Applications for the Raymond Sawyer Scholarship are now Open

This year sees the launch of the fifth Raymond Sawyer Scholarship, funded by the Avicultural Society from a legacy left by our late President. As in previous years, the scholarship will be used to send a young birdkeeper under the age of 25, of any nationality, on a course at the Durrell Conservation Academy. This year’s successful applicant will attend the five-day Avian Egg Incubation workshop from Nov 5th- 9th, led by renowned US expert Susie Kasielke, avian biologist at Toledo Zoo & Aquarium.

The scholarship will cover the £600 course fee and on-site accommodation costs. Applications are now open, and will close on June 29th. The application form can be found at

All the successful applicants so far have been aiming for, or already embarked upon, a career in aviculture and conservation. The first recipient, Heiko Janatzek, was a German zoo volunteer, amateur breeder and Aviornis Germany committee member who, following the scholarship, came to the UK to study Zoo Conservation Biology. In its second year, the scholarship was awarded to Rosemary Drew from the UK, who worked as an intern on avicultural projects in Europe, USA and Africa with species ranging from hummingbirds to eagles and cranes before securing a job in the Conservation Breeding Unit at WWT Slimbridge. Rosie continues to be an active member of the Society. In 2016 the scholarship was awarded to Logan Ody, a birdkeeper at Paradise Park in Cornwall who also has his own varied collection, and last year’s award was to Anna Temple, whose perseverance was rewarded when she was successful at her third application. After handrearing flamingos at WWT Washington, she has embarked on a Wildlife Conservation degree with an avicultural zoo placement. Rosemary, Logan and Anna have all given talks at our AGMs, and it is clear that the scholarship has had a very positive impact not only on their careers, but also their avicultural skills and commitment.

Until now, applications from professionals or would-be professionals have far outnumbered those from hobbyists. This year, while the scholarship is, as always, open to amateur, student or professional aviculturists, the panel would particularly like to encourage applications from amateur breeders who would simply like to use the course to improve the avicultural techniques they apply in their hobby. The Society has been delighted to use the scholarship over the last four years to support young aviculturists in developing their careers in the vital field of conservation breeding. However, amateur breeders rarely have access to the sort of professional training offered at the Durrell Academy, but can benefit just as much as career birdkeepers, particularly with the high-tech equipment that is widely available today. One of the strengths of the Avicultural Society is its blend of professional and amateur members, and we would like to see this reflected in the scholarship.

Cage & Aviary Birds magazine continues to support the scholarship by handling the application process and providing valuable publicity. Editor Rob Innes also sits on the selection panel, along with Philip Schofield and Simon Bruslund for the Society, and Tim Wright, Academy Manager at the Durrell Conservation Academy.