect’ of high mountains and deep valleys, and once more emphasised the importance of planting green corridors to link isolated patches of natural habitat for these birds. These allow the intermingling of separate populations, thereby countering the risk of genetic impoverishment associated with in-breeding. We were then taken north to Mexico, and we heard that the numbers of Double Yellow-headed Amazon parrot have plummeted by 90% since 1970. 70% of this loss is due to habitat destruction, while the balance is from illegal trapping and

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smuggling. Amazona finschii has just 2% of its original habitat left! Strong, active campaigning has led to laws being passed in 2008 to stop trapping, and there have been many educational posters and books produced to highlight the plight of these birds in Mexico. Finally, Rosemary took us across the Atlantic Ocean to Africa, where she said that it is common practice for hunters to poison water in drinking pools in arid areas, in order to catch game and birds to eat. Many other avian species are persecuted as crop pests. Once again, park rangers have been employed to police such areas, while many educational projects have been established to stimulate and garner the interest of schoolchildren. Rosemary Low concluded her illuminating presentation with the good news that in October 2016 the popular African Grey Parrot (Psittacus erithacus) and the Timneh Grey (Psittacus erithacus timneh) would be upgraded to CITES Appendix 1, thereby making all capture and trade in these now endangered species illegal without special permit. After a fascinating morning of excellent presentations, with a lot of important information to absorb, delegates then adjourned for a light lunch, and a chat with friends and colleagues in the welcome autumn sunshine, before reconvening for the afternoon session.


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