50 Bird Scene - Spring 2021

Page 1

BIRD ISSUE FIFTY: SPRING 2021

SCENE

THE MAGAZINE FOR HOBBYIST BREEDERS AND CONSERVATIONISTS

BENGALESE FINCHES T

M 31 ME ST R E M D 20 AY ITI 21 2 ON 02 O 1 U

50TH ANNIVERSARY OF THE PARROT SOCIETY UK PART 7

SU

CONQUERING EGG INFERTILITY

FR EE

BY TONY EDWARDS


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: SPRING 2021

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

42

26

42

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

ON THE COVER

BIRD ISSUE FIFTY: SPRING 2021

SCENE

THE MAGAZINE FOR HOBBYIST BREEDERS AND CONSERVATIONISTS

BENGALESE FINCHES

6

BY TONY EDWARDS

26

CONQUERING EGG INFERTILITY

50TH ANNIVERSARY OF THE PARROT SOCIETY UK PART 7

T

CONQUERING EGG INFERTILITY By Greg Shaw

EE

26

20

ED M 20 AY ITIO 21 20 N 21 OU

THE NATIONAL EXHIBITION: A LOOK BACK By Les Rance

FR

20

M 31 MER ST

6

BENGALESE FINCHES Tony Edwards

SU

6

BIRD SCENE: Issue Fifty: Spring 2021 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

BIRD SCENE 3

42


Les Rance, Editor, The Parrot Society UK | www.theparrotsocietyuk.org | les.rance@

INTRODUCT I

n the introduction to the winter edition of Bird Scene I wrote ‘The 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!!’ This is actually what has happened and parrots that previously flowed easily into this country destined for both hobbyist breeders and the higher end of the pet trade are not easy to import into the UK. Birds such as Budgerigars, Cockatiels, Peach-faced Lovebirds and Ring-necks that do not require the CITES import certificates have not been affected but all the other parrots unfortunately have. With limited supply it is difficult to buy parrots and a shortage is quickly developing, let us just hope that the 2021 breeding season is a good one and the birds bred will help to reduce the lack of buying opportunities. Following the Prime Minister broadcast on Monday evening, 22nd February, on the road ahead to reduce the effects of the Covid-19 Lockdown it appears that England will start to open up with schools returning on 8th March. It appears that every five weeks once the statistics have been assessed in the light of increasing cases of coronavirus the next stage of the lockdown could take effect,

04

BIRD SCENE

provided that is that the number of cases do not increase considerably. I guess time will tell. What effect this will have on Shows and when we can have them we will just have to wait and see. It may well be difficult to obtain insurance cover to indemnify The Parrot Society against the risks of Coronavirus, as the premiums may be exorbitant, but again we will have to wait and see. 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 Bengalese Finches and an article on Conquering Egg Infertility. Also in this issue we have a pictorial review of past National Exhibitions as the event that was due to be held at Stafford County Showground on Sunday 6th October 2020 unfortunately had to be cancelled due to Coronavirus that started in March 2020. 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 maintain. This is now the fiftieth edition of Bird Scene, how quickly nine years can pass when you are working on a project – the first FREE


@theparrotsocietyuk.org

TION

BY THE EDITOR

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. A price increase to 85p for a First Class letter became effective on 1st January 2021.With CPI inflation now running around 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 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

LES RANCE

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 archive.

Conquering Egg Infertility Page 26


BY TONY EDWARDS

BENGALESE FINCHES PART 1

06 BIRD SCENE


FEATURE

E

INTRODUCTION There are many good reasons for keeping this delightful little finch from the Lonchura family. I hope as you read this article it will become evident to you. The name ‘Bengalese Finch’ is widely known throughout the world of aviculture,

BIRD SCENE 07


The Bengalese is well known for its easy going temperament, and hence in the United States of America it enjoys the name of Society Finch. It can be kept in relatively large numbers and is suited to both life in cages or aviaries. If not breeding or being prepared for showing, I like mine to have access to an outside aviary. When kept in the company of other foreign finch species Bengalese usually ignore them, and hence Bengalese are excellent candidates for a mixed collection. in particular the English speaking countries. Other names used in the UK for many years were the Bengalee, Pied Mannikin, and Bengali or Bengal Finch. At the inaugural meeting held in 1954 to discuss forming a UK society to promote the species, Bengalese was chosen, and the name National Bengalese Fanciers Association (NBFA) was adopted. Unfortunately most of these names give the wrong impression for its origin, as the bird is not linked to Bengal. The diminutive name Bengie(s) is often used today. The Bengalese is clearly a member of the Lonchura species, to which the common names Mannikins or Munias are applied, the latter being mainly used for the Asiatic species.

08 BIRD SCENE

The Bengalese is well known for its easy going temperament, and hence in the United States of America it enjoys the name of Society Finch. It can be kept in relatively large numbers and is suited to both life in cages or aviaries. If not breeding or being prepared for showing, I like mine to have access to an outside aviary. When kept in the company of other foreign finch species Bengalese usually ignore them, and hence Bengalese are excellent candidates for a mixed collection. They make only a soft chirping noise most of the time when active, and hence they are unlikely to upset nearby neighbours. The cock bird when trying to impress a hen will burst into a quiet song, and he will also perform an amusing little dance. This is usually the best way to sex Bengalese, cocks sing and hens don’t apart from rare exceptions. Many of the Bengalese offered for a sale in pet shops are often aviary bred, and are typically little birds of various shades of dull brown with a few white patches. However Bengalese are available in colours ranging from nearly black to pure white with various shades of browns and grey. Bengalese are categorised into two basic forms - Selfs and Variegated. The Variegated (pied) birds can be just a few white feathers to an almost white bird with a few coloured feathers, while most of the Self birds have distinct patterns of dark and light feathers. With such a wide


FEATURE Chestnut & White – Should be the colour of a horse chestnut – neither too dark or too light

range of colours it is possible to have a large varied collection. To get full appreciation of Bengalese varieties, I would recommend visiting a show, such as the Parrot Society UK organised National Bird Show, held in October at the Stafford Show ground. The exhibition side of the show includes large numbers of quality Bengalese, in most of the established colours. It is easy to fit anodised closed rings to Bengalese chicks. If issued by the NBFA, each ring will be coloured and carry the breeder’s exclusive membership code

With such a wide range of colours it is possible to have a large varied collection. To get full appreciation of Bengalese varieties, I would recommend visiting a show, such as the Parrot Society UK organised National Bird Show, held in October at the Stafford Show ground. The exhibition side of the show includes large numbers of quality Bengalese, in most of the established colours. number, a sequence number and the year. The NBFA have recently adopted the Confederation Ornithologique Mondiale (COM) colour sequence. With closed ringing, it is therefore easy to identify

BIRD SCENE 09


It should be noted that having been domesticated for a long time, Bengalese have a relatively high tolerance to diseases compared to other species.

Self Black Grey – a combination of Self Chocolate and Grey mutations

the age of the birds. For a newcomer I would recommend only buying year current birds or birds from the previous year. A converted room, shed, garage or outbuilding is a good basis for housing Bengalese. An aviary with access to a weatherproof shelter is also suitable.

10 BIRD SCENE

Bengalese are easy to feed, in fact only a basic foreign finch seed mixture with fresh water will maintain healthy Bengalese. However, a more varied diet is advisable, including green food, and egg food while they are breeding. Bengalese are one of the easiest birds to breed, if proper care is taken. Light is very


FEATURE

important for breeding and even on the coldest winter days Bengalese will breed freely if good lighting is provided. Not only are Bengalese good at raising their own species they are renown as excellent foster parents for other waxbill species. It is unlikely that the beautiful Gouldian Finch would have been established in aviculture without the use of Bengalese. It should be noted that having been domesticated for a long time, Bengalese have a relatively high tolerance to diseases compared to other species. ORIGINS/HISTORY In many European countries ‘Japanese’ appears in the name, as it describes the origin of the first birds imported into Europe. London Zoo is identified as having received the first imports, when in 1860 they purchased two white Bengalese. In addition to white Bengalese, chocolate & white, and fawn & white soon became available. As none of these varieties resemble wild Lonchura species, it is understandable that the origin was not clear. In 1922, an article on Japanese Aviculture written by N. Taka-Tsukasa in the Aviculture Society Magazine included information on the Bengalese finch where he identified that imports occurred from China to Japan some 200 years earlier. I am not alone in speculating that the first examples actually had white markings, and this set

the birds apart from other species. Japanese are reported as being very keen on white birds; they established the White Java Finch. It is common for white or pied mutations to occur in many species naturally; the British Natural History museum has many examples. The origin of the Bengalese is often given described as a hybrid of various Lonchura species including the Silverbill. There is no evidence to support this view which has been presented by various prominent bird-keepers and even occurs in recent publications. A significant incorrect reporting of the origin of the Bengalese, occurred in Arthur G. Butler’s book ‘Foreign Finches in Captivity’, published in 1884, when he stated that the Bengalese was a Silverbill x Striated finch hybrid. He had been persuaded that this was the case rather than his own

In many European countries ‘Japanese’ appears in the name, as it describes the origin of the first birds imported into Europe. London Zoo is identified as having received the first imports, when in 1860 they purchased two white Bengalese. In addition to white Bengalese, chocolate & white, and fawn & white soon became available. As none of these varieties resemble wild Lonchura species, it is understandable that the origin was not clear.

BIRD SCENE 11


…a Japanese study that focused on Bengalese song analysis, undertook DNA analysis of Bengalese and other species, and concluded that Bengalese, both European and Japanese, were closely related to the White-rumped Munia, specifically a subpopulation from South-East Asia view of it being a domesticated Striated Finch by the respected aviculturist Mr Joseph Abrahams. In 1907, the origins of the Bengalese were discussed in Avicultural Society Magazines. Butler and others believed that the origin was either the Striated Finch (Lonchura striata) and/ or the Sharp-tailed Finch (Lonchura Auticauda). Butler’s book Foreign Finch Keeping (Part 1) confirmed his retraction of the use of the Silverbill in the Bengalese origin. Bengalese and Silverbill hybrids have been produced, but I am unaware if they have been proven to be fertile. Today both the Sharp-tailed Finch and Striated Finch are classified as subspecies of the White–Rumped Munia (L. Striata). There are also other sub-species including the Chinese White Rumped Munia (L.S. Swinhoei) which is almost certainly the ancestor of the Bengalese.

12 BIRD SCENE

In the 1950s Erica Eisner who studied for Bengalese for many years Bengalese at Oxford University concluded that there was very strong case that the Bengalese was probably the Sharp-tailed Munia from China. Robin Restall in his classic book Munias & Mannikins, based on his detailed study of all Lonchura species, was of a similar opinion. More recently a Japanese study that focused on Bengalese song analysis, undertook DNA analysis of Bengalese and other species, and concluded that Bengalese, both European and Japanese, were closely related to the White-rumped Munia, specifically a sub-population from South-East Asia. In more recent times, crossing with other Lonchura species has widely occurred in order to develop the colours of the self varieties. It is ironic that in the past the Bengalese was often incorrectly identified as being a hybrid but now many Bengalese are definitely hybrids. ACCOMMODATION Many forms of accommodation are suitable for Bengalese finches. I started with a double breeder cage that was kept in my garage. A block of cages was then added and as my numbers increased rapidly this soon became two blocks. My first bird room was a converted 3.6m by 1.8m 6 garden shed that lasted me for 12


FEATURE

Aviary with patio where the birds can be enjoyed in good weather

years, which was replaced by a slightly larger shed at 3.6m by 2.4m. This extra width has proven to be very useful, but I also had the shed made a 30cm higher which meant that I could have my bottom cages well off the floor (40cm). A wire safety door is also a useful addition to any birdroom, my losses would be high without one, and it enables the main door to be left open on hot summer days. An easy cleaned flooring, such as linoleum, is advisable. With heating costs and more importantly keeping birds comfortable any accommodation should be well insulated, both walls and ceiling. Bengalese are very

Bird room set between trees and shrubs

hardy and provided that the environment is dry, not damp, low temperatures are tolerated. However I like to keep my bird

My first bird room was a converted 3.6m by 1.8m 6 garden shed that lasted me for 12 years, which was replaced by a slightly larger shed at 3.6m by 2.4m. This extra width has proven to be very useful, but I also had the shed made a 30cm higher which meant that I could have my bottom cages well off the floor (40cm)

BIRD SCENE 13


room at a minimum of 10 degrees Celsius (50 degrees Fahrenheit). It is also more comfortable to have heating when working in the bird room. Electric oilfilled tubular heaters or radiators are suitable. As mentioned before, plenty of light is also needed, natural light provided via windows is good, but artificial light via fluorescent tubes, or an equivalent, is important if breeding in short daylight hours. Specialised bird or daylight tubes are used by many fanciers. I use bird tubes and tropical fish tubes. Fifteen hours of light is advisable if chicks are to be well fed. Other electrical devices to be considered are a radio; mine plays 24 hours a day and reduces the effect of noises from a nearby road. A night light is also advisable, I use a small bedside lamp fitted with a low wattage bulb. All my lights are on timers. For cage breeding, a good sized cage would be 60cm wide, these are standardly 30cm deep but I would advise an extra 7.5cm. If you are not an expert at DIY, wooden or plastic cages can be purchased, with most suppliers being able to provide non-standard sizes at little extra cost. For wooden cages I would recommend that they are painted with white paint or a light colour on the inside surfaces at least. When in double breeder format the dividers can be removed outside the breeding season to provide a

14 BIRD SCENE

good sized stock cage. Exercise is important in keeping Bengalese healthy so the larger the cage the better for the birds. I have successfully used wire dividers as an alternative to wooden dividers as they can help to improve the light level. Built-in cages offer even greater scope to have larger stock cages. Nest boxes can be mounted either externally or internally. I have used both and found little difference in my breeding results. For ease of checking for eggs and chicks I find external nest boxes are better. The nest boxes should be halffronted and about a 5 inch cube. My outside aviary is approximately a 2m cube and is a key feature of my set-up, as it enables me to keep a relatively large number of birds during the breeding season .It is constructed from panels constructed from 50mm square pressure treated timber fence posts and 16 gauge 25mm x 12.5mm wire mesh. The roof is

… plenty of light is also needed, natural light provided via windows is good, but artificial light via fluorescent tubes, or an equivalent, is important if breeding in short daylight hours. Specialised bird or daylight tubes are used by many fanciers. I use bird tubes and tropical fish tubes. Fifteen hours of light is advisable if chicks are to be well fed.


FEATURE

Bengalese have a strong preference for white millet and this should be added to other seed mixtures, such as mixed millets or foreign finch. There are many different foreign mixtures, each supplier appears to have its own blend, and mixes specifically for Bengalese and Zebras are now available.

also wired and covered with corrugated plastic sheeting to reduce the risk of infection from wild birds. After experiencing losses due to sparrow hawks, I double wired most of the panels. The floor is paving slabs with large gaps between them to allow good drainage. I have a bird bath which is topped-up regularly. A 60cm long passage, set at a high level, provides easy movement for the birds between the aviary and an internal birdroom flight. The passage can be blocked but I normally allow access to the aviary all day at all times even during the coldest days. When I want to catch a lot of birds quickly I place a wire catching cage in the internal flight and encourage the birds in the aviary to go into the flight.

DIET Although they need only a foreign seed mixture and freshwater, I recommend that all Bengalese whether kept as pets or for exhibition purposes both are given the opportunity to reach their potential. Bengalese have a strong preference for white millet and this should be added to other seed mixtures, such as mixed millets or foreign finch. There are many different foreign mixtures, each supplier appears to have its own blend, and mixes specifically for Bengalese and Zebras are now available. Bengalese enjoy Chinese millet sprays or the more expensive red millet sprays. Unlike some other finches Bengalese have no difficulty stripping the seed from all parts as they able to cling to the sprays.

BIRD SCENE 15


The different grits readily available are mineralised tonic, limestone and oyster shell, sometime the grits may include small amount of charcoal or coral. Often cuttle fish bone is recommended as a source of calcium but I prefer to add calcium supplement powder to my egg food. If it is not possible to change the drinking water daily, a water sanitizer must be used to reduce the risk of infection.

16 BIRD SCENE


FEATURE

Bengalese, if given a choice, will usually take soaked seed ahead of dry seed. It is important that it is fresh, if it has any unpleasant smell it should not be given to the birds, My preparation method is to take my normal seed mix, to which I occasionally add other seeds and soak it for 24 hours and then wash it well under a tap through a sieve; it is fed to the birds after another 24 hours after a further thorough wash. Egg food is an important addition to any feeding regime, especially during the breeding season to maximise the development of the chicks. The majority of brands are a dry mix, to which is conventional to add water. Egg food is a good way to provide additives to your birds, such as calcium powder or vitamins. De-frosted frozen garden peas, crated carrot, or dry vegetables premoistened are also taken readily when added to the egg food. Bengalese like lettuce and adults will start feeding chicks with it soon after they hatch. Other green foods taken are spinach, water cress, mustard cress, dandelion roots and leaves, chickweed and seeding grasses. Bengalese also like to eat grit on a regular basis. The different grits readily available are mineralised tonic, limestone and oyster shell, sometime the grits may include small amount of charcoal or coral. Often cuttle fish bone is recommended as

a source of calcium but I prefer to add calcium supplement powder to my egg food. If it is not possible to change the drinking water daily, a water sanitizer must be used to reduce the risk of infection. BREEDING Given a nest box with hay or coconut fibre Bengalese will breed readily at any time of the year, provided that they are given adequate light and are in good condition. Bengalese have been known to breed at four months old, but it is better to wait until they are at least 10-12 months old. Both sexes can be breed successfully at 4-5 years old. As can be seen later there are many established colours which may be in self or variegated forms. Mixing of selfs and

Given a nest box with hay or coconut fibre Bengalese will breed readily at any time of the year, provided that they are given adequate light and are in good condition. Bengalese have been known to breed at four months old, but it is better to wait until they are at least 10-12 months old. Both sexes can be breed successfully at 4-5 years old.

BIRD SCENE 17


variegated birds is best avoided as the result will usually be self birds with a few white feathers. It is difficult to remove the white feather from subsequent generations or increase the white to the level that makes the variegated birds attractive. It is also best to keep the darker coloured birds separate from the lighter birds. My parings are divided into three main groups with the occasional mixing between groups (I no longer breed significant numbers of selfs other than Self Whites):

Half fronted nest box usually used for Bengalese

18 BIRD SCENE

• Chocolate & Whites • Fawn & Whites, Chestnut & Whites • Dilute Fawn & Whites, Silver & Whites, Pink-Eyed Whites, Dark-Eyed Whites (UK dilute strain), Grey & Whites (various grey colours), Dilute Chocolate & Whites. I currently place most of my breeding pairs in cages in mid to late November, with the cock birds usually allowed to settle in the cage for about an hour before adding the hens. The early chicks can be rung with NBFA closed rings which an official ring issue date of January 1st. Hay is placed in the nest boxes and some hay is also placed on the cage floor, it encourages them to enter the nest box. As my main focus for breeding is the show bench, I like to start with to start with my oldest birds, trying to get one more season out of them before they are retired. Proven birds are often better at raising chicks than first time


FEATURE

birds, so I find it better to pair use older birds with young birds. I like to check the nests daily if possible; this is no issue with Bengalese. I tap on the nest box to warn the birds before I open the top for inspection. I like the first egg to be laid ten days from pairing, before this there is an increased probability that eggs will be infertile. The hen is usually given three weeks to lay before being replaced. I allow eighteen days from the laying of the first egg to calculate the likely hatching date but allow a few extra days for fertile eggs to hatch. It is best not to handle eggs, but sometimes I move fertile eggs to another pair. I will also leave one or two un-hatched eggs until the chicks are about 5 days old, as it reduces the risk of chicks being squashed. I like pairs to raise 4 to 5 chicks. Bengalese are noted for being fantastic foster parents, so I often foster chicks between Bengalese pairs. I find that even the largest birds will feed chicks as well as their smaller relatives. Nest material is usually changed before a hen is about to lay again, unless it is a wet nest, in which case it is changed regularly. I usually leave the chicks with their parents until the first egg of the next clutch is laid, but I never remove them before they are 35 days old. When I do not want any more chicks, I usually remove the cock as soon as the chicks are

Nest material is usually changed before a hen is about to lay again, unless it is a wet nest, in which case it is changed regularly. I usually leave the chicks with their parents until the first egg of the next clutch is laid, but I never remove them before they are 35 days old. When I do not want any more chicks, I usually remove the cock as soon as the chicks are clearly feeding themselves. When Bengalese chicks stop calling for food if a parent is nearby, it is a good indicator they are nearly independent. clearly feeding themselves. When Bengalese chicks stop calling for food if a parent is nearby, it is a good indicator they are nearly independent. If a pair has raised two good clutches they should be allowed to rest for several months before they are used again. If a pair produces outstanding chicks, a third round is allowed but these will be fostered if the pair has already raised more than ten chicks. Some Bengalese can get too fat which effects their ability to breed, so I often use them as fosters as raising a full clutch will often bring them into condition and they are successful themselves in the next round of breeding. Continued in the next issue…

BIRD SCENE 19


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

BY LES RANCE

F

ollowing the Prime Minister’s broadcast on Monday evening, 22nd February, on the road ahead to reduce the effects of the Covid-19 Lockdown it appears that England will start to open up with schools returning on 8th March. It appears that every five weeks once the statistics have been assessed in the light of increasing cases of coronavirus the next stage of the lockdown could take effect, provided that is that the number of cases do not increase considerably. I guess time will tell. What effect this will have on Shows

00 BACK BIRD SCENE A LOOK • A LOOK BACK • A LOOK BACK • A LOOK BACK • A LOOK BACK • A LOOK


K BACK • A LOOK BACK • A LOOK BACK • A LOOK BACK • A LOOK BACK • A LOOK BACK FEATURE

THE NATIONAL EXHIBITION A LOOK BACK 9

01 2 0 1 0 2 PART 2

BIRD • SCENE K BACK • A LOOK BACK • A LOOK BACK • A LOOK BACK • A LOOK BACK A LOOK00BACK


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

and when we can have them we will just have to wait and see. It may well be difficult to obtain insurance cover to indemnify The Parrot Society against the risks of Coronavirus, as the premiums may be exorbitant, but again we will have to wait and see. As the 2020 National Exhibition had to be cancelled due to Coronavirus I have asked our designer Neil Randle to trawl through the five years of 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

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


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

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. However, Brexit may well impact on the numbers visiting in the future. There is no doubt that The

National Exhibition is the leading and most popular bird show held 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

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


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

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 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

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


K BACK • A LOOK BACK • A LOOK BACK • A LOOK BACK • A LOOK BACK • A LOOK BACK FEATURE

(Covid-19 permitting) and will follow similar lines to the 2019 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.

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


CONQUERING INFERTILITY

ARTICLE BY: GREG SHAW

Infertility in parrots and cockatoos is something we all have experienced at one time or another in our aviaries. It always seems to happen with that special pair of very expensive birds that we have so wished would breed for the last couple of years. The eggs are laid we wait with anticipation and excitement then we candle them to check that they are fertile and then realize the bad news, that they are not. Disappointment is something none of us enjoy dealing with infertile eggs are just par for the course people say. But surely we should be questioning why we have a clutch of infertile eggs?

26

BIRD SCENE


FEATURE

EGG

BIRD SCENE

27


28

BIRD SCENE


FEATURE

E

very pair of birds of a particular species is unique to some extent. Just because several pairs find a particular situation acceptable does not mean that every new pair will also react in the same way. We all need to take the trouble and know our birds, watch, try and understand what makes them happy and what upsets them. Nine times out of ten, unhappy birds don’t lay fertile eggs. In the wild most birds are opportunistic omnivores they eat almost anything available. This type of natural diet is impossible to replicate in captivity although many aviculturalists try their best to achieve something similar. One of the most common problems with an inadequate diet is reproductive failure and infertility. But in order for us to overcome this, we need to know more about the foods we feed to our birds. Some foods promote fertility while others inhibit it. It is up to all of us to know which foods are good promoters of fertility and which are bad. A common problem when breeding birds, especially Psittacidae (true parrots) and the Cacatuidae (cockatoos), is infertile or unhatched eggs. There can be several different reasons for this to happen, incompatible unbonded pairs, immature birds, disease, illness, bacterial infection and even something as simple as loose wobbly perches, preventing successful copulation. If the perch is loose and

A common problem when breeding birds, especially Psittacidae (true parrots) and the Cacatuidae (cockatoos), is infertile or unhatched eggs. There can be several different reasons for this to happen, incompatible unbonded pairs, immature birds, disease, illness, bacterial infection and even something as simple as loose wobbly perches, preventing successful copulation.

wonky the male can not make good contact with the female during mating resulting in infertile eggs. Strangely enough, the causes can be very simple to remedy. Birds copulate between the laying of every egg, and therefore a mistake can be the cause of one or two infertile eggs in each clutch. An interesting solution, designed by Mr Perry Webb, an aviculturist in South Africa is to provide the birds with a solidly fixed mesh mating platform that is positioned in front of the nest box and over the closest perch. This platform provides a stable gripping substrate for both the hen and cock to achieve balance during copulation. A worthwhile, inexpensive fixture to any breeding aviary.

BIRD SCENE

29


Long, sharp toenails can also cause infertility. If the cock has a habit of placing his foot on the side or back of the hen before copulation, he may irritate her with his pointed, pin sharp nails and she may not accept copulation at that time. A simple cut and file is all that it takes to prevent this problem. An infertility problem may also just be that the birds don’t get it right on the

30

BIRD SCENE

first attempt this is usually the case with a young maturing pair that is attempting to breed for the first or second time. Birds do not always reach sexual maturity at the same time. Some are very late developers, with either the males or females maturing faster. The hen may begin to lay eggs before the cock has come into breeding condition — both birds need to be sexually mature for


FEATURE

Long, sharp toenails can also cause infertility. If the cock has a habit of placing his foot on the side or back of the hen before copulation, he may irritate her with his pointed, pin sharp nails and she may not accept copulation at that time.

fertile eggs to be laid. Delaying egg laying by late installation of the nest box or boarding up the nest entrance temporarily until fertility is accomplished may be the best way to deal with this timing issue. Younger pairs may also need more stimuli to breed. Older experienced birds will start breeding much more readily and usually go to nest at a similar date as

they did the year before. The inexperience and ignorance of a young pair of birds often contributes to infertility resulting in a clutch of clear wasted eggs. Mistakes are made in courtship, mating and nesting. Style and successful copulation improves with age, eventually they will get it right. In this case removing the nest box for a couple of weeks and letting the pair rest then placing the nest box back in the aviary and letting them try again is all that it takes. Sick and unhealthy birds usually don’t breed and if they do the chances of infertility are usually high. Internal Papilloma Disease causes wart-like protrusions from the vent area of both male and female birds, often resulting in infertility. In severe cases, an avian veterinarian can burn off and remove these warts, allowing the eggs to be fertilized. This disease may still be carried by the parent birds and the pair should not be allowed to hatch and feed their young. Instead eggs removed from these pairs can be given to foster parents or incubated. Alternatively the female may have blocked tubes, ovulation problems, or a hormonal imbalance. The male can have a low sperm count or immature sperm incapable of fertilization. Marginal illness in either the male or the female can be responsible for infertility. If the female has laid several clutches of infertile eggs in succession, she is

BIRD SCENE

31


probably well. The male should therefore be examined by an avian veterinarian to eliminate illness as the cause of the problem. Some mature breeding pairs fail to produce fertile eggs, clutch after clutch, year after year. Often when this happens we start playing musical parrots and start swapping the cock birds around and around. This seems to be a trend in South African aviculture but it can also be a quick-fix made out of desperation which

32

BIRD SCENE

does not always bear fruit. It may result in some success but it is not the best way of solving the problem. Are we doing a clever thing by splitting up well bonded pairs particularly if the split up pair can still see and hear one another from another aviary? Often the birds sit and scream across to their mate showing no interest in the replacement partner. Although there are a few exceptions, parrots and cockatoos are monogamous, taking a long time to get a cock and a


FEATURE

hen to truly bond — why undo all this hard work by playing the musical parrot swapping game. Birds are what they eat. Food choices and diets matter when it comes to a mature breeding pair producing a fertile clutch of healthy eggs what we put in is what we get out. Could the solution for clear infertile wasted eggs, lie in the food dish? Nutrition — feeding the best balanced diet to your birds, is fundamental for good health and efficient aviary management, especially if fertile, healthy, breeding birds are your goal. In the past there has been very little scientific, dietary research done on nutrition for birds. There is now far more information on nutritional diets available that promotes longevity and sustained reproductive success in aviary birds. Infertility is caused by relating to the physical, nutritional, environmental or social aspects of the bird’s life. If all the criteria in each of these areas are met, success is assured. Parrots and cockatoos vary from one species to another as to how well they deal with their diet and excess fat. They also differ and vary as to which part of their body will accumulate their excess fatty deposits. Fat birds are not healthy birds and unhealthy birds usually are not productive fertile birds. The two areas where fat deposits are most likely to cause reproductive problems are the hips

and lower abdomen. This problem is usually much more common in mature adult males than in mature adult females. Male birds that have fat deposits in this area will have trouble copulating and fertilizing a female successfully. Fat deposits can severely limit agility and movement. The birds need to be kept athletic and healthy. Fat birds become handicapped and lose interest in sex because they are either too physically disabled to do the deed or because they are too lazy to bother trying. The only remedy is a good healthy diet change. It can be as simple as cutting down on cheap fattening sunflower seed and replacing it with less fattening safflower seed, or a high carbohydrate, low fat slimming diet, necessary to shed those unwanted fatty deposits.

Could the solution for clear infertile wasted eggs, lie in the food dish? Nutrition — feeding the best balanced diet to your birds, is fundamental for good health and efficient aviary management, especially if fertile, healthy, breeding birds are your goal. In the past there has been very little scientific, dietary research done on nutrition for birds.

BIRD SCENE

33


00

BIRD SCENE


FEATURE

Your birds should be eating a healthy, varied and balanced diet. They should also be eating, fruits, vegetables, bean mix, seeds and sprouted seeds. There are foods that can boost fertility, but there are also foods that can decrease the fertility of birds.

Your birds should be eating a healthy, varied and balanced diet. They should also be eating, fruits, vegetables, bean mix, seeds and sprouted seeds. There are foods that can boost fertility, but there are also foods that can decrease the fertility of birds. When it comes to pellets there is often a maintenance diet and a breeding diet, with increased nutrients and protein required for breeding birds. We are spoilt for choice by the different pellet manufacturers however, beware of the pellets too high in Soya content. It is important to know exactly what goes into the pellets we choose to feed our birds. Expensive does not mean the best. Herbalists, witches and

BIRD SCENE

35


traditional healers have long known that certain plants and herbs have a contraceptive effect. Scientists first recognized that plants contained such substances in the early 1900’s. Interest picked up in the mid 1940’s and 1950’s when sheep and goats were diagnosed with Clover Disease. The cause of the disease was the presence of plant estrogens in clover, a plant closely related to Soya. In female sheep and goats, eating clover causes endometrial damage and cervical mucus changes associated with an inability to conceive. The problems are not unique to sheep and goats; fertility problems from plant oestrogen exposure have also been reported in birds, cows, horses, mice, cats, and dogs as well as humans. Scientists have identified estrogenic activity in more than 500 plants in the last fifty years. So as good aviculturalists we need to be aware of what we are feeding our birds.

36

BIRD SCENE

Soya is alleged to decrease fertility in both animals and humans. Studies have shown that males who consumed a high Soya-based diet had, on average, much lower sperm counts than males who had never eaten Soya products. The researchers concluded that the dietary intake of Soya and its isoflavones is inversely related to sperm concentration. It has also been known to reduce the male sex-drive (traditionally, Buddhist monks ate tofu to lower their libido!) Soya is not recommended as part of a breeding bird’s diet when trying to increase fertility or deal with an infertility problem, because it contains a component that is similar to oestrogen. In humans this false oestrogen can increase the length of menstrual cycles; researchers found that consuming 60 mg of Soya per day can add about 2.5 days to a woman’s menstrual cycle, decreasing her fertility. Soya also lowers the levels of two hormones necessary for ovulation,


FEATURE

luteinizing hormone (LH) and folliclestimulating hormone (FSH). Soya also contains a phytate which affects the absorption of zinc which is very important for male fertility—it helps boost sperm production and testosterone metabolism. Despite the appealing blandishments of avian pellet diet advertisements with their claims of providing “complete and balanced nutrition,” if you’re not exceedingly circumspect, you may end up feeding your birds something that may increase their chances of infertility. The bird nutrition industry is a multi-billion dollar world-wide industry full of hype and false claims. Consumers and aviculturalists may be duped into believing that they are feeding their birds healthy foods, when in actuality they are feeding nothing more than inferior cheap fillers, such as Soya. Many pellet manufacturers only list the ingredients in their pellets (so we never know how much Soya is in the actual pellets) and usually

Consumers and aviculturalists may be duped into believing that they are feeding their birds healthy foods, when in actuality they are feeding nothing more than inferior cheap fillers, such as Soya. Many pellet manufacturers only list the ingredients in their pellets (so we never know how much Soya is in the actual pellets) and usually mention Soya as “specially prepared Soya.” mention Soya as “specially prepared Soya.” So next time you are out buying formulated foods for your flock, note the Soya content and choose according. In the last twenty years supplements have become a huge part of our bird’s diet, from vitamins, probiotics, minerals, trace elements, and anti-biotics to the so called super food Spirilina. When it comes to getting fertile eggs

BIRD SCENE

37


…hard boiled eggs may be fed to increase protein levels… from your birds, the old adage “you are what you eat” rings true. What they eat affects everything from their blood to their body cells to their hormones. As an aviculturalist allow three months to a year for dietary changes to take root. But if your birds are already in the throes of egg laying, don’t freak out — it’s never too late to get a leg up on their diet. Here are some foods that can aid in getting their diets into a more fertile friendly shape. The first food that I found to be the most fascinating is called Maca

38

BIRD SCENE

(pronounced mah-kah). Maca is derived from the root of the Lepidium meyenii plant that is native to the high Andes of Bolivia and Peru. Maca works by regulating the organs that secrete hormones, from the hypothalamus, activating the pituitary, suprarenal glands and pancreas, getting an increase of testosterone levels and general levels of hormonal balance. The alkaloids act in the hypothalamuspituitary and the suprarenal glands producing the increase of energy, vitality and virility. Studies in rats found that animals that ate Maca or isolated


FEATURE

alkaloids of the Maca root showed a multiple maturity of follicles in the female rats, while the male showed a significant increase in the production and mobility of sperm. It is an adaptive root with multiple benefits for both males and females. It is not a medicine or a hormone, it is a food that thanks to its natural composition regulates hormones and helps the internal reconstruction of the system. Maca powder is available at most good health shops; it has a melted flavour similar to Horlicks! The birds love it and it has no toxic side effects. It is fairly expensive but if it does the trick it will certainly be worth the outlay. There are quite a few different herbs, nuts and seeds that birds can be given to increase their fertility. One such seed which plays a role in promoting male fertility is flaxseed and flaxseed oil. The compounds within flaxseed oil help to keep the sperm healthy and may also help with regard to male impotence. Flaxseed oil is a wonderful herbal supplement to feed when trying to promote and achieve a fertile clutch of eggs, because the hormone-balancing lignin’s and plant phytoestrogens in flaxseed oil help stabilize a female’s oestrogenprogesterone ratio. Flaxseed Oil is good for the general health of the bird, providing important Omega 3 and Omega 6 fatty acids. Fatty

Flaxseed oil is a wonderful herbal supplement to feed when trying to promote and achieve a fertile clutch of eggs, because the hormonebalancing lignin’s and plant phytoestrogens in flaxseed oil help stabilize a female’s oestrogen-progesterone ratio. acids are critical for health - and for fertility. If your male birds do not have enough fatty acids in their system the result may be low sperm count and low sperm viability. Another source of Omega-3 fats comes from fish. While hard boiled eggs may be fed to increase protein levels, include a small amount of cooked fish — readily taken and enjoyed by the birds. Many bird breeders are wary of fish because it contains small amounts of mercury. Fish that’s high in mercury includes tuna, swordfish and marlin. Fish that contain low levels of mercury include salmon, flounder, trout, haddock and tilapia. Many birds eat grubs and insects which are also very high in Omega-3 fatty acids. Several parrot and cockatoo species have been documented doing exactly this in the wild. One very successful South African aviculturist supplies live food, like mealworms and crickets to her parrots during the breeding season. Insects may after all form part of a well balanced diet.

BIRD SCENE

39


Wheat Germ Oil is also alleged to increase fertility in birds. It’s high in zinc and selenium and works on the body to dilate both the fallopian tubes and the somniferous tubules. This makes the transport of both egg and sperm easier. It also helps to increase sperm counts, motility, healthy morphology and the number of effective, fertile sperm. Chaste Tree Berry (Vitex), Dong Quai (Angelica sinensis root), False Unicorn Root, Wild Yam, partridge berry (Mitchella repens), life root (Senecio aureus), Senecia Jacobea and Senecio Vulgaris are all natural plants that promote fertility. But before you decide to try an herbal solution you should first read up on these plants. Empowering yourself with knowledge is extremely important. Bird fertility secrets often take the form of common sense. Some fertility secrets are so obviously ordinary that bird breeders fail to pay attention to them immediately. For thousands of years a number of herbs have been used to enhance the fertility. I would recommend every bird breeder visits their local health store and see what natural (herbs, seed and plant extracts) products are available to add to your bird’s diet. If health, longevity and fertility is what you want for your flock take the trouble to investigate and try new diets and foods, after all they are what they eat.

40

BIRD SCENE

Bird fertility secrets often take the form of common sense. Some fertility secrets are so obviously ordinary that bird breeders fail to pay attention to them immediately. For thousands of years a number of herbs have been used to enhance the fertility. I would recommend every bird breeder visits their local health store and see what natural (herbs, seed and plant extracts) products are available to add to your bird’s diet.


FEATURE

BIRD SCENE

41


50TH ANNIVERSARY OF THE PARROT SOCIETY UK BY

ALAN JONES

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

W

ell on into the afternoon now, but with no sign of flagging enthusiasm from our delegates – and little wonder, as next to take the podium was well-known parrot keeper and conservationist Tony Pittman. Tony had served actively on the PSUK Council for

42 BIRD SCENE

many years, with a particular involvement in our Conservation projects. With a special interest in the Blue Macaws, he had in 1998 set up the website www.bluemacaws.org, which remains a definitive and fascinating source of information for researchers and aviculturists about this iconic group of parrots. His presentation focused on the rarest of the group – the critically endangered Spix’s Macaw (Cyanopsitta spixii).


FEATURE Tony Pittman with young Spix’s macaws at ACTP

The species was first described as long ago as 1638, but was brought to greater attention by Johann Baptist von Spix, who lived from 1781-1826. This German biologist led an expedition to Brazil in 1817-1820, principally to the dry northeastern Caatinga area, where he collected and brought back some 500-600 animal specimens. These included a small bluegrey macaw, which he named initially Arara hyacinthinus. He died not many

years later, possibly from a tropical disease contracted during this expedition. His assistant Johann Georg Wagler renamed the parrot Cittace spixii in 1832, in order to honour his mentor, and to differentiate the species from the much larger and different-coloured Hyacinthine Macaw. In 1854 it was placed in its own distinct genus, and renamed Cyanopsitta spixii, the title it retains to this day.

BIRD SCENE 43


In the early 1900s Spix’s Macaw was sighted only rarely in its native habitat, and Tony showed us several early paintings and photographs of the bird. In 1976, three specimens were known alive in the UK, two of which were soon passed on to the prestigious Walsrode Bird Park in Germany, and their remaining disabled companion joined them some years later. Tony showed a contemporary advertisement from Denmark in 1979, in which a pair of Spix’s Macaws was offered for sale at 45,000 Danish kroner – worth about £27,000 today. There was known to be an active illegal trade in these birds

44 BIRD SCENE

throughout the 1970s, fuelled by the high price commanded because of their rarity value, and fed by Brazilian poachers. Several wealthy collectors of Spix’s Macaws emerged in the 1980s and 1990s. Dr Josef Hämmerli (a medical Doctor) acquired several from Brazil in the early part of this period, and bred five youngsters between 1984 and 1991. Antonio de Dios in the Philippines established Birds International Inc., and bred 39 young Spix’s Macaws in captivity between 1982-1999. A young female from BII was exchanged with a young male from Dr Hämmerli, enabling the latter to


FEATURE

continue breeding successfully with these birds in Switzerland. Other birds were in captivity in Sao Paulo Zoo, Brazil, and a few at Loro Parque, Tenerife. Most of Dr Hämmerli’s Macaws were sold on to Roland Messer in 1999. Meanwhile, a group from Munich Zoo photographed the last group of three Spix’s Macaws known to exist in the wild in Brazil in 1986. A follow-up one year later revealed just two birds, but more were suspected to be present somewhere as macaws were still being offered for sale on the black market by poachers. In 1987, Loro Parque in Tenerife curated the formation of a Spix’s Macaw recovery group, but several involved parties refused to attend. However, it was agreed at this meeting that all remaining Spix’s Macaws in captivity should be submitted to endoscopic examination within six months; that a report on their condition should be submitted to a studbook keeper; that all individuals should have a leg ring bearing a studbook number; that a consortium of accepted keepers be set up; and that all were to sign a contract agreeing to the goals and measures of captive breeding. Conflict between Messer, Loro Parque and de Dios led to this group being dissolved in 2002. In 1991, Tony visited ‘Pele and Pic-pic’ in captivity in Brazil (photo) while in 1995 the last known surviving male Spix’s Macaw in the wild was observed on many

Tony showed a contemporary advertisement from Denmark in 1979, in which a pair of Spix’s Macaws was offered for sale at 45,000 Danish kroner – worth about £27,000 today. There was known to be an active illegal trade in these birds throughout the 1970s, fuelled by the high price commanded because of their rarity value, and fed by Brazilian poachers.

occasions paired up with a wild Illiger’s Macaw, and they became known as ‘The Odd Couple’. Attempts were made to reintroduce by soft-release an originally wild-caught female Spix’s Macaw back to him, but she disappeared and the attempt failed.


Bahia State, Brazil

Coming forward again to 2004, Tony described how the Spix’s Macaw conservation group was re-formed in 2004, with a new title, and this time including the Al-Wabra Wildlife Preservation (AWWP) group in Qatar. A large collection of birds and animals inherited from his father in 1999 by Sheikh Saoud bin Muhammed Al Thani had since evolved into a well-funded and very large Conservation project. In the early years of the new millennium, AWWP acquired four Spix’s macaws from de Dios in the Philippines, and four from Roland Messer. Messer later transferred the remainder of his birds to AWWP, as did Birds International, following the severe outbreak of avian ‘flu in eastern Asia.

46 BIRD SCENE

These birds currently are being bred successfully at Al-Wabra. The Sheikh has since died, but his family will continue the work. The Swiss authorities granted permission in 2006 for three Spix’s Macaws to be transferred to a state-of-the-art new parrot-breeding facility near Berlin, run by the Association for the Conservation of Threatened Parrots (ACTP). This group also keeps and breeds the endangered St Vincent’s Amazon parrot. Both ACTP and AWWP continue to breed Spix’s Macaws, and Tony reported 4 from the former and 17 from the latter to date in 2016. Between 2009 and 2010, in collaboration with the University of Giessen, techniques of artificial insemination (AI) were


FEATURE

refined for use in parrots, and semen was collected from male macaws at Loro Parque, to widen the gene pool. (The technique would also help to control the spread of Avian Bornavirus, which unfortunately had been found in some birds) AI was used successfully for the first time at AWWP in 2012, and two chicks were successfully reared by this method in 2013. In 2008 the new Spix’s Macaw Conservation Group purchased 2200 hectares of land in Bahia State, Brazil, and this was followed by purchase of adjacent land by the Lymington Foundation, run by Bill and Linda Wittkoff. This couple was well known for the successful breeding of Golden (Queen

In 2008 the new Spix’s Macaw Conservation Group purchased 2200 hectares of land in Bahia State, Brazil, and this was followed by purchase of adjacent land by the Lymington Foundation, run by Bill and Linda Wittkoff of Bavaria) Conures in captivity in Brazil, and for caring for the last surviving Spix’s Macaw taken from the wild. Known as ‘Presley’, this unfortunate individual was discovered in Colorado, USA in 2002, but was ultimately repatriated to Brazil, and ended his days aged about 40 years in the care of the Wittkoffs, dying in 2014. He is believed to have been the inspiration for the two ‘Rio’ films, featuring a blue macaw’s return to his native environment. [Linda herself sadly died earlier in 2017 – AKJ]

BIRD SCENE 47


The Brazilian Government formulated a new, five-year recovery plan in 2012, with the stated aims of increasing the captive population to 150 individuals by 2020; to build a breeding facility in Brazil in the newly-acquired natural habitat area; and to restore more of its natural range and prepare for the species’ re-release between 2017 and 2021. [At the end of Tony’s presentation, Mark Stafford returned to the stage to add some up-todate facts and figures about this project. He showed detailed plans of the proposed building complex and release aviaries, and confirmed that the Brazilian Government will commit funding and legislation to set up a 40,000 hectare protected area around the centre by 2018. Test release of Illiger’s Macaws is planned for 2019 in that area. These birds are of a similar size and enjoy a similar habitat and diet to Spix’s Macaws, so if they can survive and succeed in the region, there is a strong chance that Spix’s Macaws could also. The aim then would be to release Spix’s Macaws in the same way at the 200th anniversary of Johann Baptist von Spix’s collection of these iconic birds in 2020. More birds would be released annually for the following five years.] Tony Pittman concluded his presentation by summarising the current population of Spix’s Macaws in captivity at December 2015. There were believed to be 17 still in Switzerland, 12 at the new complex in

48 BIRD SCENE

The Brazilian Government formulated a new, five-year recovery plan in 2012, with the stated aims of increasing the captive population to 150 individuals by 2020; to build a breeding facility in Brazil in the newly-acquired natural habitat area; and to restore more of its natural range and prepare for the species’ re-release between 2017 and 2021 Brazil (known as ‘NEST’), moved from Sao Paulo Zoo and Loro Parque, and 12 at ACTP in Germany. The balance, giving a total of 100, is held at Al-Wabra. This is a fascinating and prestigious conservation project, but at tremendous cost, with well over £1,000,000 having been spent to date. In May 2016, a Brazilian girl reportedly sighted a lone individual Spix’s Macaw flying free in the wild, but to date that sighting has not been confirmed, and the bird has not been seen again. However, it does appear from Tony’s story that it is encouragingly likely that free-flying Spix’s Macaws may once again been seen in their native habitat inside the next decade! We now have one more contribution to this memorable seminar to describe, so look out for Barbara Heidenreich in next month’s issue of The Parrot Society magazine.


Nuts in Shell, Kernels & Dried Fruits! Macadamias & Brazils out of shell Almonds, Hazels <FILBERTS>, Pecans, Peanuts & Walnuts in shell & out of shell < Kernels > (In shell, kernels & Dried Fruits NUTRIENTS INTACT) Small & Large orders MENTION = PARROT SOCIETY AT CHECKOUT TO GET 5% OFF ON ORDERS OVER £150 ON LINE ORDERS WEBSITE: www.afnuts.com EMAIL: sales@allnut.com / TEL: 01268 710850

Macadamia Nuts in Stock!!! A Favourite for Hyacinth Macaws and other types of Parrot. Nut Kernels (without shell) Human Consumption Grade

BIRD SCENE 49


OUR BRAND NEW CONURE MIX Our new Conure Mix has been developed alongside a breeder, with the specific requirements of Conures in mind. The species-specific blend contains 24 ingredients, making this high-quality mix nutritionally balanced and engaging. The wide variety of colours, textures, tastes, and smells provides endless enrichment for your Conures. Feed with fresh fruit and vegetables or our Fruit, Nut & Veg Mix. Composition: Yellow millet, naked oats, small dark striped sunflower seed, safflower seed, dried apricots, red dari, red millet, white dari, hempseed, white sunflower seed, paddy rice, wheat, buckwheat, coconut, plain canary seed, banana chips, pumpkin seed, pine nuts, peanuts, diced pineapple, flaked maize, puffed wheat, flaked peas and chillies.

Benefits: 24 Ingredients for Enrichment Nutritionally Balanced Cleaned to 99.9% Purity High in Calcium

Suitable for: Small Conures, Large Conures, Kakariki, Rosellas, Senegals, Quakers, Poicephalus and Meyer’s 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