Editor's letter (Feb 26 issue)

This past weekend I spied my first crocuses bursting through the earth, a vibrant splash of much-appreciated gold and purple. Coupled with the nights getting shorter, this can only mean one thing: Spring is almost here.
And judging by the numerous reports filtering into the office from birdkeepers up and down the country, our birds are already getting on with the job of breeding. 
The birds at Waddeson Manor aviary have been so keen to reproduce – despite the plunging temperatures earlier this month and the recent snow – that the staff there have already got two clutches from their black-and-white laughing-thrushes. Other birds, including the aviary’s Luzon bleeding-heart doves, have also hatched eggs.
If your birds are breeding earlier than expected, then do let us know about it by dropping us a line at the usual address. And if you have any theories about why you think this is happening, do share them with us.
Meanwhile we’re busy at this end preparing two breeding-themed issues for next month. Ever-rising production costs means we’re unable to bring you a bumper 40-page issue as we did last year. Instead, we’ll be producing two normal-sized issues but filling them with lots of informative and entertaining breeding features. These special issues go on sale on March 19 and March 26, as per usual, so do make a note in your diary.
Finally, in this issue we’re giving away a wonderful bird book, valued at £25, for every reader who fills in the coupon on page 18. You just need to pay postage and the Birds of Britain and Europe, published by the AA, is all yours. This 256-page reference work features more than 500 species, all lavishly illustrated and described. Even if you don’t want it for yourself, it might make a lovely gift for someone else...