OUR COVER BIRD this week, the mountain quail (Oreortyx pictus), was selected for two reasons. First, I’m a sucker for those superb New World quail and rate them the best gamebirds, pound for pound, on the circuit. Second, this species has a particular link with our cover story on page 8, because the first UK breeding of the mountain quail was achieved in 1938 by the late Alfred Ezra, who for many years was the president of the Avicultural Society (AS). I found that out in the AS’s register of first breedings, which is discussed among other topics in the same cover story by the AS chairman, Nigel Hewston.  

Nigel’s wide-ranging article continues next week, and I think he does an admirable job in airing several issues that need to be aired. One is the vexing problem of exotic species that may have been covertly imported live into the EU: in acquiring and breeding them, are birdkeepers contributing to the problem or the solution? Murky waters, but I think that ethically we can steer towards the light if we agree, collectively, to balance the novelty and thrill of an exotic breeding (say a “first”) with a commitment to founding a sustainable breeding population. That balance is what the AS aims to foster via its award schemes, explains Nigel, and I think it should be a strong and public aim for all the clubs and individuals who share an interest in these magical birds.

■ News on page 3 of the special C&AB event at Maidstone on Sunday, December 9. This year we’ve again hired the capacious Lockmeadow Hall and the message to exhibitors in London and the South-East has been simple: come and put on a show! I’m specially looking forward to seeing those lovely British birds at the Albert Lawson Memorial Show. But the event is also a sale for surplus birds and birdkeeping supplies, and I’m delighted to say our event sponsor is again Copdock Mill, who will be selling bulk seed at special trade prices. That’s proved a massive attraction for the past two years, so you heard it here first: leave enough room in the car boot! Plenty more sale info to come here, online and on social media, but for sales tables and trade stands your contact is of course Fred Wright (020 8401 6979/fredwright@freeuk.com).       

■ We’ve had an enquiry from a reader who’s after a bird cage in the shape of a gypsy vardo (traditional wagon). Can anybody help? Drop us a line at birds.general@kelsey.co.uk if you can.