BIRD ISSUE FOUR / FEBRUARY / MARCH 2012
THE KNOWLEDGE CENTRE FOR ALL PET BIRDS
BREEDING RED AND YELLOW BARBETS by Colin Scott
PHASE II: An interesting article by Kevin Pickup on building aviaries for his collection.
An article by Les Rance on the 2011 event.
IS 13 SU TH E 4 20 A O 12 PR UT IL
BY TONY PITTMAN
SCARLET MACAWS IN COSTA RICA
BIRD SCENE FEBRUARY / MARCH 2012
CONTENTS REEDING RED AND 06 BYELLOW BARBETS Colin Scott gives us his experiences of breeding these rarely seen softbillsan excellent article.
DONATE TO OUR CONSERVATION FUND… CLICK THE LINK BELOW:
HASE II 12 PKevin Pickup describes
the building of his new aviary complex with good quality images. ONSERVATION OF 28 CTHE SCARLET
ATIONAL 36 NEXHIBITION
NTEREST GROUPS 40 IJerry Fisher extols the
benefits of Interest Groups to help find and obtain the harder to obtain species.
ON THE COVER
BIRD ISSUE FOUR / FEBRUARY / MARCH 2012
THE KNOWLEDGE CENTRE FOR ALL PET BIRDS
BREEDING RED AND YELLOW BARBETS by Colin Scott
PHASE II: An interesting article by Kevin Pickup on building aviaries for his collection.
NATIONAL EXHIBITION: An article by Les Rance on the 2012 event.
SCARLET MACAWS IN COSTA RICA BY TONY PITTMAN
IS 19 SU TH E 4 20 A O 12 PR UT IL
Les Rance gives more details of the 2011 event.
MACAW An interesting update of Parrot Society involvement in Costa Rica by Tony Pittman.
BIRD SCENE: Issue Four, February / March 2012 BIRD SCENE is run by The Parrot Society UK, 92A High Street, Berkhamsted, Hertfordshire, HP4 2BL, England. FOR SALES AND EDITORIAL ENQUIRES Telephone or Fax: 01442 872245 Website: www.theparrotsocietyuk.org E-Mail: firstname.lastname@example.org
BIRD SCENE 3
his is now the fourth edition of Bird Scene and I am really pleased with the progress that has been made with this new e-magazine. For ten years I have edited the Parrot Society magazine which has been very interesting but from its very nature is limited to parrot species excluding the Budgerigar. Bird Scene allows me to study and enjoy all the other species of birds that are kept within UK aviculture many of which are exhibited at The National Exhibition which will again be held at Stafford on Sunday 14th October 2012. In fact one of the major objectives of Bird Scene is to publicise The National Exhibition and the bird clubs who have joined with The Parrot Society to allow
their members to exhibit birds in a large exhibition. I keep Cape Doves, Java Sparrows and Gouldian finches all of which have their own individual needs and challenges and give me great pleasure to maintain, not to show standard but good aviary birds. There is no doubt that to breed a nest of healthy youngsters of any of these three species gives great satisfaction and all the time I am increasing my knowledge of my charges. In this edition is an article on the conservation of the Scarlet Macaw (Ara macao) in Costa Rica. These birds are
BY THE EDITOR
such beautiful parrots but need our support as many of them are caught for pets which obviously depletes the wild stock, equally as damaging is the felling of trees with nest cavities to capture the babies which means that there are fewer trees with the requisite nesting holes. Just simple deforestation to increase farmland or provide space for cattle ranching has had a substantial impact on the areas where these birds live. Support for conservation by organisations such as The Parrot Society also includes the education of the local populations so that they are aware that Scarlet Macaws are a valuable natural resource that is well worth protecting for the long term both for the beneficial work the Macaws do in their native habitat and the tourists they attract to the country, even visitors that are not that interested in birds greatly appreciate the sight of large brightly coloured Macaws flying and gathering at the clay licks.
I am particularly delighted to have an article from a friend of mine Colin Scott who has been working very hard with his Red and Yellow Barbets which are rarely bred and he should be congratulated of his excellent breeding results with this difficult species. It is one thing breeding these birds but it also requires the skill and knowledge to write up the results into an interesting and informative article which is supported with some good images. There are a lot of skills being displayed in this article and I am sure that everyone who reads this item will be full of praise for Colin’s dedication with all these areas that have culminated in this article. The words on the progress that is being made on the 2012 National Exhibition are down to me so really at this point there is very little that is worth adding, just enjoy this update and rest assured that the 2012 event will be the best ever.
Les Rance, Editor, The Parrot Society UK www.theparrotsocietyuk.org | email@example.com
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ARTICLE BY: COLIN SCOTT
BREEDING THE RED AND YELLOW BARBET TRACHYPHONUS E. ERYTHROCEPHALUS
y original pair of Red and Yellow Barbets arrived from North Cornwall Aviaries in early March 2003. They were in good condition and after a couple of week’s isolation in an unheated spare room they were transferred to my bird room. Here they remained until early summer when they were moved into an outdoor flight about 2 meters cubed. That year they showed no sign of breeding, 6
although they were compatible and would often display by duetting. After spending the winter back in the bird room they were moved to a new block of aviaries, each being 12 feet long x 4 feet wide x 6 feet 6 inches high (3.6m x 1.2m x 2m) with an access to indoor area 4 feet x 3 feet x 3 feet (1.2m x 0.9m x 0.9m). A small parakeet nest box and feeding facilities were provided in the shelter.
Food provided consisted of the following; Fed daily. Fed frequently. Live food Kiwi fruit Apple Peaches (tinned and fresh) Pear Mango Tomato Fig Soaked sultanas Apricot Thawed peas Cooked or tinned carrot Sweet corn Grapes Live food consisted of mealworms, crickets (brown, black and banded) and wax worms. Spiders were also given and were hunted with relish. Also given daily were soaked Witte Molen low iron Mynah pellets and Beaphar Universal food. All the fruit given is finely chopped. I am really surprised how little these birds eat, although a variety of food is always available. I feel that Red and Yellow Barbets are generally an insectivorous species that will take a variety of other food items, whereas that other African barbet, the Bearded, is mainly frugivorous but will take a few insects. The nest box provided measures internally 6 inches square by 10 inches high (150mm x 150mm x 250mm) and is situated inside the shelter, access to the nest is via a door in the back of the
box so that inspections can be carried out without entering the aviary. I have noticed that the box quickly attains a very strong musty smell almost as soon as the eggs were laid, I have never noticed this smell on the birds themselves. On the 1st June 2004, 2 eggs were discovered, no attempt at nest building had been made, just a scrape in the shaving which had been provided. Both eggs were thrown out on the 5th June. On the 12th June, just 7 days later, inspection revealed 4 eggs, these felt cool to the touch. Two days later and incubation appeared not to be taking place as the eggs always felt cool, so two eggs were removed to an incubator and two left with the parents. The next day 15th June, I removed the two other eggs. Three of the eggs were fertile and one of the second two pipped on the morning of the 25th, and hatched later that evening after just 10 days! I gave him his first feed at 5.00am the next morning and then every hour and a half. Food consisted of the insides of a wax worm. All went well until 3.00pm the next day when the chick died after knocking the scab of it’s naval and bleeding badly. Meanwhile the parents were still busy and on the 24th June they laid the first of four eggs. The eggs are laid daily and incubation starts from the first egg, so the chicks hatch daily. The first chick hatched on the 8th July, with all BIRD SCENE 7
For the first ten days the parents were almost totally insectivorous, and although the softbill food and fruit was still provided fresh once a day, the pair was fed up to eight times a day with live food.
four eggs hatching over the following days, thus giving an incubation time of 12 days. Subsequent nests have also given a 12 day incubation. For the first ten days the parents were almost totally insectivorous, and although the softbill food and fruit was still provided fresh once a day, the pair was fed up to eight times a day with live food. Each feed consisted of 10-15 wax worms, 30-35 small crickets and a few soft white mealworms. After a few days my mealworms started to pupate and so a lot of soft pupae were fed, these have the added bonus of not escaping from the flight. The live food was first cooled in the fridge or deep freeze before being thrown into the outdoor flight area where the parents would quickly hunt them
down. After about ten days the parents started feeding soft food to the chicks. At twelve days old the chicks were covered in pin feathers and could be sexed. The first chick fledged on the 3rd August, with the other three following the next day. The chicks were duller editions of the parents except for a black throat patch in both sexes. The young and parents would return to the nest each evening to roost. Red and Yellows are usually the first birds to roost each evening in my collection, but they are also the first up in the morning, and they can be quite loud when both birds and young join in the chorus, whistling, “red and yellow, red and yellow, red and yellow”. On the 7th August three days after fledging, the chicks were seen to join
in with the adult’s duet. Interestingly the parents had gone very quiet for a few weeks before they laid, leading me to believe that they had gone out of breeding condition. This behaviour was also noted by Mr D. England, (Avicultural Society Magazine Vol. 79, page 194), who first bred them in 1973. On the 9th August the parents were seen mating, and on the 11th they had one egg. Again four eggs were laid but one was removed at 11 days as it was clear and had a crack in it, another egg disappeared. On the morning of 26th August it was noted that the cock was showing a little aggression towards the young hens and he was reluctant to allow the chicks into the shelter. As the weather forecast was bad for that night the decision was taken to remove the chicks. It was noted at this time that the black throat patch was already beginning to moult through red and had completely gone in another week. On the 28th August the remaining two eggs were thrown out of the box, but had one egg by the 2nd September. Three more made the clutch up to the usual four, three of which hatched and were reared, two cocks and a hen. Theses fledged on the 14th, 15th and 16th September and just five days later the hen started another clutch of four. These proved infertile however, the hen showing no more signs of breeding for that year.
Brief Diary • 2 eggs • eggs thrown out • 4eggs • all eggs removed to incubator • 1 egg (three more over the next three days) • first chick hatched (three more • over the next three days) • first chick fledged at 26 days old • remaining chicks fledge • 1 egg (three more over the next three days) • last two eggs thrown out • 1 egg (three more over next three days) • 2 chicks hatched third chick hatched • first chick fledged (remaining two over next two days) • first of four eggs, all infertile The final result for the year was 22 eggs laid, 7 hatched and reared by parents,1 hatched in incubator but did not survive. I still have Red and Yellow barbets, and currently own three pairs including a cock from the above breeding. He has produced second generation chicks in 2010 and I aim to breed third generation this year with luck. BIRD SCENE 9
PARROT SOCIE REHOMING SC T
he Parrot Society rehoming scheme has been successfully running for eight years now. The purpose of the scheme is to offer non members a facility to advertise parrots for sale in a ‘market place’ that is genuinely interested in parrots and parrot welfare, i.e. our Parrot Society members. For a fee of £10 non members can place an advertisement in which they can describe in detail the bird for sale and the sort of home they are looking for. The reasons for rehoming are many, often a change of circumstances for example due to ill health, job loss, relationship breakdown or having to change accommodation to somewhere that does not allow pets, an increasing problem for elderly bird keepers. Sometimes people
will have inherited a bird from an older relative and not have the time, facilities or desire to take on this responsibility. Sadly this means that many birds are potentially
ETY CHEME homeless through no fault of their own. As the Society is unable to recommend any particular rescue sanctuary as we could not possibly vet them all for suitability our own Rehoming Scheme has proved to be a very reliable answer to the problem of rehoming parrots. It also means that the pet transfers seamlessly from its existing home to its new residence. How The Scheme Works: • Members of the public wishing to rehome a parrot contact the parrot society usually having obtained our number from the RSPCA, their vet, a friend or from finding out about us via the internet. • We send them a copy of the Rehoming Brochure which explains how the system works. • If required we are able to offer assistance with composing the advertisement and recommending a suitable price for their parrot.
• On completion of the form within the brochure the advertisement is sent back to the Parrot Society and placed in the next available magazine, a copy of which will be sent to the advertiser for their records. • The advertiser is then able to assess the responses in order find the most suitable new home for their parrot. • This system allows the old owner to keep in contact with their much loved pet if they so desire.
BIRD SCENE 11
ARTICLE BY: KEVIN PICKUP
’m Pregnant!” announced Karen, my wife. Well, after trying for several months this was fantastic news. But that meant the house we then lived in was no longer big enough. We would have to move. A daunting process at the best of times without the added complexity of expecting a baby. As the mind began to tick a little faster a bigger house would mean a bigger garden, a bigger garden meant bigger and more aviaries – not so bad after all then. That was how phase II of my bird keeping life began. The aviary I then had (and still today) was a smallish (8 x 4 x 7ft) single flight walk in aviary with an airlock style double door arrangement, fully covered roof and part solid part mesh walls. This meant the number, specie and size of birds that I could keep was extremely limited. My aviary flock consisted of 4 love birds, 8 cockatiels, a GM Rosella and an Indian Ring Neck. In addition we had 2 cockatiels and an IRN as pets – this IRN was bought as a companion for our other IRN but she turned out to be more human than bird, so had to come live with us in the house. With the variety of specie I kept in the aviary together, I found life to be quite harmonious, with only the occasional squabble, more often than not involving one of the love birds – small they may be, but big in character they are. 12
I was taken by the whole package of these parrots, a quiet, inquisitive parrot with eight (sometimes debated) specie in the genus. Their moderate size, 10 to 12 inch, meant that I wasn’t going to need large aviaries, although I would give them all I could, and they didn’t appear to be too many of them about.
ASE II BIRD SCENE 13
My Original Aviary
So along with the requirement of having 3 bedrooms and generally more room, having more space for aviaries was added to the critical list for the new house. I found myself in a much better situation than I had done when I designed the first aviary described above, as that had to be designed with the space I had available, which invariably isn’t that much when all you have is a back yard of a good old fashioned 2 up 2 down terraced house. So to the drawing board I went before we even started looking at any houses. Having sat down with sketch pad, I found I was asking myself rather a lot of questions. Just how big did I want this new aviary to be? How many Flights did I want? But more importantly, what did I want to keep in these new flights? So that is where I had to begin. Possibly the hardest question of all to answer and one we must all ask of ourselves at some point. Having successfully kept and bred the birds in my current flock, I was keen to look to a new specie of Parrot, something that fitted the image of a parrot rather than an overgrown 14
budgie (crude I know, but that’s how it was), size was going to be an issue, as was cost, as the adventure of having a new baby and moving house certainly wasn’t going to be cheap. The books came out and I reread lots of articles from the magazine trying to get an idea of what actually interested me and met the rough criteria. I had been implicitly told by a good friend who kept cockatoos that under no circumstances should I get into Cockatoos and when I mentioned Conures, was told in general, they would be far too noisy if I was to have neighbours fairly close, Macaws too big, Greys I have always liked, but reasoned that there were plenty being bred already, Amazons, we were starting to get close. One of the articles I came across in the magazine was about Blue Headed Pionus, now these caught my attention. “A stocky medium sized Neotropical Parrot” [Stoodley]. I had to find out more. I was taken by the whole package of these parrots, a quiet, inquisitive parrot with eight (sometimes debated) specie in the genus. Their moderate size, 10 to 12 inch, meant that I wasn’t going to need large aviaries, although I would give them all I could, and they didn’t appear to be too many of them about. This would be good in terms of being able to sell the young (I may have overlooked the point that it also
Just how big did I want this new aviary to be? How many Flights did I want? But more importantly, what did I want to keep in these new flights?
makes them a lot harder to get hold of!), and also from a conservation point of view, helping to maintain the Genus within British Aviculture – something we are all going to have to give more attention to. So to the drawing board once more, but this time knowing what I was intent on keeping in my new aviary. By now we had looked at a few houses and one was fairly well it,
meeting all the criteria we had set, and as a bonus, had an available council allotment to rent right behind the back garden fence, we had always thought about growing our own veg and having a few chickens, so now we could, and I was sure the parrots would benefit from home grown food too. The back garden was roughly 25 ft square, and reasonably flat. This space had to accommodate some BIRD SCENE 15
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decking, enough space for us to still have a garden, remembering we would have 2 small children by the end of the summer and the new aviary. After some heated debates with the wife and the use of the phrase, “You care more about those birds than …” well, you can work the rest out, we had a rough plan of where things would go. I had been granted the bottom right hand quarter of the garden. Now what was I aloud by law to do with this plot? I was fortunate to have a contact within the planning department at the local council office who sent me the necessary leaflets explaining all about planning applications for extensions and what could be built without the need for officially applying for planning permission. Having read through the planning guide, it was decided that if possible, I would design a suitable aviary without the need to go through the official process, which costs rather a lot of money and probably time. The major factors were that no part of the new construction should be nearer
Having read through the planning guide, it was decided that if possible, I would design a suitable aviary without the need to go through the official process…
The height of the new construction must be below 3 m for flat roofs and 5 m for angled roofs – well I wasn’t planning to keep giraffes so no problem there… a public highway than your existing buildings – no problem, as the new house didn’t have public access to the rear, something which I was happy about from a security point. The height of the new construction must be below 3 m for flat roofs and 5 m for angled roofs – well I wasn’t planning to keep giraffes so no problem there, and finally the new construction must not be more than 5 metres from any existing buildings. This was going to be the one which might cause problems, as the house we had selected had a conservatory extending to the rear of the property leaving approx 10 metres to the rear boundary. So even before the sale had commenced, my daughter and I went to visit the new house one evening with surveyors tape and pad to produce accurate scale drawings of the house, conservatory and garden. The result was that I had a patch 4 m square, give or take a little. I had reckoned on having a common service area to the rear and would like 4 flights at the front, which were to face
BIRD SCENE 17
the house to make best use of the rising sun. We were keen to have the aviary as a garden feature as well as a home for the birds. Being a practical man, the length of flight was largely going to be decided by how it was to be constructed. I therefore had to come up with a design theory based on construction media and available materials – can you tell yet that I’m an Engineer? I was also keen to have flexibility in flight configuration and also provision for easy maintenance and possible extension. I came to the conclusion that a skeleton framework of 50 x 50 x 3 mm square box section, into which would fit identical panels constructed from 25 mm angle was a good all rounder, this also meant that the entire flight side of the aviary could be unbolted and moved to a new location should we ever move house again. But what width and length would these panels be? So now I had to look at what mesh was available in 18 mm (3/4 inch) sq spacing. Rolls of mesh, 16 swg mainly came in 1 m widths, so that was that, the panels would be 1 m wide, with the mesh fixed to the internal side of the angle. The flight length must therefore be either 2 or 3 panels long as to maintain the best view of the birds and a few minor construction issues, the panels would be fitted vertically. Two panels
worked out at just over 2 m, and 3 panels just over 3, which not only took more of the garden than I had originally planned (which the wife forbade), but more importantly, whilst working on a mere 5 ft wide service corridor, would bring the front edge of the aviary too close to the allowable limit of the 5 m restriction. The decision was made. They had to be 2 panels long. Now for the height! I had reckoned on building the base of the aviary out of a solid concrete slab and working upwards from there with concrete blocks, the metal work was to sit on 2 coarses of blocks, this was a multipurpose decision in helping prevent rodent problems and also meant we could have raised flower beds planted all around the flights, enhancing the environment for the parrots and adding to the garden feature aspect. Flying or climbing up and down, is good exercise for the birds, so a 6ft panel on top of the 2 coarses would give just over 7ft, a fair height which would also give me plenty of head room when cleaning the flights. The service corridor would be 5ft, which would give me plenty of room to move about and house the inside cages which would be 18 inch deep by 1 m square (I apologise for mixing units, I’m of the generation where we were
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taught metric at school and Imperial at home, consequently, I tend to work to what ever is nearest on the rule!). So there it is, I have my outline design for the aviary, all that was left to do was build it – good job I had my paternity leave coming up. By the time we had moved house and sorted the daughters bedroom, decorated the new nursery and all the other things that come with moving house, the wife was getting rather, well near to producing, and as look would have it, summer was approaching. So the spade came out and to the garden I went. Believe me, digging a hole nearly 5 m sq and about
1ft deep by hand made me ache in places I didn’t even know I had. I had also had delivered 3 tonne of ballast, 2 palettes of concrete blocks and far too many bags of cement. The hole was half filled with broken up rubble, most of which was found simply lying around in my new allotment, shutter boarding was erected and with the help of my brother and a cement mixer, on what turned out to be the hottest day ever, we begun to lay the concrete slab. We did this in 3 sections, the outer 2 first, and middle last, this made levelling it far easier, though I had built a 2 inch run down to one corner to aid water run.
Construction begins, the first concrete is laid
The walls begin to take shape
I can’t quite remember when the baby arrived with respect to how far on with construction I had got, obviously my mind was rather buzzing with many things but I do remember spending a lot of time during my 2 weeks paternity leave in the garden doing things related to the aviary, whilst baby Rohan watched from his pram. Luckily we were blessed with very good weather, so not only did I get a lot of work done, I also enhanced my sun tan. The blocks started to go down and things started to take shape as well as giving a fair indication of how big things were going to be, which although I had told the wife exactly how it was going to be and showed her scale drawings, she still said it was too big and complained half her garden was gone (it might be her garden, but in 4 yrs she still hasn’t mowed the lawn!). As can be seen in the picture, the service corridor is taking shape nicely and the holes which will form the
entrances to each flight and the pop holes can be seen in the front wall. The perimeter wall is also clearly visible which will eventually have all the steel frame work on. The bocks were getting quite heavy by this stage and temporary scaffolding, by way of a fence panel on top of blocks had to be made to aid laying of the upper coarses. Amid learning how lay blocks and build walls, I had also been busy on the drawing board working out how much steel to order – a lot of you may think why don’t I just buy the panels already built, well, to me apart from never paying anyone for something I can do myself, if learning a new skill is part of the experience of keeping parrots, then all the better and I simply love building stuff, starting with nothing and ending up with exactly what you hoped, well sometimes. Luckily my Father works in a small engineering factory through which I was able to order as much steel as I needed. In addition I was able to borrow a stick welder to fabricate all the necessary joints. A mitre saw
As can be seen in the picture, the service corridor is taking shape nicely and the holes which will form the entrances to each flight and the pop holes can be seen in the front wall.
BIRD SCENE 21
The steel frame work goes up
was purchased to aid the cutting of all the steel, particularly the mitre joints. Several saw blades later I had a rather large pile of steel which needed welding together in various ways to fabricate the frame work and panels. Something which I could not, as yet do. After blowing several fuses and turning many welding rods into cork screws, I begun to get the hang of it, practising on the many off cuts I had lying around. Once welded, they all had to be marked out and drilled, pop marked for identification, holes tapped out where necessary and painted. It sounds so simple when put like that. After the walls were finished, the outsides were rendered and a roof fitted. The inside could now be fitted
out with the internal flight doors and the inside cages made and mounted. The steel work had to be erected, so once again, around came my brother, and up went the majority of the framework. Once the mesh was fitted to the panels they could also be mounted, and eventually, the building site started to look like an aviary. It took best part of 2 years to build the major aspects and ready it for occupants – actually this happened flight by flight. Only last year having completed it enough to have all 4 flights occupied – Rohan will be 4 this summer. I have spent many hours in the making of what my wife calls Azkaban, but all the more satisfying for me when I look out the window
and see my birds enjoying their home, knowing that I designed and built it from scratch. Bird keeping isn’t always about what size of nest box to use or what we should feed them. Looking back, there are a few design changes I would make if building again, one of the major ones would have been to build out from the front wall by one concrete block where the flights are divided, this would have had a double effect of sheltering the pop holes and nest boxes and also extending the flight by another 14 inch. But on the whole, I and hopefully my birds – 1 pr Maximillian; 1 pr Bronze Wings; 1,0 Bronze Wing; 0,1 IRN - are well satisfied with their home. All that remains to do now, is to plant the
raised beds and add a few climbing plants and hopefully breed a few Pionus.
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ARTICLE BY: JANE MINERS
MONTY THE ENERGETIC SENEGAL
couple of years ago we joined the National Trust with the idea of getting out and about and seeing places we had never got around to visiting. Well we enjoyed the few visits we did make but Monty got immense pleasure from our Trust membership! As part of our new members pack they sent us a cool bag. It was a very nice bag but realistically we were not going to use it whereas Monty just loves things like that. So the bag was hung up in our living room and Monty commenced a programme of conversion work on it. The work progressed nicely along the following lines: 1 Remove Trust emblems from the zip toggles 2 Remove sliders from zips and generally mess up the zip teeth 3 Carry out preliminary investigation of interior of bag 4 Chew lining into suitable size pieces and toss most of them out of the bag 5 Chew insulation layer into small pieces, remove some and leave rest as layer in bottom of bag 6 Create second access by chewing an ever enlarging hole in the bottom of the bag. In between all this hard work the handle on the top of the bag provided a convenient perch on which to rest and plan the next stage of work.
By the end of our first year as National Trust members the bag was in a pretty sorry state but it had given Monty hours and hours of pleasure. When we renewed our membership I wrote to the Trust and said that whilst we had enjoyed our first year our parrot had had even more pleasure from our membership. In the hope that perhaps another bag might be forthcoming I even sent along a photograph of the remodelled bag. I don’t think they were impressed. The next thing that happened was the return of our subscription with a letter saying they were sorry we had cancelled our membership. It took quite a while to explain that I had not actually cancelled our membership. I can only think we had been drummed out of the Trust for allowing our parrot to vandalise their bag!
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PARROT SOCIETY MAGAZINE: 33
ARTICLE BY: TONY PITTMAN
THE SCARLET MACAW PROJ COSTA RICA 28
he Parrot Society UK has been supporting the Scarlet Macaw project conducted by Christopher Vaughan and his team in Costa Rica since 2004 and has provided nearly £ 20,000 in funding over this period. This funding has been put to good use on protecting macaws against poaching, monitoring the wild population, nest-box provision and maintenance, educating the local population to gain their support and carrying out important scientific research to support conservation measures. Costa Rica is a Spanish-speaking country located in Central America, bordered by Nicaragua to the north, Panama to the southeast, the Pacific Ocean to the west and the Caribbean Sea to the east. It is just over 51,000 sq. km (19,600 sq. miles) in size with a population of 4.3 million, mainly of European origin. The original indigenous population has always been very small. Interestingly it constitutionally abolished its army permanently in 1949 and is the only Latin American country included in the list of the world’s 22 older democracies. Chris Vaughan published a report last year on the history of deforestation in Costa Rica. Before the Spanish Conquest in the early 16th Century dense forest covered an estimated BIRD SCENE 29
49,000 sq. kilometres (18,000 sq. miles) (96%) of Costa Rica. Of this about 2,000 sq. km (770 sq. miles) (4%) was mangroves, swamp forest and subalpine grass/shrubland known as páramo. The extent of clearing by indigenous tribes, which as said above were not significant in number, is unknown. Up to 1940 about 15,000 sq. km (some 5,800 sq. miles) (31%) had been altered, largely in northwest and central Costa Rica. Nearly 40 years later 18,000 sq. km (6,900 sq. miles) (31%), mainly in the Atlantic and south Pacific region, has been deforested. Despite this Costa Rica was highlighted by the United Nations
Team members visit the schools regularly to explain the importance of vigilance to the children, which they pass on to the adults in their families.
Development Programme (UNDP) in 2011 as a good performer on environmental sustainability. It was the only country to meet all five criteria established to measure environmental sustainability. The country is ranked fifth in the world, and first among the Americas, in terms of the 2012 Environmental Performance Index. In 2007, the Costa Rican government announced plans for Costa Rica to become the first carbonneutral country by 2021 and according to the New Economics Foundation, Costa Rica ranks first in the Happy Planet Index and is the “greenest” country in the world.
Monitoring the ACOPAC population has been possible because it follows a daily migration, roosting in Guacalillo Mangrove Reserve and flying in early morning along four flyroutes to Carara National Park and surrounding areas.
Returning to the project work the Scarlet Macaw (Ara macao) is the most widely distributed (Mexico to Brazil) of the 17 extant macaw species. Throughout its entire range, it is endangered by habitat destruction and modification as well as poaching for the pet trade. In Costa Rica there are two “viable” Scarlet Macaw populations: approximately 700 to 1,000 individuals in the Osa Conservation Area (ACOSA) on the southern Pacific coast and some 450 individuals in the Central Pacific Conservation Area (ACOPAC). The Central Pacific (ACOPAC) scarlet macaw population has been studied and monitored since 1990, making it
one of the world’s two most studied and monitored. Monitoring the ACOPAC population has been possible because it follows a daily migration, roosting in Guacalillo Mangrove Reserve and flying in early morning along four fly-routes to Carara National Park and surrounding areas. Therefore most ACOPAC scarlet macaws can be counted during July and August when most scarlet macaws follow this migration (Vaughan et al. 2005a). Between1990-95, count data revealed the population was declining; the suspected reason was poaching chicks for the pet trade (Vaughan et al. 2005a). The team then began intensive conservation efforts (nest protection,
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In 2007, with 2-3 months of volunteer work in the summer, it was established that scarlet macaws in ACOSA feed heavily on beach almond (Terminalia catappa). artificial nest box installation, environmental education in local communities and the formation of a local scarlet macaw conservation NGO. These intensive conservation efforts resulted in population increases and the population has remained stable since then (Vaughan et al. 2005a). In 2009, research and monitoring focused only on August population monitoring for the 19th consecutive year. Data analysis indicate that the population remains stable and locals in the
Central Pacific area feel the population is increasing and migrating to new sites. Although the Osa Peninsula (ACOSA) scarlet macaw population is the largest in Costa Rica, it has not been so well studied. Past research included studies of abundance and group size in the north-eastern part of the Osa Peninsula and a report on current status and conservation of the ACOSA population based on interviews. This is a much more difficult population to study, without full-time employees with a sturdy vehicle to travel throughout much of the Osa BIRD SCENE 33
There is still much work to be done there in conserving the two populations of Scarlet Macaw in Costa Rica and the Parrot Society UK will continue to support it wherever possible.
Peninsula. In 2007, with 2-3 months of volunteer work in the summer, it was established that scarlet macaws in ACOSA feed heavily on beach almond (Terminalia catappa). Beach almond is native to southeast Asia but has been naturalised in almost all tropical areas by ocean currents and humans. Tolerance of stress by wind and salt makes beach almond ideal for beach habitats. On beaches, T. catappa stabilizes sand dunes with its extensive roots, provides food and shade for humans and animals and apparently has potential for commercial cultivation. A key aspect of beach almonds is the bearing of fruit during the dry season. According to a review of tree phenology in the Indian dry tropics only approximately 12% of tree species that exist in dry forest areas flower during the dry season. This makes the beach almond a very important food source during a time of limited fruit and seed production. Research has shown that several seed predators in Costa Rica feed on beach almond seeds, but the main two predators are scarlet macaws, and variegated squirrels (Sciurus variegatoides). Apart from the important research work funded by the Parrot Society UK, a major success story, has been the production of a colouring book for elementary school children, which
has been used in many schools in the region. Team members visit the schools regularly to explain the importance of vigilance to the children, which they pass on to the adults in their families. Chris Vaughan sends regular reports to the Parrot Society UK on progress and developments with the project. At the one-day seminar in 2010 at Twycross Zoo Fiona Dear, who has worked for extensive periods in Costa Rica with the project, came to make a presentation on its work. There is still much work to be done there in conserving the two populations of Scarlet Macaw in Costa Rica and the Parrot Society UK will continue to support it wherever possible.
DONATE TO OUR CONSERVATION FUND… CLICK THE LINK BELOW: http://www.theparrotsocietyuk.org/donations.php
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ARTICLE BY: KEVIN PICKUP
ive years ago The Parrot Society started out on a venture of hopefully rebuilding “The National Exhibition”. The defining factor was whether it was possible for all branches of our hobby to jointly pull together and ‘make it work’ after recording such a success in the first year the question was then whether the enthusiasm would be sustained. It has indeed worked each year since the first Show in 2007 the numbers of exhibits have increased. We 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. 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. UK bird exhibitors now view this event as the premier ‘all variety show’ on the UK calendar. We are delighted that the exhibition is obtaining increasing support from both continental judges and breeders who travel long distances to attend this event it is exciting to think that in a very short time this exhibition has been able to attract these dedicated fanciers from all over Europe. The continental influence is not only limited to the fanciers, there is an 36
THE NATIO EXHIB
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increasing demand from continental traders to attend this event, further increasing the range of products available to all our enthusiastic visitors. As it is located only a few miles to the east of junction 14 of the M6 vehicles can quickly arrive at the Showground. Arrangements are well in hand for the next Show on Sunday 14th October 2012 a meeting with representatives of all the supporting clubs is being held at The Quality Hotel Coventry on Sunday 11th March. 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. “The National Exhibition” has been kindly sponsored once again by Richard Johnston of Johnston and Jeff and Malcolm Green of The Birdcare Company, who have both jointly supported us from the start. This year their generous sponsorship has also financed additional new staging as exhibits are set to increase and the added attraction of supplements and bird seed as prizes can only help increase the numbers benched. We are indebted to the management and editorial staff of Cage & Aviary Birds magazine for the production of a very well designed insert, with our
contribution being the collation of the information from all the exhibiting clubs. The supplement will appear in their 8th September 2012 edition and will as previously carry advertisements for all the exhibiting clubs and how to obtain the Show Schedule for your chosen species. This supplement has now become a feature of “The National Exhibition”. Since the show took on the name “The National Exhibition” in 2010 the demand for trade space has significantly increased, with some new traders making their first appearance this year. So whatever your bird keeping requirements they will be on offer at Stafford on 14th October. The Sandylands Hall and half of
the Argyle Hall will again be used to accommodate the exhibits with the ‘booking in’ and club stands filling the remainder of the Argyle Hall. This facilitates the management of the exhibition during the judging of the birds and allows both exhibitors and general visitor access to the exhibition at the earliest possible time on the day. The Parrot Society Council members hope that all the exhibitors and the officials of the specialist exhibiting clubs have a very enjoyable day. The Parrot Society would like to thank the clubs for all the kind words and support that you have given us. It will make the organisation of this year’s “National Exhibition” a pleasure to organise.
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ARTICLE BY: JERRY FISHER
– A WAY FORWARD IN AMATEUR CONS
am a foreign bird keeper. That means that my interest is in overcoming the challenges involved in establishing and maintaining in captivity as many species as possible. There are two issues regarding this that I will bore anyone with at the slightest opportunity! The first issue is that of establishing species in captivity. Since the 2006 restrictions on importation many of the commoner – let alone the rare – species have disappeared from our aviaries. In some cases it was inevitable - parasiting by Whydahs, for example meant that they would never be established. In many others it could have been avoided. Not enough effort was made in times of plenty, either because the birds were always available from dealers or simply because “there was not enough money in it”. The second issue is a consequence of success with the first. Having established a species successfully the next step is almost inevitably domestication. The consequence is that, as mutations are developed, it eventually becomes virtually impossible to acquire a wild type bird that will breed true. In extreme cases a single species society is formed and a show standard based on the “Ideal Bird” is developed so that the size BIRD SCENE 41
and shape of the original bird is lost. For the first scenario think any one of numerous species ranging from Splendid Parakeets to Gouldian Finches via Chinese Painted Quail. For the second think Budgerigar and Zebra Finch. Breeding and showing domesticated birds is a perfectly valid branch of the hobby – it is just not relevant to the
foreign bird keeper. The maintenance of a strong group of ring-fenced normal birds is, however, also an important asset for the mutation breeder – the infusion of normal blood to a stud of mutations will increase the birds’ vitality. For some time I have been trying to develop “Interest Groups” for a number of species. My aim in this is to
establish the simplest of “conservation projects” – no formal arrangements, just a group of people holding the same species who agree to liaise with each other or through a coordinator to ensure that the “group” is informed of surplus and wanted birds with the aim of maximizing genetic diversity. In this way even someone with a single pair can avoid inbreeding. In practical terms this simply means calling up other bird keepers a couple of times a year for a chat – something most of us do anyway! It is easy to transfer birds on a countrywide basis via the Stafford sale days. I view the optimum (small enough group of humans and large enough group of birds) as roughly 6 – 10 breeders holding 12 – 20 pairs of birds from as genetically wide a base as possible. With Parrotlets, however, considerably more are involved since most keepers have more than one species. Most of the contacts I have talk freely with each others and also have “satellite” groups – people to whom they have sold birds and stayed in touch. It is a very loose arrangement but it works! The species with which I have been trying to establish Interest Groups are listed briefly below. I have also personally been working with Madagascar Lovebirds and Mountain Parakeets.
At threat from domestication/ mutation Bourke’s Parakeets Early stages – we need more people to commit to developing a strain of pure normals. I am keen to hear from anyone breeding normals for three generations or more. Diamond Doves I have birds that are very close to pure normals (2 silvers in last 50 + young). Ideally, we need another strain to dilute inbreeding. Also private keepers committed to the birds. One public collection is building a colony. Timor Zebra Finches The Timor subspecies is not to be confused with the familiar Australian (now domesticated) one – for a start it is half the size. Limited numbers of pure birds are available but it is only a matter of time before they are spoiled by accidental or deliberate hybridising with the Australian Zebra. Fortunately, as well as some committed private hobbyists, a number of public collections are building ringfenced groups of normal birds while they are still available.
Most of the contacts I have talk freely with each other and also have “satellite” groups – people to whom they have sold birds and stayed in touch.
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At threat of disappearing in captivity in the UK Parrotlet Species This includes all species other than Celestials – which are now effectively domesticated. Three species – Spectacled, Green-rumped (+ 1 subspecies) and Yellow-faced – are available in the UK, plus another couple of species in Europe. The position looks cautiously optimistic for all three, but only one – the Spectacled – is at present moving towards regular but not free availability. A year ago the position was much worse but publicity through the Parrot Society UK and birds from Europe being available has brought forward some committed keepers. I am hopeful that two other species – the Mexican and the Blue-winged –
will eventually be established, but both species are at present only sporadically available in Europe. Cape (Namaqua) Doves A species that should have been established years ago. Until 2006 they were imported in numbers every year. No serious work was done with them because a) the imports were cheap to buy and b) people assumed that they required much the same care as Diamond Doves. They do not – and present much more of a challenge just to keep alive, let alone breed. Les Rance has put much effort into this species – as documented in his excellent article in the first issue of Bird Scene. Regrettably, the rest of the private sector Interest Group fell away one by one as they failed to breed and lost their adults.
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There are two areas of hope. The first is that two public collections are working with Capes and both bred birds in 2011. The second is that they seem to be more successful – and fairly regularly available – in Europe. If you hold Cape Doves we would very much like to hear from you. If you are one of those who travel regularly to Europe please consider doing some research on their husbandry methods and subsequently acquiring some birds.
If you have a species that is “at risk” and you are prepared to give it a small amount of time and effort, consider speaking to the Editor of Bird Scene on 01442 872245 about how you might contribute. I am
always ready to discuss the basis of an “Interest Group” with anyone considering trying to set one up. I can be contacted on 01803 528561.
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