Editor's letter (June 4 issue)

A few weeks ago I asked whether birdkeepers were interested in conservation (Editor’s Letter, May 21). And I’m pleased to see that the response has been positive, as the letters we have published in this week's issue will attest. Thank you to those who took the time to write; I hope others will follow suit.
This favourable response is in stark contrast to a show I attended last year in which one particular reader hounded me on the topic, insisting that it had no place in the pages of Cage & Aviary Birds and that he would cancel his subscription if we continued to run news stories of this nature!
Obviously, our editorial interests will always lie with captive birds. But we think it’s important to see the links between the birds we keep and their wild cousins. Surely we can learn from each other. If we know how birds behave in the wild, it might help us to understand their needs that little bit better in captivity; and in captivity we can study birds at close quarters to find out more about their habits that may help scientists out in the field.
My only concern is the ongoing belief that releasing captive-bred birds into the wild is a solution for dwindling populations. While it might sound like a wonderful concept, the very real fact is that captive-bred birds are generally conditioned to human contact, which would put them at risk if they were let out into the wild. And there’s also the issue of habitat loss. We could run the world’s most successful breeding programme of, say, red-tailed cockatoos, but if there’s no natural habitat and sustainable feeding grounds for them in the wild what would be the point?
There are obviously ways around this – running breeding projects with minimal human intervention and protecting habitats wherever possible. But this will only work if we all agree to work together, regardless of which “side” we are on.