BIRD ISSUE FORTY EIGHT: AUTUMN 2020
THE MAGAZINE FOR HOBBYIST BREEDERS AND CONSERVATIONISTS
PAST - PRESENT & FUTURE?
COBALT-WINGED PARAKEETS AND OTHER BROTOGERIS
W IN 1S TER T E D D E 20 CE ITIO 20 M N BE O R U
PARROTLETS FOR BEGINNERS
BY RAY HOLAND
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: AUTUMN 2020
CONTENTS 40 6 6 16
SOFTBILLS PAST – PRESENT & FUTURE? By Ray Holland
50TH ANNIVERSARY OF THE PARROT SOCIETY UK By Alan K Jones
THE NATIONAL EXHIBITION FOR 2020 IS CANCELLED By Les Rance
DONATE TO OUR CONSERVATION FUND… CLICK THE LINK BELOW: www.theparrotsocietyuk.org/donations.php
ON THE COVER
PARROTLETS FOR BEGINNERS By Hayley Baker
ISSUE FORTY EIGHT: AUTUMN 2020
THE MAGAZINE FOR HOBBYIST BREEDERS AND CONSERVATIONISTS
SOFTBILLS BY RAY HOLAND
PARROTLETS FOR BEGINNERS
6 COBALT-WINGED PARAKEETS AND OTHER BROTOGERIS
IN 1S TER T ED D EC 20 EMITIO 20 BERN
PAST - PRESENT & FUTURE?
COBALT-WINGED PARAKEETS AND OTHER BROTOGERIS By Mike Roxx
BIRD SCENE: Issue Forty Eight: Autumn 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: email@example.com The views expressed by contributors to this magazine are not those of The Parrot Society UK unless otherwise explicitly stated
BIRD SCENE 3
Les Rance, Editor, The Parrot Society UK | www.theparrotsocietyuk.org | les.rance@
s I write this introduction in middle of August 2020 I am mindful of the effects of our recent weather for breeders attempting to breed in aviaries. We had a really hot week in the second week of August and I received a number of reports of adults not feeding their youngsters presumably because of the very high heat levels being experienced. You would have thought that the excess heat in a nest box would escape out of the entrance hole, that, however is not the case as the heat circulates around the inside of the box getting warmer all the time. The best way to remedy this is to take the top off of the box and then the hot air does escape. If you are worried about the youngsters coming out of the box too soon through the top I place a sheet of heavy wire usually 12 gauge on the top of the box, this solves this particular problem very well. Like most long hot spells in UK summers these weather episodes often culminate in thunderstorms and this is just what has happened in the last few days which can frighten youngsters that have recently left the nest box or hens that are incubating their eggs. I have ¾ of the top of my aviaries covered with glass fibre sheeting and place the nest boxes under this protection as it stops the torrential rain getting into the boxes and making the bottom of the boxes too wet. 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 41,600 and people have been confined to their homes for long periods. Fortunately, it appears that things are starting to improve. Unfortunately we have had to cancel The National Exhibition scheduled for Sunday 4th October at Stafford because we could see that it would have been impossible to run this event due to the Social Distancing requirements set out in government guidelines. 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 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 well 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
BY THE EDITOR
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! In this edition of Bird Scene we are very pleased to have three excellent articles, including Softbill Ramble by Ray Holland also Parrotlets For Beginners by Hayley Baker and part 5 of the report of the 50th Anniversary presentation of The Parrot Society at Chester zoo given by Steve Brookes. This is now the 48th 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 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, but is unfortunately cancelled this year 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.
BIRD SCENE 05
BY RAY HOLLAND
PAST – PRESENT & FUTURE?
y good friend Les Rance (Secretary of the Parrot Society) asked me for information on Breeding Softbills. However, there are almost certainly many who are more clued up on this subject than me but here goes. I did a very limited survey of local breeders covering the last two years2018 and 2019 and from the 5 breeders 12 birds were bred in total, of these 5
06 BIRD SCENE
were White Cheeked Touracos. Two of the breeders had no results over this period including myself. My own non breeding record in fact goes back 4 years. Very disappointing as at the start of each new season there are usually some reasons for optimism. There are various reasons for the lack of success and this is my own take on the situation. For a start breeding softbills has never been easy. Having a
DONATE TO OUR CONSERVATION FUND… CLICK THE LINK BELOW:
BIRD SCENE 07
male and female is always a good place to start. However for many species the sexes are identical and in a number of circumstances DNA sexing is not available, I have yet to understand exactly why not. Be that as it may, I have at least three species that fall into this category and it means a certain amount of guesswork is required which one of my old colleagues would say is “less than satisfactory”. I have 12 birds which cannot be DNA sexed because there is no existing record of the DNA profile. In the not too distant past birds were available from the wild and meant there
08 BIRD SCENE
was a good chance of breeding from unrelated birds. You only have to look at the first breeding records to see results were quite spectacular but they were not necessarily maintained for one reason or another. All of us without exception years ago will have bred from birds that come from the wild including of course Zoological establishments as admitted by the very much liked and revered David Attenborough who collected for them. No one could possibly justify the importation of wild birds on the scale it was carried out in the past. Totally unsustainable and moraly wrong. To a
FEATURE large part the business was just that, about making money. Thankfully it will never happen again but where does that place those involved in breeding birds today and not just softbills but parrots, pheasants and others. So where are we now and what are the problems we face. 1. Great difficulty in obtaining unrelated birds. The few that are available are possibly too old. A lot of us have birds that will never be paired up. I will give you three of my own examples, White Tailed Ant Thrush, Blue Malkoha, Simple Greenbul. Where could new birds come fromperhaps Europe which has obviously a much larger number of private breeders and keepers. However are we about to cut ourselves adrift from our European friends, let us hope not. 2. Has a change in climate had any effect? I would imagine it has. In the last 10 years the temperatures have been gradually increasing and in particular the seasons where I live have changed out of all recognition. The last 2/3 years have been exceptionally dry - no moisture in the air, humidity low and often unsuitable for a lot of species except for those orginating in Desert Areas. The number of large trees and shrubs which have died or are in the process
includes Silver Birch, Holly, Cherry, Rhodos, Azaleas, Willow, even the hardy Bamboo have still to recover from 2 years ago 3. Is there much if any co-operation between Zoological establishments and private keepers. To differentiate between the two is not helpful-all involved are keeping and breeding birds so why is there such an artificial barrier to co-operation between the two groups. Zoos etc concentrate their limited resources on endangered species and co-operate within their recognised organisations. All very well and desirable but to virtually ignore species that are relatively common now will lead to their loss from the wild. Do we really want to put common species of least concern on the downward path towards extinction without some effort made to conserve them both in their natural habitat and in aviculture. Did Noah ask “are you
BIRD SCENE 09
unusual or rare” before inviting his guests on board the Ark. What is of least concern in 2020 could be endangered in as little as 15-20 years or even less. Personally at my age although affected by the foregoing now, it will not be a problem for my generation of birdkeeper. Will the much maligned Spreo Starling (as it is commonly known) still be around to dazzle future generations. I doubt it - hope I am wrong.
10 BIRD SCENE
Why do we keep softbills and other types of birds? A question I have often asked myself-there will be no doubt a variety of reasons. Not for monetary gain that is for certain. For competition, showing, fame, recognition, gaining medals, publicity perhaps-we all have our reasons. Knowing you have contributed by reporting failures as well as successes is important. For me in particular having a snapshot of nature in your own garden, being able to observe birds close up, when it would be
impossible for many, myself included to experience the real thing in the wild. Especially when you are unable to travel freely for a variety of reasons, ie health,wealth, age etc. In the foreseable future ignoring the aforementioned reasons will travel return to the old norm after the pandemic. Should we heed the warnings? Do I get the same enjoyment and satisfaction I did 50 years ago-probably not but I guess it keeps me alive and relatively active a little longer.
Why do we keep softbills and other types of birds? A question I have often asked myself-there will be no doubt a variety of reasons. Not for monetary gain that is for certain. For competition, showing, fame, recognition, gaining medals, publicity perhaps-we all have our reasons. Knowing you have contributed by reporting failures as well as successes is important.
BIRD SCENE 11
Other Softbills kept by UK aviculturalists Common Mynah
This year I have spent a lot of time and effort feeding the wild birds in the garden and have been rewarded by seeing countless species stuffing themselves with dried mealworms, pellets etc.
12 BIRD SCENE
Without my birds what would I do, garden? Difficult now the scorchio weather has killed so much in the garden. Watch telly, there are some good programmes, like David Attenboroughs Africa and the sneakiest animals with Chris Packham and even westerns still enjoyed but advertising breaks can be tiresome and frequent.
This year I have spent a lot of time and effort feeding the wild birds in the garden and have been rewarded by seeing countless species stuffing themselves with dried mealworms, pellets etc. The years 2017-2020 will not be remembered with much fondness or nostalgia by many of our families. The tortuous never ending Brexit saga, floods, storms and even desert like conditions
and to cap it all COVID 19 and all the heartache and suffering it has brought. We are due a break from all this torment but will we get one? Brexit continues to unsettle, where are we heading and to what? My personal thanks to those of you who have continued to e-mail and telephone for a good chat about how well things are going or not helps to relieve the isolation. BIRD SCENE 13
Other Softbills kept by UK aviculturalists
14 BIRD SCENE
BIRD SCENE 15
BY ALAN K JONES
50TH PART FIVE
ANNIVERSARY OF THE PARROT SOCIETY UK
ollowing a welcome lunch break, and the chance to enjoy some of the bright autumn sunshine outside the Steve Brookes lecture hall, Eric Peake re-convened the delegates, and introduced Steve Brookes to begin the afternoon session. Steve is a traveller, photographer, and parrot enthusiast, who
16 BIRD SCENE
organises trips for small groups of parrot lovers to south and central America, via his company Wild Parrots Up Close. His presentation, entitled ‘Conservation in Action’ described a visit to north-east Brazil in May 2016, to visit three conservation projects that were funded (wholly or in part) by the Parrot Society UK. Two of these involved the Lear’s Macaw, (Anodorhyncus learii) and the third the Grey-breasted Parakeet (or Conure) (Pyrrhura griseipectus). Steve began by describing the differences
Pairs of birds flew back to the valley later to their nest holes in the sandstone cliffs, where the last few chicks of the season were almost ready to leave their nests and join the adults.
between the Lear’s Macaw and its more familiar (and less endangered) cousin, the Hyacinthine Macaw. The first project described was a land preservation scheme to save one of the largest roosting and breeding sites of Lear’s Macaws from poachers and goats. Based around Canudos Lodge, this has involved the drilling of an artesian well to provide water for planting; fencing to keep out marauding goats; the training of rangers to prevent poaching; and informative signage around the area.
Steve described the pre-dawn visit to a roost site, and showed a video clip of the spine-tingling awakening of these macaws, calling as they flew across the lightening sky, gathering into larger and larger groups, before flying off to their feeding grounds. Pairs of birds flew back to the valley later to their nest holes in the sandstone cliffs, where the last few chicks of the season were almost ready to leave their nests and join the adults. Protecting this area of land has also enabled other species to succeed,
BIRD SCENE 17
Since 2007, 5,200 sacks of corn have been given out to farmers whose crops have been ravaged by the birds. Each farm is assessed for the degree of loss, and the corn sacks are provided by way of compensation, supported by donations from groups such as the PSUK.
FEATURE including Blue-crowned Conures, Cactus Conures, and Blue-winged Parrotlets. The second project focused on food for these macaws and the subsistence farmers whose crops they raided. The favoured food of Lear’s Macaws is Licuri Palm nuts, but many such trees have been cleared for farmland, so the parrots have taken to eating the corncobs (maize) grown by the farmers. Since 2007, 5,200 sacks of corn have been given out to farmers whose crops have been ravaged by the birds. Each farm is assessed for the degree of loss, and the corn sacks are provided by way of compensation, supported by donations from groups such as the PSUK. Farmers are then less inclined to shoot the parrots as pests. Steve informed us that in the 1980s there were thought to be as few as 60 Lear’s Macaws left in this area, but that number had risen to 1400 by 2014. Longer-term management of the problem centres on growing Licuri Palms in secure plantations, to provide the birds with their natural food source. To this end, and to mark its 50th anniversary, the PSUK had arranged to plant 50 young palm trees, in an area that had been cleared and fenced off against goats and cattle. The area was remote, involving a drive of over an hour in 4x4 vehicles along rough sandy tracks, but the representative party from the Society successfully planted the 50 palms, and saw Lear’s Macaws to boot!
Finally, Steve told us about the Aquasis project to support the Grey-breasted Parakeets, again involving habitat protection, but also the provision of artificial nest boxes and education. The group had built a visitor centre, using recycled materials, giving tourists and local people information about these birds, and selling souvenirs to help fund the project. The centre had attracted 6000 visitors so far in 2016. Natural nest holes in trees were disappearing, due to habitat destruction, so many artificial boxes were deployed in safe, protected, private grounds. The PSUK had funded the purchase of a motorbike to make access to some of these remote sites easier.
BIRD SCENE 19
Boxes have to be inspected regularly to remove unwanted occupants such as snakes, possums, bees and bats, while eggs laid and chicks reared are counted. Since 2010, 450 parakeet chicks have successfully fledged from these artificial boxes. The group was rewarded by visits to some of these private sites, and saw
20 BIRD SCENE
The PSUK had funded the purchase of a motorbike to make access to some of these remote sites easier. Boxes have to be inspected regularly to remove unwanted occupants such as snakes, possums, bees and bats, while eggs laid and chicks reared are counted.
families of parakeets gathering to roost in their boxes. An excellent first-hand summary of how dedicated workers, financially supported by groups such as the PSUK, can achieve some remarkable results. Steve was followed by David Woolcock, curator of Paradise Park and trustee of the World Parrot Trust. David reiterated
the comments of previous speakers in saying that a very high percentage of the world’s parrot species are endangered, so this is a massive global problem, but that we can all play a part to help out. The major problems are global warming, trapping, deforestation, and a rising human population. There are large,
BIRD SCENE 21
expensive, high-profile projects like that set up for the re-establishment of Spix’s Macaw in the wild, but there are many smaller, local efforts worldwide. Comparatively familiar species to parrotlovers, like the African Grey Parrot, Sun Conure, Umbrella Cockatoo are all threatened in their native habitats. David emphasised the importance of aviculturists in this regard, saying that species such as Red-vented and Citroncrested Cockatoos, Golden-shouldered Parakeets, and Mitchell’s Lories are critically endangered in the wild, but are
22 BIRD SCENE
comparatively numerous and bred successfully in captivity. Our speaker went on to say that not all people that are interested in parrots keep or breed them, but that we can still help by providing our talents or specific skills to conservation, as well as time. There are many volunteering opportunities worldwide, and David mentioned Tasikoki and Bonaire, as well as many British Zoos. Such projects feature plant care and estate management, as well as direct bird care. He emphasised that campaigning and petitioning is also important for all of us.
The trade in wild-caught birds has been a leadingcause of their decline, and such petitioning hada significant effect on the banning of such trade – at least to Europe and America. However, still many parrots are exported to the Middle and Far East. The latest efforts have led to the upgrading of African Grey Parrots to CITES Appendix. 1. David said that 1.3 million of these birds had been exported from their native territories in the last 40 years, depleting the natural population by 99%! He went on to encourage
Comparatively familiar species to parrot-lovers, like the African Grey Parrot, Sun Conure, Umbrella Cockatoo are all threatened in their native habitats. education projects in schools and parrot environments, and the dissemination of responsible aviculture. He suggested joining and supporting conservation groups, and making financial donations, however small. David left us all in no doubt, before we broke for tea, that every single one of us can help out in some way in the worldwide problem of parrot conservation.
BIRD SCENE 23
BY LES RANCE
THE NATIONAL EXHIBITION FOR 2020 IS
t is now thirteen years ago that 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. Unfortunately for the first time we have had to cancel this event due to the Corona virus, something totally beyond our control. The defining factor when we started out on this adventure 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, up until this year, the numbers of exhibits have increased and we are working hard to ensure that even more varieties of
exhibition quality birds are on the show bench for the 2021 event, and hopefully breeding results next year will be good and unaffected by weather conditions experienced in previous years. 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 are pleased
that the Yorkshire Canary Club, Norwich Canary Club and the London Fancy Canary Club three of our newer recruits are settling in very well and are all enjoying being part of the National Exhibition. We decided this year that we would not hold our annual National Exhibition management committee meeting normally held in Coventry in May it was decided that we would simply use email to discuss
urgent matters, but due to the cancellation even this did not happen. There is no doubt that to hold an annual meeting with all the clubs allows issues to be discussed in an open forum and gives each club the opportunity to raise both large and small suggestions to improve the running of the exhibition. Arrangements are well in hand for the next Show on Sunday 3rd October 2021. 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. We will again continue with the five trophies, one for each section, these will again be sponsored by Johnston & Jeff Ltd. I am sure the clubs and exhibitors are very happy with the outcome. In order to store additional staging the 40’ long storage container located at Stafford County Showground, has worked very well, but it is now full!
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 fairly short time this exhibition has been able to attract these dedicated fanciers from all over Europe. The continental influence is not only limited to the fanciers, there is an increasing demand from continental traders to attend this event, further increasing the range of products available to all our enthusiastic visitors. At present we are still very unsure of the effects of Brexit on The National Exhibition and it would be a great pity if changes had to be made when the UK leaves the EU. By combining this exhibition with the already highly successful Parrot Society October Sale Day at the superbly equipped Staffordshire County Showground a large proportion of the exhibitors were familiar with both the location and the available facilities. As it is located only a few miles to the east of junction 14
of the M6, vehicles can quickly arrive at the Showground. “The National Exhibition” will be again sponsored by Richard Johnston of Johnston and Jeff Ltd in 2021, who is our sole sponsor and has supported us from the start. 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 again in 2021 be spread over a number of editions to ensure that the event obtains maximum publicity in this excellent publication, it will as previously carry advertisements from all the exhibiting clubs and details as to who to approach to obtain the Show Schedule for your chosen species. This 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, and some new traders were hoping to make their first appearance this year, hopefully they will now be able to come in 2021. So whatever your bird keeping requirements they will be on offer at Stafford on 3rd October 2021.
Next year The Sandylands Centre and half of the Argyle Centre will again be used to accommodate the exhibits with the ‘booking in’ and club stands filling the remainder of the Argyle Centre. In addition part of the Prestwood Centre will be given over to clubs stands for those clubs that participate in the National Exhibition. 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 and we would like to thank the clubs for all the kind words and support that you have given us over the years. It will make the organisation of next year’s “National Exhibition” a pleasure to be involved with.
Rosemead Aviaries www.rosemeadaviaries.co.uk
Rosemead Aviaries & Animal Housing Quality Aviary Panels 1”x 1” Aluminium Box Section
In filled with Quality European Wire Mesh – Aviaries made to measure Contact us with your requirements.
T: 02920 577145 | M: 07792 133615 | www.rosemeadaviaries.co.uk 54 Grand Avenue, Ely, Cardiff, CF5 4BL
BY HAYLEY BAKER
PARROTLETS FOR BEGINNERS
hat attracts you to keeping Parrotlets? Is it their fun feisty behaviour? Their intelligence? The various colours? I personally love to sit there and watch how they interact in their pairs. I love how one minute they are grooming and preening each other and then the next minute they are having a huge verbal debate. They are truly entertaining little birds. But what ever reason we keep them we all care and house them in a similar way. The most commonly kept Parrotlet is the Celestial Parrotlets. Usually standing short at 5 inches and weighing around 28-35g. Their habitat is dry landscape with plenty of shrubbery to forage through. Parrotlets are a miniature Parrot from South America (Ecuador and Peru) that are becoming very popular and with a gain in popularity comes a great responsibility. When keeping Parrotlets whether as pets or for breeding research needs to be done. Ensure you are buying a happy healthy Parrotlet, ask your breeder questions, linage is extremely important. You don’t want to buy a bird too closely
The most commonly kept Parrotlet is the Celestial Parrotlets. Usually standing short at 5 inches and weighing around 28-35g. Their habitat is dry landscape with plenty of shrubbery to forage through. Parrotlets are a miniature Parrot from South America (Ecuador and Peru) that are becoming very popular and with a gain in popularity comes a great responsibility. When keeping Parrotlets whether as pets or for breeding research needs to be done.
related or inbred. Also genetics play a huge part on the health. For example two of the worst possible combinations are Red eyed to Red eyed birds, this includes Ino and Fallow mutations as this can cause blindness in babies. I’ve had many emails regarding blind red eyed birds and this is more than likely due to improper
Ensure you are buying a happy healthy Parrotlet, ask your breeder questions, linage is extremely important. You don’t want to buy a bird too closely related or inbred. Also genetics play a huge part on the health. For example two of the worst possible combinations are Red eyed to Red eyed birds, this includes Ino and Fallow mutations as this can cause blindness in babies. I’ve had many emails regarding blind red eyed birds and this is more than likely due to improper pairings.
The best combination of linage would include one green parent at least. Greens are very important to breeding Celestial Parrotlets. Don’t let yourself get too carried away with mutations if you are interested in Breeding Mutations do not forget your greens. Luckily there are more and more breeders getting into keeping ‘pure’ greens if you can get some of them into your flock all the better.
pairings. Also Double Dark factor to Double Dark Factor (this includes Mauve and Olive). Pairing such mutations is a poor combination as our DD birds are very weak specimens generally with poor feather structure. The best combination of linage would include one green parent at least. Greens are very important to breeding Celestial Parrotlets. Don’t let yourself get too carried away with mutations if you are interested in Breeding Mutations do not forget your greens. Luckily there are more and more breeders getting into keeping ‘pure’ greens if you can get some of them into your flock all the better. Keeping and breeding Parrotlets are suitable for beginner / intermediate bird keepers. The only downside to keeping and breeding these wonderful birds is
that you must only keep these birds in pairs. They are really aggressive and territorial once sexually mature. I do however keep young in flights or large cages but in the same sex, then once they are sexually mature they then get paired up. Many breeders also do this, especially when showing Parrotlets.
Parrotlet Set up Many breeder’s cages vary in the group, which proves they are not particular on the cage they breed in. Some people use double metal breeders, some use wooden, others all wire cages, and others even pet style cages. The minimum measurements I would recommend is 15x15x30 inches. I do feel they prefer a lengthy cage to a tall cage, but of course bigger the better. Bar spacing must be no bigger than 18 mm. Perches you must have a good variety with different lengths and widths, especially width as it is good for exercising the feet. Ensure food and water bowls are away from toys and perches, so they do not soil in them. The food and water must be changed daily. A good amount of toys but not too much to just fill the cage so they are unable to fly. With the toys do inspect daily for loose threads and possible dangers. Most toys are safe but it’s always good to check daily that they will not harm your Parrotlet in any way. Using a product like BIRD SCENE
Easibed (www.gardenfeathers.co.uk) or similar is always good to put on the base as its super absorbent, clean and does not scatter around when the Parrotlets fly around their cage.
calcium (good source is cuttlefish) but also a calcium supplement. Eggs are made up of nutrients, fat and egg shell. So the hen will need the nutrients used before, during and after the breeding cycle to keep her in good health and of course the babies too.
Feeding Parrotlets Parrotlets need a similar diet to Lovebirds, so I always recommend a Lovebird mix (Deli nature Number 72) or a parakeet mixed with a good canary seed (Ratio 60:40). Giving Parrotlets an interesting diverse fresh diet is also important. Ensure it is always finely diced as Parrotlets will not use their feet to eat. Apple, Pear, Pomegranate, Broccoli, Spinach, Melon, Berries, Quinoa, Brown rice, Carrot, Sweet Potatoes are a few good ideas to include in the mix and are popular with the birds. Diet in breeding birds is very important as the hen will lose a lot of calcium laying eggs. Always make sure they are getting plenty of 36
Breeding Parrotlets When setting up a pair for breeding there are a few steps to take. Firstly, and most importantly are they genetically compatible? If you have a blue to green or green to green this one isn’t too much of an issue. But if you are pairing a mutation to a mutation please re-evaluate. An ideal paring if getting into mutations is a visual to a split. For example, an American yellow to a green split for American, you will still breed visual Americans but they will be healthier. Secondly make sure you
When breeding Parrotlets calcium is so important so make sure cuttlefish is always available and provide egg food daily for babies. On the Parrotlet Interest Group many breeders use various boxes with great success. They vary from Budgie style to Lovebird and L shaped. Again a product like Easibed is a great base substitute for the box with a little soil. But I personally find if the box is on the front of the cage you will be more successful breeding (especially with Spectacled or Green rumped). introduce them in a mutual cage as mentioned before they are very territorial and if you were to add a Parrotlet to another Parrotlet in a cage there is a very high chance that new Parrotlet will get killed by the existing Parrotlet. Always let
them settle with one another before adding a nest box, and make sure all perches are sturdy. Parrotlets should never be allowed to breed less than 12 months old, for a young hen to go through so much too young will take its toll on her. Never breed more than twice a year if you wish for the hen to live a long healthy life. When breeding Parrotlets calcium is so important so make sure cuttlefish is always available and provide egg food daily for babies. On the Parrotlet Interest Group many breeders use various boxes with great success. They vary from Budgie style to Lovebird and L shaped. Again a product like Easibed is a great base substitute for the box with a little soil. But I personally find if the box is on the front of the cage you will be more successful breeding (especially with
FEATURE Spectacled or Green rumped). Parrotlets as they usually lay 5-8 eggs and will incubate for 21-23 days. You can ring the babies when their eyes start to open (usually 7-9 days) and you can identify sex and mutation when feathers start pinning through (usually around 2-3 weeks). Babies usually fledge around 4-5 weeks and are fully weaned by 8 weeks old, never buy a Parrotlet less than this age especially a hand reared one as they can regress. If you are setting up a bird room with Parrotlets please make sure when cages
are next to each other they cannot see one another. They become more interested in each other and may not breed as well, and if they are too close they may attack one another through the bars. However I find if placed opposite it is not as much of an issue. Always make sure there is ample lighting and though the winter months fully insulated or slight heat. Different parts of the country fluctuate in temperature. Never house Parrotlets outside especially in the winter this can be fatal.
BOOKS AND PRINTS: AFRICAN POICEPHALUS PARROTS Print & Booklet £16 plus p&p UK £5, p&p world £10
THE MANUAL of COLOUR BREEDING PRICE REDUCTION!! on remaining copies, now only £20 each plus p&p UK £5, p&p world £10 THE ROSELLAS PRICE REDUCTION!! On remaining copies, now only £5 each plus p&p UK £5, p&p world £10
The Following Supplements & Titles are now out of print and unavailable:INDIAN RINGNECK PARRAKEET (Supplement to Manual) LINEOLATED PARRAKEET (Supplement to Manual) COCKATIEL (Supplement to Manual) BREEDING THE AMBOINA KING (CD) GENETICS WIZARD
Cheques/drafts in BRITISH POUNDS STERLING ONLY payable to: J&P Hayward Carterton Breeding Aviaries, Brize Norton Road, Carterton, Oxon, ENGLAND OX18 3HW Tel: 01993 841736
COBALT-WINGED PARAKEETS AND OTHER BROTOGERIS
40 BIRD SCENE
BY MIKE ROXX
DONATE TO OUR CONSERVATION FUND… CLICK THE LINK BELOW: http://www.theparrotsocietyuk.org/donations.php
am Brotogeris obsessed! They are awesome birds and this is my short story with them. My title is half stolen from the only book I know on these birds, ‘Grey Cheek Parakeets and other Brotogeris’, written by Robbie Harris from the US. I often revert back to it for odd things about my own birds. I find it quite amusing looking at all the 1980s pictures; all the birds then were wild caught. A little tip: you can pick this book up dirt cheap online. I only wish there were more books on these little beauties…. My first sightings of Brotogeris parakeets, affectionately also known as Brotos by keepers, were in the mid 80s in our local dealer’s aviaries in Barnham, Sussex. I remember seeing these green parakeets flying from one end of a long flight to the other; often there were a few flights full of them with their yellow wing flashes catching the eye. I wasn’t into parrots at all then; my eyes were firmly fixed on the canaries and finches especially the British finches. I am still into the other birds; however, Parrots and Parakeets have become my focus since 2010 when I visited the Peruvian Amazon and saw Brotogeris in the wild.
BIRD SCENE 41
Amazon encounter It was amazing – I would see them and many other parrots every day just like seeing sparrows and starlings here. I was on a tropical fish collecting trip as was heavily into my Amazon fish as well and I wanted to catch them in their native habitat, plus I have always wanted to cruise on the mighty Amazon River and its tributaries so it was a dream trip. As luck would have it the tour guide was a big bird watcher so once he learned I was into my birds he would always be pointing out the different species. We saw many every day from just cruising the river, hearing them in the jungle at the side of the boat and hearing them come
42 BIRD SCENE
over our heads in fighter plane style formations. This is second time I saw Brotogeris and from where my real love of them came. As they flew overhead they were really quite noisy but maybe not as noisy as the Ringnecks in London! The guide would crane his head skywards as you heard them in the distance and scan with his binoculars and shout “Canary Wings”, “White Wings” or whatever they were. Often you wouldn’t need the binoculars as they would come so close overhead you could see with the naked eye the wing flash. On this trip I also saw Brotos in the markets for sale in tiny cages for next to nothing. It made me sad and I really
wanted to take them with me. I know it’s not possible and you shouldn’t encourage the locals but if I could have brought them home I think my heart would have ruled my head. I wondered what life they were headed for. I also had one very lovely positive experience with a local person and her pet Canary Wing. We were wandering another local market and I spotted it sitting on the vendor so I made a beeline for them. I asked about the bird and seeing my interest she invited me around
to her side of the stall She lowered her arm onto my arm and this amazing little bird just ran down her arm and onto me, then it climbed onto my shoulder and sat there happy as a happy Canary Wing can be! That was it, I was hooked. After lots of cool playing time with this little guy and questions about this bird and others in broken Spanish and English, I knew in my head I would find out more about Brotos when I got back home.
BIRD SCENE 43
Breeders in Europe Unfortunately the situation with Brotogeris in the UK is they are virtually non-existent. The same is true in Europe and the US. Apparently before the import ban some Brotos were quite common which must be why they were always in my local dealer’s flights. It’s strange that in the US Plain Parakeets are virtually non-existent and Cobalts are rare; it’s a complete reversal on these two species’ availability in Europe. I was gutted I could not locate any here in the UK so I turned my attentions towards Pionus and from there a big love and respect has grown towards these awesome parrots which I now breed as well. But back to the Brotos… I was living in Germany for a while and, when looking through a popular bird selling site from the Netherlands, I saw an advert for Brotogeris cyanoptera or Cobalt Winged Parakeets. I messaged the seller immediately and found out these were four siblings, all male and hand reared. I knew that Brotos make amazing pets from US articles online and my own little ‘live’ experience. I consider myself half pet owner and half breeder so this was perfect; I always like to have hand reared birds as I like the interaction with the birds. I have heard some breeders don’t like HR birds for breeding but my experiences have been nothing but positive.
44 BIRD SCENE
I quickly found out from breeders that Cobalt and Plain Parakeets are the only Brotogeris available freely. Four other species are available but very rarely and also for much higher prices. I don’t know of any breeders in the UK but that doesn’t mean there aren’t any. I arranged with the Belgian breeder to save one for me while I planned a trip, and as luck had it a few days later another advert appeared again from Belgium with many young for sale. I found out this breeder was breeding with five pairs of Cobalts so there were plenty on offer from him as he has much success in breeding them every year. I asked for three birds, one male and two females to make myself two pairs with my HR male. When the trip came around it was fascinating to see how the Belgians were keeping their birds. I picked up the three first; they were the parent reared so were a little nervous. This breeder could not speak any English and was not internet savvy so his friend who had lived and worked in England when he was younger translated all. Then I set off to collect my HR male. This breeder had only one pair of Cobalts but many other parrots of different species. I’m not sure why he chose to HR these birds as it didn’t seem his normal practice but it could be that the parents stopped feeding the babies or some other parent issue as this happened to me on my first brood I bred.
BIRD SCENE 45
Personal experience breeding So I had my two pairs. At first they were absolutely fine together in one cage. I had only open fronted cages at first but I now prefer all wire cages as I prefer to clean them and you get nicer views of the birds all the time. After a few weeks it was obvious a pair had formed between a pair of the PR birds; my HR male was a year younger so he was lower down the pecking order. They didn’t really fight being all together but they did get boisterous when piling into the box that I had provided at night time. I did want to breed them so I decided to split them in the hope that the pair bonds would form better. My PR pair laid their first egg in early February 2016 and three more followed,
46 BIRD SCENE
each a couple of days apart. I had got them in October so was quite happy they were feeling comfortable enough to settle and breed. The HR male who I named ‘Charlie’ would regularly spend a bit of time out of his cage playing and exploring, and he very quickly got used to me after being a little nippy at first. Apparently Brotos don’t generally breed in their first year so I was not expecting Charlie and his girl to breed. I was hopeful as the female was a year older than him, but it wasn’t to be their year. It was obvious about half way through incubation that one of the eggs was infertile and I proved it by candling them. Three eggs hatched in the order that they had been laid, a couple of days after each other. It was a proud and
FEATURE pleasurable moment for me hatching my own baby Brotos. The young grew at a rapid rate and the parents fed them well. I wanted them to carry on with their parents as I hadn’t been planning on hand rearing these. However, maybe a week or so before fledging, I started to notice that the babies’ heads were being plucked and their crops were no longer full. I quickly topped them up with some hand rearing formula which was easy as I had not long reared a nest of Bronze Winged Pionus so everything was ready. I fed them for a couple of days before deciding enough was enough; their heads were getting very patchy and no parent
food was arriving at all, plus I was worried the parents might turn on them completely. So the hand rearing began proper. They were fully feathered at this point and were jumping around everywhere so I put them in a cardboard box like their own nest box into a makeshift Brooder with no heat as they clearly weren’t in need of extra heat, but at night I did put them in a warm room just for comfort. These were great little parrots to HR and in a few days they were flying around the room. I put them in a metre long wire cage a week or so after removing them and they seemed happy as can be
BIRD SCENE 47
exploring everything I put in that cage for them. They also learnt to feed themselves within a couple of weeks and were soon enjoying the fruit/veg/pulses I feed to the adults the pulses I only feed during the breeding season. I also introduced them to P15 tropical pellets by Versele Laga, which again all my adults get, and they had great fun with these as toys and food. I do sometimes feed a parakeet mix but not as a main food. This year I added some extras to the birds’ feeding regime. I know the Birdcare Company’s reputation is second to none and wanted to try their ‘Potent brew’ as another breeder highly recommended it for top breeding results. I phoned the company and they suggested something
48 BIRD SCENE
different: ‘Super Max Breeder’ which is a powder supplement given 6 weeks before the breeding season and ‘Super Feast’ which is an egg food with prebiotic herbs and mixed with honey – it’s lovely and moist, and also smells great. I started feeding these during the breeding season so a bit late but so far it seems good. I don’t know if the supplements really make a great difference but I am happy to add them knowing they are a nice additive to their diet. The Super Feast has replaced my old ‘not so interesting’ egg food mixture and there is no need for extra calcium as it is also included. It’s all a little bit more expensive from the Birdcare Company but I believe I am giving my birds the best I can get and I will continue using these products. A tip
FEATURE for buying from the Birdcare Company is to buy from them at the shows as their goods are always discounted there! I thought the parents may want to nest again which would explain the pulling of feathers from the babies’ heads but once the babies were removed they didn’t show much interest in breeding. The babies were a noisy little rough and tumble crew between the three of them and when let out to fly always followed each other around the room calling to each other. In late 2016 I moved back to the UK. It was while moving an accident happened and the parents and two babies escaped from their travelling cage. Something had moved in the back of the van and dislodged a door slightly even though I had taped all the catches shut. It was just enough for them to squeeze out and
escape while the van was being unloaded without me seeing. The first baby was still sitting in the cage looking confused. They stuck around the trees in the area for a day and the mother actually returned to her cage which I left outside on top of the other pair’s cage so the sounds would draw them in. Unfortunately after that day I never saw the father or two babies again but was thankful that the mother came back. I hope they survived at least a while, enjoying flying free; we have feral Ringneck parakeets so who knows. I did put them on the lost register but no luck. The mother and son lived quite happily together for about six months until I arranged another trip back to Belgium to get another unrelated male bird from the breeder with five pairs. He also had a
BIRD SCENE 49
young female of 2016 to go with my young 2016 male as it turned out. So now I could make up three pairs of Cobalts. I had also managed to source a pair of Brotogeris tirica or Plain parakeet (badly named I feel); this was a 2016 male bred by the breeder I was visiting. He had also swapped a bird for me from a fellow breeder so made up the pair with a 2014 female. As I write this pair are going through the motions of breeding; they are in the box lots during the day and chewing the box itself, other pieces of natural bark and offcuts of soft wood pit inside for them. But with the male being a 2016 bird I am unsure if he is still too young to successfully breed… we shall see. Back to 2017 and so far my HR male ‘Charlie’ and his partner have had a successful clutch of four babies which are just about to fledge. The original mother and her partner might have been paired too late to breed this year
50 BIRD SCENE
FEATURE but are making some interesting moves; again, we shall see. My HR young male is a great little character and often comes out of his cage to play; I like to keep him tame and Charlie when not breeding. I feed them little sunflower heart treats on top of the Tiricas’ cage as is a handy perching area. The Tiricas have taken much interest in this little Cobalt on their cage and keep a close eye on all he does, so much so that when feeding him I tried feeding them from my hand. It worked and after only a few attempts I can feed them from my hand through the bars of their cage or put my hand inside and feed them. I can’t do this with any of the other PR Cobalts so have to assume that they have made a direct link to watching me feed my little male. I am planning to add more Brotos to my collection later this year if I can get in a trip to Europe. The great thing about my second trip to collect birds is I met the Tirica breeder Jaak. I have kept in touch with Jaak regularly due to us sharing a deep passion for Brotos. He has all the species apart from the two very rarest: the Golden winged and Tui. However, he has had Tuis in his collection twice. He keeps the Cobalt, Tirica, Canary winged, White winged, Orange chinned and Grey cheeked. He has had articles published in Belgian magazines on his birds and he has
translated them into English for me, and now I have asked him for permission for them to be printed here in the PS magazine. He also briefly told me his story of why he keeps and specializes in Brotos. It was a great little story so I asked him to write that for the PS magazine to follow my story with these fascinating parakeets. I often wonder why Brotogeris aren’t kept more everywhere but especially in this country. I wonder is it because they are a base colour of green with next to no mutations? The only couple of pictures I have seen of mutations were on Facebook and I don’t know where they originate from but they are certainly not established. For me if it was a choice of being more popular with mutations or as they are now I would keep them as they are. I don’t want to see mutations spoiling this great genus of birds like they have spoilt many others. Wild natural colours always please! I would like to find out if there are any UK based breeders as so far I have only found two pairs of Grey cheeks that were imported from Loro Parque, kept for a few years by two keepers for four or so years then moved on out of the country. If anyone does keep any or is seriously interested in keeping these great little characters do get in touch - you can contact me via the PS where Les will pass on your details or I have a bird page on www.facebook.com/newworldbirds1
BIRD SCENE 51
SO MUCH MORE THAN A STANDARD MIX As with everything we make, our No. 1 Parrot Food is purposefully designed to be nutritionally correct as well as having a wide variety of ingredients for behavioural enrichment. Just because it is our “standard” mix, that does not mean it is spared the Johnston & Jeff treatment! This traditional base food contains 16 ingredients, comprising a wide variety of shapes, colours, textures and tastes for your feathered friend to forage through. Feed with fresh fruit and vegetables or our Fruit, Nut & Veg Mix, to serve up a diet that’s so much more than standard.
Benefits Various Ingredients for Behavioural Enrichment Nutritionally Balanced Cleaned to 99.9% Purity Composition: Medium Striped Sunflower Seed, Whole Maize, Safflower Seed, Natural Groats, Red Dari, White Sunflower Seed, Buckwheat, Monkey Nuts, Puffed Wheat, Flaked Peas, Peanuts, Chillies, Puffed Maize, Flaked Maize, Pine Nuts and Vegetable Oil.
Suitable for: African Greys, Amazons, Caiques, Cockatoos, Large Conures, Macaws, Meyers, Senegals and Quakers.
Please note, Johnston & Jeff’s foods are only available through retailers or online. Please contact us to find your nearest stockists or for more information.
Johnston & Jeff Ltd. Baltic Buildings, Gateway Business Park, Gilberdyke, East Riding of Yorkshire, HU15 2TD T: 01430 449444 • E: firstname.lastname@example.org • www.johnstonandjeff.co.uk Johnston & Jeff Ltd