BIRD FLU IS back, and DEFRA has proclaimed all of England a Prevention Zone. Fifteen lovely wild mute swans at the Swannery at Abbotsbury in Dorset (plus a goose and a duck) were diagnosed with H5N6 flu last week, then more wildlings with flu were found in Warwickshire. This is the new norm, in winter at least. What does it mean for cage bird fanciers? The Prevention Zone measures oblige you to take sensible biosecurity measures if you keep stock outside, to prevent contact with wild birds. For many fanciers, this is now standard practice. But we’ll be carrying extra advice and news of any developments over the next few issues.

My colleague Laura Welch spoke at length to Stephen Hughes of respected closed-ring suppliers A.C. Hughes this week. Nothing unusual about that – except that the phone lines to the firm had been so jammed that she was pleased to get through! Mr Hughes candidly confirmed that the firm had experienced an unprecedented difficulty in fulfilling all ring orders on time this winter; that was partly down to an equally unprecedented spike in orders from a corporate customer. It was also plain that social media hadn’t helped by spreading a load of porkies about the situation. We understand ring supply is now back to normal.

If you buy your C&AB at the newsagents, next week you’ll notice it costs an extra 9p. That’s because paper prices have continued to rise year on year, so Kelsey Publishing has decided to increase our cover price to £1.99. Always remember, you can save lots off the cover price, and get us delivered first class at home, if you subscribe to the paper: see page 25 for details.

Now the good news: also as of next week, Cage & Aviary Birds will be printed on a new and much better-quality paper stock. It will look and feel significantly better – as I hope you’ll agree.

Editor’s Quote of the Week: “45 minutes down in the birdroom in the morning before work, mixing up a bit of eggfood with the birds singing and the radio on, really helps me forget the stresses of the day.” That’s Nick Joy from Sussex, whose acquaintance it’s a pleasure to make on page 12. Like Mr Joy – have a great time with your birds this week.

Rob Innes