Editor's letter (Feb 12 issue)

What a difference a week and a hemisphere makes.
Last week we struggled to put Cage & Aviary Birds to press because transport in London had been crippled by the blizzards. We limped in on Monday press day, got our heads down, finished the issue in record time – and then got out pronto before we risked being snowed in!
Now, a week later, on the other side of the world, my home state of Victoria, Australia, has suffered its worst-ever bushfire disaster, aided by furious hot winds and temperatures soaring up to 47.9°C (118°F).
My mother tells me that the native birds have been struggling with the hot, smoky conditions and desperate for water. She has been filling up her garden bird-baths and spent one morning with hose-pipe in hand surrounded by crimson rosellas, blue wrens and thrushes eager for water. Most just sit there with their beaks agape, eager to suck up every drop. 
In more than 30 years in rural Victoria and admiring the birdlife, she says she has never seen anything like it. And she suspects that things will only get worse. While the birds can fly out of danger zones, they then face a new challenge – finding reliable food supplies after the fires have gone out.
On another note, thanks to those who have called and supported our appeal to raise funds for Rachael Wakefield (News, February 5), who needs a life-saving double-lung transplant. The phone line is still open. Simply call 0904 160 0140 and follow the instructions to give your answer to the question: “In what year was Cage & Aviary Birds established?” Full competition rules are given on page 5 of this week’s issue.