Part I


PART II : 1920 - 1944

By Josef Lindholm III
First Published in The Avicultural Magazine Vol. 100 No. 2
Copyright © 1994 Avicultural Society, Published with Permission

The final contribution to the 25th volume of the Avicultural Magazine was the then 29-year-old Jean Delacour's letter, presented in Part I of this retrospective, announcing his acquisition of the Château de Clères. In the hindsight afforded by the passage of 75 years, it is hard to imagine a more appropriate and portentious conclusion to the magazine's first quarter century.

'I have been living here for about a fortnight, and although the park is by no means ready it is fenced all round and the first arrivals are enjoying semi-liberty. Besides some mammals there are White-necked and Stanley Cranes, Emus, a pair of Trumpeter Swans, Ross's, Pale-headed, Magellanic, Canada, Barnacle, Bar-headed and Cereopsis Geese, two dozen Falcated and Chilean Pin-tail Ducks, Specifer Peafowl, Crossoptilons, and Siamese Firebacks. It is a small beginning, but I enjoy these few birds very much.

'I expect the aviaries (outdoor and indoor) and the enclosures will be ready for June or July. Mme. Lécallier is kindly keeping a lot of rare and interesting birds for me until my installations are set up. She has now a wonderful collection, especially of Parrakeets and Parrots'.

J. Delacour (Avicultural reconstruction) Series III Vol. XI, 107).

'... about two years ago I received a consignment of five Cuban Trogons, in miserable condition, in fact they were nothing but lumps of dirty broken feathers. Three died shortly, but two recovered, moulted out, and became the most charming birds one could wish to possess. Unfortunately, one died of stoppage of the intestines from having swallowed the hard skin of some coarse grape ... My last Trogon is in the best of health, and now moulting for the second time with me. It is a very tame and sensible bird ...

'My largest outdoor aviary, which connects with a heated room, contains a fair number of Magpies, such as Acalie Cyanocorax chrysoops [Plush-capped Jay], Blue C. caeruleus [Azure Jay], San Blasian, Beechey's Cissolopha sanblasiana and C. beecheyi, Himalayan Blue Urocissa occipitalis, Wandering Tree Pies Dendrocitta rufa, African Black Cryptorhina [Ptilostomus] afra [piapiac]; an Australian Piping Crow; some Toucans and Hornbills, Long-tailed Glossy Starlings and Mexican Rails Aramides albiventris; all these birds agree very well together, and make a very good show. There is never any fighting between them'.

(Some birds in my aviaries. May 1921 (Series III) Vol. XII, 68 - 70).

'Nothing is more charming than a good many birds of different sorts, running, swimming and even flying in a state of semi-liberty, and I always arrange to have a number as well as some mammals in the little part of about 40 acres, all fenced by wire-netting 8 feet high with 2 feet in the ground.'

* * *

'Cranes are, in my opinion, the best ornament to a park. I keep loose together one cock and two hen Sarus, pairs of Manchurian, White-necked, European and Blue-crowned Cranes, one Stanley and a dozen Demoiselles. So far they all agree very well together, and have not destroyed any nest in the spring, but I am very much afraid that ... after several years ... I shall have to separate some pairs ... the cock Sarus is full-winged ... he sometimes disappears and flies very high for as much as half an hour, but except on one occasion he has never alighted anywhere but in the park ... I find my Cranes never touch the trout, which are abundant in the stream and lake.'

'... Curassows and Guans ... are very nice at liberty from April to November ... at the present moment I have three Crested Guan, delightfully tame little birds, which stay most of the time on the balustrade of the terrace, three Yarrels, two Alector, one Prince Albert [Blue-faced], one Razor-billed, and one Salvin's Razor-bill Curassows ... The last is, I believe, quite a rare species, even in skin collections ... the great tameness of Curassows allow one to have them full-winged, as they never go away, at least not with me.

'... I also tried Parrakeets loose, which the Marquess of Tavistock very kindly gave me. A pair of Indian Ringnecks and an Alexandrine cock paired to an African Ringneck hen stayed very well, and have a nest, as far as I can ascertain ... Of a pair of Rosy Cockatoos, which were given liberty ... the cock went away after three days, but the hen is still here. She has taken a strong liking to the railway station, which is just outside the park, and spends most of her time on its roof When a train comes in she flies to the engine, in the smoke, and stays on it even after it has started, until it reaches a curve, about half a mile away. She then flies back to the station ...

(Birds in the park at Clères. August, 1921) (Series III) Vol. XII, 113-116).

'... in Martinique, where I stayed two weeks in November, and two weeks again in April, thanks to the kind hospitality of the Governor, I could visit all points of interest in the island ...

'The commonest bird of Martinique is the so-called "Blackbird" (Merle) ... The males are glossy black; the females and young dark brown ... A feature of these birds is their quaint and pretty call, which can hardly be termed a song, and their boat-shaped tail ... I brought home two pairs of [these] ... Quisqualus [sic] [niger] inflexirostris ... they now live in an outdoor aviary, where I hope to breed them ...

'Another very common bird ... is the charming Quit or Sugar-bird (Coereba [flaveota] martinicana), locally called "Sucrier" ... The Martinique Quit is almost entirely black, with yellow under-parts, and, according to age, yellow or cream-white eyebrows; the base of the bill is red. They are easily caught and live well on the usual mixture of Mellin's food, honey, and milk, and insectile food ... I now have eight of the active and bright little birds in perfect plumage. I landed nine and lost half a dozen on the way to Europe ... As my late friend the Marquis de Siegur had brought the three species [of Martinican Hummingbirds] to France in 1914 I did not try to capture any, as I preferred to import Guiana Hummingbirds. Two species of Seed-eaters are plentiful in Martinique - the Grey Finch (Euethia [Tiaris] bicolor called "Cici", and the Red-throated Finch (Loxigilla focus). Both are easy to catch but difficult to keep at first. I landed only one male Cici, a very small grey bird, with almost black head and breast, and five Red-throated Finches, one adult male and four young ones... There is ... a very nice song-bird of the Tyrant family (Elainea martinicana) [sic] called "Siffleur", a plain grey bird with a crest, most charming in shape and character. Several young ones were brought to me, but only one survived; it unfortunately died in a fit one month after its arrival in France. A Grey Thrush (Cichlherminia herminieri) also died soon after it reached Europe ...

'My collection of live Martinique birds was completed by a pair of Passerine Doves (Columbala [Columbina] passerina) and nine Martinique Doves (Zenaida [aurita] martinicana)

'A very interesting fact, so far never recorded in any work on ornithology, is the migration through Martinique of the Guiana Parrotlet (Psittacula [Forpus] passerinus). These little birds arrive from the north in February and March as a rule, and remain three to four weeks in the island. I was fortunate enough to see several flocks of them and to bring home a pair caught near Fort-de-France. They are typical P. passerine ...

'There are in Martinique many other interesting birds that one would be glad to have in aviaries, but owing to their scarcity I would not capture them. As an instance, let me mention some charming hours I spent one afternoon in a wood of giant tree ferns on the slope of "Montagne Pelie". One remembers that twenty years ago this awful volcano destroyed the city of St. Pierre and its suburbs, causing in three seconds the death of all 40,000 inhabitants. Now everything is quiet again, and the tree ferns which have grown since the eruption are some 30 feet high, so rich is the vegetation in the West Indies. A family of birds inhabited the tree fern wood: a pair and three young Clarinos (Myiedestes genibarbis) or "Siffleurs de Montagne". The Martinique species is, I believe, superior to all others in beauty and song ... These birds only live on the hills, above an altitude of 1,000 feet. The five Clarinos were sitting in the shade, sometimes flying to catch an insect ... It was a wonderful sight, these handsome birds in the stately tree ferns; but more beautiful still was their concert. The male was singing all the time, and the young ones joining him now and then; I had never heard before such a melodious and pure voice. Its own song is most varied, but the Clarino still mimics perfectly human whistling; I tried Arpeges, and other tunes, which he answered perfectly at once. The memory of the time I spent with these lovely birds, which were fearlessly flying and roosting around me, is the best souvenir I brought back from the West Indies'.

(Notes on field ornithology and aviculture in Tropical America I. Martinique. July, 1922 (Series III) Vol. XIII, 101 - 105.)

'The journey down the Rio Portuguesa and the Apure, in a launch, is wonderful ... Here, hundreds of Black Vultures and Caracaras are feeding on the carcass of a reptile; there are also various Egrets and other Herons, thousands of Terns and Cormorants. On most of the trees overhanging the water Hoatzins are sitting or moving along the branches, while enormous iguanas come down to drink ... Over our heads hundreds of large birds are soaring: huge American Adjutants and Tantalus [Wood Storks] are especially numerous; Maguari Storks, Aramus, all sorts of Herons, Scarlet and Glossy Ibises, Roseate Spoonbills; ... Ospreys are fishing around the launch, and it is a wonderful sight ...

'San Fernando is a miserable and unhealthy little town, frightfully hot. I was there the guest of the Lancashire General Investment Trust, whose officers were most kind to me ... The comfortable bungalow faces the Apure; from the windows we could see enormous Crocodiles and Freshwater Dolphins ... and on the sand bank, half a mile distant, colonies of Terns, mainly of the curious Rhynchops, made an awful and objectionable noise day and night ...

'We left San Fernando, taking with us a Ford lorry to carry our live animals; Agoutis (of the new species that I have described as Dasyprocta apurensis), Tiger Cats, Capybaras, Parrots, Macaws and Parrakeets, Curassows and Guans, King Vulture, Adjutant Storks, Tree-ducks, Orinoco Geese, Owls, Sun-bitterns, Purple Gallinules, Snake Birds, Jacanas. At Camoguans we took the small birds we had left behind; Black-cheeked Cardinals, Tanagers, Parrakeets, etc... At Caracas we took the birds we had left... We sailed for Trinidad with that menagerie on 1st January...

'... we have something new: the Motmot of Trinidad ... A kindly aviculturist, who brought up one of these birds from the nest, most generously offered it to me. A delightful present, for the Motmot of Trinidad, peculiar to that island, had nevcr been brought to Europe. It is decidedly smaller, more brilliantly coloured and more elegant inform than the ordinary species of the Continent Momotus momota.

'We embarked on 15th January, on the little French steamer l'Antilles, with our menagerie slightly diminished by a few losses and only augmented by the Motmot. Some of the mammals and larger birds ... were left behind, thanks to the kindness of the French Consul, who took care of them until my return'.

* * *

'People have a preconceived idea that St. Laurent, the town of the convicts, is a "God-forsaken and terrible place". What a mistake! ... The Director of the Administration came to see me on the quay; he placed at my disposal a fine and spacious house, surrounded with outbuildings which served admirably for the installation of my collection. With the aid of the convicts, who were given to us as servants, we quickly settled in. We arranged a laboratory, bird-rooms, aviaries and enclosures. Our greatest help was an old convict, the guardian of the house, who gave me many proofs of his goodwill. His Picardy accent drew my attention, and I soon discovered that he came from Villar-Bretonneux, my own village of the Somme; he knew my grandfather, and after 35 years of exile he was quite overcome at seeing a member of my family. His crime, a small burglary - a very light one compared with those of most of his comrades, had been augmented by his many attempts at escape ... During all my stay there, this man proved himself absolutely dependable.

'After having installed the Venezuelan livestock that we had brought with us, we occupied ourselves in procuring Guiana species. I engaged some liberated convicts who make it their profession to catch birds to sell skins: they use blowpipes with wonderful skill; in addition to that, I provided them with traps... Every day they brought me in something they had captured, which my assistant, Mr. F. Fooks looked after'...

(Notes of a bird-lover in Tropical America. October, 1922 (Series III) Vol. XIII, 148 - 157.)

'It is no easy matter to accustom the feathered inhabitants of the tropical jungle to captivity. Certain species are very refractory; at different times we attempted to keep Jacamars and Manakins in cages, but without success. Some lived for a few days, others a few weeks, appearing to become accustomed to the food, only to succumb in the end...

'...our most interesting experience was with the Hummingbirds, These wonderful little things were all caught with the aid of blow-pipe loaded with pellets of soft earth ... and were almost always brought to me in an unconscious state. We then held them in our hands to revive them and make them feed. They were fed upon a mixture of Mellin's food, milk and honey, which was sometimes substituted by phosphatine in place of the Mellin's... We found that it was necessary to catch the birds in the morning so that they had the rest of the day in which to recuperate, for Hummingbirds caught in the evening died more frequently. Usually they will feed by themselves between four and six hours after their capture... Thanks to constant attention we did not lose more than ten per cent of our Hummingbirds, and on leaving St. Laurent we took with us thirty birds representing the following species: Topaza pella, Campilopterus largipennis, Florisuga mellivora, and Thalurania furcata, the two latter being the most numerous... My collection was further increased by Tinamous (Crypturus soui), Grey-fronted Doves (Leptoptila rufaxilla), Cayenne Rails (Cresiciscus cayennis), various Macaws, Jacarini Finches and other little seed-eaters, Saltators, Quit-quits, and many Tanagers, not to mention some mammals.

'The animals and birds rested at St. Laurent with my other collections under the care of Mr. Fooks, whilst I visited Suriname and Demerara and went to spend a week with Mr. Beebe at the Tropical Research Station of Kartobo (British Guiana), and I rejoined my collection on board the steamer Antilles when I reembarked three weeks later at Georgetown (Demerara) for Trinidad and Martinique'.

(Notes of a Bird-lover in Tropical America. November, 1922. (Series III) Vol. XIII, 161 - 168.)

'In the spring a few Cranes were added to my collection; three white Asiatic and three European, sent from Calcutta by Mr. David Ezra; a pair of Crown Cranes from Sudan, through the London Zoological Society; these, Balearica ceciliae are very similar to ordinary West African Crown Crane, but rather smaller, darker, and with redder cheeks.

'Ducks have done fairly well ... over one hundred were bred, including ... White-faced Tree Ducks ... bred for the first time in France... The Ashy-headed Geese have rearcd four young ones this year, which brings my little flock ... up to eleven. I have exchanged them with the Duke of Bedford so that our birds do not become too much inbred. Some nice Ducks came to me during the year ... above all, a delightful pair of Cotton Teal, the only ones in Europe, since those Mr. Astley kept for some nine years have disappeared. They have quite settled down in an aviary. From Abyssinia I received a curious pair of Yellow-billed Ducks; they are decidedly smaller, darker and less mottled than the South African bird and I think belong to some undescribed subspecies. I intend to make it clear as soon as I can.

'In October I shall leave for the East, and after some weeks in India, Ceylon and the Malay States I hope to begin collecting birds in the wilderness of North Annam'...

(The birds at Clères in 1923. October, 1923 (Series IV), Vol. 1, 223 - 227.)

'I have just left Calcutta ... I spent two very busy days with Mr. David Ezra... His garden is crowded with birds. In the centre isa lawn where he keeps antelopes and giant tortoises, as well as deer, etc.; and there too the different Cranes and Peafowl are allowed to exercise twice a day, which are otherwise kept in small paddocks or aviaries. His collection includes... Diana, Long-nosed and Golden Rhesus Monkeys... In two bird-rooms and in the house and verandah there are Birds of Paradise in wonderful condition: two Twelve-wired, one Red, one Lesser and two young Greater Paradise Birds; a lot of Macaws and Cockatoos, the best being a Lear's and a Hyacinthine.

'There is in Calcutta a very rich Hindu (Mr. Kumar Gitendro Mullick), who has quite a fine collection ... several Paradise Birds in cages (Twelve-wired and Red) ... and an excellent collection of Parrots (about 200), the best of them being several Moluccan and Leadbeater Cockatoos, one yellow and one blue Rock Parrot (Alexandrine), one Pesquet's Parrot, one Hawk-headed, and a Lear's Macaw. In the garden, where he has beautiful aviaries, he keeps eight White Asiatic Cranes, one Manchurian, Demoiselles, Sarus and European, as well as Jabirus, Adjutants, and other Storks, and also Pelicans... He most kindly presented me with a pair of Argus Pheasants and a pair of Crowned Pigeons.

'The Calcutta Zoological Garden is very good. In addition to fine mammals, there are two male Pink-headed Ducks, lots of Cotton Teal, good Fireback and Argus Pheasants, and some Paradise Birds. Also one Lear's Macaw and a beautiful pair of Shining Parrakeets (Pyrrhulopsis [Prosopeia] splendens)... The bird shops and the bird market are the best I have ever seen... However, as I cannot buy much on my way out, I only took some Rain Quails, Zebra Doves and Perdicula asiatica [Jungle Bush Quail] at tenpence each!

'I also bought in Calcutta three pairs of Crowned Pigeons; Common, Victoria and Sclater's... [and] a wonderful Bee-eater, as large as a Roller, all green, with a turquoise blue "beard"; I cannot remember its name, so please look it up...'

(Indian bird notes) February, 1924 (Series IV), Vol II, 30 - 32.)

'...on my last collecting-trip in Annam and some other parts of Indo-China ... my main object was to gather specimens of skins and to watch birds' habits in their natural surrounding. Nevertheless, I brought back a good many live birds.

'On 19th June, I arrived at Marseilles with heaps of cages and crates, and, owing to the efficiency of the Museum Agents, all the animals and birds were in the Jardin des Plantes, in Paris, on the 2 1st. Many stayed there, as they were intended to, and the others found their way to Clères one day later.

'As might be expected from a country such as Annam, which is very rich in Pheasants, my collection of these birds was an important one, though the importation of live Reinhardtius, the wonderful Argus Pheasant of Annam, was an entire failure. Over seventy of these beautiful birds were collected, and did well in aviaries for months, when an outbreak of diptheric roup slowly killed all of them. I embarked about forty, eleven of which were still alive and landed at the end of June; but in spite of all care, they died one after the other. I hope to be more lucky next year.

'The disappointment with the Reinhardlius was compensated for by better luck with the very rare Edwards' Pheasant ... of Annam, which was only known before my expedition by four skins in the Paris Museum. I brought over alive fourteen of these lovely birds; four pairs and one extra cock are in the best of health at Clères, while the other odd cocks, with Swinhoe's Pheasant wives, are in the collections of Mme. Lécallier, Professor Ghigi, and London and Paris Museum Zoos...

'A greater success still is the importation of one pair of a new species allied to the above, which I have just found in Annam, on the north of Edwards' Pheasant's range. It is a larger bird of the same general blue colour, but with a black crest and a longer and more curved tail. The female is lighter in colour and larger than the Edwards' hen.

'I also brought three pairs and four odd cocks of Bel's Pheasant, which looks much like a dark Silver. They are not the first imported ... as one cock lived for some years in Paris. I have kept the pairs and presented cocks to the Paris and London Zoos and to Mme. Lécallier.

'Of other Pheasants, I had twenty Crestless, one Noble and fifteen Siamese Firebacks, two Chinquis and two Germain's Polyplectrons, five Bankhiva and one Javan Junglefowl and two Specifer Peafowls.

'From Calcutta, Mr. David Ezra had sent me in the spring Argus, Polyplectron and Kaleege Pheasants.

'The Waders consisted of five Black-headed Ibises, one Tantalus, two Episcopal Storks, two Greater and two Lesser Egrets, one Intermediate Egret (Mesophoyx), two Eastern Purple Herons ..., one Bacchus Bittern (Ardeola bacchus), and seven Edwards' Porphyrios, all presented to the Paris Museum; there were also one Eastern Plover (Charadrinus fulvus), one Striated Rail (Hypotaenidia striata), one pair of Eastern Sarus Cranes (Antigone sharpei) [sic], and one pair of Black-necked Cranes (Grus nigricollis) which I kept.

'Both species of Cranes are most interesting; the Eastern Sarus have been very seldom imported, while the Black-necked had never been seen in Europe before. It is a migratory bird, breeding in Tibet and wintering in Tonking where I found it

'Another curious bird which attracts public attention is the White-bellied Booby (Sila sila). It was caught by a deck steward on the sea between Saigon and Singapore. I was very doubtful whether I could succeed in getting it to live. I put it in a cage and crammed it with fish and meat; to my astonishment it thrived, but never fed by itself during the sea journey. However, it got very tame in Paris; it fed at once on fish and meat and is in perfect health.

(A consignment of Eastern birds. November, 1924 (Series IV), Vol. II, 293 - 296.)

'During the thirty years that Mr. Astley kept birds very many extremely rare kinds lived in his aviaries; ... a Blue-bellied Parrot (Triclaria cyanogaster) from South-east Brazil ... lived many years in captivity and ended its days in the Zoological Gardens of London. Mr. Astley possessed many other Parrakeets, and was the first to breed the Queen Alexandra's (Polytelis alexandrae) and the Golden-shouldered Parrakeets (Psephotus dissimilis); he likewise bred Pileated Parrakeets (Porphyrocephalus spurius), Stanleys, Many-colours, etc. He owned a Lear's Macaw, a Pachynus [Graydidascalus] brachyurus, a Microglossus, and Solitary Lories from Fiji...

'His collection of Doves was very good, also that of the Waterfowl, of these he kept for seven years Cotton Teal (Nettapus), and was the only person alive to keep them so long. He had many Waders too, particularly Agamia [Agami Heron] and Thinocorus [Seed-snipe] ... He always kept many Cranes, and a young Australian Crane was reared at Brinsop in 1924.

'He was the first in Europe to rear the Pink-breasted Grosbeak and Orange-headed Ground Thrush, and in his aviaries Shamas, Blue Robins, American Robins, Crimson Finches, Cuban Colins [Bobwhites], and others bred freely.

(The late Mr. Hubert Astley. October 1925 Seres IV), Vol. III, 279 - 280.)

'... Colies [Mousebirds] are entirely fruit eaters and do very well in confinement on the ordinary diet of such birds. But they are timid, stupid and dirty, and are not interesting in spite of their shape and curious habits. They are fairly often imported...

(The Colies November, 1925 Series IV), Vol. III, 279 - 280)

Those who knew him were well aware that Dr. Delacour thoroughly enjoyed the effects of such pronouncements upon those who heard or read them.

'There are perhaps birds of more magnificent plumage than the Touracos, but to my mind none more entirely desirable; most of them possess all the qualities which one requires in an aviary bird. Their shape is perfect, their plumage enchanting; their character tame and gentle; they live long without special care and, with me at any rate, breed freely. I own that Touracos are the birds which I like best of all'...

* * *

'In my opinion the peculiar Hoatzin (Opisthocomus hoazin) is related to the Touracous, to whom it bears a faint resemblance, although it is heavy, awkward and slow... I had the opportunity of seeing Hoatzins at close quarters on the Apure in Venezuela, and in Guiana, and they really are most curious birds, not timid. Mr. Beebe, who has made a close study of them, considers them ugly and grotesque. I, on the contrary, think they are curious, even handsome. No Living Hoatzin has yet reached Europe, but their importation is not impossible, for individuals have lived in confinement in British Guiana, fed at first on different kinds of leaves and then on lettuce and cabbage, which they eat readily and which suits them very well.

(Touracous November, 1925 (Series IV) Vol. III, 284 - 290.)

It was only in the 1980s that Dr. C. G. Sibley's work with egg-white proteins established that Hoatzins are indeed allied to Touracos, rather than being Galliformes, as has been the convention.

The preceding two excerpts are offered as examples fo the 40 articles written by Dr. Delacour, and a further 18 co-authored with various person, from 1923 to 1931 (Gibbard, 1988), published in both the Avicultural Magazine and l'Oiseau. With articles by a number of other British and French aviculturists, these became the book Aviculture (Seth-Smith & Pocock, 1923) a standard text for years, well-illustrated, and now a valued collector's item. In total, the articles written for this project, to a considerable extent initiated by Delacour, covered a major proportion of the birds maintained in British and Continental aviculture to that time.

'The greatest success was the first breeding in Europe of the rare Pheasants which I brought from Indo-China in 1924. Out of three pairs only one of Edwards' Pheasants bred, laying three clutches... The rare Imperial Pheasants gave three young ones, but two met with accident, and only one, a female, was reared. The incubation period is of twenty-five days. The two pairs of Bel's Pheasants gave three and two clutches, and five pairs were reared. It is a very scarce bird in its natural haunts, only found on a few higher hills over 5,000 feet of altitude. It is darker and finer than the Silver, and just as hardy and robust. It had been bred before in the Paris Museum menagerie, from the type specimen, between 1898 and 1903, but none surviving after 1913. It has never figured in any other public or private collections. My Argus, although in perfect condition, stupidly laid in the winter, and the eggs proved unfertile. Different Firebacks - Bornean (nobilis), Vieillot's, Crestless - have not laid yet, but I have good acclimatized pairs which ought to breed next season. A very interesting new race, of which a pair has been sent to mc by my friend, Professor A. Ghigi, of Bologna, has been named by him after me, DescriptionLophura sumatrana delacouri; it resembles in every way the Bornean bird (L. ignita), but shows the pure white central tail feathers of the Vieillot's (L. rufa)...

'Interesting additions to the Duck collection have been Eiders and Cotton Teal; two pinioned pairs of the latter arc now on the lake ...

'I have recently received Great Bustards from Spain, through the kind help of Captain and Mrs. R. Paget, and they make a very valuable and long-desired addition to the bird collection.'

(Bird Breeding at Clères in 1925. December, 1925 (Series IV) Vol.III. 320 -325.)

'Many of our members may have been surprised that no descriptions of our present President's beautiful aviaries and enclosures have appeared yet in the magazine. The reason is that Mr. Alfred Ezra, being continually building new ones and extending his collections, it is rather a difficult task to give an account of them that will not be out of date at the time it is published ...

'... a bird room has been arranged in a small building ... a very pretty and light aviary, all built of wire and iron (which used to be the home of many Sunbirds and Hummingbirds in Mr. Ezra's London flat, some years ago), stands in the centre.

'This aviary contains a fine series of birds: three Royal Starlings, one pair of Swift Parrakects, one Indian Pitta, one Yellow- fronted Woodpecker (Melanerpes flavifrons), two Black-headed Yellow Bulbuls, and two White-shouldered Bush-chats (Thamnolaea cinnamomeiventris)

'The collection of Parrakeets is most interesting; there are wonderful Lutinos, three young Blossom-heads, 10 Ring-neck, all with pink eyes, one semi-lutino male Ring-neck, of a pale yellowish-green, one male Malabar, one male Layard's, two Long-tailed; one Tabuan, and one Taviuni, one Rock Peplar, and a pair of Eclectus (E. roratus).

'Other Parrakeets are to be seen in a series of movable aviaries in the park ... above all, a wonderful pair of Alexandrines, the male light-blue and the female pure yellow

'At some distance from the Parrakeet's aviaries ... with an enclosure ... of some 16 acres, partly wooded and partly covered with heather, brush and grass, all surrounded by a high fence ... There live many mammals ... Birds are represented by eight Sarus Cranes (four of which are full-winged ...), seven Demoiselle, and four Black-crowned Cranes; some forty Chukar Partridges, Golden and Amherst Pheasants, Monals and Australian Brush Turkeys.

'We now come to the aviaries proper ... The first group consists ... of a building ... divided into nine compartments ... The first one is used as a kitchen and a store ... while the other eight constitute the shelters ...[and] correspond with eight outdoor aviaries.

'... birds which inhabited the aviaries in October, 1925 ... [include, among others] Blue-headed Ground Pigeons (Starnoenas cyanocephala) ... Ruffs, Tri-coloured Spreos ... Martinique Grackles ... Annamese Partridges (Tropicoperdix merlini), Grey-headed Ground Pigeons (Geotrygon caniceps) ... Pink-headed Ducks, Roulrouls, Harlequin Quails, Cuban Quails ... Cuban Partridge Pigeons (Geotrygon chrysia), Australian Catbirds, American Robins, Superb Spreos ... two pairs of Donaldson's Touracous ... Senegal Touracous, Brown-cheeked Jay Thrushes (Dryonastes lugens) ... Blue Robins, Blue-fronted Redstart (Ruticilla frontalis), Black-checked Cardinals and Grenadier Weavers ...

(The birds at Foxwarren Park. Febnruary, 1926 (Series IV) Vol. IV, 37 - 41.)

'Sir, - Although I fear that the following notes may not be of interest to certain members of the Society as they do not apply to the species commonly kept in English aviaries, I am venturing to send you a list of the birds which I sent home from Indo-China, Japan and America, and which are now flourishing in my aviaries.

'From Indo-China: 7 Rheinardt's Argus Pheasants (Rheinardtius ocellatus), 1 Siamese Fireback, 8 Specifer peafowl, 3 Nicobar Pigeons, 5 Long-tailed Doves (Macropygia leptogrammica) 1 Eastern Sarus Crane, 2 Renauld's Ground Cuckoos (Carpococcyx renauldi), 3 White-bellied Cissas (Cissa hypoleuca).

'From Japan: 3 pairs of Copper Pheasants, 1 male Ijima Copper Pheasant, 3 pairs of Green Japanese Pheasants, 1 Chinese Spot-billed Duck, 4 Japanese Blue Magpies, 1 Japanese Bullfinch, 3 Yellow-throated Buntings (Emberiza elegans), 2 Japanese Meadow-buntings (E. cipiopsis), 1 Japanese Blue Flycatcher (Cyanoptila), 7 Japanese Zosterops, 5 Varied Tits, 3 Loo-Choo Robins, 3 Japanese Robins.

'From America: 1 pair Hutchin's [Canada] Geese, 1 pair Least Geese (Branta minima), 1 pair Blue Snow Geese, 4 South American Comb Ducks, 1 female Orinoco Goose, 1 pair Canvas Backed Ducks, 1 male Rose-breasted Grosbeak, 1 pair Blue Birds, 1 pair Baltimore Orioles. The last six birds were kindly presented to me by the Zoological Society of New York, as well as a fine pair of Kangaroos.

'Although I had already brought some Rheinardt's Argus in 1924, which arrived in miserable condition and soon died, the present birds in my collection are the first to live in good health in Europe ... The very rare Renauld's Ground Cuckoo, which is only represented by half a dozen specimens in the museums of the world (London and Paris), one which I gave last year to Lord Rothschild, is a notable addition to aviculture. My friend and associate aviculturist in Indo-China, M.P. Jabouille, now has seven more in our aviaries at Hui [sic]. We have also there ... three Elliott's Pittas which, up to this year, had only been known through the two type-specimens in the Paris Museum, and which we were fortunate enough to rediscover... It is a gorgeous bird ... I hope to import some alive on the return from my next trip. M. Jabouille has also live specimens of the Annamese Pitta, a big brown bird, with a greenish back. The White-bellied Cissa is also imported for the first time and is a rare species. All the Japanese birds, most of them so rare in Europe, were either presented or procured by my Japanese friends Prince Taka-Tsukasa, Dr. N. Kuroda, M. Matsunaga and F. Mitsui, whose kindness to me during my visit ... I cannot acknowledge sufficiently. All these birds will remain in my collection or that of my friend, Mr. A. Ezra.'

(M. Delacour's new birds July, 1926 (Series IV, Vol. IV, 194 - 195.)

'... Manchurian Cranes are very numerous and highly prized. I may have seen quite one hundred kept in different places ... Their value, however, is perhaps even higher than it is in Europe, as they are so much sought after. Most of the birds, if not all, are bred in captivity in Japan, and I was astonished to find that it was quite an easy undertaking. Pairs are kept in quite small enclosures, with little water ... Fertility of eggs increases with the age of the birds. White-necked and Hooded Cranes ... are also to be seen, but they are much less popular and valuable. Imported Sarus, Demoiselle and Common Cranes are often offered. White Asiatics are rare'

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'Small birds, however, are the favourites with the Japanese, who can keep and breed them perhaps better than any other people. Both insectivourous and seed-eating birds seem to thrive as well, if not better than in any other country.

Japanese cages are simply wonderful; whether they are open bamboo cages or breeding-box cages, they are always pretty and most beautifully constructed. In comparison, our best cages look desperately coarse, unfinished and tasteless ... Open bamboo cages generally rest on a pretty lacquered tray, from which they remain separated by a movable barred bottom. For each cage there is a special case, into which it can be put at night ... The usual inmates ... are the lovely Loo Choo and Japanese Robins, Blue Flycatchers (Cyanoptila), Zosterops, various Tits and Thrushes, Redstarts, Bush Warblers, Buntings, Orioles, Jays and Magpies, etc. Higher cages are used for Larks. All these native birds are easily obtainable and commonly kept. Foreign birds arc treated in the same way; among them, many rare species from Formosa can be found. Malayan and Chinese birds are the most abundant on the market, where a good many South American and some East African birds can also be obtained. European, North American and West African birds are extremely scarce.

'Box cages of a special model are used as breeding cages for some kinds of seed-eaters ... Hundreds of breeders exist nowadays all around the Inner Sea, and especially in Osaka ... Each breeding establishment consists of several hundred box-cages, arranged in four or five rows on the top of one another, under some small wooden hut or corridor with a glass front. Each cage is devoted to one pair of birds ... While Canaries and Javas reared their own progeny, all the eggs from the Australian Finches are given to the Bengalese ... Gouldian, Long-tailed, Masked, Parson, Bicheno's and Cherry Finches are bred every year by the thousand. A man I visited in April had already reared 200 young Gouldians since the beginning of the year ... In spite of the large numbers thus reared in Japan, Australian Finches still fetch very high prices, higher than ours, so great is the local demand ... the uniform food supplied to seed-eaters consists of various seeds, green food and a very good mixture, which I highly recommend; white millet immersed in raw yolk of egg, which all birds eat readily; it is very easy to make and keeps for two days.

'In Japan all insectivorous birds, native and foreign, are fed on the same mixture, composed of ground husk of rice and rice itself, salad and fish-meal I sincerely believe that this food is the best of all such artificial foods ... One must bear in mind, of course, that no live insects are given in Japan, except in the case of moult or illness: mealworms are not obtainable. Consequently birds thrive on the artificial food and on it only all there is to do is moisten

(Japanese Aviculture August, 1926. (Series IV), Vol.IV, 213 -218.)

'There are three important Zoos in Japan ... among their possessions I noticed the following: - At Tokyo - Formosan Occipital Pies (Urocissa careulea), Japanese Storks ... Formosan Sibias (Lioptila auricularis), Alcippe (A. morrissoni) ... Yucatan and Pileated Jays, Roulrouls, Manchurian, White-necked, Hooded, Australian and Black-necked Cranes, European and Australian Pelicans, beautiful Pelagic Sea Eagles ... At Osaka - Manchurian, White-necked, Demoiselle, Sarus, Common, Hooded and White Asiatic Cranes, Japanese Storks ... Philippine Pelican ... Giant Barbet, small Japanese Woodpecker (Iyngipicus) , Cuckoo, Mexican Toucans, Pelagic Sea Eagles ... At. Kyoto - European Pelicans, Manchurian, White-necked, Sarus, Common, Demoiselle and Hooded Cranes, a Condor, various Sea Eagles.

'... Prince Taka-Tsukasa, who visited Europe last year and is well known to many of us, keeps a large number of birds in his garden in Tokyo ... Guiana Parrotlets breed freely ... I had the pleasure of bringing safely from Indo-China a fine male Rheinardt's Argus Pheasant, Edwards' Pheasants, Siamese Firebacks, Tantalus and Episcopal Storks, Black-headed Ibises and Edward's Porphyrios, which now are all in Prince Taka-Tsukasa's collection

'Dr. N. Kuroda, the well-known ornithologist ... is also a keen aviculturist. A small part of the large pond in the garden has been covered with a very large aviary, devoted to Waterfowl, of which there are about one hundred ... All the native Ducks and even an American Wigeon drake have been captured on Dr. Kuroda's duck-hunting ground ... In a courtyard close to the garden and on the way to the museum, there are many aviaries and a bird-room. The jewels are three males and one female of the fine Mikado Pheasant ... that has quite disappeared from European aviaries, and as the Government rightly prohibits the capture of this rare bird the only chance we have of ever seeing it again in our countries lies in Dr. Kuroda's future success with his birds and new ones he may obtain through an official permission.

'There are also ... two species of Godwits, Turnstones ... Gulls (Larus crassirostris), a beautiful rare Lory (Eos rubiginosus) Japanese Robins and 'Nightingales' (Horornis c. cantans) and H.c. canturians, Suthoras [Webb's Crow-Tits] ... and different seed-eating birds.

'Marquis Yamashina also owns very nice aviaries and is mostly interested in Waxbills and other small birds ... there is one suite of eight and another of five small aviaries, with roomy houses, each one for a pair of birds. I noticed among others Diamond Sparrows, Sydney and Crimson-rumped Waxbills (Estrilda rhodopyga) with nests and young, three birds which do not breed in cages ...

'The city of Osaka ... has over one hundred bird shops, fifty of which have been started within the last two years; it shows plainly that aviculture is rapidly increasing in the country ... I hope the above notes will show to many of us, who may think that we are the only good aviculturists in the world, that our Japanese friends have not much to learn from us, and our members should do their best to keep pace with such enthusiastic bird-lovers'.

(Japanese Aviculture September, 1926 (Series IV), Vol. IV, 247 - 253.)

'The pair of Argus three years at Clères have so far laid five eggs and there are five young, respectively five, three and one week old. Also Imperial, Edwards', Elliott's, Crestless Firebacks, Crossoptilons, Bel's Black-crested, Horsfield's Kaliy [sic] and six Cabot's Tragopans [have hatched].'

(Mons. Delacour's collection July, 1927 (Series IV), Vol. V 203.)

'When in 1927 Mr. J. Spedan Lewis very generously became interested in my coming fourth expedition to Indo-China, and so enabled the British Museum to share in the results as on previous occasions, he suggested that we might try as well to get, for himself and myself, a collection of living birds from Annam. We decided to share the additional expenses and engaged, Mr. C. S. Webb to come over and join me.

'On 29th February, 1928, Mr. Webb and his brother arrived at Hue, and when I knew what his requirements were, I decided to establish his camp at Thua-Luu, ... on the railway line between the sea and the foot of the mountains.

'I returned home at the end of April, having left Tourane on 19th March and brought back with me a number of birds alive ... Eastern Sarus Cranes, Rheinardt's Argus, Edwards' and Bel's Pheasants, Ghigi's Polyplectron, Tree Partridges, Renauld's Ground Cuckoos, etc., as well as a pair of fine new Pheasants from Cambodia which I have since described as Lewis's Pheasant (Gennaeus lewisi). At Singapore I added Malayan and Bornean Argus, Noble Pheasants, Java Junglefowl, one young Malay Polyplectron, a rare bird, etc.

'Messrs. Webb, however, stayed behind and left Annam at the end of April, landing at Marseilles on 25th May, with a fine collection. They worked continuously at Thua-Luu, trapping birds most skillfully and establishing them with the greatest care and patience. In fact, no one else can capture and acclimatize difficult insectivorous birds better than they do. They brought home, in the best of condition and in spite of many difficulties, forty species of birds ... twenty two of which were landed alive in Europe for the first time.

'... [Among them were] Five Rheinardt's Argus (Rheinardtius ocellatus), Four Edwards' Pheasant (Hierophasis edwardsi). Two Ghigi's Polyplectrons (Polyplectron c. ghigii). Three Merlin's Tree Partridges (Tropicoperdix merlini). Two Laotian Rufous-throated Hill Partridges (Arborophila rufogularis tickelii) ... First importation ... one La Touche's Owl (Athenoptera s. latouchii). One of the rarest of Owls; only three skins collected so far; a tiny bird, with a small head and long wings. Reddish brown, with a most delicate feather pattern and hue ...

'Twelve Renauld's Ground Cuckoos (Carpoccocyx renauldi). One Indian Cuckoo (Cuculus micropterus). First importation ... Two Green Bee-eaters (Merops viridis). First importation, and one of the handsomest species of this wonderful genus ... Three Annamese Pittas (Pitta n. soror). First importation. A big bird Two Swinhoe's Pittas (Pitta nympha). First importation; the migratory Pitta which sometimes reaches as far north as Japan...

'Three Elliot's Pittas (Pitta ellioti). First importation of one of the most beautiful and rarest birds in Asia ... Three Frie's Scimitar Babbler (Pomatorhinus t. friesi). A bird described by me two years ago. One of the tickelli group, with a white breast ... I often heard it whistle in the forests of Annam. It has one of the most wonderful voices that I ever heard, full, deep and mellow. First importation ... Five Chaulet's Yellow Cissas (Cissa hypoleuca chauleti). One of the gems of the collection and of the Indo-Chinese avifauna. They resemble in shape the Yellow-bellied Cissa, which has been figured last year in this Magazine, but is of a much richer yellow below, while the whole of the upper parts are washed with a golden tinge. So far the type specimens only had been found. A local and very rare bird, very difficult to obtain ... Twelve Black Racket-tailed Magpies (Chrypsirhina varians). Imported for the first time.

'Some of these birds have been presented to the London Zoo and to Mr. A. Ezra, whilst the others remained in Mr. Lewis's or my own collections ...

(A collection of living birds from Central Annam. September, 1928. (Series IV), Vol. VI, 212 - 216.)

'... good additions to my Pheasants ... During the past years are two cocks and one hen Mikado ...

'For the first time my numerous Cranes have been separated in pairs in different fields. I hope some will nest next year. I have tried Cariamas at liberty; one male of the Crested species proved dangerous to other birds, while a female and one Burmeister's are quite harmless. They are amusing and absurdly tame

* * *

'I was able to add several interesting and rare species to my collection of Waterfowl during the last summer; Red-breasteds, Abyssinian Blue-winged, Siberian Bean Geese, South African and Paradise Sheldrakes, Steamer Ducks and Madagascar Teal (S. bernieri). Some three hundred young have been bred last season, including Ringed, Chilian, Blue-winged Teal.

'I have now a dozen Eider Ducks in perfect health, and as some are now three years old I have hopes of their breeding next spring. Scoters, sent from the seashore, have been on the lake for several weeks and seem to do well.

'My friend Mr. Spedan Lewis sent me a fine pair of Snowy owls, which I have housed in a quaint aviary arranged in a ruined tower, where they are doing beautifully.

'In conclusion let me give news of my greenhouse aviary, of which I told you Last December. All the birds have been doing beautifully in it so far, with the exception of the Tanagers, many of which died as a result of their feeding too much on the Sunbirds' food; that cannot be avoided. Blue-winged, yellow, violet and all greens are exceptions and still flourish. Sunbirds, Sugarbirds and Pittas are perfect, and also one pair of King Birds of Paradise, and a pair of Amethyst Starlings which I added to the collection two months ago.

(Bird Notes from Clères. February, 1929 (Series IV), Vol. VII, 25 -

'It is doubtful if there are, anywhere in the world, so many living creatures of all sorts assembled in fifteen acres of ground. I have visited and described most of the collections of living birds of the world, but to give an idea of that of Mr. H. Whitley is almost an impossible task.

* * *

'With the exception of one large and a few smaller aviaries the innumerable houses, shelters, bird rooms, flights and enclosures have been established without sacrificing the practical side of the artistic aspect...

'There are ... a Cassowary (C. altijugus) ... a lovely pair of Pileated [Herons] (Pilerodius pileatus); Kagus ...

'Parrots and Parrakeets are the best feature in Mr. Whitley's Zoo, and he owns the best and most important collection of these interesting birds which exists at present ... among the more interesting ones I noticed Bornean Lories, Purple-capped Lorikeets, Hyacinthine, Lears, Spix and Noble Macaws, Palm, Black, Goffin's, Ducorp's and Bare-eyed Cockatoos; White-eyed, Queen of Bavaria and Weddell's Conures; Pyrrhura rhodogaster, emma, rupicola and haematotis; Jamaican, Pretre's, Salles, Yellow-fronted and Yellow-bellied [sic] Amazons; Short-tailed Parrots, Ruppell's, Red-bellied and Brown-necked Parrots; Great-billed Mueller's [sic] Parrots; Queen Alexandra's, Red-shining, Tabuan, and Koro Parrakeets; Golden-backed Hanging Parrakeets; Purple-capped Parrakeets.

'... European Eagle owls bred three young ones last year. A special mention must be made of several pairs of African Pigmy Falcons (Poliohierax), kept in indoor aviaries, which have laid. There are Burmese and Lort's Rollers (the latter have bred), Touracous (Turacus donaidsoni, Gallirex porphyreolophus and chlorochlamys, Corythaixoides leucogaster, Gymnoschizorphis sp.) Ground Hornbills, various Toucan, one Greater Ani, Motmots and Jackasses.

'Passerine birds are very numerous and I noticed pairs of Wallace's, Twelve-wired, and Red Birds of Paradise; Australian Ravens and many other Corvidae; numerous Starlings, with curious hybrids, Burchell's x Baywings and Superb x Royal ... There arc lots of hybrids, as hybrid breeding in birds and animals is one of Mr. Whitleys special objects ...

(The Primley Zoo. October, 1930. (Series IV), Vol. VIII, 259 - 261.)

Part II(ii)