A TRUE HOBBYIST dynasty is a rarity: a succession of generations where both knowledge and passion have been handed on and expressed. Two generations of transmitted enthusiasm, from parent to offspring, are frequent, but three or more are far scarcer, reflecting the deep and rapid changes in our society, which show no sign of abating. Can anyone match the Franz family’s dynasty in the crested canary hobby, whom we meet on page 8? This remarkable “line” is in its fourth generation, with a fifth bidding fair to follow!

Most active currently with the crests is Dom Franz, who is “keeping the flame” with skill and panache, and it was thanks to Dom that I first looked with real pleasure at a crested canary. Hitherto I’d tended to see crests as a little bit heavy, a little bit slouchy on the perch. Then at the Maidstone South-East Classic last December my eyes were opened by a sales bird of Dom’s: a variegated yellow cock so crisply patterned that it seemed to carry its bulk and length lightly. I looked once, then couldn’t believe it was still unsold when I came back for another gander. I can’t tell you how it would rate on the show bench, but I can tell you I felt the tug of an impulse buy! Oh, dear… but it was a lovely bird and I wish the Franz dynasty every good fortune in producing more like that.

■ Editor’s Quote of the Week: “Cheap justice is not the same as fair justice.” On page 16, David Alderton puts his finger on the weak point in the recent outsourcing craze embraced by governments: in this case, the Scottish Executive in its animal welfare consultation. Think of the Scottish SPCA equipped with the RSPCA’s legal powers (and then some) against the owners of animals and birds, and your vague uneasiness about “what they’re up to” may come into focus.

■ Hot news via a most welcome silly press release: it’s only six weeks till Dogstival time. What’s that – you didn’t know that the New Forest is to host its first ever canine festival this year? What gets me is that the New Forest has been going since William the Conqueror declared it officially open in 1079 and none of the slackers involved has ever bothered to put on a canine festival. A complete waste of a thousand years.

■ The night parrot fiasco (see page 4). I’ll say just this: I could have told them. They should have asked me. It’s too late now.

Have a fiasco-free week with the birds!


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