Preferred contact by email:
Here now are posts from July - October -
Chairman's page Oct 2020
Each month when I write this page, I hope for some good news and positivity, and be able to not write about Covid-19! Sadly, not a lot has changed, and there is still a lot of worry and uncertainty in the country. Mixed messages and confusing rules, restrictions in some areas and not others, and even differences between England, Scotland and Wales, make planning and organising very difficult. The recent upsurge in the number of cases, and threats of more containment, suggest that we shall not now be able to hold a live AGM on 15th November in Dunstable. Also, our show on December 6th, at Stafford, has further been cast into doubt by these events and the ongoing cancellations of other major shows and exhibitions. We shall have to take a final decision on this by the end of October at the latest.
Our ‘Members’ Day Out’ at Tropical Bird Gardens, Desford, Leicestershire on 20th September went ahead, with pre-booking of tickets only. Sadly, I was unable to attend this time, owing to family illness, but our secretary Les Rance reports that when he arrived, he gave his mobile phone number for staff to pass on to any P.S. members arriving. Several did meet up subsequently, and enjoyed the day. The weather was good and the arrangements that the owners had made to comply with Covid-19 precautions were working well. Two very large, well-made, new aviaries have been built since last year, one for the existing stock of African Grey and Timneh parrots, and a second for a new Flamingo exhibit. There is a further new aviary base under construction, time will tell what birds will go in there! The tame birds as always made a striking communal display and really enjoy the public interaction. There were two very well feathered young Hyacinthine macaws in the breeding room, and they appeared to be very good specimens. Let us hope that next year we will be able to visit more freely.
There are two political events of potential concern to parrot-keepers (apart from coronavirus!). The first is the movement of CITES-listed species between the UK and EU after 31st December 2020. Requirements are detailed in the new leaflet, reproduced on pages 20-23 of this magazine. The second is a plan by the Scottish Animal Welfare Council (SAWC) to draw up a list of permitted ‘exotic species’ (which will include parrots) that may be kept in captivity. PSUK trustees are actively involved in submitting evidence to SAWC (together with representatives from other species groups) to promote the importance of parrot-keeping. We will keep you informed.
Currently, we still have some warm weather, at least in the south-east, and there is an abundant harvest of natural foods in our hedgerows and woodlands to give to our birds. Rose hips, blackberries, berries from hawthorn, rowan, elder and pyracantha, as well as sweet chestnuts and hazel nuts are all relished by various species, while gardens and allotments can offer the last of the peas and beans, plus sweetcorn, carrots and peppers. So there is some good news for parrot enthusiasts!
Alan K Jones September 21, 2020
Chairman's page Sept 2020
The bracken in the woods, and leaves of Horse Chestnut trees are already turning brown, and we have started to switch on lights in the evening. Extreme heat has now been replaced by torrential rain and storms. British summers! Sadly, such uncertainty from one week to the next still exists with regard to coronavirus, making our decisions difficult. Our next Council meeting, scheduled for Sunday 23rd August, will again be conducted by e-mail on-line, but it does seem for the moment that we will be able to hold our AGM on 15th November at the current regular venue of Old Palace Lodge, in Dunstable.
Our ‘Members’ Day Out’ event at Beale Wildlife Park on 9th August was a successful day, and hopefully the similar event at Tropical Bird Gardens, Desford, Leicestershire on 20th September will be equally successful. We are still hopeful of being able to hold our ‘Help the Bird-keepers’ show on December 6th, at Stafford, but this has been cast into some doubt by the cancellation of two major poultry shows due at Stafford and Telford in the same month. We can only hope that cases of Covid-19 continue to reduce, and be advised by the powers that be over the next few weeks. Watch this space! Your monthly magazine is still being produced and posted out in timely fashion, so obviously an update will appear next month, but more regular news is available on our website under ‘latest news’.
On the website www.theparrotsocietyuk.org, the Members Page now seems to be working as it should. If you have not yet signed up, then go to ‘Members Only’, and “If you are already signed up please click here” (assuming that you are a PSUK member!) and click on the blue word ‘here’. Then enter your PS membership number and create a password, and click ‘Login’. You should then become registered and be allowed access in the future, using your number and password. There you will see a number of useful articles; breeding returns and advert request forms; an open forum for discussion on various topics; special interest groups; and the developing Parrot Wiki. This will be an encyclopaedic record of every parrot species, but you can help build it with details of your own special interest species. Please submit notes of their description, size, weight, breeding details, diet and any photographs you may have, and we will add them to the site, thereby creating a unique Parrot Society record!
Otherwise I can only assure you that all employees and trustees of the Parrot Society continue to work hard on your behalf. We hope you stay fit and well, and that your birds are keeping you sane in these difficult times.
Alan Jones 17th August 2020
Chairman's page Aug 2020
Last month’s magazine included a review by Rosemary Low of an excellent booklet on parrot nutrition. I would like to acknowledge the significant contribution of Tony Pittman in translating this work into English from its original German. Tony is a past Council member of the PSUK, and is well known in parrot circles for his interest in blue macaws and parrot conservation, but also of course translated the major 4-volume work Lexicon of Parrots by Thomas Arndt in 1996. This work is now out of print, but for those lucky enough to have a set, it remains a colourful and unique reference to all parrot species.
Clearly, this year has been very different to our usual programme of shows and events. However, trustees, officers and employees of The Parrot Society UK have still been busy on your behalf behind the scenes. Our secretary and editor, with office staff, designer and printers, have still successfully produced this monthly magazine on time. The on-line Birdscene has similarly to be planned and laid out, then posted on-line, while the website generally requires regular updating and checking. Unfortunately, we are still having some technical issues with the Members Page, but hopefully it will all be accessible and running smoothly within the next couple of weeks. Our Facebook page requires monitoring, with queries answered. One of the most active of our trustees on Facebook is Adam Mogg, who also writes an excellent article in this magazine issue on Knowledge is Power.
Also in this issue is a note about the Society’s policy on the re-homing of parrots. There are many reasons why owners may need to pass on these long-lived and demanding birds, and we are often asked about setting up a parrot sanctuary or rescue centre. This would be a project fraught with many problems, including suitable premises, disease control, staffing, security, general care and feeding – and would swallow money at an alarming rate. We therefore prefer to take the route of advice and introductions to the right people.
Finally, the coronavirus pandemic continues to play havoc with our calendar of events. We are still hopeful of being able to hold a larger than usual ‘Help the Bird-keepers’ show on December 6th, at Stafford. Our ‘Days Out’ events at Beale Park and Desford Bird Gardens in August & September respectively, still may be possible and are under discussion. The date and venue for the AGM (due November) is also still to be confirmed. Talking of which, may I also remind you that all nominations for trustees and officers to be elected at the AGM must be received in writing in the Parrot Society office by 31st August. We particularly need a new treasurer, if anyone has the interest and ability!
Alan Jones 20th July 2020
Chairman's page July 2020
Regrettably, we have now confirmed that The National Exhibition at Stafford in October has formally been cancelled. After consideration of all factors, including the current state of the coronavirus pandemic, the continued banning of large public gatherings, the situation at Stafford County Showground, the opinions of various bird clubs and traders that have already pulled out, and the risk to most of our visitors, an on-line discussion has resulted in a unanimous vote from all trustees to cancel. We are still hopeful that we can go ahead with our ‘Help the Bird-keepers’ show on December 6th, and make it a larger than usual event. Our ‘Days Out’ events at Birdworld, Beale Park and Desford Bird Gardens in July, August & September respectively, still may be possible and are under discussion.
Last month’s magazine included the Breeding Register from members. This is a useful document, providing a snapshot of the parrot species in aviculture, and gives us a valuable reference point when asked questions by interested parties. To those who are concerned about security and data protection, anonymity is guaranteed, so please do contribute. On-line entries will now be possible easily via the Members Only section on our website, which is now open for business. I will say more about that next month, as there are still a few teething problems that require ironing out. Clearly the number of contributors over the years has dropped considerably, but the number of birds bred per member remains stable.
In this month’s magazine, there is an interesting article from Bernard Sayers about the problems he experienced with CITES Article 10 certificates. While these relate specifically to his particular interest of owls, and stuffed specimens particularly, the same regulations would apply to Appendix 1 parrots, eggs, skins and stuffed specimens. So well worth a read! There is also a review by Rosemary Low on a well-produced 100-page booklet on nutrition in parrots. All avian veterinarians will agree that far and away the most significant cause of disease problems in captive parrots is faulty nutrition. This volume provides information from a number of experts in a very readable format, that should tell you all you need to know. There is no ‘one size fits all’ parrot mix for all species: individual requirements vary, and proper balance is essential.
Otherwise, at the time of writing it would appear that we are slowly coming out of the coronavirus scare (barring any second wave), and hopefully returning to some degree of normality and increasing freedom. We look forward to it!
Alan Jones 15th June 2020
Chairman’s Page June 2020
Firstly, a point of clarification. Last month’s issue of the magazine contained a further chapter from John and Pat Stoodley’s book on Amazon parrots. This chapter was written by Risa Teitler, and went into great detail about wing clipping in captive parrots. Attitudes to this procedure have changed dramatically in the last thirty years, and wing clipping in pet parrots as an adjunct to training or ‘controlling’ their behaviour is not now encouraged. There is a disclaimer (in very small print!) on the front of every magazine to say that the views of contributors are not necessarily those of The Parrot Society, and the opening statement at the beginning of the article, on page 38, indicated that this book was published originally in 1990, but neither particularly emphasised the point. Our apologies to any reader who was upset or confused by this article.
It is now clear that continued coronavirus lockdown conditions, with the banning of large public gatherings, mean that it is looking increasingly unlikely that our major show – The National Exhibition at Stafford in October – will be able to be mounted. It will be a big disappointment to us all not to be able to proceed with what is the premier bird event of the year, but as the majority of our visitors tick many of the boxes for being considered highly vulnerable to Covid-19, then we have to be careful. We will make a final decision within the next month. We are still considering the possibility of going ahead with our ‘Help the Bird-keepers’ show on December 6th, and if so, making it a larger than usual event. Look out for regular updates on this website, under ‘Latest News’, or ‘PSUK Shows’. Otherwise, there is our Facebook page https://www.facebook.com/ParrotSocietyUK/
Speaking of which, my thanks to those who work hard posting regular updates to the latter, giving some interesting articles and pictures for those who use social media to enjoy and become involved with. Our secretary, Les Rance, is still working hard to produce your monthly magazine, so that you will have something else worthwhile to look at! Earlier this month PSUK trustees held a Council meeting by email, over the course of a weekend. This worked reasonably well, allowing trustees to log on at more flexible times and to think about the subjects under discussion before contributing. Video-conferencing such as Zoom or Team would have tied people down to a specific time-slot, which may not have fitted so well with weekend family commitments, and would have been time-constrained. We shall see how things progress between now and our next scheduled meeting on 21st June. Either way, the business of The Parrot Society continues as thoroughly as we possibly can.
Meanwhile, enjoy the summer as much as you can, stay safe and stay well!
Alan Jones 18th May 2020
Chairman’s Page May 2020
Well this must be the strangest Spring and Summer that I have ever experienced! A quiet Easter weekend, with no family visits, or trips to garden centres. Quiet roads but busy supermarkets, and TV news bulletins wall-to-wall coronavirus instead of Brexit, with reporters and interviewees speaking on variable quality video links from their homes. Those of you that are still employed may be working from home, or furloughed on reduced salaries, and worrying whether or not you will still have a job at the end of it all. NHS workers and delivery drivers are working harder than ever. Meanwhile, we are not spending as much, as there are no theatre or cinema trips, and no restaurants or pubs open. Nevertheless, some routines continue, as our birds still need attention. Pet parrots still need feeding, cleaning out, and keeping occupied – like many pets they are perhaps wondering why we are all at home all day. I wonder how our dogs particularly will react when we can get back to going out and leaving them at home for a while! Outdoor aviary and breeding birds will no doubt be in full swing, with the recent warmer, sunnier weather. Thank goodness we have such a hobby to keep us from going stir-crazy!
However, the lockdown situation and closure of large public meetings does mean that we have had regretfully to cancel our Summer Show at Stafford in July, and likewise the Think Parrots event at Kempton Park in June will not go ahead. Our days out at Flamingo Land in May and Paradise Park in June are also cancelled. Thereafter, Birdworld in July, Beale Park in August and Desford Tropical Bird Gardens in September are still awaiting a decision. Hopefully our major show – The National Exhibition at Stafford in October – may still go ahead, but with decisions being made on a daily basis, you will have to watch this space. The best way to keep up to date is to check on this website, under ‘Latest News’, or ‘PSUK Shows’. Otherwise, there is our Facebook page https://www.facebook.com/ParrotSocietyUK/
One positive is that our secretary, Les Rance, is still actively keeping on top of things, mostly working from home, but with occasional trips down to the PS office to check mail and telephone messages. Our other Officers and Trustees are also in regular contact, meaning that the business of the Parrot Society continues, and that includes the publication of your monthly magazine, as you will see from this issue. Clearly, the opportunities for buying, selling, or exchanging birds are severely curtailed, so adverts in the magazine become even more useful.
This time last year I was writing about the activities of the early summer, with our trip to see Puffins on Skomer Island, and all the shows and events that were coming up. Such a change in twelve months! Life will not return to what we were accustomed to for a long time yet. Meanwhile, we will continue to do what we can to keep the ship on an even keel. Stay safe and stay well!
Alan Jones 19th April 2020
Chairman’s Page April 2020
The coronavirus pandemic is evolving so rapidly, and decisions are being made on a daily basis, that writing about it in a monthly magazine makes it difficult to say anything pertinent. At the time of writing it does seem that large gatherings of people will be banned, and this of course could potentially include our shows at Stafford. A lot will depend on the progress and severity of the outbreak, and how long such bans will continue. It could certainly impact on such events as Think Parrots in June, and our own Summer Show in July. We do not in any case take bookings for July this early in the year, but we will keep you informed. The best way to do this will be to check on this website, under ‘Latest News’, or ‘PSUK Shows’. Otherwise, there is our Facebook page https://www.facebook.com/ParrotSocietyUK/
Such cancellations will severely impact on the social calendar of parrot enthusiasts, as well as affecting the opportunities for buying, selling, or exchanging birds. It will also make a big dent in the income of The Parrot Society for this year. All we can do is to keep a close eye on the situation, and be assured that your Officers and Trustees will be doing their very best in difficult circumstances. There may also be an impact on our Days Out: again, check details on the website.
A further major worry with the Covid-19 virus, of course, is that its effects are more serious in older people with underlying health conditions. This could apply to a high percentage of our members – looking at the visitors to bird shows, it is clear that many are affected by breathing and lung problems, and most are over 60! We can only advise following medical advice to avoid close contact with too many people, and to practice good hygiene, especially of the hands and face. Potential ‘self-isolation’ of people over 70 years old would apply to many of us!
Otherwise, to report some good news: the project to re-introduce the Spix’s Macaw (Cyanopsitta spixii) in Brazil is progressing well, with 52 healthy specimens captive bred in Europe and the Middle East now ensconced in a quarantine and pre-release station in Bahia State. This smallest of the blue macaws has been listed as critically endangered for decades, owing to habitat destruction and illegal trade, and was declared extinct in the wild in 2000. There was one possible sighting of an individual in 2016. Meanwhile, co-operation between groups keeping these iconic birds in captivity has resulted in this – so far – successful project to re-introduce Spix’s Macaws to their original homeland.
Alan Jones 14th March 2020
Chairman's Page February/March 2020
As I write this column, the country is being battered by fierce storms for the second weekend in succession, Parliament and the Royal Family still have their problems, and the population is worrying about Coronavirus, the sudden death of Caroline Flack, and who will be revealed on The Mask! Seriously though, the weather does affect breeding birds – both captive and wild. We have had a comparatively mild winter so far, which has encouraged many species to explore nest sites and start pairing up, only for the floods and gales to batter their nests and general environment. If you didn’t attend to essential bird-room maintenance last autumn, any leaks and weaknesses will certainly be exposed now!
Fortunately, rain has also arrived in Australia, to douse many of the disastrous fires. Trustees are in regular contact with long-term colleague Ray Ackroyd, as well as others involved with Glossy Black Cockatoos on Kangaroo Island, to establish where we can best provide financial support to aid recovery. Unfortunately, an apparently worthwhile project to send parrot feathers out to the USA to pass on to Native American tribes in the North and South of the continent has failed to get off the ground, owing to the costs and red tape involved on the American side.
Meanwhile, your hard-working Council and office staff have been renewing subscriptions and preparing for shows and events later this year. Younger and enthusiastic Trustees Hayley Baker, Mike Roxx and Adam Mogg have re-vamped our Facebook page and developed a new Instagram link, to keep pace with social media, and hopefully to reach a wider and younger audience. Direct links are available from our website: go to the top right-hand corner of the home page on www.theparrotsocietyuk.org.
I recently visited ZSL’s Regents Park Zoo with family members, after a gap of many years, to see what changes there have been. Whilst not renowned for a parrot collection, several interesting avian species were present. I am old enough to remember the opening of the iconic Snowdon Aviary in 1978, and this Grade II listed structure is retained as being of historic, cultural and architectural significance. Its original avian occupants have now been re-distributed around the Zoo, while it is to be re-developed as a home for a variety of monkey species, red duiker deer, and a flock of African grey parrots. These latter will showcase the plight of this popular parrot, whose wild counterparts have been devastated by the illegal wildlife trade. It should be an impressive exhibit when re-opened!
The iconic Snowdon Aviary at Regents Park Zoo, London
Alan Jones 16th February 2020
Chairman’s Page January 2020
A New Year begins, and as I write, dandelions and daisies are bravely peeking up through the muddied grass in the park. Snowdrops are out, and daffodils will not be far behind. A Brexit decision has finally been made, and another General Election has come and gone, while the Royal Family is in hiatus. I feel we are in for an interesting year ahead! Our first Council meeting of the year has taken place, with three new trustees welcomed on board, and much discussion about the future of The Parrot Society. Keep an eye out for new ideas as the year unfolds. All show dates, members’ days out, and related events have been finalised, and posted on our website. Some tweaks have made to the site to make it easier to navigate, and finally the ‘Members Only’ section should be up and running very soon! Please note that on-line booking for shows is available only nearer the show dates, and each will be announced on the website. Also, although annual membership of the Society includes all members of a household, entry wristbands are still restricted to just two per membership subscription.
Trustees are following with sympathy and concern the environmental tragedy of the extensive bush fires in Australia, and offers of financial support where needed have gone out to our contacts working with parrots out there. One photographer reports seeing green shoots of new growth in burnt areas, and hopefully these will increase rapidly now rain has come, but the immediate loss of wildlife, food sources, and nesting sites will take a long time to recover. Some estimates put it as long as one hundred years. We wait to hear of specific projects needing our help.
Meanwhile, back home, no doubt your breeding birds are getting well settled into laying eggs and raising their chicks. I wish you every success with your bird-keeping, and another year of working with a hard-working and enthusiastic group of Trustees for your benefit.
Alan Jones 20th January 2020