WARM CONGRATULATIONS TO the two newest members of the NCA’s Hall of Fame (see page 4). Here is my completely personal take on their achievements. Rosemary Low is, of course, a long-standing and hugely valued contributor to these pages. What never ceases to impress me is the breadth as well as the depth of Rosemary’s knowledge: she is equally expert on parrots in captivity and in the wild, which gives her a unique perspective in her books about this bird family. (I’m thinking of her work on Pyrrhura conures, for example.) What’s more, every line is as deeply felt as it is knowledgeable. Still more: although parrots are her key subject, her knowledge extends far out into the world of aviculture.
Breadth, as well as depth of knowledge, are also the keynotes of Brian Hogg’s expertise, which he wears lightly – but my goodness, when Brian talks canaries, people listen. Here is a breeder/exhibitor whose practical experience of, and love for, canaries embrace breed after breed. While he is best known for his support of the old and rare varieties, how well I recall him describing to me his tough learning programme to fulfil a new ambition: to judge Lizard canaries at the World Show. In tandem with this expertise goes, I should add, a tremendous willingness to sell you a sack of seed out of the back of his van.
Well done to both. We are very lucky to have them in this hobby.
■ Sticking with awards, on page 18 Fred Wright shares his thoughts on the subject of budgerigar “greats” and the recognition they ought to get. Should the honours go to breeders or administrators, to committee stalwarts or stars out of left field? All of ’em, say I, but W.H. Auden’s gnomic lines are running through my head: Let us honour if we can/the vertical man/though we value none/but the horizontal one. (Should say “or woman”, of course.) In other words, our priority should be to give our greats recognition while they are still with us, rather than rhapsodising about them in retrospect. The fancy’s pretty good at this, I think, but there are still some undervalued greats out there.
■ Scientific Bird Name of the Week: Pelecanus occidentalis urinator, the Galapagos brown pelican. My references tell me that the subspecific name means “diver”, from the Latin urinare, to dive. Of course.
Enjoy all of your birds this week.