BIRDS ARE BETTER than telly. I’ve played this tune before, but it does bear repetition. TV is an essentially passive pleasure, even those stunning bird programmes that we all enjoy. When it comes to engaging our memory and skill, muscles and nous, keeping birds is in a different league.
And it’s entertaining, too: I loved David Lugo’s comparison (page 5) of his mixed aviary to a soap opera. A real one, though; a matter of life and death. Speaking of which...
■ Pity the poor yellow-breasted bunting (Emberiza aureola), on its way to being eaten to extinction in China, where more people (we’re told) can now afford the delicacy of songbird meat. (See News, page 4.) There’s a slight irony here: birdkeepers, in the broadest sense, are often blamed when the demand for cage birds results in the overtrapping and decline of wild species.
Now that this pretty seedeater may be going the way of the passenger pigeon, it could do with all the friends it can get – but are there many, or any, yellow-breasted buntings in captivity, to form a safe nucleus against global oblivion?
None seem to be listed in zoos. I can’t recall the species referred to as an aviary subject; can anyone else? Maybe now’s a reasonable moment to issue some special licences and secure a few breeding pairs – while there’s still time, that is.
■ Remember the Raymond Sawyer Scholarship, which will fund a keen young aviculturist through a specialist course at the renowned Durrell Conservation Academy this autumn? (For details, see the May 20 issue.)
I’m delighted to report that there’s been a fantastic set of applications for the course and it looks as though the Avicultural Society’s fine initiative is really flying in this, its second year. The judges will certainly have their work cut out... oh blimey, hang on, I’m one of them. Watch this space, eh?
■ Typo of the Week: we did spot and zap this one, though I was tempted to let it stand... in a “birds for sale” advert: “Breeding pair, DNA tested. Genuine reason for ale.” Most of us don’t need DNA testing for that! Enjoy your birds this week – and if you’re attending the Parrot Society’s summer event at Stafford this Sunday, have a fun and productive day out.