49 Bird Scene - Winter 2020 / 2021

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BIRD ISSUE FORTY NINE: WINTER 2020/21

SCENE

THE MAGAZINE FOR HOBBYIST BREEDERS AND CONSERVATIONISTS

BARBARA HEIDENREICH’S TEACHING: UT

RETRIEVING LOST AVIARY BIRDS

SP RI N 1S G E T D I 20 MA TIO 21 RC N H O

THE NATIONAL A LOOK BACK

FR EE

A WORKSHOP IN THE UK


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 44 6

BARBARA HEIDENREICH’S TEACHING: A WORKSHOP IN THE UK By Dorothy Schwarz

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50TH ANNIVERSARY OF THE PARROT SOCIETY UK: PART SIX By Alan Jones

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FOREIGN BIRD KEEPING By Jerry Fisher

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

ON THE COVER

BIRD ISSUE FORTY NINE: WINTER 2020/21

BARBARA HEIDENREICH’S TEACHING:

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THE NATIONAL A LOOK BACK

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RETRIEVING LOST AVIARY BIRDS

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A WORKSHOP IN THE UK

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THE NATIONAL EXHIBITION: A LOOK BACK By Les Rance

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THE MAGAZINE FOR HOBBYIST BREEDERS AND CONSERVATIONISTS

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RETRIEVING LOST AVIARY BIRDS By Dorothy Schwarz

BIRD SCENE: Issue Forty Nine: Winter 2020/21 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 T

he Good News and the Bad News. Although we are still unclear about our agreement to leave the EU with or without a deal it seems fairly certain that anyone wanting to obtain a parrot or parakeet from a European breeder will find that the bird will require a CITES export licence from the country in Europe that it is being sent from and also a CITES import licence to bring it into the UK. This will mean that one way or another, we the buyer, will have to pay for two licences!! The good news is that drug companies seem to be having success in developing vaccines to immunise us against Coronavirus in the not too distant future. This time last year I said ‘With our national news focused very firmly on the imminent General Election….’ That seems like four years ago!! I do hope that you enjoy reading this winter edition of Bird Scene and that it brings you a different subject to absorb. We all know that bird keeping is a relaxing past-time, however, for hobbyist breeders that keep their birds in unheated aviaries through the poor weather experienced during the winter months it can also be a rather worrying time, however, with careful preparation and planning we can mitigate the worst of the weather. If aviaries are exposed to the wind then the provision of clear plastic sheeting wrapped around three sides of the aviary improves the conditions inside remarkably and at a 04

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very low cost. During the winter months it is always important to feed your birds each day, not only to ensure they have plenty of food but also to study your birds and make sure they are not distressed by the weather conditions. Those who keep their stock in breeding rooms where they can easily turn up the heating however, are in a far more satisfactory position. In this edition of Bird Scene we are very pleased to have an excellent article on Foreign birds, the 6th part of the presentations given at our Chester Seminar for our 50th Anniversary relating to research in Germany on Macaw Wasting Disease by Julia Heckmann, a report on Barbara Heidenreich’s Teaching on pet parrots and an article by Dot Schwarz on Retrieving Lost Aviary Birds. Also in this issue we have a pictorial review of past National Exhibitions as the event that was due to be held Stafford County Showground on Sunday 6th October unfortunately had to be cancelled due to Coronavirus that started in March 2020 and is still ongoing at the time of writing, in late November 2020. The quality of the images taken by our Designer Neil Randle are excellent and allow readers of this publication, who may not have been able to attend this event, a real insight into the day. So really quite a lot for you to read and hopefully pick up some pointers that may well assist you with whatever species of birds you currently


@theparrotsocietyuk.org

TION

BY THE EDITOR

maintain. This is now the forty-ninth 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 well in excess of 0.7% 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

LES RANCE

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 (Covid-19 restrictions excepted) at our October Sale Day/ Show at Stafford County Showground. This publication is also used to promote our Conservation efforts for threatened parrots in the wild. An archive of earlier editions of Bird Scene can be found on the Home Page of our website www. theparrotsocietyuk. org so if you would like to see earlier versions please do look at the Bird Scene 19 0 2 archive. 0-

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FEATURE

BY

DOROTHY SCHWARZ

WORKSHOP

BARBARA HEIDENREICH’S TEACHING: A WORKSHOP IN THE UK

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ast October, Barbara Heidenreich, one of the USA’s best known animal and bird trainers, presented a day-long workshop at Hadlow College, Kent. The format of the workshop is that Barbara gives a lecture illustrated with video clips and then during several periods during the day gives short training sessions to any birds who attend. This is an extraordinary chance for owners to watch a highly skilled exponent of positive reinforcement training working live birds in front of you. Three of us came with birds: I brought Artha and Casper, African Greys; one lady brought a Hahn’s macaw and another brought two Caiques. Barbara advised any participants who wanted to bring their own birds to be sure that the birds were comfortable in anew environments and accepted the presence of strangers and other birds. She advised us 06

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Barbara advised any participants who wanted to bring their own birds to be sure that the birds were comfortable in anew environments and accepted the presence of strangers and other birds. She advised us to omit breakfast on the day of the workshop so that the birds would be readier to accept treats. to omit breakfast on the day of the workshop so that the birds would be readier to accept treats. She assured us she would be offering food early in the workshop to assess their interest in treats and training. Barbara thinks it is very important for people to learn how to assess a bird’s level of interest in food as a potential reinforcer and goes through a very detailed description of what she looks


Barbara thinks it is very important for people to learn how to assess a bird’s level of interest in food as a potential reinforcer and goes through a very detailed description of what she looks for in parrot body language to let her know if a relaxed parrot is interested in food or not.


for in parrot body language to let her know if a relaxed parrot is interested in food or not. She also covers the importance of non-food reinforcers and give a number of examples of how things besides food can be used to train behaviours. She also explains that we shouldn’t assume a parrot we have never met should like us just because we like them. Instead she teaches caregivers to pair something good like a food treat or toy with your presence to help make friends with a parrot you have just met. Identifying what an animal wants is an important part of force free animal training. These desired items or experiences can then be used to reinforce good behaviour.

This workshop was within easy reach of London. Barbara expressed some disappointment that numbers of participants were low. Although she recognised the workshop was a bit of a last minute arrangement. In USA she told me a workshop like this would have about 70 people attending. Barbara, who when working is always upbeat and positive, remarked how fewer numbers (we were around thirty) meant a more intimate gathering. We comprised a mixed bunch divided between young zoo keepers, veterinary professionals, college students and trainers and companion parrot carers. In essence the message that Barbara teaches is deceptively simple but real

Barbara is keen to point out that training parrots is something far beyond trick training - amusing and cute as that can be. What a parrot trained by Barbara’s methods will show is how parrots can be cooperative, fun, interactive and free of behaviour problems.

WOR KS

HOP


FEATURE

understanding turns out to be more complicated when it comes to practical application. Force free training is based on the theories that have developed from research and the practice of behaviour science. Barbara is keen to point out that training parrots is something far beyond trick training - amusing and cute as that can be. What a parrot trained by Barbara’s methods will show is how parrots can be cooperative, fun, interactive and free of behaviour problems. In other words welladjusted to life as companion animals. One of the best PR methods is shaping behaviour. Once you have identified what you want the bird to do you break the behaviour down into small steps. The first step must be learned before moving on to the next step. Eventually all the steps when joined together lead up to the final desired behaviour. Approximations are used to train behaviours. So to train the bird to step on the hand the first approximations might be that he looks towards the hand without withdrawing. Then the bird puts one claw on a finger. Each step get a reward, which is usually a favourite treat, This technique can be used to train a bird to step up onto the hand, go onto a scale, step onto strangers, enter a crate, wave and much more. Another useful PR method is capturing. As soon as the bird does something you want her to do you praise and reward her. Within quite a short time that behaviour will be presented to a cue.

Training doesn’t always go in a straight line and sometimes we less expert trainers lose heart. But if you persist and keep sessions short, birds are forgiving of less than expert training. Each species, each bird, each behaviour offers new challenges so it is always exciting. Training with approximations is a subtle interaction between the trainer and the bird. You have to choose the exact moment to ask something more and get it. This is where watching an experienced trainer is so rewarding because their timing is so precise. Training doesn’t always go in a straight line and sometimes we less expert trainers lose heart. But if you persist and keep sessions short, birds are forgiving of less than expert training. Each species, each bird, each behaviour offers new challenges so it is always exciting. Using the terms described above and positive reinforcement methods, the training is simply teaching. An animal trained with positive reinforcement methods is given choice. If she complies, she will earn a reward. What behaviours we choose to teach are limitless. In addition to training birds for entertainment, we can use this form of communication to address

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behaviour problems like biting and screaming, to manage birds on exhibit, to teach birds to cooperate in their own medical care and to allow us to facilitate captive breeding practices.

Positive Reinforcement Training is Science Based Understanding the science behind training has become more widespread in the last few years. But the old fashioned ideas like

Positive and negative reinforcement terms Positive Reinforcement: The presentation of a stimulus following a behaviour that serves to maintain or increase the frequency of the behaviour. Another name for positive reinforcement is reward training. Positive reinforcements tend to be valued or pleasant stimuli. To gain positive reinforcers, learners often without being asked, exceed the minimum effort necessary to gain them. Recommended! Negative Reinforcement: The removal of a stimulus following behaviour that serves to maintain or increase the frequency of the behaviour. Another name for negative reinforcement is escape/avoidance training. Negative reinforcers tend to be aversive or unpleasant stimuli. To avoid negative reinforcers, learners often only work to the level necessary to avoid them. (An example in my bird life is showing Perdy Cockatoo a net when I want her to enter a flight in order to step up to come indoors. She complies quickly but I am no nearer getting a reliable step up from her,) Punishment: The presentation of an aversive stimulus, or removal of a positive reinforcer, that serves to decrease or suppress the frequency of the behaviour. The use of punishment tends to produce detrimental side effects such as counter aggression, escape behaviour, apathy and fear. Also, punishment doesn’t teach the learner what to do to earn positive reinforcement. (Squirting with a spray of water to stop screaming.) Not Recommended!

“show him who’s boss” or “don’t let a bird perch above you” are still heard. Wild birds do not bite. That is behaviour that we teach them by using the wrong methods to control them. This is the real underlying message of Heidenreich’s teaching. She has written:

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FEATURE

Current trends in animal training choose to focus on using elements of this science that focus on kind and gentle strategies to create desired behaviour and reduce undesired behaviour. This includes avoiding the use of aversive punishment and negative reinforcement.

The science behind training is called applied behaviour analysis. This science focuses on how organisms learn. And truly we are all students of this science on a daily basis whether we are conscious of our application of its principles or not. Current trends in animal training choose to focus on using elements of this science that focus on kind and gentle strategies to create desired behaviour and reduce undesired behaviour. This includes avoiding the use of aversive punishment and

negative reinforcement. In its place, trainers learn the art and skill of applying positive reinforcement to gain cooperation. A scientific approach using positive reinforcement principles and methods has other benefits. We stop relying on anecdotes or labels. To my mind the worst one is: “This bird is mean and bites”. If you won’t notice the bird’s body language when it shows with signs like pinning eyes or raised crest, that it feels uncomfortable, it has no other recourse than to bite. Or fly

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The science also teaches us that even innate behaviours are modifiable. And most importantly we learn to create and modify behaviour with kinder and gentler methods. This allows reduction in stress, trust building bonds with caretakers, the avoidance of learned aggressive behaviours and the many other drawbacks often associated when aversive strategies are used to influence behaviour. away if it can. Labels aren’t helpful. A bird wanting to perch higher does not necessarily need to dominate you but may just want to feel safe himself. Barbara also says, by understanding the science we are able to remove misconceptions and erroneous interpretations of behaviour. The science also teaches us that even innate behaviours are modifiable. And most importantly we learn to create and modify behaviour with kinder and gentler methods. This allows reduction in stress, trust building bonds with caretakers, the avoidance of learned aggressive behaviours and the many other drawbacks often associated when aversive strategies are used to influence behaviour. Of course in real life, outside of controlled laboratory conditions, there are occasions when we simply have to crate the bird or put it back in its cage. If your bird has a basic trust in you and your handling, that

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trust is not destroyed by occasionally forcing the bird against its will. Although Barbara would prefer caregivers take the time to train the behaviour so that force is never required. When trained to fluency the bird will load into a crate quickly even in an emergency, says Barbara. What the birds learned in the workshop Participants at the workshop saw some of these principles working out in practice. I learned a lot watching Barbara work with the Hahn’s macaw. After a little work on training step up from inside the cage, she decided that the bird was too afraid of hands to take out and train outside of the cage. Instead she demonstrated when birds are wary or frightened of hands, progress can still be made by training through the cage bars. The bird eventually learned to touch a target stick to receive a food reward. This simple but important behaviour is a good first step towards building trust and working towards a step up behaviour. With the pair of Caiques who were more confident, Barbara worked with each one individually while the partner either stayed on the perch or if too intrusive was stepped back into the cage . After watching the birds’ owner struggle, Barbara also demonstrated how to train each bird to willingly go back into their cage. Both the Caiques kept up a running commentary of calls and whistles throughout most of the day.


If your bird has a basic trust in you and your handling, that trust is not destroyed by occasionally forcing the bird against its will. Although Barbara would prefer caregivers take the time to train the behaviour so that force is never required. When trained to fluency the bird will load into a crate quickly even in an emergency, says Barbara.


Barbara had one of the them sit on a perch. The lesson to be taught was accepting fluids from a syringe. This is a useful behaviour as then you can give a bird medicine with ease. The Caique accepted the treat. He touched the end of the syringe and got another treat. Within the ten minutes session the Caique was accepting a drop of water from the syringe. I have to confess that my greys did NOT benefit from much hands on training from Barbara herself Although they’d had no breakfast, when Barbara showed them treats, they evinced little interest. Clearly they are well fed. Casper flew behind me into the auditorium to the audience where he found Hannah, a young zookeeper with a Bic pen and a plastic water bottle. He spent 4 hours interacting with her demonstrating just how powerful other things like play and toys can be as reinforcers Artha flew to the top of the

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auditorium then flew down and spent the workshop perching on her cage top. Barbara remarked that these Greys were certainly socialised and confident but not so interested in food as a reinforcer. Instead she demonstrated how toys can be used to train. In a quick demo she had Casper practice targeting to a new object for the opportunity to chew on a plastic bottle. Barbara’s video clips showed the principles of the force-free training work on all animals. We watched a lioness accepting an injection; a kakapo having his unwanted sexual attentions being diverted from caregivers’ heads to a plastic shoe, giraffe presenting hooves for trimming. All these examples come from her work as a zoo animal training consultant. The following day after the workshop, Barbara spent the day training pigs, parrots and goats with students in Hadlow College’s animal care program.


FEATURE

I hope that Barbara Heidenreich will return to UK and many more of us will see her amazing training in action. She does give a lot of information for free on her websites and blogs. She also has produced DVDs and books. Resources www.goodbirdinc.com/parrot-store.html Parrot Training DVDs Parrot Behavior and Training. An Introduction to Training DVD #1. Learn the basics of training. A great DVD to get started on learning how to train parrots Training Your Parrot for the Veterinary Exam Easy behaviors to train your parrot for his health care. Includes training nail trims, restraint in a towel, crate training, scale training and more. Understanding Parrot Body Language. Detailed explanations of parrot body language and what it means. Get Your Bird Back Instructions on what to do if your parrot flies away. All parrot owners should have this DVD in their collection. The Basics of Training. A Live Workshop Over four hours of information on parrot training, reading body language and solving behavior problems.

Train Your Parrot to Talk This DVD covers myths, ideal candidates for talking, effective ways to expose your parrot to sounds you want repeated, proven methods for encouraging your parrot to vocalize and how to train your parrot to talk on cue. Bonus CD ROM of talking parrot recordings included. Books Good Bird! A Guide to Solving Behavior Problems in Companion Parrots. Easy to read, follow the recipe, step by step instructions for addressing common parrot behavior problems. The Parrot Problem Solver Learn the ins and outs of aggressive behavior in parrots. Ebooks Train Your Parrot to Step up . Motivate Your Parrot for Training Train Your Parrot to Accept Medication Parrot Training Workshops Barbara Heidenreich travels the world teaching parrot behavior and training workshops. Workshops give parrot owners a chance to ask questions, see live parrot training demonstrations. You can get Barbara’s programme from her website or newsletter.

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50TH ANNIVERSARY OF THE PARROT SOCIETY UK BY

ALAN JONES

O

ur next presentation of the day was somewhat different from the rest in that it did not focus on worldwide conservation projects of particular species, but rather covered the latest research on a virus infection that has devastated some parrot collections, and thereby has relevance to their long-term survival. Not only that, but the Parrot Society’s Conservation Fund has part funded this research. The speaker

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was Julia Heckmann, one of a team of veterinarians working under Professor Dr Michael Lierz, at the clinic for birds, reptiles, amphibians and fish of the Justus-Liebig University in Giessen, Germany. Michael is a long-standing avian veterinary colleague of mine, meeting at Association of Avian Veterinarian (AAV) seminars, and he had approached me as PSUK Chairman for assistance in funding


FEATURE

PART SIX

Julia Heckmann

this important work. The European Committee of AAV (EAAV) also awarded a research grant to this project. The disease involved is most commonly known to parrot enthusiasts as Macaw Wasting Disease, the name given when it was first identified in these large parrots in the 1970s. However, it soon became recognised in some 60 other species, and as its distinctive feature is an enlargement

“The Parrot Society’s Conservation Fund has part funded this research” of the fore-stomach, or proventriculus, then the name was changed to Proventricular Dilatation Disease (PDD) or Proventricular Dilatation Syndrome (PDS). In those early days its causal agent was unknown, although a virus was

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Close-up of a very distended proventriculus, demonstrating how thin the wall becomes, as seeds can be seen through it.

Radiograph of a normal parrot showing the normal ‘hour-glass’ shape of the heart/liver/ proventriculus cluster. In PDD this shadow would be massively distended, with the proventriculus filling the grey air-sac space to the right of the liver in this picture.

suspected, but recent (2008) work in the USA and Germany has now confirmed the Avian Bornavirus to be involved, and the name has been changed yet again to Avian Bornavirus Disease (ABD). Julia started by telling us the major problems with this devastating infection: that it does not produce clinical signs in all birds, and the incubation period is very long – several months, or even years. Thus many infected birds can be undetected carriers of this virus, and a ticking time-bomb in a valuable collection.

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Add to this the fact that current diagnostic tests are not always reliable, with false positive and false negative results, and one can understand the problem this virus poses to parrot keepers and avian veterinarians. Bornaviruses have been recognised in sheep and horses already, and the variety affecting birds was named Avian Bornavirus. They have been found in canaries, geese, swans, finches and monal pheasants, but with no clinical signs in these species. Eight different genotypes have been identified in parrot species. Its probable origin was Bolivia, but it is now judged to be prevalent worldwide. One European study sampled over 1400 parrots from 215 different collections, using swabs from throat and vent, as well as blood samples, and nearly 23% showed positive for Parrot Bornavirus, although very few showed clinical signs.


FEATURE

Undigested seed in droppings, indicative of digestive dysfunction - most commonly PDD.

Radiograph showing distended proventriculus (arrowed) so thin-walled that seed material can be seen within. Barium has been given as a contrast medium, as shows as white in the crop (left) and the intestine (right)

Typical signs in clinically affected birds are weight loss, the passing of undigested seeds in the droppings, and vomiting. Radiography (X-ray examination) in these cases will show an enlarged proventriculus, and post-mortem examination (PME) confirms the enlargement, with extreme thinning of the stomach wall. Similar

Stained histological slide of tissue (pink) showing infiltration of inflammatory cells (blue) around a nerve

clinical signs may be seen if foreign bodies, intestinal parasites, or yeast infections are involved, but at PME the stomach wall in these examples is usually thickened. Heavy metal poisoning (zinc and lead) can also result in vomiting and weight loss, but usually with blood in the droppings. However, the intensity of clinical signs is very variable, and can be very gradual in onset. Many birds will also show neurological signs, including balance issues and blindness. Julia showed a video of a cockatoo having difficulty in holding on to its perch, and picking up food items awkwardly. Feather plucking can also be a side effect in infected parrots. The virus produces these variable signs by invading nerve bundles and ganglia, and depending on which nerves are inflamed, so the clinical signs will vary. Definitive diagnosis rests on identifying this ganglioneuritis histologically, with masses of inflammatory

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cells around the infected nerve fibres. Easy at PME on the dead bird, but more difficult in the live patient! A biopsy from the crop has been recommended as a diagnostic test, and is relatively easy to perform, but in this University’s studies, only 76% of positively infected birds showed lesions in the crop. Biopsies from proventriculus and gizzard showed 86% and 93% positive ganglioneuritis respectively, but these samples are far more invasive and difficult to perform in the live bird. Swabs taken from the crop and cloaca (vent), and blood samples are far easier to obtain. These are then tested in a laboratory for virus RNA, or anti-viral antibodies. However, not all samples will show the presence of the virus. In 276 known positive birds tested, virus material was detected in just 35 of the swabs, 45 of the blood samples, and only 25 in both. So many ‘negative’ test results would be unreliable. Having discovered Bornavirus, further work was needed to prove that this apparently ubiquitous virus was indeed the cause of clinical PDD. Julia described experiments in which Avian Bornavirus obtained from macaws (ABV4) and cockatiels (ABV2) were injected into virusfree laboratory cockatiels. 100% of the infected birds developed ABV antibodies in their blood, and viral RNA was recovered from crop and cloacal swabs, but not all developed clinical signs, even by this

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injection of active virus. In those that did become ill, ABV4 produced milder, mostly neurological signs, while ABV2 resulted in more severe, gastro-intestinal signs. Follow-up tests attempted to demonstrate the natural route of infection between birds. Trials included dosing live virus via the nose, mouth and open wounds, but none produced clinical disease in any of the tested birds. This may be because virus taken from macaws was given to cockatiels, or that the dose of virus was too low, but either way to date there is no confirmation of the natural route of this infection between birds. So what does all this mean for the parrot enthusiast? Julia summarised these findings as follows. Avian (Parrot) Bornavirus causes PDD and neurological signs. 18% of clinically healthy parrots are infected with ABV, and many birds will remain ABV positive for years with no clinical signs. Often one partner of a pair will be ABV+, while its mate remains ABVThus in a parrot collection, there may be three groups of birds – • ABV+ birds, with clinical signs of PDD • ABV+ birds, but clinically healthy • ABV- birds, also clinically healthy Control therefore involves – • Confirm PDD diagnosis by ruling out other conditions such as yeast infections etc. • Test for ABV with crop and cloacal swabs


FEATURE Healthy Cockatiels

Problems arise in that PDD affected birds shed lots of active virus, while ABV+ carriers shed small amounts of virus only intermittently. Some may become temporarily infected, but eventually eliminate the virus and make a full recovery. BIRD SCENE

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Birds in the positive unit that persistently test positive should remain where they are, while those that subsequently test negative can go to the quarantine unit until further follow-up tests have been carried out.


FEATURE

and blood samples. • Separate positive birds from negative birds into different units. • Practice good hygiene and disinfection to prevent cross-contamination between units • Re-test every three months. Problems arise in that PDD affected birds shed lots of active virus, while ABV+ carriers shed small amounts of virus only intermittently. Some may become temporarily infected, but eventually eliminate the virus and make a full recovery. A third separate quarantine unit is therefore required. Negative birds that remain negative on comprehensive repeat testing may be considered virus free, and can form the foundation of a new (breeding) collection. Negative birds that subsequently test positive should be moved to the quarantine unit until future tests determine whether or not the individuals are permanently infected (in which case they should move to the positive unit), or just transiently infected with subsequent elimination of the virus, in which case they can return to the negative unit. However, this situation needs to be handled carefully, in the light of what has been said above about the variable test results. Birds in the positive unit that persistently test positive should remain where they are, while those that subsequently test negative can go to the quarantine unit until further

follow-up tests have been carried out. If they then remain negative, they may be considered as virus-free, and move to the negative group, while if they re-test as positive again they should return to and remain in the positive unit. Any new birds acquired should go into the quarantine unit in the first instance. A complex and time-consuming system, but at present the only sure way of controlling this problem! Certainly what should not be done is to dispose of known ABV-positive birds to other parrot-keepers, without disclosing the problem. It is in this way that this infection (as well as others like PBFD) have been irresponsibly spread so rapidly in the past, and with devastating effects on people’s collections. Julia made the point that persistent ABVpositive, but clinically healthy birds (i.e. no signs of PDD) should not be put to sleep, but should be kept in isolation. They may even be bred from, if the youngsters

Julia made the point that persistent ABV-positive, but clinically healthy birds (i.e. no signs of PDD) should not be put to sleep, but should be kept in isolation. They may even be bred from, if the youngsters are taken away for hand rearing (Although I would qualify with that with caution, until we know for certain that the virus cannot be transmitted through the egg).

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FEATURE

are taken away for hand rearing (Although I would qualify with that with caution, until we know for certain that the virus cannot be transmitted through the egg). This complex but fascinating presentation concluded with some thoughts on potential treatment for PDD. Julia told us that to date all anti-viral drugs have failed to improve or cure the condition (and are in any case very expensive). The nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drug Meloxicam has been recommended for affected birds, in an attempt to reduce the gastro-intestinal inflammation, but its actual benefit has not been proven statistically. In the future, a vaccine to prevent development of the disease may

become available, but that is a long way off yet. Although invasion by Avian Bornavirus produces detectable antibodies in the blood, these antibodies appear to have no protective effect against the disease, so production of an effective vaccine will be difficult. Currently, all that can be done for parrots with clinical signs of PDD is to feed them on easily digestible food (ideally pellets); to avoid stressful conditions as far as is possible; and to treat potential secondary infections. Such birds should be kept isolated from unaffected individuals, with good hygiene practiced, but ultimately death or euthanasia will be the result for these unfortunate parrots.


GREAT WESTERN EXOTIC VETS Tom Dutton BVM&S CertAVP(ZooMed) DipECZM(avian) MRCVS European Specialist Avian Medicine RCVS Specialist Zoological Medicine Keep in touch at www.facebook.com/GWEvets Vets Now Swindon, Unit 10 Berkshire House, County Park, Shrivenham Road, Swindon, SN12NR 01793603800 vets-now.com

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FOREIGN BIR KEEPING BY JERRY FISHER

Golden-breasted Waxbill

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FEATURE

RD

M

y interest in the hobby is as a foreign bird breeder. Success is defined by breeding a species in captivity and, ultimately, by establishing a selfsustaining population. This branch of the hobby is subject to the two major threats. Firstly, since 2006, the ban on importation to the EU means that no new species are available and many others are

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Gouldian Finches and Zebra Finches

Violet-eared Waxbill

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FEATURE Gouldian Finches

at risk since self-sustaining captive populations have not been established. Secondly, at the opposite end of the spectrum, established species are subject to domestication. This happens when mutations begin to appear, followed by “show standards” at variance with the wild bird. These start with colour mutations but progress to encompass size, shape and feathering. The species is “lost” as a foreign bird when one can no longer acquire visually normal birds with confidence that they will breed true. This path of “development” is typified by three stages. Firstly, colour. Think Splendid Parakeet and Gouldian Finch. Secondly size, shape and feather structure. Think Budgerigar and Australian Zebra Finch. Finally, a domestic species – think various bantams (Jungle Fowl) and Aylesbury Ducks (Mallard).

This path of “development” is typified by three stages. Firstly, colour. Think Splendid Parakeet and Gouldian Finch. Secondly size, shape and feather structure. Think Budgerigar and Australian Zebra Finch. Finally, a domestic species – think various bantams (Jungle Fowl) and Aylesbury Ducks (Mallard). Developing, breeding and showing these birds is a different and perfectly legitimate branch of the hobby. What foreign bird breeders object to is the visually normal birds are seldom pure i.e. can be relied upon to produce wild-type young. Our ability to obtain a visually normal Budgerigar or Australian Zebra Finch in terms of size, shape and feather is long gone. There are of course many species which fall somewhere between these extremes. With some established species mutations exist but with care genuine normals are still available. >>> BIRD SCENE 29


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

Red Avadavat

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Parsons Finches

With still more species it could be entirely practical to “breed back” over a few generations. Regarding species not yet established, the rocketing prices of the remaining birds are concentrating minds wonderfully – and often there are more surviving birds countrywide than you might expect. Which brings me neatly to the purpose of this article! Practically every species of foreign bird (in either of the above categories) has its devotees who would be anxious to acquire pure normals if the birds were available. It is also my experience (with Diamond Doves and Spectacled Parrotlets among others) that if you advertise for people holding the species you get responses from successful breeders worried about inbreeding but either not able to find other breeders or concerned about introducing mutations via visual normals. >>>

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Java Sparrow

Lavender Waxbill

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FEATURE With Parrotlets there is also concern about hybrids due to the similarity of the hens of some species. To take one example, last summer I realised that (with the exception of Celestials) parrotlets generally seemed to be offered for sale less frequently. An article (“Where are all the Parrotlets?” Sept 2010) in the Parrot Society magazine generated a response for Spectacled Parrotlets alone that resulted in birds being exchanged for new blood, pairs being made up and surplus birds being placed. As a result I now have contact with a small group of people who between them hold a potentially viable group of Spectacled with reasonable genetic diversity. There are no formalities to the group – the only commitment sought is that they offer surplus birds within the group before disposing of them elsewhere. The formation of groups like this could well make the difference in maintaining some species in captivity and in other species the existence of “ring-fenced” groups of normals. The various specialist societies (Parrot Society, Australian Finch Society, Waxbill Society etc) have a role to play in signposting enquiries – for example, someone looking for Normal Bourkes Parakeets would contact the Parrot Society for a referral to someone holding such birds. Likewise, this

magazine could have a potential role in listing the societies and making people aware of how to go about locating specific birds. In fact, both the Parrot Society through their office and the AFS through their RADS + scheme already perform this function. Of course, this system is far from perfect but it has the advantage of no formalities – I simply “talk birds” to people a couple of times a year or when I have a specific enquiry. In my experience most bird keepers are happy to do that! If the end result works for even a few species it will be well worth the effort. For the record, the species I am currently working with are: Endangered in Captivity Cape Dove / Spectacled Parrotlet / Green-rumped Parrotlet / Yellow-faced Parrotlet Ring-fenced Normals Diamond Dove / Bourke’s Parakeet The birds I deal with are not always species I hold – mine is simply a postbox function. If this “system” is to work, it needs people prepared to dedicate a little time and effort to a species they care about. For a modest input you could make a real contribution to your hobby.

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BY

DOROTHY SCHWARZ

RETRIEVING LO AVIARY BIRDS I

n an ideal world birds wouldn’t fly off. Although fly offs are usually due to human error, bad luck or accidental mistakes can occur. Through a mix of ill luck and bad judgement, I’ve experienced more of them than I should have. Here are some strategies that I’ve used over the last sixteen years to retrieve birds lost from an aviary, who are rarely hand tame. Our homemade aviary in six

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interconnecting sections survives wind and storm conditions because the wind has somewhere to escape. But mistakes in construction led to our first loss. The roof wire is stapled to a live oak. A section had worked free and a pair of wily Rosellas and a canny cockatoo had spotted the gap. All three went missing the same morning. An hour later, Perdy the Lesser Sulphur Cockatoo who is tame, flew down to a


FEATURE

OST friend’ shoulder. Where the roof met the tree branch the wiring was doubled. The Rosellas were lost. I blame the dog Archie and Lena were wild caught Orange winged Amazons in their forties. The second winter they lived here was too cold to leave them outside so I took them into the sitting room to live comfortably in a

King cage until spring. Archie could fly and liked a daily whizz around. Lena had a pinioned wing. The dog opened the sitting room door and like most dogs didn’t shut it behind herself. Archie flew out into the corridor where unfortunately, someone had left the garden door ajar. Archie betook himself to the tallest oak behind the aviary. The temperature was minus 4. By nightfall he’d vanished. Presumably he

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roosted in the thick ivy, wreathing the oak. At first light he was back on the top of the oak tree shrieking like a banshee. Was he calling his vanished flock from the Brazilian rainforest? No way would he fly or crawl down to me. Dressed for glacial cold, I visited every 30 minutes. At 4pm, light failing, he’d perched lower just within arm’s reach. I held out a peanut in shell. He grasped one end; I held on to the other, grabbed his legs and shoved him under my coat. I got bitten (not badly) but Archie lived another eight years before succumbing to a heart attack.

Ariadne

Greenman This Ring neck was a ten year old rescue. In my aviary he had a blue Ring neck wife Ariadne. I enjoy naming all the aviary birds. Although she was only three years old, she succumbed to a stroke. She remained in her nest box and Greenman fed her. She could not fly. I decided to visit the vet. So I netted both parakeets, and put them in a dog crate covered with a towel. Next morning I drove off without lifting the towel. The vet opened the crate – only one bird inside. I guessed what must have happened Perdy, my wicked cockatoo, who’d been in that crate the week before,


FEATURE Fern

must have chewed off the plastic holders on the food dish. Greenman had pushed the food bowl aside and squeezed through the gap. I expected to find him in the cloakroom where, the previous night, I’d left the crate. No Greenman, the window was open a crack. I spotted him later on the aviary roof, chatting to his wife through the wire. She had poked her head out of the nest box. If I approached within metres he was off. Les Rance, Ariadne’s breeder offered a solution: ‘Shut Ariadne in a cage in your end flight and leave the outer doors open.’ Each of my six flights can be closed off from the main aviary. For two days, no results, Ariadne wasn’t eating and Greenman, although he visited her, flew out at the merest sound of footsteps.

However, I outwitted him on day two, when I approached holding a scary padded coat in front of me. Greenman spotted the approaching monster and flew to the back of the flight instead of outside. Les Rance’s trick of using a caged bird as a lure has served several times. Not always quite how I expected. Alexandrines at liberty Flights of semi feral ring necks and Alexandrines have colonised counties in Southern England; I don’t wish to add to their number. Fern a wild caught elderly rescue Alexandrine was top parakeet in our mixed aviary of around 25 birds so when I was offered Alex, a proven cock of 21 years, whose mate had recently died, I eagerly agreed. I was told that BIRD SCENE

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Mistake one: Coming in to feed Fern and Alex from the outside, I shut the flight door behind me. Alex flew at top speed toward the flight door, crashed into it, the bolt gave way and he burst through into freedom.

Mistake two: When I returned, Fern had squeezed out of an unbelievably tiny gap in the wire crate. Neither birds in sight. I was lucky and so were they because September 28th was the start of the Indian summer.

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Alexandrines should be kept in a separate flight as the male may become aggressive in breeding mode so we built a 20 metre long narrow flight, enriched with branches, swings and two nest boxes. Mistake one: The Alexandrines appeared to be courting so I transferred them into their new quarters BEFORE the porch door was finished. Both birds appeared uneasy with the move. Coming in to feed Fern and Alex from the outside, I shut the flight door behind me. Alex flew at top speed toward the flight door, crashed into it, the bolt gave way and he burst through into freedom. I sighted him two hours later behind the stables. So using a cage as a lure, I put Fern in a crate on the stable roof. I left the scene for 30 minutes to let Alex calm down. Mistake two: When I returned, Fern had squeezed out of an unbelievably tiny gap in the wire crate. Neither birds in sight. I was lucky and so were they because September 28th was the start of the Indian summer. I work at home so every thirty minutes I’d go outside to look for them. In two days I saw a flash of green so one bird had survived. But which? The speed of even an aviary bird at liberty is unbelievably fast. Grapes are the Alexandrines favourite treat. Bunches of grapes were placed at either end and middle of the aviary roof as well as monkey nuts. And millet sprays. It looked like a harvest festival!

Both birds appeared on the roof to eat the treats. There was no way to approach them. Fern is wild caught, Alex captive bred; neither is tame. We planned a strategy. A cage crammed with goodies was placed on the flat end of the roof with a long string attached to the open cage door. The string was hidden out of sight and we took turns to watch the cage for as many hours as possible, bearing in mind that it’s early morning and late afternoon that birds generally feed. For the next few days, I saw Alex and Fern morning and evening. They were not flying together but keeping within hearing distance of one another. Wal laughed, ‘I must say both birds look very happy.’ For five days I kept as good a track of the birds as I could. They approached but never entered the cage. On the sixth morning, Wal - up early at 7 am - found one Alexandrine eating from the bowl of seeds left on the roof. He walked round side of the aviary and found the other one (Alex) eating inside the cage. He gently pulled the string shut and put the bird in the aviary. Rather casually at breakfast he announced, ‘I’ve caught your bird for you.’ Alex, in perfect feather, once back in the main aviary, was climbing upside down on the roof wire looking for another escape. Wild caught Fern appeared to have no desire to re enter the aviary.

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Trying to catch Tinga

All food was removed from the roof and shifted to the back of the booby trapped cage. Fern went half way into cage, grabbed a grape and flew off. By this point I was losing hope. Every night I heard owls, although no hawks seemed to be around. Fern appeared perfectly aware of my efforts to capture her. Up in the trees she was impossible to spot. The only way to see her was if she called or if the wind blew a broken tail feather. I tied nuts to the bars of the booby trapped cage but she pulled them through the bars and ate them from the outside.

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I put Tingo her mate in cage and another cage on top and began the watch. Tinga would fly down to chat with Tingo. She even flew into the second cage but we were unable to shut her in the cage before she’d fly off. Bear in mind it was very cold and we are rather old. She perched above the baited cage but did not seem to want to fly down. At 5.pm on day eight, she came down to the flat roof and ate a few seeds scattered outside the cage. Over a 10-minute period, she gradually crawled into the cage to eat the seeds at the back. Wal and I were observing from the kitchen window. Wal crept nearer holding the stone to which the string was attached. He pulled


FEATURE

the string shut. Fern was trapped. I had my hands over my eyes, the tension of those last few seconds while he crept within range too unbearable to watch. Fern was an old bird and she died the following year. She and Alex never had viable chicks. Learning from past mistakes The four entrances and exits have all got double doors and spring closers. But the last aviary escape was not through a door carelessly left open, this has happened, nor from storm damage. I lost seven lovebirds forever when the commercial steel aviary blew over in a gale. No, our most recent escape which had a fortunate ending was due to the Casper, my pet Grey’s curiosity. When we first erected the aviary, we didn’t use strong enough wire for the walls. But as everything inside the structure, all the aviary furniture points inwardly my birds never perch on the exterior wire. They chew the branches, play with the toys and leave the exterior walls alone. Only Casper spotted a plastic cable outside the aviary. He chewed a hole through the reed screening, and then chewed a hole to reach the plastic coated cable. Luckily. no electric current was on. Normally, I’d have noticed something amiss when I bring the pet birds inside every night. But it was December, bitterly cold and I hurried my visits without proper inspection.

By day two, Tinga was still out and Tingo appeared fluffed up and cold on top of the aviary roof in an unsheltered cage. I had a brainwave. Birds don’t like to fly into the dark. So I put Tingo’s cage into the end flight but lit it up with a spotlight. However, two kakariki and Tinga the female sun conure were more observant than I. They were gone in the morning at 9am when I went to feed the flock. The kakariki were easy to trap. I stood a play stand its bowls stuffed with sunflowers, peanuts and chopped apples in the porch door and kept a watch from the kitchen. The kakariki started feeding from the bowls by noon and were caught by my slamming the porch door before they had a chance to fly off. Tinga the sun conure had no intention of copying them. She was feeding herself in the oak trees above the aviary. I put Tingo her mate in cage and another cage on top and began the watch. Tinga would fly down to chat with Tingo. She even flew into the second cage but we were unable to shut her in the cage before she’d fly off. Bear in mind it was very cold and we are rather old. By day two, Tinga was still out and Tingo appeared fluffed up and cold on top of the aviary roof in an unsheltered cage. I had a brainwave. Birds don’t like to fly into the dark. So I put Tingo’s cage into the end flight but lit it up with a spotlight.

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Lucky

Dusk already at 3.45pm. when Tinga flew towards the floodlit flight and entered. Once inside she was easily recaptured and both sun conures released back into the main aviary. Kakariki escape artists I’m not the only bird keeper who finds kakariki are all miniature Houdinis. But I do boast that I have re caught them each time, including one hen who evaded capture for 8 days. Five years ago, Beatrice and Benedict had their second clutch in October. By the 16th, I saw two live chicks in the next box. Benedict was feeding her constantly. Two days later, Benedict was outside on the roof. I couldn’t find either hole or gap anywhere, a gale was blowing and I feared he’d be blown away. And how would the hen get fed? Next day I found him on the ground behind the cold weather panels. Still no

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holes visible. Wal and I put a boobytrapped cage on the roof and at 4 pm he was inside it. We closed the cage. At that moment Benedict flew out of the food doors at the bottom. We’d forgotten to cover them. I set up the cage again but he wouldn’t approach. At 5 pm he was on the ground foraging against the wire. Could I trap him? I’ve done it before. I crept forward without him spotting me, threw a black sheet over him as he flew up. His head poked out of the top but he was back in the aviary after a 24-hour escape. Only one of Beatrice’s two chicks survived. We called him Lucky. Prevention is better than cure. Strong enough wire and porch doors. But if an aviary bird does escape, keep optimistic and watchful and with time and patience, you may well retrieve her.


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A LOOK BACK • A LOOK BACK • A LOOK BACK • A LOOK BACK • A LOOK BACK • A LOOK

THE NATIONAL EXHIBITION A LOOK BACK 9 BY LES RANCE

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s the 2020 National Exhibition had to be cancelled due to Coronavirus I have asked our designer Neil Randle to trawl through the past 10 National Exhibition images and send us some memories from the past. I do hope you enjoy his selection. Every year Neil takes around 1,000 pictures at the show so there is no shortage of Images for him to select from. When we do start holding shows again at Stafford please remember that The National Exhibition for the Exhibition of Show birds is held in the Sandylands Centre and the Argyle Centre, when you enter the showground with your birds you need to turn left and drive to the left-hand side of the complex. By buying prepaid entry wrist bands from your Show Secretary when you submit your entry forms, you enter the two Show halls quickly after 7.30 am. The sale of hobbyist breeding stock both from our member’s and non-member’s tables who can sell finches, canaries and budgerigars but not other members of the parrot family is always very well supported with over 640 tables in the Bingley Hall and Prestwood Centre. A large number of hobbyist bred stock always finds new homes from the buyers who come in large numbers to our events not only from the UK but also Ireland and continental Europe. There is no doubt that The National Exhibition is the leading and most popular bird show held

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in this country for hobbyist bird breeders, not just because of the sales tables but also the Exhibition that is held in the Argyle and Sandylands Centres. There is something for everyone available from the 60+ traders who so generously support this event, especially from our sponsor Johnston & Jeff Ltd the leading UK seed supplier. The exhibition in the Argyle and Sandylands Centres organised with the assistance of the 18 clubs that support this event continues to receive plenty of entries, may this be the case for many

years to come. These enthusiasts work so hard to construct the staging from midday on the Saturday and take in many entries in the late afternoon and Saturday evening. This judged event will be as popular as ever in the future, with many high class birds on view. Crystal glass rose bowls were kindly donated by our trade supporters for best bird in Show and by Steve Roach of Rosemead Aviaries for the best junior exhibit, their generous donations for these valuable awards Is always very much appreciated. Cage and

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Aviary Birds give the Exhibition a special supplement in their publication so that all their readers are aware of which clubs to contact to enter their exhibition stock into the Show. Again Neil Randle our magazine designer will take over a 1,000 images on the day of the next show which is scheduled for Sunday 3rd October 2021 so that we have plenty of images for the next twelve months. Please do enjoy the pictures on the following pages. In 2021 the Show will be held on Sunday 3rd October and

will follow similar lines to the 2019s event but more use will be made of the Prestwood Centre to house the stands of such supporters as The Australian Finch Society, The Bengalese Fanciers Association, The Waxbill Finch Society and Java Sparrow Society. Within the two exhibition halls there is always a great buzz of chatter and excitement, it is always a pleasure just to stand there and absorb the environment and listen to people enjoying themselves and promoting their hobby.

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MANAGING SUNFLOWER FOR A HAPPY AND HEALTHY PARROT We all know parrots love sunflower seeds. They’re high in energy, fats and carbohydrates which are essential nutrients for parrots. However, some birds can become addicted to sunflower, too much of which can cause problems such as, a vitamin A deficiency or lymphomas. At Johnston & Jeff, we first developed two specialist blends that are rich and nutritious, right for the particular species but low in sunflower.

Low Sunflower for African Greys

Low Sunflower for Large Parrots

We then devised our Parrot Lean & Fit blend, which contains no sunflower seeds and no nuts and is perfect for parrots that require a lower energy or maintenance diet. It also allows you to feed nuts and sunflower seeds separately as a treat or even a training aid, without adversely affecting the diet. Parrot Lean & Fit

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: mail@johnstonandjeff.co.uk • www.johnstonandjeff.co.uk Johnston & Jeff Ltd @johnstonandjeff @johnstonandjeff