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When birds go bad

For those of you who quite like a bit of You've Been Framed, here's an avian version for your pleasure...at times funny and at times rather scary! It serves as a warning. Even the most beautiful birds will defened themselves or their young when they feel threatened. If the birds are wild, it's best to admire them from a safe distance! No birds were harmed in the making of this video, but some small children very nearly were.


Something for the weekend

If you fancy taking a peek inside the building where we produce your Cage & Aviary Birds every week, then you can do so this weekend. 
The Blue Fin building, at 110 Southwark Street, is open to the public this Saturday and Sunday only, between 10am and 4pm, as part of London Open House
It's a unique chance to get a glimpse of the huge atrium inside the building, as well as taking a tour of some of the floors.
You can find out more about the building via this fact sheet.


Editor's letter (September 17 issue)

Like many publications, Cage & Aviary Birds is reliant on the post – any disruptions or delay has implications for our copy deadlines. We’ve limped along this past month or so, greeting each day wondering if we’re going to receive any mail at all, and if we do receive any mail, will it be horribly late and therefore too old for us to use?
This is all thanks to industrial action being taken by Royal Mail workers in a dispute over pay, jobs and services, which has been running on and off since early August.
Even though a great many of our readers and contributors use email, we’re still hugely dependent on the postal system for Bargain Box adverts, letters to the editor and club news. When there’s no post, we have no content, and there’s nothing more terrifying for an editor than a blank page and an imminent deadline!
This, too, has implications for those of you with subscriptions to Cage & Aviary Birds – our phone rang hot last week with numerous complaints of undelivered copies. Sadly, there’s not much we can do about that. Once the issue is printed and sent to the delivery office, it’s all in the hands of Royal Mail – and if your regional office is on strike then it’s likely your copy will be delivered late. 
We appreciate your patience during this frustrating time and hope you’ll bear with us.
To get up-to-date service information about Royal Mail you can check the website. Alternatively, you can also sign up for free email service updates.

World's smallest parrot caught on film

If you've read this week's issue (September 17) you will have seen our news story about the world's smallest parrot being caught on film for the first time.
You can watch the footage via the BBC Earth News website


in this week's issue (September 17)

Why we love the golden-breasted waxbill.
When to remove your lovebirds' nest-box -- and why you should do it.
Leading budgerigar fancier Ray Steele looks at why you should take the exhibition plunge.
How to tell a yellow canary from a buff one.
Microchipping birds: we investigate how it's done, why it's done and whether it's worth it.
Keep cockatiels? We list the ten tasks you need to do before winter.
PLUS, don't miss our open show calendar for the rest of the show season.


On the plinth: parrot lover's time of reckoning inches closer

Remember our news story (September 3) about Richard Fisher, a primary school teacher, who's to spend an hour on Trafalgar Square's Fourth Plinth -- dressed as a parrot?
Well, Mr Fisher's 60-minutes of fame is inching closer: he takes to the plinth as part of Antony Gormley's One & Other exhibition tomorrow night between 10pm and 11pm.
He's doing it all in the name of a good cause: raising funds for the National Parrot Centre, a rescue centre based in Lincolnshire.
To sponsor Richard you can visit his website and you can watch him perform his daredevil stunt tomorrow evening via the official webcam.


What's on this weekend?

Event: The South Eastern Budgerigar Club Silver Championship Open Show
When: Saturday September 12. Open to the public 2.15pm.
Where: The Weald Hall, Uckfield Civic Centre, Uckfield TN22 1AE
What’s it all about: The club's silver championship show promises a warm welcome to everyone.
To find out more: Contact Malcolm Parsons, tel: 01903 246297.

The sex life of Gouldian finches

A male Gouldian finch (Photo: Martybugs, from Wikipedia, under Creative Commons Share Alike 3.0 License)
If you've got seven minutes to spare, you might enjoy this video in which Mark Horstman reports on the extraordinary sex life of the Gouldian finch, where choosing the wrong mate can have very dire consequences.


Editor's letter (September 10 issue)

My Editor’s Letter about the importance of the work of club publicity officers (August 27) seems to have hit a nerve. Several of you got in touch to thank Cage & Aviary Birds for helping promote your club’s activities.
I wasn’t fishing for compliments when I wrote that piece, but merely wanted to put to bed the misguided belief that we played favourites and only looked after certain clubs because we liked them. The truth of the matter is that our publication is a two-way street: you tell us what’s going on and we’ll share your news with the rest of the birdkeeping community. How simple could it be?
Bearing that in mind, we were thrilled to hear that Wirral Bird Keepers smashed the record for building the world’s largest bird feeder, despite vandals’ attempts to spoil the day (see our news story, page 3). You can read more about the club’s track history in a piece by Brian Keenan (see page 20).
As I said in my original letter, proactive groups such as Wirral Bird Keepers can teach other clubs a lot about promoting the hobby and using the media to present birdkeeping in a positive light.
On a separate note, very many newly released bird books cross my desk on a regular basis, but few have made as much as an impression as the one that arrived from Australia recently. The Budgerigar by Dr Rob Marshall is an incredibly comprehensive book that covers just about everything you could possibly want to know about keeping, breeding and exhibiting these birds (see my review on page 18).
We’re delighted to give five lucky readers an opportunity to win a copy. If you wish to enter, make sure you fill out the coupon on page 5 and get it to us by the closing date.


The world's biggest bird feeder!

Congratulations to Wirral Bird Keepers who smashed the record for the building the world's biggest bird feeder. Members of the club achieved the feat on the August Bank Holiday weekend, raising more than £470 for Holylake Cottage in the process.
Sadly, the record-breaking attempt was made all that much harder by vandals who, on the eve of the attempt, cut the ropes holding the feeder up. But the resultant publicity, by various news organisations, including local press and radio stations, was a blessing in disguise, according to club secretary Brian Gregory. 
Despite the setback, the feeder was resurrected and eventually weighed in at 410kg, smashing the previous record by 313kg! You can read the full story in this week's issue, dated September 10.
To find out more about Wirral Bird Keepers visit the official website.

Book review: 'The Budgerigar' by Dr Rob Marshall

Dr Rob Marshall’s The Budgerigar is by far the most impressive avicultural book I’ve had the pleasure of reviewing in my time at Cage & Aviary Birds
Coming in at a hefty 415 pages, with more than 2,000 colour photographs and illustrations, this isn’t so much a book as an encyclopedia. Indeed, the author himself describes it as a “definitive work” – and he’s not wrong.
This book is divided into 31 detailed chapters and includes everything a budgerigar fancier could possibly need to know about all aspects of keeping, breeding and exhibiting these ever-popular birds.
Dr Marshall, an Australian vet, has undertaken extensive field studies of wild budgerigars, specifically their natural breeding cycles, in order to “apply this knowledge for controlling the diseases of exhibition budgerigars and to improve their breeding performance”. As World Budgerigar Organisation President Gerd Bleicher writes in his foreword, “It’s the first book that looks at this little bird as a creature interacting with its harsh environment.”
The Budgerigar opens with a detailed look at the wild budgerigar and its relationship with its natural environment, including communication behaviour, moult cycle and wild diet. Dr Marshall explains how aborigines have long used their understanding of wild budgies’ breeding and feeding habits to help predict the weather and the whereabouts of fresh seeding grasses.
The next nine chapters are devoted to exhibition budgerigars, including the evolution of the ideal model, the birds’ anatomy (internal, external and feathering), the genetics of colours and varieties, and, crucially, how to produce winners.
There are other chapters on illness and disease (detection, response and management) as well as an in-depth look at stress, French moult, psittacosis, coccidiosis and megabacteria. To ensure these problems don’t get a foothold in your stud, Dr Marshall also devotes a chapter to “seasonal health programmes” jam-packed with practical information about cleaning flights, looking after your birds’ health needs during the breeding season and nutritional needs when weaning.
And if that’s not enough, you’ll find even more chapters about overcoming breeding problems (infertility, nestling deaths) and how to wean chicks safely.
If there is any quibble to be had, it may be Dr Marshall’s tendency to plug his own health and nutritional products in the latter chapters but, in the grand scheme of things, this is only a minor irritation.
Of course a book of this size and exceptional standard doesn’t come cheap. Many may balk at the price tag – around £75 (including postage) – but you’d probably not need to buy another budgerigar book ever again, because this one covers it all.
And if you’re worried that it might have a Southern Hemisphere slant, you’ll be pleased to know Dr Marshall did consult budgerigar breeders from around the world, including some of Britain’s leading exhibitors.
This is, without a doubt, the must-have reference book for any budgerigar fancier. • The Budgerigar by Dr Rob Marshall is printed in hardcover by Rob Marshall. ISBN: 9780646506686. Price: $AU114, plus $35 shipping charge. Bulk orders are cheaper. To order direct from the publisher, visit this website or tel: 0061 2 9871 7113 (have your credit card details ready). Or enter our competition to win a copy. We have five to give away. See page 5 of this week's issue, dated September 10.

In this week's issue (September 10)

Top tips on breeding, showing and muling a favourite British bird, the linnet.
Bill Naylor pays tribute to the beautiful and quirky white-crested jay thrush.
Bird curator Ian Hadgkiss shares his strong views on conservation and captive breeding.
We meet Dave Edwards, the organiser of the next Zebra Finch Society Club Show.
Nick West explores the musical world of roller canaries.
Judy Higgins explains what to do with your surplus budgerigars.
And we offer you the chance to win a copy of The Budgerigar, a superb book valued at around £59. We have five to give away.
This week's issue also comes with a handy 8-page supplement from The Birdcare Company PLUS a catalogue for the National Bird Show of the Year.


The bittern is back

Just in case you missed yesterday's flurry of news stories about the remarkable comeback of the bittern, a bird declared extinct in 1880, here's a round-up of links:


Bird art to go under the hammer

Two striking posters of Australian birds by the late artist and designer Dame Eileen Mayo look set to be star attractions at a London auction this week. 
The two lots at the Christie’s sale of vintage travel posters feature the Banksian cockatoo and the emu. 

The works are expected to fetch £1,500-£2,000 each. The sale is on September 9. Contact Nicolette Tomkinson or Sophie Churcher, tel: 020 7752 3206.


What's on this weekend?

EVENT: Croydon & District BS open show – the “Champagne Classic”. WHEN: Sunday, September 6. WHERE: Centenary Hall, Wheelers Lane, Smallfield, nr Horley, Surrey. WHAT’S IT ALL ABOUT: It’s the club’s silver Jubilee year. Birds accepted 7-8.30pm (Sat), 8-9.15am (Sun).
OPEN TO PUBLIC: 2pm. Adults £1.50, U-12s free
TO FIND OUT MORE: Contact show secretary, tel: 01732 845717.


Editor's letter (September 3 issue)

One of the more common questions I get asked as editor of this title is whether I can name any famous people who keep birds. Aside from the stock response of Geoff Capes, I’m usually at a loss.
We know that American actress Angelina Jolie reportedly keeps an African grey and only recently someone tipped me off that Craig Phillips, the chap that won the first Big Brother back in 2000, was looking to purchase an owl. (Craig who?)
A friend in Sydney recently emailed me to say that the Premier of NSW, Nathan Rees, had admitted on radio that he has kept parrots and lovebirds for most of his adult life. Apparently he made the admission when the presenter of the morning breakfast show confessed he was not going to allow his daughter to get a pet bird.
“I have a couple of little ones (budgies) on the nest at the moment, and if you’re interested they’ll be ready in four weeks – and I’ll throw in the cage,” the Premier reportedly said.
Now, I’m not sure what kind of popularity Mr Rees enjoys, but surely a man in his position endorsing the keeping of birds can only be a good thing. Of course, we know John Randall (Conservative MP for Uxbridge) keeps birds, having featured him in an article in these fair pages several years ago, but can you imagine how the profile of this hobby would be lifted if a Cabinet minister confessed he kept budgerigars or canaries? 
Better still, imagine if the Prime Minister came out and said he was building an aviary in the back of Number 10!
So, if you know anyone who could be a poster boy – or girl – for the hobby, do let us know. We birdkeepers need all the good publicity we can get...


In this week's issue (September 3)

The celestial parrotlet: could it be the next big thing for breeders and exhibitors?
The Fischer's lovebird is under threat: here's what you can do to help ensure its survival.
Are zebra finches ideal birds for beginners? Two fanciers take opposing sides in our monthly hot debate.
Judy Higgins explains why breeding budgerigars is a lifetime commitment.
We introduce a new weekly series celebrating avicultural favourites: this week it's the Bengalese finch.
Plus lots, lots more, including a comprehensive round-up of all the open shows happening in October.


Animal hypnosis

If you've ever wanted to know how to hypnotize a bird, well, just take a look at this video! I'm not sure why exactly you would want to do it, but I think I'd feel more comfortable trying it on a pigeon or chicken than an alligator!


What's on this weekend?

EVENT: Somerset BS Gold Patronage Open Show.
WHEN: Sunday August 30.
WHERE: Bridgwater Sports & Social Club, Bath Road, Bridgwater.
WHAT’S IT ALL ABOUT: President Tim Potter has donated £200 from his annual bingo evening to the club’s cash prize fund. A special enhanced prize list and trophies will be open to paying club members.
TO FIND OUT MORE: Tel: 01278 455621.


Editor's letter (August 27 issue)

One of the most important roles in any bird club is that of publicity officer. You need to be enthusiastic, well organised and confident, but you also need to be imaginative in order to come up with good ideas to promote your club. And you need to know what the media wants – and how they prefer it to be delivered.
I mention this because recently a reader grumbled to me that the only way his club could gain coverage in the pages of Cage & Aviary Birds was if he changed its name to Wirral Birdkeepers, or the Budgerigar Society of Ireland. I told him this was rubbish.
The reason those two clubs get coverage in our pages is not because we favour them over any other club, but because they continually let us know what is going on. Both clubs regularly send out press releases by email and make themselves available, either by email or phone, if we need to find out more. And they send pictures and a report after the event for inclusion.
Other clubs could learn a lot from the ways in which these organisations promote themselves.
The Wirral Birdkeepers are to be particularly commended for being so incredibly pro-active and imaginative in spreading the word about their activities. This coming weekend they’re attempting to break a world record (see News, page 3, in this week's issue) and attracting all kinds of media coverage, including local radio and press, as a result. This is brilliant for them, but also brilliant for birdkeeping as a whole, because it presents the hobby in a positive light.
So instead of complaining that Wirral Birdkeepers gets too much attention in Cage & Aviary Birds, how about taking a leaf out of their book and telling us all the great things your club is doing to promote the hobby? You know our address...

'Missing' species: have you seen them?

If you've read this week's issue (dated August 27) you will know that BirdLife International is on the lookout for 47 species of bird that have not been seen for up to 184 years. 
Here's the list in full:
Africa: Alaotra Grebe; Archer's Lark; Liberian Greenbul; and Slender-billed Curlew. Asia: Banggai Crow; Blue-fronted Lorikeet; Crested Shelduck; Himalayan Quail; Javan Lapwing; Negros Fruit-dove; Pink-headed Duck; Rueck's Blue-flycatcher; Siau Scops-owl; Silvery Wood-pigeon; Slender-billed Curlew; Sulu Bleeding-heart; and White-eyed River-martin. Australasia: Beck's Petrel; Makira Moorhen; New Caledonian Lorikeet; New Caledonian Owlet-nightjar; New Caledonian Rail; and Night Parrot. Caribbean: Bachman's Warbler; Ivory-billed Woodpecker; Jamaica Petrel; Jamaican Pauraque; and Semper's Warbler. Central America: Guadalupe Storm-petrel and Imperial Woodpecker. Europe: Slender-billed curlew. North America: Bachman's Warbler; Eskimo Curlew; Ivory-billed Woodpecker; Nukupuu (Hawaii); Oahu Alauahio (Hawaii); Olomao (Hawaii); Ou (Hawaii); and Poo-uli (Hawaii). Oceania: Nukupuu; Oahu Alauahio; Olomao; Ou; Pohnpei Starling; Poo-uli; Red-throated Lorikeet; and Samoan Moorhen. South America: Antioquia Brush-finch; Blue-eyed Ground-dove; Eskimo Curlew; Glaucous Macaw; Hooded Seedeater; Kinglet Calyptura; Rio de Janeiro Antwren; Spix's Macaw; Tachira Antpitta; and Turquoise-throated Puffleg.


In this week's issue (August 27)

Want to breed top-quality canaries that will do well on the show bench? We have some handy tips on how you can boost your odds of achieving exhibition success.
We meet top Dutch budgerigar breeder Jac Cuyten.
Paul Cotton explains the essentials of purchasing healthy lovebirds.
Our weekly British bird file tells you everything you need to know about keeping, breeding and showing blackcaps.
Vet Brian Stockdale explains how and why birds can favour a gender bias, while vet Kevin Eatwell takes us through the diagnosis of a parrot that had gone very quiet and lost weight. 
Plus all the usual news, and show reports from across the UK and Eire.


Skateboarding budgie

How's this for a clever budgerigar?
He can also play basketball, football, rugby, tennis and American football.
For the full story and more pictures see this week's issue (dated August 27) on sale Thursday.


Park celebrates captive-breeding of a beach stone-curlew

How's this for a pair of feet? 

They belong to a beach stone-curlew chick (Esacus neglectus), the first to be bred in captivity.

The bird was hatched at the Territory Wildlife Park (TWP) near Darwin, Australia. The park was also the first to keep this scarce species - it is listed as Near-threatened on the Red List of the International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN) - in captivity.

TWP assistant curator life sciences, Damien Stanioch, said: “Beach stone-curlews are choosy about their habitat and will only live and nest in areas with the right balance of mangroves, sand and rocks to assist survival of the chick. This newborn chick represents a great success in the breeding and research programme at the park.”

The beach stone-curlew has become rare on the eastern coast of Australia. It lays only one egg on the beach, just above the high-tide mark. This habit has left the species vulnerable to habitat loss and predation, since it needs undisturbed open beaches, exposed reefs, mangroves and tidal sand.  

Mr Stanioch said: “Beach stone-curlews have to contend with a great deal of environmental pressures. They must not only fend off birds of prey, egg-stealing monitors and other predators, but must lay their egg between the king tides to ensure an incubation period of 30 days.

“We didn’t really know whether they would successfully breed in captivity, given that the parents themselves were hand-raised to help them adjust into a captive environment.”

The chick is expected to live in the family unit for about 18 months – as in the wild, helping to raise the next season’s chick before becoming independent.

We first reported on this story in our August 20, 2009 issue.


What's on this weekend?

EVENT: Southern Classic Budgerigar Silver Championship Open Show.
WHEN: Saturday August 22. Open to the public at 2.30pm.
WHERE: Lancing Parish Halls, Lancing, West Sussex BN15 8AJ.
WHAT’S IT ALL ABOUT: This show offers a warm welcome to experienced show-goers and newcomers alike.
TO FIND OUT MORE: Contact Malcolm Parsons, tel: 01903 246297


Editor's letter (August 20 issue)

Having recently survived a major refurbishment of my flat, I know how difficult it can be to find a suitable place to keep things in storage while the builders are hard at work. Bird clubs up and down the country that stage annual shows will know what I’m talking about. Where, for instance, do you put all that show staging when it’s not required?
Regular contributor Jim Addison shares a funny tale about this very subject which is bound to resonate with many of you. In Jim’s article “So where do you keep yours?” (see this week's issue, page 10), he recounts how one set of club staging has lived in an old folks’ home, a greenhouse and various attics. If only staging could talk, what a tale this particular lot would have to tell – especially as it seems to have been on the move for about 40 years!
If you have a similar tale to tell about your club’s difficulties in keeping the staging safe when it’s not needed, or, better still, a solution that might work for others, then do write in and let us know. 
In other news, it’s great to see some interesting captive breeding successes being recorded in zoos and bird parks this year. In this week’s issue we report on a world first – a beach stone-curlew in Australia – and a surprise shy giant wood-rail here in the UK (see page 3 in this week's issue for both stories).
Finally, if you don’t mind the odd tipple, don’t forget to enter our competition to win a case of 20 bottled beers from around the world. We have four to give away, and each case is worth £29.95. To enter, turn to page 5 of this week's issue, fill in the entry form and send it to us by the September 30 closing date. Good luck!


Police smash canary-fighting ring

Regular readers of our print edition may remember that we ran a story in our August 6 issue about a canary-fighting ring being smashed in the US. 

Yes, you read that right: a canary-fighting ring. 

Police confiscated more than 150 canaries and saffron finches that were apparently being primed for bird fighting, along with $US8,000 in cash, after a raid on a suburban house in Shelton, Connecticut on July 26. A total of 19 people were charged with cruelty to animals and illegal gambling.

Here's how one US TV station covered the story.

In this week's issue (August 20)

Madagascar lovebirds are dying out in captivity but we meet a breeder who is bucking the trend.
We meet a woman who has opened her home to unwanted parrots as part of Birdline UK's volunteer rehoming scheme.
We also meet a South African birdkeeper who keeps kookaburras.
In this week's British bird file we take a look at an old favourite, the blackbird.
Judy Higgins introduces the yellowface albino budgerigar.
Plus all the usual news, letters, club and show reports from across the country.
And don't forget to enter our competition to win one of four cases of world beers, valued at £29.95, courtesy of Beer Here.


For those who love lovebirds

I often get asked for tips and advice on keeping lovebirds, particularly by bird lovers who are new to the hobby and didn't really know what they were getting themselves into. They're beautiful little birds so you can understand how they would appeal so much to new fanciers, but they can also be quite vicsious little things! Here are a few short videos, though, that cover some of the basics. If you're thinking about getting a lovebird for the first time, the advice in these videos should get you off to a flying start.


What's on this week

EVENT: Welsh Zebra Finch Society show WHEN: Sunday, August 16 WHERE: Barry Comprehensive School, Port Road, Barry. WHAT'S IT ALL ABOUT: The society prides itself in the engraved crystal glass trophies it awards to all section winners. Entry is set at 50p per cage and refreshments will be readily available to entrants. TO FIND OUT MORE: Tel: 01446 711243 evenings or weekends.


Editor's letter (August 13 issue)

How ironic. I have followed the worldwide spread of avian flu with keen interest, for obvious reasons, over the past four or more years, so when swine flu came along, I breathed a sigh of relief. I imagine many of you did likewise. At last, our birds were seemingly off the hook, and pigs were in the firing line.
So imagine my shock and horror to come down with a suspected case of swine flu last week. I say “suspected” because I will never know if it was the real deal. GPs are refusing to see patients with flu-like symptoms (to stop the spread of the virus in waiting rooms – or “petri dishes” as I like to call them) so there’s no chance of having a swab taken to confirm the presence of H1N1.
Indeed, it looks like the only way you can confirm if you are infected with H1N1 is if you are admitted to hospital with respiratory problems or die of the disease. Fortunately, my dose wasn’t that serious.
My symptoms included a high fever, aches and pains, a thumping headache and a throat that felt like I’d swallowed a dozen razorblades. It was “cured” by lots of bed rest (try five days), about two boxes of paracetamol, countless Strepsils and a sympathetic partner who provided lots of soothing drinks, hot soup and the odd bit of toast.
Funnily enough, the box of Tamiflu I acquired after filling out the NHS Direct assessment form online remained unopened. It’s only effective if you start taking the anti-viral medication within 48 hours of the first symptoms appearing, and I got my script a little too late. I expect at some point in the future it may come in useful – particularly if it turns out that my latest illness wasn’t swine flu at all.
Tamiflu is being issued free of charge, but you’re only entitled to one box – ever. I’d hate to think I wasted it!


In this week's issue (August 13)

A fond look at how the zebra finch became a popular caged bird in the UK.
How to produce live food on a budget.
9 products to keep your parrot happy.
Why black beaks aren't good news when it comes to baby budgerigars.
A quick overview of that lovely British bird, the black redstart.
We meet Yorkshire canary fancier Stephen Nicholl.


Fly like a bird

Check out what some of our boys overseas did to their helicopter! This very special Mi-24 helicopter is presently flying in Afghanistan , where it is no doubt causing quite a stir.


What's on this week

EVENT: Hastings BS Open Show WHEN: Sunday, August 9 WHERE: Village Hall, Main Street, Northiam, Rye. WHAT'S IT ALL ABOUT: Visitors and competitors alike are welcome to Hastings BS's big show of the year. The club's members will also be on hand to offer newcomers practical advice on keeping and breeding budgerigars. TO FIND OUT MORE: Tel" 01424 714397


Editor's Letter (August 6)

The now-defunct National Cage & Aviary Birds Exhibition, which ran for 60 years, holds a very special place in birdkeeping history. Sadly, I never got to attend this landmark event, because by the time I joined the staff of Cage & Aviary Birds, in May 2005, the last 'National' had been held (in 2003) and the 2004 event cancelled. For various reasons ­ political, financial and legal ­ it has not been held since. And yet the importance of the event, upon which the whole of the exhibition fancy once revolved, has not gone unnoticed by Yours Truly. I still meet fanciers who tell me about the National and how much they miss it. We still hear the odd rumour or two about clubs or various individuals wanting to resurrect it. Unfortunately, IPC Media, the company that publishes Cage & Aviary Birds and staged the National, is no longer in a position to run such a large event (the cost, alone, would be astronomical in today's current market), which is why under my editorship I have done what I can to support the Parrot Society's (PS) quest to develop a national cage bird exhibition to move on from where we left off. Initially, many fanciers viewed the PS's Bird Show of the Year with some scepticism, if not a little touch of hostility. But with nothing else to fill the void in the birdkeeping calendar left by the National, more and more clubs, societies and avicultural firms have got behind it. Last year's event had a real buzz about it ­ and this year's, to be held in October, looks set to be even bigger and better. Here at Cage & Aviary Birds we are more than happy to lend the word 'National' to the show's new, extended name ­ The National Bird Show of the Year ­ and hope that those of you who haven't attended in the past will do so in the future.


In this week's issue (August 6)

Hot news on this year's Bird Show of the Year! We reveal that it is to adopt a new name – the National Bird Show.
Leading Java sparrow fanciers offer their expert tips on how to keep and breed these star hardbills. By Brent Jackson.
Are exhibition budgerigars big and ugly? In Hot Debate, Jim Wright says Yes and Roy Stringer says No. Who do you agree with?
Top budgerigar showman Ray Steele asks, is it in our birds' best interest to try to emulate their wild conditions in captivity?
If your canary breeding season has gone awry, don't miss Brian Keenan's article on how you can kick-start it.
Plus there's a young lady on page 16 we think you ought to see!


Forget pigeon racing...

I've often wondered what would win in a running race between a penguin and an ostrich. After viewing this video evidence, I have to say I'm still none the wiser. I should also point out that the whole 'ostriches sticking their heads in the sand when there scared' thing is a myth!


What's on this week

EVENT: Southend & District B&FBS 53rd Open Championship Show WHEN: Sunday, August 2 WHERE: Hadleigh Hall, John Burrows, Recreation Ground, Rectory Road (off A13), Hadleigh, Essex SS7 1NA. WHAT'S IT ALL ABOUT: Entry 50p per cage (25p for juniors and sales). Judging commences at 9.30am; doors open to the public at 2.30pm TO FIND OUT MORE: Contact Ghalib Al-Nasser. tel: 01787 282332, al-nasser@cbb4u.co.uk


Editor's letter (July 30 issue)

Saving the Gouldian finch in the wild is a big and expensive exercise. That’s the expert view of Mike Fidler, the British aviculturist and Gouldian lover, who went to Australia and set up a special conservation fund to save one of the world’s most endangered birds.
Mike, who has penned this week’s cover story, is co-founder of the Save the Gouldian Fund (STGF), which has been up and running since 2005. Many of you will already be familiar with the STFG’s work given that numerous bird clubs in the UK provide financial support. But for those of you who haven’t heard about it, the STFG is tasked with promoting awareness and funding scientific research into the decline of this beautiful Australian native species, whose numbers are estimated at just 2,500 mature birds in the wild.
One of the driving forces behind the STFG’s establishment was Mike’s desire to give something back to nature but also to reverse birdkeeping’s negative image. “With STGF we have a genuine chance to save the Gouldian,” he writes. “And if we do that, what better publicity could aviculture get?”
You can read all about the STFG, including its aims and ongoing research activities, on pages 14 & 15 of this week's issue. If you feel inspired to do your bit, then visit the Save the Gouldian Fund website to make a donation or send a cheque/money order (preferably in Australian dollars) payable to Save The Gouldian Fund to: SAVE THE GOULDIAN FUND, PO BOX 147, COORANBONG, NSW 2265, AUSTRALIA.
We plan on covering more of the fund’s work in future issues, so if you have any questions for Mike, do let us know and we’ll forward them on for a response.
In the meantime, if you keep Gouldian finches, why not pen us an article about them and share your experiences with other fanciers. You don’t need to be the world’s best writer as we’ll edit it here to read correctly, plus we’ll pay you for your efforts. Drop me an email to find out more…


In this week's issue (July 30)

Mike Fidler describes the splendid work of the Save the Gouldian Fund to conserve the dazzling Gouldian finch in its Aussie homeland.
We ask whether the much-reviled sparrowhawk is really guilty of the many crimes that it's accused of.
Brian Keenan shares his memories of an amazing day judging 600 Yorkshire canaries in Istanbul.
Asian starlings and mynas are profiled by experienced fancier Rob Monk.
Champion showman Bernard Howlett starts a new A-Z series on his favourite birds - British. Bernard kicks off with the lively accentor or dunnock.
And our news team lifts the lid on another wacky "birds for sale" internet scam - Pekin robins like you've never seen! 
Don't miss it...

Full details of the Budgerigar Society's 2009 show announced

THE BUDGERIGAR SOCIETY’S CLUB SHOW 2009 On Saturday and Sunday 26th & 27th September, at The Dome, Doncaster Now is the time when exhibitors, and non-exhibitors, BS members and non-members who like shows, look forward to the Show Season. Hopefully prominent in their thoughts (with their own local show) will be THE National Budgerigar event – The BS Club Show. This year, the Club Show Committee have introduced a number of changes which we hope will both enhance the event, and encourage more fanciers to exhibit -- and perhaps enter birds in our Sales Classes, which is always a very busy and successful market place! More of this later. Main Arrangements:- THE JUDGES selected for this great event are:- Bob Allen (Western Counties B& FBS) Roy Aplin (Western Counties B & FBS), Ray Brown (Yorkshire BS), Eric Evill (South Midlands BB), Marlene Ferguson (Scottish BS), Bob Francis (BS President) , Don Havenhand (Yorkshire BS), Keith Leedham (Midland Budgerigar Association),Michael Little (Northern BS), Robert McLean (Scottish BS), Gren Norris (Lincolnshire & East Anglia BS), Pat Norris (Lincolnshire & East Anglia BS), Bob Travnicek (United States of America), Trevor Treheege (Former Trainee judge of the Year),Gary Warren (Welsh BS) These will be augmented by four extra judges, engaged to speed up the selection of birds for the section line-ups. Those four judges have been selected from next year’s list of colour judges for next year’s show. • ENTRIES CLOSING DATE. Many fanciers have, over the years, said that they are reluctant to enter birds because of the gap between entries day and the Show date,the closing date for entries will be Tuesday 15th September. There will also be space on the entry form for exhibitors' email address so that they can sent confirmation of receipt of entries • STEWARDS The Budgerigar Society’s Team of Stewards has an enviable reputation for its hard work and efficiency, throughout the show from the erection of staging on the Friday to its dismantling on the Sunday night. Would you like to be part of this ‘happy band’ ? If so, please contact Pete Smith, 32 Wakefield Road, Snydale, Pontefract, West Yorks WF7 6BT Telephone:01977 780102 Email wfpete70@aol Or Dave Hislop 389 North Drive, Cleveleys, Lancs FY5 3PF Tel: 01253 855894 Email dave.Hislop@btinternet.com Preferences will be given to stewards prepared to help in addition to Saturday morning. The stewards list will close at the end of August, or when sufficient numbers have been reached. • BOOKING IN ARRANGEMENTS Birds will now also be accepted on the Saturday morning of the show, to make it easier for many fanciers who do not like their birds to spend more one night away from home --and of course to reduce accommodation costs to those exhibitors. Exhibitors will be asked, on their entry form, to specify whether they will bring their birds on the Friday night or the Saturday morning. This will allow the Show Management team to anticipate the number of stewards they will need for checking in duties on each day. We would ask fanciers to let us know of any subsequent change to that declared booking-in date, by phone to Dave Hislop or Pete Smith – phone details will be in the schedule Fanciers bringing their birds on the Saturday morning are particularly asked to be prompt. Birds will be received on that day from 7:30am to 9:30am ( Friday times are 2pm to 10pm) JUDGING commences at 10am prompt SEMINARS COMMENCE 10am SHOW OPEN TO PUBLIC It is envisaged that the show will be open by 3:30, on completion of judging. Fanciers will appreciate that this is the start of a new procedure and we would ask them to understand that there may be some variance on this – a little time either side. To help to achieve this timing, arrangements have been put into place to minimize the time taken in judging, as stated in the judging paragraph above. For this same reason, for example, there will be no individual introduction of the judges as they appear to take part in judging the major specials, because of the additional time that this ceremony takes. We feel that this will not detract from the overall spectacle of Best in Show ,etc judging. Obviously, all such procedures will be reviewed for future events. • CAR PARKING Exhibitors with 20 or more birds to bench will be provided with a facility to enable them to get closer to the hall for unloading and loading their birds. • SALES CLASSES. There is NO separate admission charge for entry in to the Sales arena this year. The £3 bird per Sales bird entry fee will remain. Notices will be displayed to confirm that birds can only be sold to BS/ or Area Society members, because of DEFRA regulations, so members are asked to advise their local fanciers who are not currently members of at least their Area society that this regulation will be followed. • ADVERTISING RATES: Area/Specialist Societies will be charged £15 per half page, £25 per full page, offering a considerable reduction on the commercial rates. • SPECIAL AWARDS remain in the excellent hands of Ken Whiting, but have been amended. The awards will be crystal for Best in Show, Best Young Bird, Best Any Age, Best Opposite Sex Any Age & Best Opposite Sex Young Bird, Smaller Crystal awards for Any Age and Young bird in each section. All such items to be engraved and in presentation boxes. Juniors will receive sports vouchers and a framed certificate. Judges and speakers’ memento to be a framed coloured certificate. • Prize money to remain the same, for Section Awards down to 5th place in each section ( Juniors down to 3rd). • Admission charges are also held at £6. Catalogues will be on sale at £5 -- by post £6. • Sections down to 20 as before for the Premier Area Breeder Competition; • PHOTOGRAPHY; Fanciers are again asked to note that there is no photography allowd until the show open and No flash photography by any other than the official show photographers". • The Australian Finch Society Club Show, held in conjunction with our 2008 , for the first time, proved such a success for both organisations that the format is to be repeated this year, enhanced by more varieties catered for by the Australian Finch society. • The Rare Variety & Colour BS have offered to present a display of birds of the different varieties on that society’s stand. Hopefully all our visitors ( aspiring judges) will take the opportunity to study and compare the different varieties that appear on the judging/show bench. DEFRA regulations will, of course, be fully complied with. Further details will be reported as and when they are finalized, and all aspects of “CLUB SHOW WEEK-END”, including details of the Seminars, The Annual Dinner Dance, Bowling night and all such peripheral events will be covered in those reports All in all, NOW is probably the time for local and Area Societies to arrange Coach parties to the show. Make this marvellous event part of your society’s activities and help to draw fanciers to you local societies as well as this national event !! And, for the future ………….Show Date for 2010 - 2nd/3rd October Show Date for 2011 - lst/2nd October Finally, a rather important, if disturbing issue:- DO YOU WATCH AND ENJOY RED NOSE DAY, INCLUDING THE VARIOUS AUCTIONS WHICH TAKE PLACE ? DO YOU FIND THE (USUALLY) EXORBITANT PRICES PAID UNREASONABLE, because most folk cannot afford the top prices offered - or is it OK to help a “GOOD CAUSE”? There had been some controversy this year over the Auction of Promises, which has stood the BS Club Show finances in good stead, thus allowing Entry fees, Admission charges, etc to be kept down.. Apparently, some members who witnessed this popular feature have criticised the large sums that some of the items raised, feeling that this may give an undue message about the cost of the fancy for ordinary and possibly new members. This reaction is rather disappointing, and the committee feels that the fanciers who have expressed such concern have missed the point of the whole exercise. The Auction of Promises is, very much like so many similar events that most of us have witnessed on the television and other large events (e.g “Red Nose Day”) – a charity auction, at which the money raised often bears little relationship to the commercial value of some of the goods on offer. It is an entertaining way for such benefactors of the society to make their donations and give financial backing to an event which incurs such considerable costs. To describe such transactions as a ridiculous amount of money being spent ignores the fact that such ‘good works’ give a lot of folk a lot of pleasure and therefore do not deserve to be criticized so strongly. This ‘criticism’ out of the way, I feel that I must stress that the Show committee is greatly encouraged by the letters received from members. It is good that so many of our fanciers have the welfare of the society at heart to the extent that they take the trouble to ‘put pen to paper’ to express their thoughts. We urge such members to keep their contributions coming – on all matters pertaining to Club Show week-end Dave Herring BS Publicity Officer


Handy links

Here are three web links we’ve added to our Bookmarks list recently - all essential for the serious bird person, we reckon.

www.worldbirdnames.org/ Website of the International Ornithological Congress. Sounds heavy, but lets you download a checklist of all the world’s bird species, with recommended scientific and English names, which keeps up with the latest changes in taxonomy. Could save you a lot of money on a big fat book!

www.jncc.gov.uk/page-4341 Tells you what all those Schedules of the Wildlife and Countryside Act 1981 mean. Up to date, too.

www.iucnredlist.org/ Tells you the official threat category (Endangered, Vulnerable, etc) for any species you choose - not just birds.


Rare laughingthrush on video

In the July 2 Cage & Aviary Birds, Nick West described how aviculturists are saving the extremely rare blue-crowned laughingthrush. By coincidence, only last month, a birdwatcher filmed a flock of these lovely birds in the wild, probably for the first time. This hand-held footage (with sound!) was taken near the village of Wuyuan in south-east China - just about the only place where this incredibly rare species (here called Courtois's laughingthrush) can be found outside aviculture. 


What's on this week

EVENT: Hull Budgerigar Society Annual show WHEN: Sunday, July 26 WHERE: Milburn Liesure Centre, Wheeler Street, Anlaby Road, Hull. WHAT'S IT ALL ABOUT: More than 400 birds are expected from all over the UK. There's a tombola and raffle, a bar and refreshments of tea, coffee and cakes. Show opens to the public at 1pm. Admission is £1.50 per adult. OAPs and children 50p. TO FIND OUT MORE: Contact Colin Brockwell, tel: 01482 532039.


Editor's letter (July 23 issue)

It's that time of year again, when budgerigar clubs up and down the country begin holding their club shows. Indeed, some, such as South Hampshire BS and Darlington & Spennymoor BS, have already held theirs, and there’s a handful more scheduled for this coming weekend.
As ever, the subject of exhibition budgies will no doubt raise its (big ugly?) head, whether at the shows themselves or via my email inbox. During last year’s show season I received many emails (none of which were for publication) which claimed that the breeding of budgerigars had gone too far. 
Some questioned whether it was detrimental to the fancy to keep breeding big, brow-headed birds that look nothing like the wild budgerigars from which they descend. 
Others claimed that the quest for size meant that the birds’ feathering had altered to the “point of no return”.
Personally, I do not think it is the Editor’s job to decide what a show budgerigar should look like – that is the role of the Budgerigar Society. Still, I thought it an interesting topic to debate: are exhibition budgerigars big and ugly? Regular contributor Jim Wright and editor-at-large Roy Stringer have agreed to battle it out – in a most gentlemanly manner, of course – in our next Hot Debate, which runs in the August 6 issue.
Obviously, it would be great to hear what you, the reader, think of this issue, whether you breed and keep budgerigars or not. If you’d care to send your thoughts, in roughly 50 words, to us by next Friday (July 31), we’ll choose a selection to run on the page. Please send to the usual address or email us with ‘Hot Debate’ in the subject line.
In the meantime, best of luck on the show bench!


In this week's issue (July 23)

Geoff Masson explains the intricate delicacy of helping to breed hornbills in captivity.
Pauline James meets a breeder of white-fronted Amazons.
Brian Keenan looks at colour feeding canaries.
Judy Higgins provides some hot tips on keeping budgerigars on a tight budget.
Vet Neil Forbes issues some advice on avoiding tick-related diseases in your birds, while vet Kevin Eatwell takes us through an ill parrot's diagnosis step-by-step.
Plus lots, lots more!


Free range roosters that like to shop

How's this for a quirky story? Four roosters have set up home on a building site in Brisbane, Australia. And if that wasn't surreal enough, the funny foursome cross the road every day where they amuse themselves in a local shopping centre. You can read the full story via the Pine Rivers Press.


Event of the week: Darlington & Spennymoor BS Open Show

EVENT: Darlington & Spennymoor BS open show.
WHEN: Sunday July 12.
WHERE: Greenfield Comprehensive School, Newton Aycliffe DL5 7LF.
WHAT’S IT ALL ABOUT: Everyone interested in budgerigars will receive a warm welcome at the open show, whether they’re showing birds or not. John Alcock, Peter Hutchinson and Adrian Richards will be on hand to take care of the judging duties.
TO FIND OUT MORE: Contact the show secretary, Ian Clarke. Tel: 01325 311562.


Editor's letter (July 16 issue)

If we ever run short of letters to print in our newspaper, we have a sure-fire way of generating a response: simply get someone to take a pop at sparrowhawks
Yes, our mail bag has been bulging at the seams ever since one correspondent wrote in to tell us he blamed the sparrowhawk for the decline in the songbird population (“Hawks to blame?” June 4).
So many of you jumped to the sparrowhawk’s defense I’ve been unable to publish every letter, particularly as some ran to pages and pages. (Please note, a letter’s more likely to be published if it’s less than 250 words.)
There’s obviously something about birds of prey that gets people all worked up. While most of our readers aren’t falconers, I get the impression that most of you admire these birds for their beauty and majesty. How many of us haven’t been awe-inspired when seeing such birds up close and personal, whether in the wild or at flying demonstrations at local festivals or falconry centres.
Indeed, these birds are so popular, more than 10,000 people turned up to last weekend’s International Festival of Falconry in Reading (see page 3 of this week's issue.)
But despite their adoration, many birds of prey continue to be killed in the wild even though it is illegal to do so. Recently the RSPB asked bird enthusiasts to sign an online pledge to demand an end to this illegal killing. In just two days more than 10,000 people had added their names (see Week in Numbers, page 5, in this week's issue).
The illegal trade of these birds (and their eggs) is also on the rise, according to the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species (CITES), which published a Guide to Falconry Species last week. The guide aims to curb the illegal trade by making these birds clearly identifiable to the public, poachers and law enforcement officials around the globe.


In this week's issue (July 16)

How to spot whether you have a winning bird in your exhibition stud of budgerigars.
Our parrot columnist Dot Schwarz reports on last month's International Parrot Symposium in Dublin.
Bill Naylor salutes the diamond firetail finch from Australia.
Brian Keenan argues that the Yorkshire canary fancy needs a whole new approach to judging.
Terry Gonsolvis tells us how he breeds zosterops (white-eyes) and bulbuls.
British bird fancier Roger Tippett pays tribute to the redpoll.
Plus lots, lots more.

6,000 visitors

Overnight we clocked our 6,000th visitor to this blog. 
Please note that about 5,000 of those visits have been made by Cage & Aviary Birds staff since we launched this humble little blog back in January
Well, you've got to keep track of what your colleagues are doing...


Rare parrot flies north in search of food

Photograph reproduced from Wikipedia under a Creative Commons Attribution 2.0 License. 
Birdwatchers in mainland Australia are being treated to a rare sight: flocks of swift parrots have been spied in south-east New South Wales.
The species, which breeds on the island state of Tasmania, is endangered with only about 1,000 pairs remaining in the wild. The birds normally migrate between Tasmania and the west of the Great Dividing Range (the mountain range that runs along the eastern seaboard), but scientists believe the drought has forced them to migrate further north than usual in search of food.
You can find out more via this story on the ABC news site.


Club fundraising: Andy sacrifices 15 years' worth of flowing locks to boost club coffers

Left: Andrew Parsons, with 15 years worth of long, flowing golden locks. Right: Andrew Parsons, after his sponsored haircut!
You've got to hand it to Andy Parsons of Clwyd Budgerigar Society. Although he doesn't look too happy in the shot on the right, he should be. Thanks to his recent sacrificial sponsored haircut, he helped raised around £200 for club coffers.
If your club is doing anything unusual to raise club funds then do let us know -- we'd love to cover it here, on the blog, and in our newspaper, giving you two bites of the cherry, as it were.
Either leave us a comment below or email us at the address in the menu bar on the right.


Event of the week: The International Festival of Falconry

Looking for something to do this weekend? Then don't miss the second International Festival of Falconry taking place at the Enfield Estate, near Reading, Berkshire, today, Saturday and Sunday.
Organisers, the UK Hawk Board (the umbrella body for UK falconers), and sponsors, Emirates Falconers’ Club, are expecting more than 10,000 people over the weekend. 
The event will bring together people from 50 nations representing Europe, Arabia, Central and Southern Asia and South America. There will be displays, parades and opportunities to learn and share knowledge about falconry and a wide range of falconry-related activities including breeding, training, desert culture, wildlife conservation and leather craft.
Some of the highlights:
Royal Gift: His Highness Sheikh Sultan bin Tahnoon Al Nahyan will present Prince Andrew with the gift of a gyrfalcon at the festival on Sunday. Grand Parade: Each day the Festival will close with a grand parade, where representatives from the different nations will participate in traditional costume, with their hawks, falcons and eagles in a heart-stopping display of common purpose and love of sport. Children’s day: 500 local school children will visit the festival today and watch displays and receive tuition. The BBC’s Springwatch presenter Chris Packham will give a presentation about falconry in the main grandstand at 12.15. UNESCO: The Emirates Falconers’ Club is spearheading the international submission to UNESCO for falconry to be recognised as part of the world’s intangible cultural heritage. The festival will give the club the opportunity to engage with the attending UNESCO delegation and showcase the many facets of falconry on display.
For more information, including ticket prices, visit the official website.


Editor's letter (July 9 issue)

Hands up if you love fundraising! Hmm... thought so. And yet raising money is a key part of keeping bird clubs afloat – and never more so in these tough economic times. 
You can always raise your annual subscription to ensure your club stays out of the red, but it’s not always a popular move, which is why you need to find new, imaginative and fun ways to boost the coffers.
Clwyd Budgerigar Society is one club that has done just that. If you’ve read our news story on page 3 of this week's issue, then you will already know that it recently raised a welcome £500 through two key sponsored events. Andrew Parsons had all his hair shaved off while Fran Smith agreed to stay silent and not smoke for 30 minutes.
Last week we also reported on Wirral Birdkeepers’ unique fundraiser (“Wanted: 130kg of birdseed”, July 2) in which it plans to smash the record for building the world’s largest bird-feeder in August.
These kinds of initiatives are prime examples of thinking “outside of the box” to not only generate much-needed funds but garner some much-needed publicity too. Local newspapers and radio stations love covering these kinds of events (as do we at Cage & Aviary Birds), so it’s a great way of getting your club mentioned in the press. Such mentions can help to win the public over to your cause, as well as spreading the birdkeeping message and, who knows, you may attract a few new members to your club, too.
So, if you’re looking to raise club funds, think about doing something a bit different such as a sponsored event or breaking a world record. And, as ever, let us know about it so we can publicise your endeavour in our pages.


In this week's issue (July 9)

Nick West looks at efforts to save one of the world's most recognisable birds, the toucan, in British aviculture.
Rosemary Low visits the World Parrot Trust, which is celebrating its 20th anniversary, and interviews the curator of Paradise Park in Cornwall.
Our companion parrot columnist Dot Schwarz explains how she cooks for her birds - and why.
Jeff Hulme explains how he cage breeds linnets.
Brian Keenan shows you how to prepare your young canaries for the show bench.
Graeme Hyde highlights the gorgeous-looking wood duck from Australia.
Plus, don't miss your chance to win one of 10 DVDs we're giving away, courtesy of DVD Productions.


The sparrowhawk debate

I've got sparrowhawks on the brain at the moment. Not literally, but we've had so many letters about them recently that we decided to do some investigating to discover the truth about them. No doubt it will just generate more letters! So are sparrowhawks really destroying our songbird populations? Or are they being needlessly persecuted? Everyone has their own opinions on this, what seems to be the hottest of hot topics in the bird world at the moment. Keep your eyes peeled for our special report in an upcoming issue of Cage & Aviary Birds and maybe we can put the matter to rest once and for all!


A tea-light holder with bird feet

How's this for a freaky, avian-inspired, tea-light holder? Designed by Michael Hilgers on behalf of Rephorm, its bright orange feet appear to grip the balcony railing like a living bird.
There's a similar solar-powered light and an ashtray available.
But according to the official website shop, only the ashtray can be purchased. It retails for €34.90.  Just in case you were thinking of adding one to your real collection of living, breathing feathered friends.