56 Bird Scene - Autumn 2022

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BIRD SCENE: Issue 56: Autumn 2022 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 ExhibitionNational Les Rance Ometepe‘Island of Hope’ Dr. David Waugh Conservation of the Major CockatooMitchell’s By Les Rance & Ray Ackroyd Canary Basics By The Canary Council CONTENTS 42 34 20 8 GO TO: WWW.THEPARROTSOCIETYUK.ORG DONATE TO CONSERVATIONOURFUND… 34 8 2042

In the introduction to the spring edition of Bird Scene, I wrote ‘Although in the build up to The Help Bird Keeper’s Show the then new Covid-19 variant Omicron was the most serious threat to the Show. Things started to change quite radically as the date of the show approached and Staffordshire County Council Trading aboutmoredepartmentStandardsbecameconcernedtheAvian




In the introduction to the summer 2022 edition of Bird Scene I wrote ‘As we are now very much in the late spring and early summer period, we are now experiencing some quite pleasant weather, which will help with the breeding results in the 2022 season. At least we did not have morning frosts every day in April, as we experienced in 2021 but it was frequently only three or four degrees C each morning in southern England and it was a very dry April. Early breeding results were without doubt impacted by these weather conditions leading to many infertile eggs, even BY THE

Influenza outbreak that was becoming more widespread and coming closer to The disinfectantwewereShowground.CountyWeadvised,thatshouldsupplymatsat all entrances and increase the number of transfer aviaries, as they did not want any escaped birds flying around the halls during the event. Fortunately, we had purchased 10 display aviaries, which are the same size and style as the transfer aviaries the previous year. So, our helpers were very busy on the Saturday building these new aviaries and locating them around the Argyle and Sandylands Centres, to the satisfaction of the County Council inspectors.’


from genuine breeding pairs. I guess it was a combination of the rather cool mornings and the dry conditions.

There is no doubt that my Australian parakeets are much happier when there is frequent rain, as in their native Australia it is rain, after a prolonged dry period that spurs them into breeding condition.’ Well, in May this year we had some cold mornings. My adult breeding pair of Barrabands produced three nice babies again starting in March. April and the early part of May were not very warm each morning, often not more than 4C. Every time I looked with the intention of closed ringing the babies they had hardly grown, the cool weather was taking its toll; they were receiving enough food to stay alive but insufficient to grow quickly. It was not until mid-May, as the weather improved in the south that they became large enough to ring. In this issue, we have an excellent article about Canary Basics an article written for The Canary Council as a booklet, which is still available through The Canary Council; see their details at the end of the article. It is very kind of them to allow us to use this text in Bird Scene. It is an ideal item for the beginner just starting to keep canaries. There are two very interesting conservation articles. Major Mitchell’s Cockatoos, that beautiful Australian bird. There is also Ometepe, ‘Island of Hope’ for the Yellow-naped Amazon.

On a practical bird, keeping theme there is ‘Part Two of Budgerigars for Beginners’. Even if you do not keep a species written about there are always one or two tips/hints in every article that you can consider using to help your bird breeding to be successful. This is now the fifty-sixth edition of Bird Scene, how quickly over ten years can pass when you are working on a project – the first FREE on-line bird magazine produced in the UK. At 48 pages, this is quite a big read! Every time we post the Parrot Society monthly 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 95p for a First Class letter became effective on 4th April 2022, an increase of 10p on the 85p previously charged, my maths are not very good but I think that is a 11.7% increase! With CPI, inflation now running around 10%, 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. Because of increases to the costs of both postage and printing, I am pleased that we decided to produce Bird Scene as a FREE e-magazine. We have learnt a great deal over the past ten 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 is held each year at our October Sale Day/ Show at Stafford County Showground, this year it is on 2nd October. 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.

POICEPHALUSAFRICAN PARROTS Print & Booklet £16 plus p&p UK £5, p&p world £10 THE MANUAL of COLOUR BREEDING PRICE REDUCTION!! on remaining copies, now only £20 each plus p&p UK £5, p&p world £10 THE ROSELLAS PRICE REDUCTION!! On remaining copies, now only £5 each plus p&p UK £5, p&p world £10 The Following Supplements & Titles are now out of print and unavailable:INDIAN PARRAKEETRINGNECK (Supplement to Manual) PARRAKEETLINEOLATED (Supplement to Manual) COCKATIEL (Supplement to Manual) BREEDING THE AMBOINA KING GENETICS(CD) WIZARD BOOKS AND PRINTS: Cheques/drafts in BRITISH POUNDS STERLING ONLY payable to: J&P Hayward Carterton Breeding Aviaries, Brize Norton Road, Carterton, Oxon, ENGLAND OX18 3HW Tel: 01993 841736 06 BIRD SCENE

Starter Pack - Membership certificate, Colour Standards booklet, members list etc. Magazine - “The Budgerigar” The society publishes a bi - monthly magazine which is posted to all members. Mentor Network - Guidance based on location for inexperienced Budgerigar enthusiasts. Products - There are some excellent products available Ranging from booklets to equipment and clothing Official closed ringsYour own personalised code, which distinguishes you from every other breeder in the world. Budgerigar The Society There are many reasons to join the Budgerigar Society Website - www.budgerigarsociety.com Telephone - 01828 633030 / Email - budgerigarsocietypa@live.co.uk Want to know more? Why a hobby in budgerigars? • Caters for all ages • Great as pets • Pedigree challenge • Fellowship of breeders • Meeting new people • Travel as a judge/ exhibitor MEMBERSHIP FOR 2021 AND 2022 FOR THE PRICE OF 1 YEAR’S MEMBERSHIP members!allBookFREEtonew BIRD SCENE 07

The information, which you will find in this article, will be found helpful whether you keep a canary as a household pet bird or if you wish to venture further into the breeding and exhibiting of canaries. This is not a specialist book about any particular variety of canary. It is recommended that those who do wish to tum to breeding and exhibiting should obtain a copy of one of the many specialist books available, where more detailed information will be found about their chosen breed. This article is purely to help those interested in canaries, to understand their requirements to be kept in a proper manner. The Council hopes you find the book answers some of your queries and that your interest once whetted, expands into the hobby of keeping a stud of canaries.

The Parrot Society thank the Canary Council for the right to reproduce this excellent article. The images have been added to enhance this article.






This article is purely to help those interested in canaries, to understand their requirements to be kept in a manner.proper FEATURE BIRD SCENE 09



It is usually constructed of plywood or similar material with a suitable wire front, which can be purchased in various sizes. The size of the cage depends on what it is used for and the particular breed kept. For the smaller breeds such as Fife, Irish Fancy or Gloster a cage 15’ high, 12’ deep and 18’ long will suit as a stock cage and a slightly longer one or what is known as a double or treble breeder for the actual breeding. The larger breeds, Yorkshire, Lancashire and Norwich, require a slightly bigger stock cage to enable the birds to spread their wings.

The type of housing used for canaries very much depends on why you are wishing to keep canaries. If to be kept purely as a household pet, the usual type of all wire cage is preferable, but even this is best if of the long type, rather than the cylindrical style. This gives the canary better room to stretch its wings and take more exercise. The cage should be placed in a draft free position, possibly with one side near a wall to give a little privacy and not in a position to be caught in strong sunlight, but in good daylight. This cage type is suitable for a household pet but not for the purpose of breeding canaries. For breeding, one can revert to using either an aviary or the box type cage. Where fully controlled breeding is required to produce top quality exhibition birds, the box cage is the one usually used. This gives a maximum amount of privacy for the rearing hen.

The aviary is used more for collections of canaries particularly required for purposes that are more ornamental. However many fanciers use flights, which are usually indoors, to house birds between breeding seasons and if not required for exhibition purposes. With outdoor flights or aviaries it is preferable if the roof and some of the side area is protected from the worst of our inclement weather conditions. Plastic sheets are usually used for this purpose, which also protect the occupants from any possible contamination from wild birds. To make the aviary more decorative do not plant up the interior as canaries will soon destroy plants by pecking at them. The aviary is used more for collections of canaries particularly required for purposes that are more ornamental. However many fanciers use flights, which are usually indoors, to house birds between breeding seasons and if not required for exhibitionpurposes.

Preferably, plant outside the flight with climbers such as honeysuckle, clematis or roses, in fact anything, which will be attractive and give cover but is not of a poisonous nature. A shelter should be attached to give the birds a suitable roosting area, free from draughts and dry- canaries resent draughty and damp conditions. The floor covering used wherever your birds are housed can vary considerably.


Some use coarse sawdust or wood shavings, others sand or fine grit, while others use paper- even old newspaper. They all have their good and bad points and it is your choice what you find best. Wherever you keep your canaries, suitable perches are required. The household cage is usually equipped with either plastic or wooden dowel perches. These do not give the bird any real variety to exercise its feet and If to be kept purely as a household pet, the usual type of all wire cage is preferable, but even this is best if of the long type, rather than the cylindrical style. This gives the canary better room to stretch its wings and take more exercise.

For pet birds the sand sheets, which are easily purchasable are generally used. They are readily replaced at intervals to keep the cage clean and tidy. Outdoor flights generally have fine grit or sand to cover the floor area, but some have just plain concrete base. Whatever is used, the area must be kept clean, so tended frequently. In box cages, a number of materials can be used and it is very much a personal preference or what is easily available.

FEEDING Canaries are known as seedeaters so wherever you keep your birds, their basic diet will consist of a good seed mixture and clean water, but they also require fresh green food, especially in the form of chickweed, dandelion, lettuce, spinach or chicory. When breeding a supply of rearing (egg) food will also be necessary.


a mixture should be fitted of varying thicknesses, but do not overdo the number of perches or your bird will have no room to flit around. In the aviary lengths of 12mm dowel can be used, again preferably with a mixture of a few natural twigs of hazel or perhaps apple, in fact virtually any deciduous twigs available. This enables the birds to exercise their feet and if placed at each end of the aviary, plenty of flying room. Wood and/or plastic perches are generally used in box cages and again if possible of varying thicknesses and placed at each end of the cage. For your box cages, you will require somewhere suitable to house them. For the more fortunate it may be a spare room in the house but not many are so lucky. Usually they are placed in an appropriate shed. Whatever is used always be conscious of good ventilation and light. As mentioned earlier canaries do not like draughty, damp conditions, which will soon spell trouble. Many fanciers who are deeply interested in the breeding of pedigree exhibition stock go to considerable lengths to get the conditions right. Special lighting arrangements and electric fans both utilized, but while they certainly help, are not necessary to gain success with canaries.

Canaries are known as seedeaters so wherever you keep your birds, their basic diet will consist of a good seed mixture and clean water, but they also require fresh green food, especially in the form of chickweed, dandelion, lettuce, spinach or chicory.




Canaries will take a wide range of such food and in greater quantity than many small finches. As mentioned these can consist of the usual garden weeds of chickweed, dandelion and shepherds purse but also relish lettuce, cabbage etc. They are particularly fond of a little sweet apple, and even take a small segment of orange and enjoy pecking away at fresh carrot or swede.


Canary mixtures are readily available but one can mix one’s own and a good example is 6 parts plain canary, 2 parts rape seed, 1 part hemp, 1 part Niger, 1 part teazel and 1 part linseed. This should be fed as a basic diet, but some fanciers prefer to feed a basic diet of 2 parts plain canary to I part rape and to give a variety of other seeds separately as a tonic or stimulant, particularly towards breeding time.

Another item of diet is soft food or as it is sometimes referred to as egg or rearing food. There are so many proprietary brands available that it is very much a personal choice which to use. However if you only require small amounts, say for a pet bird, you can try mixing your own. The basis of all soft foods is usually fine biscuit meal so you can soon make your own by crumbling any kind of plain biscuit and then mixing in some hardboiled egg in the proportions of about 3 parts biscuit to I Canaries are particularly fond of a little sweet apple, and even take a small segment of orange and enjoy pecking away at fresh carrot or swede.



GRIT Seedeaters require grit to enable them to digest their food correctly. This may be supplied as coarse sand. Sea sand can be useful as it has the added advantage of being impregnated with salts. Suitable grit can be purchased and can be fed in small pots to keep it clean. This grit is usually a mixture of limestone grit and finely ground oyster shell. A further addition while speaking of grit is cuttlefish bone. It is the usual practice to provide a piece of this in each cage and let the birds help themselves. It will be found that their usage of it will vary, particularly when hens are laying and later feeding youngsters. Cuttlefish bone is undoubtedly beneficial to the birds and helps in supplying the minerals required in forming bone and feather growth.

part egg. The egg should be worked in to make the mixture crumbly. The advantage of the prepared foods is that they do not tum sour so quickly as homemade egg food and only require the addition of a little water to make them usable. Another soft food which can be used is bread and milk, prepared simply by soaking brown or white bread in a little milk until the bread has absorbed all the milk and sometimes sprinkled with a little maw seed. The biggest disadvantage of this feed is that it quickly sours in hot weather so be conscious about the quantity fed. None should be left about surplus, particularly overnight, and it is best fed in china or earthenware pots rather than metal ones because of possible chemical action of the metal on the moist food.

BREEDING Canaries being domesticated birds are relatively easy to breed. Some breeds more highly bred for show purposes, may be a little more difficult than others and would suggest that anyone just starting should commence with one of the easiest breeds and then once successful, move on to the more difficult breeds if required. Rollers, Fifes, Glosters, Irish and Coloured Canaries seem to be the easiest but many fanciers will tell of their successes with other breeds. Canaries are particularly fond of a little sweet apple, and even take a small segment of orange and enjoy pecking away at fresh carrot or swede.


The usual method of breeding is to use the box cage and this should be as roomy as possible. For a pair of canaries it should be at least 24’ long, but many fanciers use what are known as double or treble breeder cages. These cages use dividing slides to separate the cock and hen birds. The double is used for a pair and treble where a cock bird is used with two separate hens. Before placing your birds in their breeding quarters, be sure to treat the cages to a good clean and paint where necessary. Make sure you also treat against mite, red mite in particular. During the warm summer weather, they can rapidly increase and can ruin a breeding season.

As mentioned under housing, canaries can be bred in flights by putting in a number of 4 birds. If using this method be sure to put in more hens than cocks as too many cocks can be aggressive towards one another. Also, make sure you supply more nest pans than hens also to prevent squabbling. These should be well spread out about the flight for similar reasons.

The normal breeding season for canaries is from April to July and if the birds have been properly fed and prepared will be ready to lay in April.

As the various wild plants become available, they should be freely given.


There are no hard and fast rules about when to start breeding as this depends on the weather and condition of the birds. Mild sunny days help to bring birds into condition quicker than a cold miserable spring. Canaries show signs when they are ready to breed. The cock birds will be in full song, and will often pull themselves up into strange distorted shapes. The hens will be restless, hopping back and forth,

Some breeders use artificial heat and light to advance their breeding programme but that is something for the more experienced. From about February the breeding pairs should have that little extra in the way of food. Besides their usual seed mixture they should receive a little of the richer seeds, Niger, hemp, teazel and linseed. These are generally sold as Condition Seed. They should also have a little soft (egg) food as mentioned under feeding. The frequency of feeding the soft food should gradually be increased until the birds are receiving it at least 3-4 times a week by the end of March.

A few sprigs of young dandelion plus the extra feeding in conjunction with the lengthening hours of daylight will gradually bring the birds into breeding condition.





even squatting on the perches. She will open and flap her wings, and pick up oddments of uneaten green food or any material she can find and carry in her beak. These signs mean it is time to introduce the birds to their breeding quarters if not already in them and to give them a nest pan.


Most canary hens readily build a suitable nest but occasionally one needs a little help. This can be achieved Canaries show signs when they are ready to breed. The cock birds will be in full song, and will often pull themselves up into strangeshapes.distorted

The nest pan can be earthenware or plastic, purchased from a pet shop or even a shallow 40-50mm deep wooden tray with a perforated zinc base. These can be lined with a felt lining and suitable nesting material supplied. All these can be purchased or you may wish to supply your own - dried moss and a little shredded hessian, but beware of nylon material as this can damage the bird’s legs and feet by being entangled round them.

by putting small amounts of nesting material into the nest pan, and using a filament electric light bulb to firm and shape the inside. The hen will usually quickly build her nest and next you can expect the eggs. These are pale blue with brownish markings and are generally laid one each day in the early morning. A clutch generally consists of 4 or 5 and the hen will commence sitting after laying her 3rd egg. It is a custom amongst fanciers to remove the first two eggs as laid, replacing with dummy eggs. The two eggs are replaced in the nest when the 3rd egg is laid. The theory is that this ensures that the chicks will hatch more or less together 14 days after the 3rd egg is laid and will all then have an equal start. However, this is not imperative as the hen as explained does not start incubating until she has laid the 3rd egg. Once the hen has started to sit, she should be disturbed as little as possible. Many fanciers separate the cock from his mate at this stage, hence the double and treble breeder cages. This may be necessary if the cock is inclined to be aggressive or of an interfering nature. Because the hen is now sitting she takes a great deal less exercise so it is best to just feed the basic diet until she is about to hatch, when the rearing food can be re-introduced. You may be able to examine the nest to see if all is well when the hen is off for food, but do not disturb unnecessarily.


HATCHING The young canaries hatch in 14 days and for the first 24 hours require little extra food as they are still absorbing the last of the egg yolk. What little they require will be provided by the hen in the form of pre-digested food from her crop. You should have kept a

careful record of when eggs were laid etc., so that you know when to expect the eggs to hatch. Quite often, a few broken eggshells on the floor of the cage will denote that all is well and that the chicks have hatched. Only supply a small amount of egg food, gradually increasing as the days go by. A little and often is the ideal way - two or three times a day. At 2-3 days old some soaked seed can be given. This can be a special bought mixture or you may try some of your own made up of black rape, Niger and hemp. If soaked for 24 hours, strained and then kept warm and washed daily, it will start to sprout after 3-4 days. This is ideal to feed to the birds After 7 days the chicks should be flourishing, and if you wish to ring them this, if not already done, should be undertaken now or the chicks will be too big to get the rings on. At 14 days, they should be feathering well and now are at their hungriest. If the cock bird had been removed he should be introduced by now to help with the breeding, in fact he may well take over the entire feeding as the hen, turns her attention to bringing up another family.


Another nest pan can be introduced at the other end of the cage but some hens are not happy with this and the existing nest should be placed on the cage floor and a new pan put in its place. Do not forget some fresh nesting material or the hen will rob the existing nest or even pluck the feathers from her young. lf the hen does start to pluck her young there is only one course to follow. That is to place the hen in the other half of the cage and separate her off with a divider, and allow her mate with her for about 1 hour or so each morning to enable him to fertilize her second cutch of eggs. The rest of the time, he should be with the 1st brood, which should be ready to leave the nest at about 21 days old. By then they should be well feathered and able to fly on to the perches. At around this time avoid any disturbance of the nest or the chicks are very likely to literary explode out of the nest prematurely and will not settle back in there. The parent bird will continue to feed the chicks even though they have left their nest.

BY LES RANCE & RAY ACKROYD In Issue 10 of Bird Scene we gave a fairly in-depth report on the background to the tree-tinning project to prevent the active nests of Major Mitchell Cockatoos (Cacatua leadbeateri) being predated by goannas, a type of monitor lizard also known as the Lace Monitor. This article is still accessible from our website and well worth studying if you are interested in our conservation activities which to date have seen over £20,000 donated to this particular conservation project which was strongly driven when John Mollindinia, 20 BIRD SCENE

CONSERVATIONINCOCKATOOMITCHELL’SMAJORNEWSOUTHWALES,AUSTRALIAOFTHEThisarticleisstillaccessiblefromourwebsiteandwellworthstudyingifyouareinterestedinourconservationactivitieswhichtodatehaveseenover£20,000donatedtothisparticularconservationprojectwhichwasstronglydrivenwhenJohnMollindinia,whotravelledtoAustraliatogainfirst-handexperienceoftheMajorMitchell’scockatoo. FEATURE BIRD SCENE 21

travelled to Australia to gain first-hand experience of the Major Mitchell’s cockatoo. There he met Ray Ackroyd, who to this day organises tours in the south-eastern states of New South Wales and Victoria as well as being a government licensed bird trapper and carries out the tree-tinning work that has done much to increase the numbers of Major Mitchell’s in the wild.

At the end of the article in the last issue we reported that the latest news on the Conservation front is that Ray Ackroyd has been asked by the state of Victoria to help promote ways to save the Major Mitchell’s Cockatoo in the state which will involve the assistance of school children. An AUS$10,000 fund is available for this project and we look forward to hearing how this project unfolds in Victoria. The Major Mitchell’s cockatoo is such a beautiful bird we are sure that the school children will rally to support it. The intention is to pay each child up to AUS $100 for reporting the location of active nesting sites of the rare Cockatoos so that they can be tinned. To help the children achieve this goal Ray Ackroyd has written the following guide.


Late August to early September. Do they pick out a special tree? Yes they do: usually on a sand ridge or in open country away from other trees. They like to be able to see what is going on around them. It’s a precautionary thing so that they can identify any predators including mankind. Do Major Mitchell’s Cockatoos nest in big trees?

*Note – it is important to know that when looking for nests.

What time of year to Major Mitchell’s go to nest?


Some trees are small and nests that are 5 metres from the ground are common. Do Major Mitchells like a special entrance to their nests? Yes they do. Major Mitchells like an entrance to their nest that is shaped like an upturned canoe.

Not really. Some may pick out a dry Cypress Pine tree that has no top or a broken limb that has left a hollow.

Do Major Mitchell’s cockatoos mate for life? Yes they do and can nest together for up to 50 years. If one bird dies or gets killed does the remaining bird seek out a new mate? Yes What type of tree do Major Mitchell’s nest in? Dry gum trees and Cypress Pine that is alive or dry.


Do Major Mitchell’s take long to prepare their nesting site? No they don’t. Both birds go into the nest chamber and pare off small chips of wood to form a soft base to lay their clutch of eggs. This usually only takes a few days to prepare. How far down from the entrance do Major Mitchell’s lay their clutch of eggs? That can vary but usually about ½ a metre. How many eggs do Major Mitchell’s lay each year? Depending on the season. If it’s a good year with lots of herbage on the ground they will lay up to four eggs. However the norm is three eggs. How long is the incubation period or how long does it take to hatch from egg to chick? 28 days. Who sits on the eggs? They take turns. The Cock may sit during the day and the Hen at night or vis versa. Is it easy to find the nest of Major Mitchell’s Cockatoos? No it isn’t easy. They are a very secretive bird when nesting and can hear footsteps approaching a long way from the nest tree. When is the best time to find a Major Mitchell’s Nest? When they are on eggs or have small young. Before or after that time is doubtful.*Note–It is important to note that Major Mitchell’s return to the same nest site every year and will continue to do that unless the tree is lost to fire or habitat loss through logging. How can I study a nest once I have found it? Walk slowly toward the tree and identify the nest entrance. You must walk very quietly or he or she will leave the nest and not return until you have gone. The best way to study a nest is to build a hide just away from the tree and wait and watch. At no time should you disturb the nesting procedure. When the parents want the fledged babies to leave the nest they will encourage their young to climb up to the nest entrance and feed there.them


What is the average clutch size of nesting Major Mitchells?

If Major Mitchell’s lose their nesting tree because of fire or land clearings do they leave that area? No they don’t. Usually they try and select a new nest site in the same area. It may not be the same type of tree, so if a nest is lost look for the new site and it should be found within a half kilometre. How long do the young stay in the nest?

Most certainly. Almost all Major Mitchells return to the same tree every year. Usually around mid August.


Average: 2.5 some raise 2, most raise 3 and 4 is not unusual. How far do Major Mitchell’s Cockatoos fly from their nesting site in the off season? Up to 300 kilometres.

Around seven weeks. When the parents want the fledged babies to leave the nest they will encourage their young to climb up to the nest entrance and feed them there. This is an extremely bad time for predators to attack the young and the parent birds become very aware of that.

Are Major Mitchell’s Cockatoos reliable breeders?

• Secondly it is bad fire management.

Approximately six weeks then they join into a small flock situation. How long before young birds can breed themselves? Three years. If Major Mitchells are such a good and reliable breeder in the wild, why then isn’t the overall population increasing?

• Thirdly it is land clearing.

Research has shown that where Major Mitchell’s nesting trees were collared up – not one nest was lost to predators.

Good question! Yes they are a noisy feeder and that is to their detriment.

• Fourthly it is competition from other tree hollow nesting species that take over nests of Major Mitchells.

First and foremost it is predators.

Are baby Major Mitchell’s a noisy feeder when being fed in the nest and can that noise be heard from a distance?

The major predator is Goannas and each year they kill large numbers of baby Major Mitchells and in the early part of the season also take the eggs. Goannas bite into and suck out the contents of the eggs. If the Hen Major Mitchell lays a second clutch, the Goanna will usually return for a second time. It is important to note that Goannas know that Major Mitchells return to the same nest each year so immediately they come out of hibernation they do the yearly rounds of the nests. Other predators at the nests are feral cats, possums and foxes, once the baby Major Mitchell’s leave the nest and at this early age are unsure of predators. Prevent predators from attacking the nests of Major Mitchell Cockatoo?

Most certainly: The most effective method of preventing predators from climbing nest trees is to attach a collar around the tree with the base of the collar one metre from the ground. What is the collar made of? Smooth galvanized tin or heavy duty plastic. Both need to be one metre wide and can be cut to size and nailed around the tree. This method has proven to be fully successful. The tin or clear plastic is very slippery and doesn’t allow the predator to climb the tree.

How long do the baby birds stay with the parents after leaving the nest?

Good question.


During October 1990 an elderly English birdman from the English Parrot Society, Mr John Mollindinia conducted a study on Major Mitchell’s Cockatoos in Western NSW. This study clearly indicated that almost 80% of Major Mitchell’s nests were taken by predators that climbed the nest trees from the ground.


Mr indicatedNSW.CockatoosonconductedMollindiniaJohnastudyMajorMitchell’sinWesternThisstudyclearlythatalmost80%ofMajorMitchell’snestsweretakenbypredatorsthatclimbedthenesttreesfromtheground.

Very successful deterrent to protect nests, who thought of that?

On his return to England following his study he indicated to the English Parrot Society that they should fund a trial project to protect the nesting trees of the Major Mitchell’s Cockatoos in Western NSW. That could be achieved by placing a smooth tin or plastic collar around the trunk of each nest tree making it impossible for predators to climb to the Thatnest.trial project set the benchmark for tinning trees to species such as Major Mitchell’s or Glossy Black Cockatoos to mention just a few.

Since that time a new heavy duty flat plastic is now available and has proven to be an upgrade on tin. Also clear plastic does not stand out and makes it almost impossible for any person to identify the nest tree. The English Parrot Society is very proud of being able to fund a project to protect one of Australia’s most outstanding Cockatoos. The fund has been ongoing for many years thanks to Mr Mollindinia. The Parrot Society Ray Ackroyd at John’s Tree and details written on John’s


Both birds are the same size: Cock – has black eye and not as much yellow in the comb as the hen. Hen – has pink eye and more yellow in comb. How do you tell the difference between the Eastern race of Major Mitchell’s Cockatoo and the Western race called ‘Mollis’ Mollis have a longer crest and upon maturity, ie 3 years, has a comb without yellow. Do Major Mitchell’s Cockatoos fly at great heights when travelling? No they don’t. Major Mitchell’s, no matter how far they are going, do not fly at great heights.


Firstly you have to search for the nests when the Major Mitchell’s are on eggs or very early young. Following that time they are difficult to find at the nest site. A good pair of binoculars is essential and out of bed early. Try and get to an elevated spot and watch for the white birds. Once you find a nest you must remember where it is so you can return and collar the tree, provided the landowner agrees. How do we get this message across to landowners whose properties are the habitat of Major Mitchell’s? Local newspapers and any media coverage is good value. Let them know how important this issue is. Take pictures of any tree protection you are doing and give talks at school meetings. What about Major Mitchell Cockatoo nest trees in national parks? Do the managers protect breeding trees? Most state national parks have their own management strategy. There is evidence that some parks are constructing artificial nest sites at great expense. Whether these additional nests will attract Major Mitchell Cockatoos is yet to be Atclarified.thistime I do not know of any tree that hosts the nest of Major Mitchell’s Cockatoo being protected by way of collars, either tin or plastic in national parks – but it works! How do you tell the difference between the Cock and Hen Major Mitchell’s?

attached a plaque at the base of a Major Mitchell’s nesting tree in honour of the late John Mollindinia for his outstanding work. So how can we find the nests to collar them up and how do we inform the landowners?

In essence Major Mitchell’s fly just above tree height and in fact sometimes between trees. I believe the reason is because they are white and a slow flyer compared to other cockatoos. The tree line allows them to identify hawks or eagles that may attack them and escape into that tree line as a form of protection. Background of Major Mitchell’s OtherCockatoosNames: Genus – Cacatua Calcatua Leadbeateri • Chockalott • Cocklerina • Desert Cockatoo • Inca Cockatoo • Leadbeaters Cockatoo • Major Mitchell’s Cockatoo • Pallid Cockatoo • Pink Cockatoo • South Australian Pink Cockatoo • Southern Pink Cockatoo • Wee Juggler Distribution Semi-arid and arid interior regions of Australia with the exception of North East Australia Sub Species Cacatua Leadbeateri Mollis Distribution West of Ceduna SA West to Esperance WA –North to Carnamah WA DONATE TO FUND…CONSERVATIONOUR GO 30WWW.THEPARROTSOCIETYUK.ORGTO:BIRDSCENE

Other Names • Mathews Pink Cockatoo • Western Pink Cockatoo What do Major Mitchell’s Cockatoos feed on in the wild? Like all birds Major Mitchell’s Cockatoos have a built-in mechanism that allows them to follow an annual food Listedpattern.below are some of the most common seeds utilised by Major Mitchell’s Cockatoos:• Wild Orange [capparis mitchells] • Crows Foot [eleusine indica] • Wilga [geijera parviflora] • Camel Melon [ citrullus lamatus] • Paddy Melon [cucumis myriocarpus] • Currant Bush [exocarpos aphyllus] • Murray Cypress Pine [callitris preissii murrayensis] • Mallee Cypress Pine [callitris preissii verrucosa] • White Cypress Pine [callitris columellaris] • Black Cypress Pine [callitris Mulgaendlicheri][acacia ameura] • All other acacia beans Introduced Seeds • All cereal grains • Almonds • All citrus

Do Major Mitchell’s Cockatoos drink every day?

Major Mitchell’s have that very special mechanism for finding water and will travel many kilometres to Theydrink.very seldom drink from rivers, they like small dams, water troughs or house Duringtanks.veryhot weather they may visit their water base several times each day.

Major Mitchell’s visit watering places usually twice daily, very early morning, late afternoon.


Major Mitchell’s are always lovely and white in all weather yet after 60 years studying them I have never seen one bath. The Council of The Parrot Society UK sincerely hopes that the above notes which obviously took Ray some considerable time to compose help the school children of Australia to make every success of this new venture. We will continue to monitor this exciting new development that will we hope will do much to increase the status of the rare indigenous Australian Cockatoos.

Do Major Mitchell’s Cockatoos bath?

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From the surface of Lake Nicaragua, in the country of the same name, two volcanoes rise up to form a spectacular island called Ometepe. The two volcanoes, known as Volcán Concepción and Volcán Maderas, are joined by a low isthmus, thus forming the island in the shape of an hourglass. With its longest axis of 31 km and an area of 276 km2, Ometepe is not only the largest island in Lake Nicaragua, but also one of the world’s largest freshwater islands. If that wasn’t enough, Volcán Concepción reaches an altitude of 1,610 m, making Ometepe the world’s highest lake island.



Such an inspiring place gives optimism for the future of one of its inhabitants, the endangered Yellow-naped Amazon (Amazona auropalliata). Indeed, the Loro Parque Fundación is supporting a conservation project, dubbed the ‘island of hope’, which is being carried out by Fauna and Flora International (FFI) and a local group of ornithologists called ‘Loreros Observando y Conservando Ometepe’ (LOCO). The project is responding to the rapid decline of the Yellow-naped Amazon throughout most of its geographical distribution from Mexico to Costa Rica, due to the loss and degradation of its natural habitats and unsustainable exploitation for the wildlife trade.

Although island populations of wild species are often more vulnerable to human-induced threats, in the case of Ometepe there is a good chance that its isolation can aid the successful conservation of the amazons. Yellow-naped Amazons are known to be seed dispersers, and therefore

Concepcion Volcano 36 BIRD SCENE

important to the health of the dry and moist tropical forests in which they live. Regrettably, this ecosystem value is sorely under-appreciated and, despite that all capture and trade in the Yellow-naped Amazon has been illegal since 2013 In Nicaragua, these parrots continue to be offered as pets in the domestic market and are also trafficked across the borders with neighbouring countries. Such nest-poaching has also been happening in Ometepe but, most encouragingly, recent population surveys on the island indicate that it supports at least 1,869 individuals, making this the largest and most dense remaining population of Yellow-naped Amazons anywhere.

It helps that Ometepe is designated as a UNESCO Biosphere Reserve, the aim of which is to promote a balanced relationship between people and the natural world. Threats to the island’s wildlife and forests include increased demand for new farm land and unsustainable tourism development. Local community organisations are Canaries are particularly fond of a little sweet apple, and even take a small segment of orange and enjoy pecking away at fresh carrot or swede.


1. Adult Yellow-naped Amazon at its nest entrance. © LOCO

4. LOCO team members construct an aviary for the rescue centre to accommodate chicks. © LOCO

3. LOCO team member lowers a chick from the nest to the ground. © LOCO

5. Local young people supporting the conservation of the Yellow-naped Amazon. © LOCO

6. Yellow-naped Amazon chick receiving its health check. © LOCO being helped to tackle these threats through targeted species conservation, environmental education, improved land stewardship, environmentally friendly farming and eco-tourism. Within this framework, surveys by the field team of the Yellow-naped Amazon project have identified four priority roosting and nesting areas on the island for the amazons, at Mérida, Peña Inculta, Tichana and 4321

2. Chicks and egg in wild nest of Yellow-naped Amazon. © LOCO



Pull, and have generated important new data on the nesting ecology of this island population, indicating that the breeding season in the isthmus between the two volcanos is starting much earlier than elsewhere in the range of the species. Monitoring in 2017/18 and 2018/19 confirmed that Ometepe has two nesting seasons for the Yellow-naped Amazon, being October-January in Pena Inculta and January-April at all other sites on the island. This unusual phasing of nesting should encourage more research into the behaviour and ecology of this population on Ometepe. One result of monitoring the nests is a georeferenced map of nesting sites, leading to confirmation of the most important nesting areas. A population census of free flying parrots on Ometepe in July-August 2018 resulted in 1,869 Yellow-naped Amazons, 2,562 Northern Mealy Amazons (Amazona guatemalae) and 1,402 individuals of other species of Psittacidae. During 2018, anti-poaching efforts were focused on the protection of 52 nests in the four priority areas, and hatchlings from 26 nests successfully fledged. Five nests were illegally poached and the rest were unsuccessful due to natural predation or loss. In collaboration with the local community, the project has protected over 100 hectares of forest in the Peña Inculta (one third of its total area) from deforestation and is protecting Yellow-naped Amazon nests to prevent specimens from entering the illegal market for this species.


Environmental education events held in schools and communities at six localities were attended by 320 young people. Local radio broadcasts have been made about the Yellow-naped Amazon, and Ometepe’s first and highly colourful Parrot Festival took place in September 2018, with the aim of increasing awareness and community support for conservation actions. The project has also enabled the building of local capacity for parrot monitoring, protection and conservation leadership on Ometepe, the ‘island of hope’.


During the census, a household survey collected data on parrots in captivity and the status of their health, highlighting the communities across Ometepe where this practice is prevalent. Surveys were conducted in 688 households on Ometepe (50% of households per community, across nine communities). The findings showed that 27% of households have at least one parrot in captivity as a pet, and of the species found to be in captivity, 44% were Orange-chinned Parakeets (Brotogeris jugularis) and 40% were Yellow-naped Amazons. From questioning the owners, the estimated age of these parrots is between three and five years old, which means that few chicks are in captivity. This suggests that they have not been extracted in recent years, which may be due to LOCO’s successful presence in the communities over the last four years. The survey also discovered that allegedly many poachers come to La Palma to extract eggs and chicks from their nests and smuggle them out of Ometepe Island, and this is an issue to be investigated further.

People from 25 families engaged with the project to promote conservation and protection of the Yellow-naped Amazon, and community-led patrols have been accompanied by local authorities (Ministry of Environment, National Police and Naval Force) in five separate patrols to assist in stopping the illegal trade of the species. These patrols provided support to the group by adding to the awareness activities that have been carried out in the Peña Inculta community and surrounding communities. This also incentivised three private owners to support the protection of nests within their properties. Another of the successes was the construction of a small rescue centre to house chicks that have presented problems when flying, have been damaged or have some kind of disease, with a view to their later release to the wild following the correct health and behaviour screening. The project continues to raise awareness amongst islanders for the need to conserve Ometepe’s parrots.


I am pleased to report that The National Exhibition arrangements are progressing very well, at present I am busy dealing with the myriad of background tasks to ensure that both our Sale Day and the Exhibition of birds goes very well. The 2021 National was smaller than normal following the Covid-19 issues. This year has been much easier because it is only 12 months since the 2021 event and we have had much longer to plan for this exhibition than we had in 2021. All the show stationery for the Show Secretaries, which includes the entry wristbands, car parking passes, and Officials badges have now been posted. Let us hope that Sunday 2nd October 2022 will be an exciting and enjoyable event for us all. In both 2020 at the height of Covid-19 and during 2021 the most used phrase was ‘we will have to wait and see’,


well that is all over now and we are at the time when we can all get back together and see all those wonderful exhibits again. As we have images from the 2021 National Exhibition, we have been able to use those in this item there has been no need for our designer Neil Randle to trawl through the five years of National Exhibition images as he did at this time last year. Every year Neil takes around 1,000 pictures at the show so there is no shortage of images for him to select from. Please remember that The National Exhibition for the Exhibition of Show birds is held in the Sandylands Centre and the Argyle Centre, with many Club stands in The Prestwood Centre because the exhibits are filling both Argyle and Sandylands. When you enter the showground with your birds, you need to turn left and drive to the left-hand side of the complex.


The numbers of clubs exhibiting birds this year will be again up to the normal


18 and I am sure there will be some very good birds on Show. By buying prepaid entry wristbands from your Show Secretary when you submit your entry forms, you enter the two Show halls quickly after 7.30 am. The sale of hobbyist breeding stock both from our member’s and non-member’s tables who can sell finches, canaries and budgerigars but no 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.

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. With the unfortunate decision by Walkers Transport, to stop transporting parrots, softbills, budgerigars etc it is very difficult to move birds around the country; this may well

mean that there will be more birds at Stafford than normal. 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 12 clubs that support this event continues to receive plenty of entries, may this be the case for many years to come. These enthusiasts work so hard to construct the staging from mid-day 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. A crystal glass rose bowl has been donated by The Parrot Society 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 so that we have plenty of images for the next twelve months. Please do enjoy the pictures on the following pages. In 2022, the Show will be held on Sunday 2nd October and will follow similar lines to the 2021 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, and The Waxbill Finch 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. TO


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