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Here now are posts from April, May & June -
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