Above: AS chairman Nigel Hewston (left) and Nigel Luxon, who accepted the 2019 Ezra Award on behalf of Peter White at the National Exhibition in October


DOUBLE AWARD CELEBRATIONS were held by the Avicultural Society (AS) towards the end of 2019.

The society’s Ezra Award, instituted in 2009 in memory of the late AS president Ruth Ezra, was offered for the first time for sustained breeding; and there was a relaunch of the Donald Risdon Award.

Peter White from Devon is the first recipient of the sustained breeding Ezra medal for his success with pytilias. Originally this award was for services to the society. Mr White’s outstanding breeding of 986 pytilias of three species over a decade – 418 red-winged, 474 yellow-winged and 94 orange-winged – featured in the society’s Avicultural Magazine, vol 125 (April 2019) no.1 (see “The Natural & Unnatural History of the Pytilia”).

“The Ezra Award is open to AS members anywhere in the world on publication of an article in the magazine, helping others to benefit from their expertise and experience with a particular species or group of species over a period,” explained AS chairman Nigel Hewston.

Mr White has kept many species over the years, with parrotfinches dominating his birdroom in the early 1960s up until recently, which included at least seven parrotfinch species plus many subspecies. He has also kept and bred six species/subspecies of quailfinch, and seven species of South American siskins, the latter of which he has bred since 2005.

Speaking to Cage & Aviary Birds, Mr White said: “This is certainly an honour as pytilias are not the easiest of waxbills to breed in cages because they refuse to rear their chicks, hence the reason for fostering as discussed in my Avicultural Magazine article.”

The relaunch of the Donald Risdon Award after many years was kickstarted with a presentation to Tiago Nabiço from Portugal for the best article published in the Avicultural Magazine in 2018.

A bird collections manager at Wisbroek Breeding Centre in the Netherlands, Mr Nabiço’s article on hand-rearing a knobbed hornbill (Rhyticeros cassidix) is described by AS officials as “a detailed article, both technical and readable, based on practical experience” and is illustrated with excellent photographs. (See Avicultural Magazine, vol 124 (2018) no.2, “Hand Rearing a Knobbed Hornbill”.)

The prize for this award is an original artwork featuring the subject of the chosen article, which was kindly created by WWT aviculturist and talented artist, Jodie Clements.

Mr Hewston said: “This award is open to anyone submitting an article for publication in the AS magazine. The society hopes that the chance to win such a unique prize will inspire birdkeepers to pick up a pen or take to a keyboard and share their bird experiences.”

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