THE AVICULTURAL MAGAZINE

BEING THE JOURNAL OF THE AVICULTURAL SOCIETY FOR THE STUDY OF BRITISH AND FOREIGN BIRDS IN FREEDOM AND IN CAPTIVITY

EDITED BY

PHYLLIS BARCLAY-SMITH, F.Z.S.

VOL. LII

JANUARY, 1946, to DECEMBER, 1946

Hertford

STEPHEN AUSTIN & SONS, Ltd.

1946

CONTENTS

Title-page .....

Contents ......

Alphabetical List of Contributors List of Plates Officers for the Year 1946 u f) List of Members

Rules of the Avicultural Society The Society’s Medal Magazine ....

Index .....

i

iii

v

viii

237

/

,

i

ALPHABETICAL LIST OF CONTRIBUTORS

Amsler, Dr. Maurice

Bygone memories of semi-captive birds, 68.

Barclay-Smith, Phyllis (P. B-S.)

Death of Mr. John Frostick, 81.

Dr. J. M. Derscheid, 165.

Jubilee of the New York Zoological Society, 122.

Review Friends in Fur and Feather , 164.

Berry, John

Strange nesting behaviour of a Whitefronted Gander, 184.

Capron, Glare I.

A Blackheaded Gull and other birds at Semi-liberty, 55.

Burgis, Captain Brian

Birds of Morotai Island, Netherland East Indies, 88.

Carr, V. A. V.

Some British Birds at Semi-liberty, 45.

Davis, Sir Godfrey

The Cage-door is open, 39.

Davis, H. H.

Wild Geese on the Severn, 11, 187.

Delacour, Jean

Birds at semi-liberty at Villers-Bretonneux and at Cleres (1905-1940), 64. Preparing a post-war book on Pheasants, 20.

The Jewel Room in the New York Zoo, 123.

The Ornamental Pheasant Society, 166.

Derscheid, Jean Marie (the late)

The Eider Duck in Captivity, 173.

England, M. D.

Redrump Parrakeets at Liberty, 38.

Falkner, Guy

Good Birds at Liberty, 47.

Floyd, J. F. M.

Records of Sunbirds in Aviculture, 23.

The Wild Swans of Erin, 189.

Fqoks, H. A.

Traps and Trapping, 1.

Gargan, A.

Breeding of Stanley Redrump X Parrakeet hybrids, 10.

Goodwin, Derek

Odd hours with Brown-necked Ravens, 90.

Speculations on the mimicry of the Jay, 204.

Hill, W. C. Osman

The Ceylon Magpie, 141.

VI

ALPHABETICAL LIST OF CONTRIBUTORS

Isenberg, A. H. and Williamson, T. F. M.

The Spectacled Jay-Thrush at Liberty in California, 48.

Jones, Terry

The 1946 Waterfowl breeding season at Leckford, 193.

Joyce, C. A.

Ducks and Delinquency, 198.

Lendon, A.

Breeding of King Parrakeet in immature plumage, 166.

Deliberate rudeness of Parrakeet, 165.

Memories of the Moluccas, 206.

Parrakeet Breeding results in Adelaide for 1945, 144.

Manfield, H.

The Breeding in captivity of the Crowned Pigeon ( Goura victoria ) in Adelaide Zoological Gardens, South Australia, 199.

Mathews, F. E.

Bird Items Home and Colonial, 230.

Maxwell, P. H.

Some interesting birds recently received at the London Zoo, 166.

Moody, A. F.

An early account of some perching birds in the Scampston collection, 18, 115,213.

Murray, Ray

Notes on Lorikeets in Captivity in Australia, hi.

Plath, Karl

Avian old timers at Brookfield, 83.

Prestwick, A. A. (A. A. P.)

Additions to the London Zoo, 231.

Breeders of Hawfinches, 226.

Breeding Successes Abroad, 201.

British Aviculturists Club, 80, 105, 228.

Obituary John Frostick, 109.

Semi-palmated or Black-and- White Goose, 198.

The Hebb Bequest, 79.

The Society’s medal, 159, 223.

Ripley, Dillon

Waterfowl collections in the North-Eastern United States, 170.

Risdon, D. H. S.

My experience of liberty birds, 50.

Reminiscences V, Parrakeets, 1 1 .

Reminiscences VI, Small Seedeaters, 98.

Rudkin, Frances H.

Peafowl, 1 13.

Scott, A. H.

Sand Martins in Captivity, 135.

Scott, Peter

A Waterfowl Registry and Census, 167.

ALPHABETICAL LIST OF CONTRIBUTORS

Sherriff, A.

Blackheaded Sibias and other birds at Semi-liberty, 66.

Sibley, G. L.

Fertile Cyanochen-Alopochen hybrids, 197.

Southern, H. N.

The Inheritance of head colour in the Gouldian Finch, 126.

Sprawson, Professor Evelyn

Hatching a hybrid unawares, 16.

Sweetnam, Prebendary

The Birds at Semi-Liberty Number, 37.

Teague, P. W.

Further notes on the breeding of Gouldian Finches, 132.

Webber, L. C.

Ten years with the Painted Finch and some historical notes, 149.

Wharton-Tigar, N.

Wild Bird Notes from the Isle of Thanet, 225.

Williamson, T. F. M. and Isenberg, A. H.

The Spectacled Jay-Thrush at Liberty in California, 48.

WlNTLE, D. S.

Memories of Waterfowl at Walcot, 180.

Yf.alland, John

Some Birds at Semi-liberty, 59.

vil

Vlll

LIST OF PLATES

LIST OF PLATES

Bird catching .......

Diagrams of bird traps .

Prebendary Sweetnam with Green Glossy Starling Karl Plath and Lady ”, a Whooping Swan .

The oldest stuffed bird in Great Britain West African Grey Parrot .....

John Frostick .......

Rothschild’s Starling in Jewel Room of the New York Zoo .......

* Baikal Teal and Mandarin Duck Head of adult male Eider ..... Whitefronted Gander trying to sit on Rhea’s egg . Greylag Goose lifting Rhea’s egg into her nest Bewick Swans .....

Whooper and Mute Swans .... The Cob in front raised himself Mute Swans Victoria Crowned Pigeon on nest Victoria Crowned Pigeon and young .

^Denotes coloured plate

facing page i pages 3, 4, and 6 facing page 37 55 83

106

H 109

123

167

page 178 facing page 185

» i85

190

?3 190

» 191

» 199

» i99

AVICULTURAL

MAGAZINE

CONTENTS

PAGE

Traps and Trapping {with plates ), by H. A. Fooks ..... i

Breeding of Stanley X Redrump Parrakeet Hybrids, by A. Gargan . . io

Reminiscences V, by Flight-Lieut. D. H. S. Risdon . . . . . n

Hatching a Hybrid Unawares, by Prof. Evelyn Sprawson . . . 16

An Early Account of Some Perching Birds in the Scampston Collection, by

A. F. Moody . . 18

Preparing a Post-war Book on Pheasants, by J. Delacour ... 20

Records of Sunbirds in Aviculture, by J. F. M. Floyd . . . . 23

Notes ............. 36

VOL. 52 No. 1

PRICE 51-

JAN.-FEB.

1946

THE AVICULTURAL SOCIETY

Founded 1894

President : A. EZRA, Esq., O.B.E.

MEMBERSHIP SUBSCRIPTION is £1 per annum, due on 1st January each year, and payable in advance. Life Membership, £15.

Subscriptions, Changes of Address, Names of Candidates for Membership, etc., should be sent

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THE AVICULTURAL MAGAZINE

is published bi-monthly and sent free to members. Members joining at any time during the year are entitled to back numbers for the current year, on the payment of subscription.

ALL MATTER FOR PUBLICATION IN THE MAGAZINE SHOULD BE ADDRESSED TO—

The Editor ,

MISS PHYLLIS BARCLAY-SMITH, F.Z.S.,

51 Warwick Avenue,

Tel. : Cunningham 3006. London, W. 9.

The price of the Magazine to non-members is 5$. post free per copy, or £1 10 s. for the year. Orders for the Magazine, extra copies, and back numbers (from 1917) should be sent to the publishers, Messrs. Stephen Austin & Sons, 1 Fore Street, Hertford. Tel. : Hertford 2546-8.

POST-MORTEM EXAMINATIONS CANCELLED UNTIL FURTHER NOTICE

Avic. Mag. 1946.

Bird-catching by means of Telescopic Bamboo and Shield of Twigs woven together to form a Bush. The bird-catcher hiding behind his movable bush pushes himself forward by his toes till within range.

AVICULTURAL MAGAZINE

THE JOURNAL OF THE AVICULTURAL SOCIETY

Vol. 52. No. I. All rights reserved. JAN.-FEB., 1946

TRAPS AND TRAPPING

By H. A. Fooks

The art of trapping is an expression not generally heard in these days of hundred-guinea guns and high-velocity rifles, yet it is in very truth an art of the highest order.

During the recent war in Burma, trapping came into its own. From jungle fowl to Japs it was all the same, and every booby-trap and trip-wire laid was very much more effective if laid by a man skilled in trapping.

For the airman brought down in the jungle or for the Chindit or deep penetration personnel it meant food with a capital F.

Even where supplies were available, compare an already overloaded soldier carrying a shot-gun and cartridges, which after they have been expended renders the gun just a useless lump weighing 6 lb. or more, to a few pieces of string, a piece of wax, and a sharp knife !

It was lucky for a number of units in Burma that they had the help of some of the best trappers in Asia. The Nagas, the Chins, the Kachins, the Karens, and so on perform miracles with pieces of bamboo alone. Traps usually used for small barking deer were enlarged and adapted for the lurking Nip, who suddenly found himself impaled by half a dozen fire-hardened and barbed bamboos, driven well home by a bent bamboo 30 ft. long.

Before the war I had the pleasure of going out trapping with some of the hill tribes under more favourable conditions than the last six years, and I learnt that the simpler the trap the better it worked. Reconnaissance is, of course, of primary importance as where to set the trap comes first and foremost.

Botany is an essential subject as regards birds, whether they be hardbills or softbills.

All birds follow flowers or berries as they bloom or ripen, and when

2

H. A. FOOKS - TRAPS AND TRAPPING

once the favourites are known it becomes necessary to look for signs of use around these plants.

In hills (up to io5ooo ft. or so) a bush or tree will flower or fruit much earlier at, say, 4,000 ft. than at 8,000 ft., so that it is not very difficult to get above your quarry.

I have found it useful to spend a day or two with binoculars and search all the likely places at dawn, and when the birds are found shoot one or two and open their crops. This will give you the necessary knowledge as to their favourite food.

Insectivorous birds will follow flowers as insects in their turn follow flowers with a high nectar content, and as the seasons advance these flowers will come into bloom at progressively higher altitudes.

I remember going out with Webb (imprisoned by the French in Madagascar) to a place in the Himalayas at an altitude of 4,500 ft. We were after the Fire-tailed Sunbird. They were feeding on a creeper which bore masses of small glutinous white flowers round which swarmed a mass of small flies.

These flowers appeared to bloom only for one day or, what was more likely, they lost their attraction or scent in a short time and this necessitated us going up at least 500 ft. every two or three days. I remember finally seeing these Sunbirds, after I had left Webb at 13,000 some odd feet, feeding on scarlet rhododendron blossom, and an unforgettable sight they were. Sunbirds are fairly easily caught in nets. The net being double meshed and made of very fine black thread, or even silk. One net has a mesh of some 4 sq. in. while the other may be 1 sq. in.

The bird strikes the small mesh and is driven through one of the meshes of the larger net which then forms the mouth of a bag. If one bird is caught it can be used as a call bird, especially if it is a cock, as most Sunbirds are particularly pugnacious. If a call bird is used a single limed twig is stuck into the wires of the cage.

Salad oil quickly applied will soon get rid of the lime, and the bird popped into a soft cloth bag will keep quite still while being carried.

I once saw an Indian hillman catch eighteen Sunbirds with an Owl and limed twigs.

He first pegged his Owl on a perch within a foot of the ground and surrounded it with temptingly placed limed perches about 6 ft. to 10 ft. away. These twigs were 4 ft. to 5 ft. over the Owl and very soon birds started to arrive and were quickly bagged. The Sunbirds came in three flocks and after dive bombing the Owl settled on the surrounding twigs and were caught. These birds were Mrs. Gould’s Sunbirds, some of which I kept for over four years in perfect plumage, and I think Mr. Delacour saw them at my house in Calcutta.

Sunbirds appear to be the most sensible birds as they scarcely

H. A. FOOKS- TRAPS AND TRAPPING

3

A KACHVtH TRA.P' FOR RODENTS

AtrA V> BAMBOO P^RTR\D&e’S.

it is set in Runs in banBooclumps.

THE: OR AH |MM PUSHES THE

TRi&&eR stick aside in c^asmer.

mmm

MAVML-X LlSED POR JUMCiLE <?< SPURFoWU FOR ftNY OF THE PETRCH5H.6 BIRDS .

4

H. A. FOOKS - TRAPS AND TRAPPING

H. A. FOOKS - TRAPS AND TRAPPING

5

ever refuse food for more than a few hours. The usual Horlicks or Mellins Mixture with a drop of haliborange, placed near them in a shallow small-mouthed ink-pot, keeps them busy once their beaks have been dipped in the mixture several times.

Small cages are also essential, three sides wood and the front barred. When the birds approach the bars they have to find their food whether they wish to or not.

Most birds have aerial roadways. They will use the identical route, even branch, time after time, although they may have been gone half an hour or more. The trapper observes and notes these routes and will hang his nets accordingly.

Small clap nets, a foot square, are very useful for insectivorous birds, the cork which holds the trigger also serves to hold the impaled grasshopper, beetle, or fly. Observing the habit and beat 35 of the birds is of course essential.

Such birds as Thi*hshes and so on are easy to catch once the bird has been located.

There are several ways of snaring Pheasants, one way being to build a small fence between the birds’ feeding-ground and their line of approach.

The birds on arriving at this fence will run up and down it to find the ends. These are provided in the shape of small gaps with a horse¬ hair noose in each. As most' of these Pheasants are caught for food they are usually pretty roughly handled or even left to die, and it requires a deal of persuasion to make the men understand that the bird should remain in one piece. When a bird walks into a snare the excitement is great and the men rush forward and try to seize it by the legs. This frequently results in one or both thighs being dislocated as the bird twists and turns and attempts to fly. I always make them smother it with a cloth if I can.

Some of the tribes have the most ingenious way of carrying them after capture, and I can recommend this method to anyone who has a wild and intractable bird.

The locals simply weave a basket round its wings and body, leaving the head and tail outside. There is also a small handle on top by which the bird can be conveniently carried, or, if there are several, strung on a pole.

A piece of fibre tied to the handle allows the bird to forage and scratch for itself without being able to run away. As they become tamer a piece of twig tied crossways prevents it running through grass or bushes and forces it to stay in the open.

In Bengal the inhabitants are very fond of using a telescopic bamboo ”. This acts in the same way as a fishing rod and can be extended to any required length. It is used either by being pushed along the ground or vertically, against the trunk of a tree.

6

H. A. FOOKS - TRAPS AND TRAPPING

The Figure Four 55 Trap.

H. A. FOOKS - TRAPS AND TRAPPING

7

The first time I observed this method was when I was out Snipe shooting and was just crossing a large grassy maidan sparsely covered with small bushes.

I thought I had seen a bush in motion but no, it could not have been so good heavens, there it goes again, and on closer scrutiny I saw the bush being pushed carefully and slowly by a young man who lay stretched out to his full length behind it.

On even closer inspection the bush proved to be a small shield woven out of twigs and with the branches on the outside left intact.

The boy moved the screen forward with his left hand and held six or seven tapering bamboos in his right. He was after Ortolans, Larks, and anything which could be mistaken for an Ortolan. On seeing a flock he would approach them quite openly to within 20 or 30 yards and then get down behind his shield.

After a few minutes’ pause to allow the birds time to settle down he would cautiously push himself forward with his toes, having first joined several of his bamboos together.

When he had arrived within 20 feet or so of the birds he would complete his stick and push it forward very slowly. At the extreme tip of this he had a piece of split bamboo about 10 inches long. This was V-shaped, and curled upward at the open end. Each arm was coated with bird lime for a few inches.

The idea of the curls at the end was to enable the rest to ride over obstructions and to keep the limed ends clear of the grass.

When the bird showed signs of alarm, usually when the V was within a foot of it, the fowler flicked the whole stick forward and twisted it at the same time, one or other of the limed prongs striking the bird. Most of the men I have seen practising this trick have been remarkably successful, and a bag of twenty to twenty-five birds in a morning is not uncommon.

Many other birds are caught this way, particularly waders, and many is the Stilt, Godwit, and Sandpiper I have bought off them for a few annas.

The same telescopic stick is almost invariably used for catching Ring-necked Parrakeets, particularly when they come to feed on the flowers of the silk cotton tree. The other favourite trees are those of the Ficus species when in fruit.

As far as I remember some of the lutinos bought by Sir David Ezra for his brother were caught this way.

I once saw an aboriginal catch some eighty Blossom or Plum-headed Parrakeets which were feeding on what looked like a species of wild hemp.

Thousands of birds swarmed over the plants, which were being continually bent down by their weight, and suddenly released again when they rose. The whole scene was amazingly colourful and

8

H. A. FOOKS - TRAPS AND TRAPPING

animated, set as it was in a forest glade. The catcher was in a small hide in the middle of the feeding birds and used several sticks

There is a way of catching duck in Bengal which I have never heard of being practised elsewhere.

When the rice crops are ripening, about October, November, duck in enormous numbers come down to feed on them in certain favoured localities. They settle amongst the stalks and the beating of their wings bears down the ears until they become waterlogged.

Naturally great damage is done and the individuals who suffer are usually very poor and unable to afford nets or guns, so they have recourse to other means whereby they can recoup some of their loss by the sale of ducks and still have full stomachs at night.

In India kerosene tins, mostly empty, are obtainable almost any¬ where (the poor man’s house is usually built of these), and kerosene and its containers are a sine qua non of this particular method of dealing with ducks.

The entire village, possibly several villages, will club together and meet at a given place and at a given time. A dark night is chosen and the feeding duck encircled.

All participants are dressed in dark clothes or have no clothes on at all, and each one carries either an empty kerosene tin, a casting net, or a torch made of jute stalks.

After the encircling movement has taken place and the circle closed in on the duck, a signal is given at which pandemonium breaks loose. Torches are lit and whirled in circles, tins are thumped and banged till it sounds as if the night of final destruction was at hand.

The din is deafening and incessant for some minutes, then the netters and small boys step in, casting their nets and grabbing ducks when they feel or see them.

The ordinary mortal would expect every duck to rise the instant the first sound was made, but instead the majority flatten themselves out or dive in the shallow water. It is essential for the torches to keep moving and the noise to continue unabated while the hunt is on, and the scene generally beggars description. I was told the idea was to simulate the father and mother of a thunderstorm in which the duck would be afraid to rise. Whether this is the case I cannot say, but it remains a fact that large bags are made in this way.

The essence of the performance is the absolute necessity of lighting all torches and banging all tins almost the instant the starting signal is given. A scattered volley, so to speak, would presumably give the duck time to recover from their astonishment.

Unfortunately the finale is very cruel, as the duck which are caught alive are immobilized by pulling their legs over the base of their

H. A. FOOKS - TRAPS AND TRAPPING

9

wings which renders them incapable of any progressive movement. Another way is to interlock their wings over their backs. This, of course, allows them the use of their legs and is therefore not in quite such favour as the former method.

Catching duck, as practised in the Lucknow district is typically Indian in its ingenuity. A reed-fringed sheet of water is selected where duck are usually to be found resting during the heat of the day.

Through the resting rafts of duck a number of earthenware pots are floated. These pots are known as chattis 55 and are somewhat larger than a football. It goes without saying that the wind has to be in a suitable direction to move the pots in the required way.

At first the duck are alarmed, but usually do not rise from the water. Gradually they become used to these floating objects sailing past until eventually they scarcely bother to move out of the way.

When this desirable state has been reached the catcher and his helpers each place a chatti over their heads after piercing a small eyehole.

They now join the empty pots on their journey through the sleeping duck, and, as they pass, seize the most suitable victim and flick it under water no noise no commotion except perhaps a short- drawn squawk from the duck.

When a run is completed they collect their pots and run back to the start and commence again.

I have not seen this actually being done, but it is practised quite frequently in certain districts. Kipling has written a good account of it.

The art of trapping reaches its highest flights when hunger is the driving force and as the majority of the population in the East are accentuated by this motive and are also incredibly poor, most of them who live away from the few large towns soon learn from their earliest infancy how to augment their rations in the simplest way whether by catching fish, birds, or other animals.

Even insects do not escape, nor reptiles. Locusts are excellent and so are flying lizards, when you know how to catch and cook them.

I have eaten a piece of python steak and was sufficiently hungry at the time not to notice the taste, but that is another story.

o

A. GARGAN - BREEDING OF PARRAKEET HYBRIDS

BREEDING OF STANLEY x REDRUMP PARRAKEET HYBRIDS

By A. Gargan

Early in 1944 I had a spare Stanley Parrakeet cock and a surplus of Redrump hens, so I decided to try and breed some hybrids.

The Stanley cock was a very tame bird, and is the only Parrakeet I have that will eat insects. I have often seen him eat earwigs, and he is very fond of Mediterranean moth grubs ; these are small white grubs about y3^- in. long, found in seed and cereals ; when the young hatched out I gave him ten to twenty grubs a day.

The nest was made from a butter-box, creosoted inside and out, filled with turf mould, with some sawdust sprinkled on top, and hung in the open flight. The first egg was laid on 14th May, 1944, and in all six were laid ; the first hatched out on the 5th June, 1944, and five young were reared by the parents, and all young left the nest by the 30th July, 1944.

The food offered was a mixture of 75 per cent groats, plus 25 per cent plain Canary, hemp, sunflower, and monkey nuts, soft fruits, seeding grasses, and chickweed.

The three young cocks were like Redrump cocks in colour with the addition of a red cap on head and a red band on middle breast ; the area of red on the rump was larger than that on the Redrump. The two hens were like Redrump hens, except that they had the red on the rump but had no red on head or breast.

A cock and hen died in December, 1944, and in January, 1945, I entered a pair in the Metropolitan Cage Birds’ Society’s show and they got first a class of seven and best foreign exhibit.

This year (1945) I put the original pair together with the following result. I used the same aviary and nest-box, and the first egg was laid on 14th April, 1945, and six eggs were again laid ; five were hatched on 4th May, 1945. A few days after the last egg was hatched I found the hen dead in the aviary and as the only other Parrakeets that had young were a pair of Red Rosellas with three, I transferred the five young hybrids to the Rosellas. For a week all went well, but as the young Rosellas grew larger they squashed the smallest hybrid and within the next week three of the young hybrids went the same way.

The Rosellas were offered the same food as the Stanley with the exception of the fruits, which they would not touch. One young hybrid, a cock, the same colour as the first lot, was reared, and is still in the aviary with its foster-parents.

D. H. S. RISDON - REMINISCENCES - V

I

REMINISCENCES— V

Parrakeets

By Flight-Lieutenant D. H. S. Risdon

When the aviary was first started and all nicely planted, at consider¬ able expense and trouble, I was against including Parrot-like birds in the collection, because of their destructive habits towards growing vegetation.

One day, however, a stray green cock Budgerigar was caught trying to gain admittance. He seemed very lonesome, so a green hen was bought for him. These two, in so much space, did very little damage to the trees, so a pair of blues were added. From these were bred a number of young, and very nice the small flock looked, shooting round the aviary like a flight of blue and green arrows. The enclosure being broad as well as long, they could keep up a sustained flight by flying round and round, which was most attractive.

As a species, however, they did not do well. I think that the proximity of the pond made things a bit damp for them in the winter. At any rate, the mortality rate during cold weather from chills and enteritis, was higher than the rate at which they bred during the summer, and eventually they died out.

Cockatiels were the next Parrakeets to be tried, and these were, after a bad start, quite successful. My first two were bought at a time when Parrakeets were becoming very popular and Cockatiels were booming 55 . One had to telegraph a money order as soon as the advertisement appeared if one wanted to have a chance of buying them, and, as so often happens in these cases, I was doomed to dis¬ appointment. True, I secured my Cockatiels, but on arrival it was only too obvious that the hen was not a healthy bird. She appeared to be suffering from some chronic complaint of a long-standing nature, which might or might not be curable. As she did not seem to be at death’s door, I foolishly decided to risk keeping her to see if she would improve, but she didn’t, and eventually left her handsome husband a widower.

Left on his own he became quite a songster, some of his notes rivalling those of a Blackbird in mellowness. He took to serenading the Budgerigars and, when he put his head down to be scratched, they took a mischievous delight in pulling his yellow crest, which I think, hurt his feelings in more senses than one.

To obtain a hen Cockatiel at that time was extremely difficult. Odd hen Parrakeets were always at a premium, but eventually I succeeded in finding someone who consented to sell one without my having to buy a cock as well.

They bred a number of young, of which I kept a hen, and swapped

2

D. H. S. RISDON - REMINISCENCES - V

one of her brothers for another cock, thus giving me two unrelated pairs for the following season’s breeding.

Two breeding pairs together, even in such a large aviary, were not a success. They agreed all right in the off” season, but as the Spring came round, the cocks bickered a good deal and the two hens, after much quarrelling over the same nest-box, eventually decided to compromise, and I found them both sitting side by side on a double clutch of eggs in the one box.

This arrangement may have suited the feminine avian mind, but the cocks had other ideas and, when it came to their turn to do the day shift on the eggs, there was such a melee between all four birds as to who should sit with whom, that I saw no future in the whole affair, and separated the pairs.

By now I had manufactured several movable divisions for use in the Spring to prevent cross-breeding between the Golden Amherst Pheasants, so it was an easy matter to separate the Gockatiels.

From then on they behaved well and, at the end of the season I had quite a flock of them. When they had finished breeding, the divisions were taken down and both pairs and ali their young were allowed the freedom of the whole aviary together. They agreed perfectly then, and made a fine sight on the wing, having sufficient room to show something of what Cockatiels can do in the way of aerobatics.

This, one of their greatest charms, is entirely missed in the average aviary, where they have only enough room to flap rather clumsily to and fro.

They did a certain amount of harm to the growing trees, but not as much as I expected. In any case their beauty and grace in flight, and the delightful way in which they would hang upside down, all together, in a shower of rain, dangling from the branches with spread wings and tails, more than compensated me for the loss of some of the leaves. I have a feeling that Parrakeets probably do less harm to growing vegetation when in large aviaries, because they find other things to do, and more space in which to do it, in mixed company.

Whittling of leaves and bark is probably as much an antidote to boredom as a means of employing their beaks.

I cannot conclude this account of my Cockatiels without reference to their biting powers.

They have a reputation for gentleness and inoffensiveness to other birds, and this was amply borne out in my own experience, but woe betide anyone who handled one carelessly ! They could bite like rats and, once they got a hold, refused to let go, while they gnawed their agonizing way into your finger. I would sooner have handled a Broadtail of twice the size any day.

Having been successful with Cockatiels, I caught the prevailing

D. H. S. RISDON - REMINISCENCES - V

13

craze, and was fast becoming Parrakeet conscious Never mind the plants, let’s have some more of those birds which breed and sell so well, and thereby help to maintain the cost of keeping the others,” was the feeling.

When, therefore, scanning the foreign bird advertisements in Cage Birds (and was not this the first column we all read every week, whether we had the money to buy or no ?), I saw a pair of Alexandrines offered at what seemed a reasonable price, and hastened off to see them. If anyone- had asked me, I should have said I had no intention of buying until I was satisfied that they were worth it. As usual, however, I think I had unconsciously bought them already for better or for worse, because they became mine although not a particularly good pair.

They were in a Parrot cage in a dealer’s shop when I first saw them, and not till I got them home did it become apparent that both had been caged for some time. Neither could fly well, and both were partly tame. At least it would be more correct to say they lacked fear of human beings. When turned into the aviary they sat side by side on a perch, watching me with their pearl eyes, and the hen, a cantankerous old lady, made savage lunges at anyone who approached too near.

Although in fair condition, they did not look a very promising breeding proposition, particularly as they made no attempt to move beyond their selected perch and the feeding tray.

Matters were considerably improved by giving them flying lessons. That is to say they were induced to climb on to a stick held in front of them, and then made to take short flights where they could land and not hurt themselves. After one or two pancake landings, they improved greatly, and eventually could do the length of the aviary, albeit in a queer manner ; moving slowly through the air in a perpendicular position with much laboured wing flapping ; rather like someone, who is learning to swim? trying to do the breast¬ stroke !

I only had them a year, during which time they readjusted them¬ selves to a spacious aviary, but that is as far as they got. There was never any evidence of attempted breeding, although suitable nest- boxes were supplied. I don’t even remember seeing the cock display to the hen. Possibly she was too old to make him feel that way. She was certainly the boss and a bad tempered one to boot. I could well imagine her telling her nervous spouse to behave himself and not to be such a fool, had he attempted to become amorous !

She loathed her flying lessons, largely, I think, because she always failed in her attempts to bite me. She climbed on to the proffered stick readily enough with one object in view, namely the fingers that held it. With pupils contracted to mere pin points, always a

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D. H. S. RISDON - REMINISCENCES - V

sign of intended wickedness, she used to make a rush along the stick, knowing full well that I should let go before she got to my hand, when she would be forced to the indignity of flying. She was another of my bird characters who will always be remembered with amusement and affection, in spite of her disposition.

The next and last Parrakeets to be kept in this aviary were Rosellas. They consisted of a very fine pair, but like so many aviary-bred Broadtails, they were as wild as Hawks ”.

For sheer brilliance and beauty, the cock was hard to beat, that is to say whenever one had the chance to see him anywhere close to, which was not often.

To me, one of the advantages of aviculture over bird watching in the field is that you can, or should be able to, watch the ways of your birds and admire their grace and beauty in comfort ; but with the Rosellas one had to adopt more or less the field naturalist’s methods of hiding oneself away, and peering awkwardly from behind some vantage point or other. If they knew you® were about they became wary at once, and merely walked up and down a perch, pausing at the end of each turn with one foot held up momentarily.

One does not want all one’s birds finger tame, but it is nice to have them sufficiently used to one to go about their affairs indifferent to one’s presence.

However, I was very proud of my Rosellas, and very excited when they took to a grandfather clock nest, after having inspected it all over and pressed their foreheads to it, a habit which Mr. Boosey so aptly describes as cooling their fevered brows ”.

The hen became egg bound with her fifth egg, but in spite of this appeared to incubate steadily. After many weeks had elapsed with no apparent signs of young, inspection revealed a mass of eggs, none of which were any good. She had evidently laid more than one clutch in quick succession, and as usually happens in these cases the hen is unable to cover them all. In her efforts to do so the eggs consecutively get chilled and so none hatch.

Broadtails have a reputation for pugnacity. Consequently, when they arrived, one of the partitions, which had hitherto been erected only temporarily each Spring to separate the Golden and Amherst Pheasants while laying, was made permanent, and they were put into this on their own.

During the Autumn and Winter months, however, they were, for various reasons, at times allowed to mix with the other birds, and the following observations from memory on their behaviour towards them may be interesting.

Cockatiels and Budgerigars were ignored. The Alexandrines were respected because