Cage bird breeding to benefit conservation,


A recent report in 2014, showed 60% of wildlife is declining and that’s here in the U.K. with some of the best wildlife conservation organisations and wildlife measures in the world, including being a nation of animal lovers, what can we do?
It upset by an article in a popular bird magazine article on trading standards June 2013, it bought back my issues whilst visiting the RSPB member’s weekend on my first attendance in 1981. That event gave me just one lasting bright stop in winning a painting by Peter Hayman of a Dipper, albeit at the cost of road killed birds because I could I.D. them via their wing only. Otherwise I meet total hostility in any idea of keeping any bird within a confined aviary for any reason even Peter Scott’s success with the Nene Goose or Hawaiian Goose was not seen as positive for they should have been able to do it naturally in the wild was the belief then, so even my idea of breeding birds for release was objected.

How things change with time for twenty years on and even today we see captive breeding and reintroductions programmes (that I often disagree with) being high priority for conservation groups, in relation to Birds both requires skills that are used in aviary culture, but still these conservation bodies are hypercritically holding back on expanding the skill base to breed birds within closed environments i.e. some form of cage, and reluctant to except advise from the old boys that have gained a great deal of practical skill in breeding birds but lack the science knowledge so it is totally rejected and the scientists do their own experiments and when getting it wrong, it results in a complete breeding season lost, as with the RSPB Cirl Bunting breeding programme. Your article confirms that the supply of cage birds has not stopped but instead of coming from the wild the increase in prices has made it viable to breed them in captivity proving that there is the skills to breed many birds, it states when inported 60 % were lost in transport, but we all today understand that a big % of birds that rear large numbers each year need to die within the first year, our own Blue tit being a prime example, many of the birds that were commonly imported could produce double figure offspring each season, for example from two pairs of a common captive bird freely breeding within a mixed aviary collection I finish up with 108 birds at the end of one season having breed 104 in under a year, this would need a 96% plus loss to keep the population stable within the close population of that aviary. I was not even in my teens when I achieved this number but with hindsight would not allow that number to be produced in one season now for a number of reasons concerning the bird’s long term health. I know a breeder that has breed hundreds of different bird species, and with the right backing he is likely to be able to breed any bird. I myself do not have enough fingers to count the number of species I have breed, but accept I have only limited knowledge to breed certain Birds with a very good chance of success but I have enough knowledge to keep most species alive in captivity, personally I have not kept any birds for the past 10 years, although regularly have public seeking my advise.
To stop the import and keeping of endangered birds, reptiles or any other creature I have at times voiced the following basic system, anyone can keep a common easily breed species, for example no one has problems for those that have never had a Cat, Dog or Chicken to keep them without any training, they must then prove that they can breed the common easily breed subject a first list, before they can progress to another second list stemming from the species that what they have breed, again breed them to move to yet another third list, in the end they could be paid by those that wish to have certain creatures or conservation organisation to breed endangered creatures, having already prove their ability to breed similar subjects, this has meet with agreement from cage bird keepers I have also mentioned it too some but not many conservationist that have agreed in principle, the benefits I see is if anyone without the licence to keep and breed say a Magpie Robin or any other species would be automatically guilty, it would generate a legal trail for bird movements along with professional animal keeps that have ample knowledge and enthusiasm with the expertise to breed creatures that would enable reintroductions and a widely spread gene pool of DNA for each species giving added security for every creature within a controlled programme.
At present (2014) there is a limited list of British birds that can be breed and sold the list is here

Blackbird
Bunting Reed
Goldfinch
Jay
Owl Barn
Starling
Yellowhammer

Brambling
Chaffinch
Greenfinch
Linnet
Redpoll
Thrush Song


Bullfinch
Dunnock
Jackdaw
Magpie
Siskin
Twite


From this list of 19 birds you have 7 that are classed as Softbills, 11 as Hardbills and 1 a raptor.
The raptor (Barn Owl) today is easily breed in captivity, and some are released under licence but they need about 20 acres of suitable land for hunting to supply enough food in the wild in which to survive, otherwise man would need to top up their food supply.
Although all the Hardbill birds will live quit happily on a seed mixture for many years most require a much more complicated food mixture to breed successfully, this extra food would be made up off essentially various insects, often certain green foods and generally soaked seeds instead of hard seeds, for a few days some become totally insectivorous when breeding. Nesting sites is another varied issue. The Softbills cover both omnivorous and insectivorous birds. Some will became very hand tame with ease, whilst the Starling is good at mimicking sounds.
The law requires these birds to be closed ringed when the young are in the nest at about 5 days of age, to help prove they are captive breed, this can however cause problems to some of the clean and tidy birds for the ring is seen as a foreign body in the nest and thrown out, with the chick attached, breeders have a number of different tricks to fool the parents to help prevent this from happening.
It is against the law to release any of these birds bred in captivity into the wild without a licence. The silly thing is some can be captured and killed with a general licence, but you cannot keep them unless as a call bird or release them back into the wild they need to be killed, however miss trapped species can be released.

Male Chaffinch Young Starling A juvenile Goldfinch
known as a Greyplate
Male Chaffinch photo a young Starling Greyplate a young goldfinch
Photo by P. Cumberland Juv Starling, photography of P Cumberland Image photographed by P. Cumberland.

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