Bird agencies are warning householders not to feed birds any of the leftover turkey fat this Christmas.
The RSPB said that many people believe they’re doing good putting out the old turkey dripping, whereas they could actually be doing birds harm.
Kirsi Peck, an RSPB wildlife advisor, said: “Please, please don’t use fat from roasting tins to feed garden birds because in this case you could be killing them with kindness. The juices mixed in roasting tins will go off very quickly and could cause disease on bird tables. Turkey fat could also damage feathers and during winter, they need to be in tiptop condition to keep them warm. But please do continue to support garden birds. There are loads of leftovers that are suitable.”
The key reasons for not putting out the meat leftovers are: turkey fat stays soft and can smear on to feathers destroying waterproofing and insulating qualities; turkey fat leftovers will contain lots of added salt which can be toxic for birds; leftovers in roasting tins go rancid quickly and can breed bacteria and birds can be prone to bacterial infection at this time of year anyway. The RSPB says it’s not just turkey fat that can be a problem, so please don’t put out any leftover meat fats.
The leftovers they do recommend include: Christmas cake crumbs, mince pie pastry crumbs, biscuit crumbs, mild non-salty grated cheese, cooked or uncooked rice or other grains, dry porridge oats, cooked potatoes and fruit.
This story first appeared in our January 5th issue.
The first issue of the New Year is a time for looking forward, but surely there’s time for a quick look back at 2010 first. Those of us who love birds are incredibly lucky because our memory banks are full of such vivid highlights. Can I share a couple of mine?
A lush tropical forest in the heart of Thailand, all peace and tranquillity except for the rather disquieting sight of fresh elephant dung on the trail! Early morning gloom inside the forest, but one patch of light on the path. Suddenly bounding into that patch, a dazzling jewel of a bird, electric blue with a rich reddish patch on the crown. Blue pitta, posing perfectly in a sunbeam! Suddenly I snapped to a memory of the previous pitta I’d seen, ground-foraging in the incomparable aviaries at Waddesdon Manor.
Then another early morning on a Thai hillside, glancing behind me and seeing a cock silver pheasant casually crossing the road. Near heart attack! A species I’d come to admire in collections and dreamed countless times of seeing in the wild.
So many bird memories, and I’m sure yours are just as precious. In this issue we’ve pooled our memories from the past year at Cage & Aviary Birds, and you can read them on page 4/5. Plenty of good news, some bad, some serious stuff and some that’s decidedly silly.
It may still be mid-winter, but of course birdkeepers are thinking about the breeding and show season to come. Some studs need a straightforward makeover – and who better to advise on this than Border canary great Dennis Reed, whose column is on page 12/13 this week. On the same pages, regular contributor Brian Keenan presents his blueprint for the future of exhibiting. A must-read, whether you agree with Brian or not. Let us know either way!
All of us at Cage & Aviary Birds hope you’ve had a happy Christmas, and wish you a prosperous and bird-filled year.
Seven hundred African grey parrots have been rescued from illegal transportation from Cameroon to Nigeria by conservationists working with the Cameroon government.
The birds were found in appalling conditions, by members of the Last Great Ape Organisation (LAGA) and the Cameroon Ministry of Foresty and Wildlife. They were crammed into just 11 crates with only 16cm (6 inches) of headroom, without food or water. 48 were already dead. Government officials acted immediately and arrested two dealers with a warrant issued for a third.
Ofir Drori, director of LAGA, said: “This is a very, very lucrative trade. The margin of illegal revenue from trade in this species is very high, sometimes more than in the trade of ivory. The traffickers are untouchable and often enjoy complicity with government officials. Conservation in central Africa is a massive failure hiding behind so-called success stories. We would never claim to be a success story – the smugglers still have the upper hand and we are just at the beginning of our fight.”
The surviving birds have been taken to Limbe Wildlife Centre, in the south west of the country, which is partly funded by the Cameroon government and was established to protect the country’s endangered species. Last year 1,500 African greys were taken from smugglers and housed in Limbe.
The World Parrot Trust has sent £3,500 emergency funding, along with technical guidance to help the staff at the Limbe centre. The birds will be treated with a preventative cocktail of antifungal and de-worming medication.
This story first appeared in our December 22-29 issue.
Harry Kunz, owner of the Eagles Nest wildlife hospital in North Queensland, Australia shows off the first albino kookaburras ever found in Australia (see “White waifs rescued”, News, December 15.) The kookaburras (a type of kingfisher) had fallen from the nest in a storm and were taken to Mr Kunz by a farmer.
Mr Kunz said: “These birds are very lucky in a way, because I doubt whether they would have survived in the wild with their lack of camouflage. Anyway, we’re delighted they’ve been rescued.”
● The Eagles Nest Wildlife Hospital is dependent on donations. If you’d like to help, contact Rachel Liddiard via email at: Rachel.email@example.com
This story first appeared in our December 22-29 edition.
And then it was Christmas. It seems impossible to believe that it’s arrived so quickly, but this is it. And this is the last Cage & Aviary Birds of 2010 – please note that we’ll next be hitting the shelves and doormats on January 5, 2011, so there won’t be a Cage & Aviary Birds on December 29.
Anyway, the week or so coming up is for family, friends, telly and all the rest of it... plus, for most fanciers worthy of the name, a serious chunk of quality time spent quietly in the birdroom, while festive chaos rages elsewhere.
Here at Cage & Aviary Birds we offer our warmest Christmas greetings to all our friends – our readers, advertisers and contributors. We’ve had an eventful past few months, and we hope you have too – for the right reasons. It’s certainly encouraging to hear about some marvellous show experiences that you’ve shared with us this year.
In particular, British and Irish exhibitors have made their mark again in Continental competitions – for a kick-off, check out Stan Bolton’s letter about the legendary Golden Ring show in Belgium and, on page 6, Richard Lumley’s welcome report from the same event, plus Brian Keenan’s insight into showtime, Italian-style.
Next month, the World Show in Tours is coming up and we expect to report another crop of Brit/Irish successes. However, now that the rules have relaxed on bringing showbirds into the UK, will the tide start to turn – will we see the Continent’s finest fanciers entering more of our top events? That would shake things up.
As I type this, snow and ice are again gripping the country... let’s hope that the postal services can cope. Quite a few people got their December 15 issue before their December 8 – fingers crossed there’s no more of that this time.
In the December 22 double issue of Cage & Aviary Birds, we find out more about the gorgeous white-capped robin-chat.
In news we find out why a well-known Essex birdshop was raided by the RSPCA and police for the second time in 12 months, and why a club on the brink of closure had one of its most successful shows ever.
We explore the year in budgerigars - a retrospective of the budgerigar fancy in 2010.
We indulge in winter warmers - as the nights get darker, long and colder, we take a look at some top tips in how to care for canaries over winter.
Plus lots more, including black-cheeked waxbills, turkey talk, bird behavious and lovebirds.
Double issue for December 22-29 is on sale tomorrow, Wednesday December 22. Please note there will be no issue on sale December 29.
A couple in Newent, Gloucestershire have won a court appeal to keep their aviary after their neighbour tried to have it removed. Birdkeepers, Robin and Susan Overthrow were awarded costs after twice being refused retrospective planning permission by Forest of Dean District Council on noise grounds. Although noise pollution is not a planning issue, neighbour and local Newent town councillor Bill Offord and his wife Cynthia lodged a complaint and the district council planning committee upheld it on two occasions.
Mrs Overthrow, said: “Noise is not a planning issue. We were 100 per cent sure it was being refused on the wrong grounds.”
Councillor Offord has been investigated by the Standards Board and found guilty of trying to block the application without revealing that he was the main objector. He has been ordered to go on a training course.
Mrs Overthrow, said: “We are absolutely delighted. It’s not as if we built a house in our front garden. We built an aviary for our own pleasure. No one can even see it from outside our garden.”
Councillor Terry Glastonbury, Conservative chairman of Forest of Dean planning committee, said: “Members chose to turn this application down because they wanted to do the right thing for local residents. I am disappointed that an award of costs has been made.”
This story will appear in December 22 issue on sale Wednesday.
Where: Stafford County Show Ground, Weston Road, Stafford ST18 OBD
What’s it all about: Essentially four shows – the National Poultry Show, the CCBA Stafford Zone Show, the Midland Pigeon Show and the Stafford Canary Club Show. Organisers claim it will be the largest bird show ever held in the UK with more than 7,500 birds. Promises to be a great weekend. Free entry and no deadline for entries.
More info: Call Peter Finn. Tel: 01785 242026 or email him at: firstname.lastname@example.org
We hope you are nearly set for Christmas and looking forward to a relaxing holiday. Just to remind readers that the December 22 issue will be a double issue for the 22-29 December. Therefore, subscribers won’t receive an issue on December 29, and there won’t be an issue in the shops.
December 22 double issue will be sale Wednesday December 22.
Top farm bird of the year for 2010 is a perennial favourite – the swallow. This year, 863 RSPB volunteers surveyed 683 farms across the UK and covered more than 55,000 hectares of countryside.
95 per cent of the surveyed UK farms had swallows, and every farm surveyed in Wales and south and west Scotland hosted the bird. Farms with livestock were particular favourites with swallows. Second in the survey came the song thrush with 79 per cent and the skylark came third, appearing on 74 per cent of farms.
This story first appeared in our December 15 edition.
With the weather conditions now back to normal across the majority of the UK, our drivers are once again out delivering a record number of parcels today.
We are obviously continuing to make every effort we possibly can to deliver the parcels still on hand in the worst affected areas as quickly as possible, including another full weekend working in all depots. However, the prolonged nature of the severe weather in some areas does mean there are still delays to deliveries, primarily in Scotland, North East England and South East London.
Delivery for the December 1 and December 8 issues of Cage & Aviary Birds has been badly affected by postal disruption as a result of the bad early winter weather. Both those issues were printed on time – the delay has been in Royal Mail delivery. It sounds as though letters and parcels are being prioritised over magazines, which explains why people are receiving some postal deliveries but not the magazine.
Royal Mail assure us that they are clearing the backlog rapidly. On Monday, they emailed us to say: “Elsewhere, particularly in the North East and South East England, services are recovering well with deliveries and collections operating as normal in all but a few locations. Contingency plans remain in place across the UK and every effort is being made to restore mail services and deliver mail as quickly as we can.”
It looks as though it’s payback time in the birdkeeping world. Just as in the economy we had the global recession first and the cuts later, so in our hobby we’ve had the snow first and now the cancellations.
Sometimes, circumstances can just ruin the show schedule and the cost can be dire in terms of hard work by the organisers and lost enjoyment for the participants and general public. This winter, the Scottish National Cage Bird Show has been an early victim of the freeze.
At Cage & Aviary Birds we were particularly gutted when we heard of the decision to call this fine event off – not least because our December 8 issue, carrying a prominent preview of the show, went to press on the Saturday, and the call-off decision was announced on the Sunday, too late for us to change our story. But that’s life, and our policy will continue to be to support shows with publicity, even though sometimes events will work against us.
The people who deserve sympathy are the ones who have lavished so much planning, forethought, physical labour and often money on events that then get called off. So, sincere commiserations to all at the Scottish National and more power to you in 2011. You certainly deserve better luck.
We’re also sorry to hear about other weather-related cancellations around the country – see Club News for details. Don’t forget, if you have to cancel an event, or change its time or venue, let us know as soon as possible (email to email@example.com is best) and if humanly possible we’ll fit in a notice in the next issue.
Talking of Club News, for the next two issues we’ll be carrying an extra large section to try and feature all news as soon as possible. Please be patient if your item doesn’t appear immediately – we DO attempt to prioritise Club News to fit urgent matters in as soon as we can.
Surely it can’t be nearly Christmas already? Oh yes it can!
Fans of birdsong will be delighted to hear that a free online database of more than 10,000 bird songs has been made available over the internet by a university in the USA.
Michigan State University has launched the Avian Vocalizations Center or AVoCET, which has 10,200 recordings from more than 3,190 bird species from 45 different countries across the globe.
Professor Pamela Rasmussen said: “Soon recordings and their data from many more species and areas will be available for download.”
Prof Rasmussen said the calls have been collected from various sources, including students and amateur ornithologists on every continent. She explained that many birds sing in regional dialect. A single male brown thrasher (Toxostoma rufum) utters as many as 2,000 different notes.
She said: “We know that certain species will go extinct in the near future and sadly there’s not a lot that can realistically be done about it. However, ornithologists and birders do now have the opportunity to document virtually all the species of birds out there one way or another. One major goal of AVoCET is to contribute to this effort.”
For more information: https://avocet.zoology.msu.edu/ This story will appear in December 15 issue on sale Wednesday.