LIKE MANY BLOKES, I’ve got a weakness for statistics. Some things seem more real when they’re quantified. And you don’t need to look far to notice that this tendency prevails widely in the fancy: I give you the points competition, for starters. So I always find reports of breeding results irresistible, even when they do not actually exemplify a beautiful clear-cut trend, an evolution in birdkeeping taste from one year to the next.
As Dave Harris of the Australian Finch Society tactfully points out in our news story on page 2, breeding “trends” are often driven simply by fanciers’ natural yen to try something different every few years.
It’s the detail I enjoy in these reports. Last year, someone in the Norfolk Foreign Bird Association reported a first club breeding with the olive finch (Arremon castaneiceps). Arremon! What a name to conjure with. What a genus – and how sadly neglected in our fancy.
These are mostly species of the lush cloudforests of Central and South America: ground-feeders and bamboo-haunters with skulking habits and wispy hard-toplace songs. Some members of the genus are superb: check out the golden-winged sparrow (A. schlegeli) or chestnut-capped brush-finch (A. brunneinucha).
These birds would command admiration in any well-foliaged aviary. Arremon forms just a small fraction of Latin America’s wealth of wonderful seedeating birds: the equal of Africa or Australia, which are infinitely better known in our aviculture. An abundance of riches indeed, to those who have the opportunity to explore any of these birds.
In honesty, I should add that (with all respect to the achiever of that splendid first breeding) the olive finch is rather plain.
Not one of the star Arremon by any means – but an adventure, like all new birds. Enjoy your birds (of whatever colour) this week.
In the February 25, 2014 issue of Cage & Aviary Birds, brighten up your life with the gorgeously hued sun conure from the forests of northern Brazil, urges Bill Lowe
Don’t moan about the cost of foreign birds, says David Lugo – learn to breed and sell them instead
Roger Carr reports from a budgerigar show of stellar quality: the 2014 ZEWA event in Switzerland
Plus lots more, including expert Q&A, doves, British birds, club jobs and trade news