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The Ted Easter case: a legal reaction

The British bird fancy is reeling at the huge fine levied last month on one of its most respected members. So how can fanciers be sure they’re on the right side of the law? Here, JAMES PAVEY of specialist solicitors Knights offers his advice. Questions: Rob Innes

If you’re selling  or exhibiting British  birds, you need these

Q What does the Ted Easter ruling mean for the British bird fancy?

A According to media reports, Mr Easter was ordered to pay nearly £20,000 in fines and prosecution costs. This serves as a stark reminder of the importance of having written records establishing the parentage and provenance of birds in your possession. Failure to do so will leave a birdkeeper in a vulnerable position if the parentage and provenance of his birds is queried in the context of a criminal investigation and, subsequently, in criminal proceedings before a magistrates’ court.

It is, however, important to bear in mind that the case was decided in the magistrates’ court and, so, it does not set a legal precedent.

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In praise of... Skylarks

‘All hail to thee, blithe spirit!’ wrote the poet. BILL NAYLOR profiles a species that’s inspired generations of admirers

Growing in popularity: meadow pipits are winning awards at specialist UK shows

UNLIKE most songbirds, which choose a high perch from which to broadcast their songs, the skylark (Alauda arvensis) flies at a high altitude, hoping to impress a female with the fitness required to simultaneously fly and produce quality vocals. Usually seen high in the sky, the skylark is assumed to be a small bird, but it is 18cm (7in) long – the size of a small thrush. Skylarks can sing on the ground, but are more famous for singing while flying.

This aerial songster would appear to be the most unlikely British species to be kept in captivity, but it adapts remarkably well, and is regularly bred every year by UK British bird breeders. Breeders are able to enjoy the song of one of the few British birds that sings almost throughout the year. In the 19th century, skylarks were home entertainment (see “Victorian values”, page 21) and every grand house had at least one.

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British Bird File - Scarlet Rosefinch

Scarlet RosefinchScarlet rosefinch Carpodacus erythrinus.

Related species: None in British region.

Description: A medium-sized finch with a large, stubby bill. All ages and all plumages show two wingbars. Mature adult males are distinctive with a red head, breast and rump. Wings are brown with wingbars tinged pink, and underparts are white. Immature males and adults, in winter, have a less intensive colour, whereas females and juveniles have brown plumage, with pale and streaked underparts.

Length: 14cm (51/2in).

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In praise of... African silverbills

BILL NAYLOR explains the draw of a pleasant little African finch which was once confused with its Indian counterpart

Just wait till I start singing: African silverbills have a pleasant voice

IT IS no surprise that the African silverbill (Lonchura cantans) is a favourite bird for beginners. What it lacks in vivid coloration, it makes up for with its pleasant song, extrovert personality and a friendly nature. What’s more, it easily adapts to a cage, indoor flight, or outdoor aviary, mixing harmoniously with other birds.
 
Its popularity is due in part to its readiness to breed, and unlike many Lonchura finches, it is capable of rearing its youngsters without livefood.
 
The Indian silverbill (L. cantans) looks similar to the African silverbill, but it is darker in colour with a white rump. Nonetheless, they were formerly considered to be one species, the common silverbill (L. malabarica), which was found across the Indian subcontinent, without interruption, into central Africa.
 
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In praise of... Bullfinches

BILL NAYLOR pens a personal appreciation of this lovely finch and explains why its sperm count is unfortunately so low

BILL NAYLOR pens a personal appreciation of this lovely finch and explains why its sperm count is unfortunately so low

AMONG the six species of bullfinch, the Eurasian bullfinch (Pyrrhula pyrrhula) is by far the most well-known, and is popular with aviculturists in many countries.

Ten subspecies range across Europe, Asia and Japan. The largest and arguably most handsome, the northern bullfinch (P.p. pyrrhula), has been kept in the UK for more than 100 years and is the most migratory, visiting Britain annually.

An old country name for our resident bullfinch (P. p. pileata) is budfinch, as it is the only British finch to be classed as an agricultural pest. Possessing a longer gut than other finches, it can digest tree buds and eats more of these than any other small European bird.

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