Editor's letter (June 25 issue)

I’ve heard some interesting stories in my time, but when lovebird expert Dirk Van den Abeele got in touch recently to tell me about a lovebird hen that managed a virgin birth last Christmas I was lost for words. Apparently the hen had magically hatched an egg without ever having had contact with a male bird.
Initially I did wonder whether he might be pulling my leg, because I’d never heard of such a thing before. But, as as Dirk explains in his feature “A Christmas miracle?” (see page 11 of this week's issue), the process is called parthenogenesis and, while rare, it’s not unheard of.
If nothing else, this story just goes to show that birds are endlessly fascinating, and just when you think you have a handle on them, they do something so unusual or surprising that you realise you could never possibly know everything there is to know about them. Perhaps that’s what makes them such popular creatures, loved by so many, birdkeeper and non-birdkeeper alike.
Talking of surprises, I have to say this month’s article on fancy pigeons is sure to become a talking point. Is it just me, or do the legs on those striking pigmy pouter pigeons look a little too human? I’m sure there are supermodels out there who would kill to have a set of pins like the ones in Graham Bates’s piece entitled “Little smashers” (see page 13 of this week's issue).
Once you get over the quirkiness of their appearance, these do sound like terrific birds which are a pleasure to keep and a good challenge to breed if you’re looking to exhibit them.
And if that’s not enough quirkiness for you in one issue, don’t miss Jim Wright’s look at the half-sider budgerigar bred by the Freakley and Ainley partnership (see page 20 of this week's issue). We’ve published pictures of this particular bird before, but it still provokes a strong reaction.
Enjoy the issue!