Part II(ii)


PART III : 1945 - 1969

By Josef Lindholm III
First Published in The Avicultural Magazine Vol. 100 No. 4
Copyright © 1994 Avicultural Society, Published with Permission

As it happens, both the first and second quarter centuries of the Avicultural Society approached their conclusions in the midst of the darkest occasions of the 20th Century. While 1919 found Jean Delacour contemplating the utter destruction of his aviaries at Villers-Bretonneux yet forging ahead with the establishment of his new estate at Clères, 1944 found him ensconced as Technical Adviser to the New York Zoological Society, uncertain as to what had become of his incomparable collection in then-occupied Normandy.

Delacour was 55 in 1945, yet, as we shall see, the next 25 years were wonderfully active and rich with achievements.

'I have long been personally interested in waterfowl. For over twenty years I kept at Clères several hundreds of these fascinating birds... under almost natural conditions and many of them were breeding regularly. This enabled me to make countless observations whIch were extremely valuable for the understanding of their relationship.

'I had already published several articles on the subject... Since, however, more has been learned, and at the suggestion of several American ornithologists, Dr Ernst Mayr and I decided to sum up our knowledge in a new more important paper in English. Our study has been published in The Wilson Bulletin, Vol 57. 1st March, 1945 (pp. 1 - 53), and I refer it to all persons interested. Our object has been to effect a more natural grouping of species, with a better understanding of their affinities expressed in a simpler taxonomy

'The conventional classification of waterfowl usually so far adopted is founded on a small selection of morphological characters, primarily the shape of the bill, legs and feet. Nothing could be more misleading, as these are entirely functional and undoubtedly often recently acquired, representing merely a secondary adaptation, that is repeated in widely separate groups. We have used on the contrary a number of nonadaptive characters: pattern of tarsus, plumage pattern in adults and chicks, posture, general body proportions, length of neck and shape of head, internal anatomy and more particularly biological peculiarities. Habits and behaviour are of paramount importance, for they are deeply rooted and usually the product of very ancient evolution...

'We believe in large genera, since it is the function of generic names to express relationship not distinctness, which is expressed by the species names'...

(The Family Anatidae July - August, 1945 (Series V), Vol. X, 93 - 102.)

With several modifIcations, Delacour and Mayr's system of Waterfowl classification remains the generally accepted one. It is recognised as a pioneering application of the Phylogenetic approach to taxonomy.

'... All this is a thing of the past at Clères. But Mr F.E. Fooks is back there, and this past has a fair chance to be partly revived in the near future. As a link, I hear that a Festive Amazon, which we brought over from South America and liberated in 1921, is still today flying around the Manor House and the terrace. If he could talk better than he does, he would no doubt tell much, and some of his stories would probably bring tears to all my friends who knew Clères in its former splendour'.

(Birds at semi-liberty at Villers Bretonneux and at Clères (1905 - 1940), March-April, 1946 Vol. LII, 64-65.)

'The problem of exhibiting cage birds in public zoos is a difficult one. Until recently it has been tackled rather crudely. Too often just rows of wire cages are lined up on shelves... practically never before has it been attempted to show the birds under the best conditions of light... For many years I had planned to build a special hall, the walls of which would have had glass openings, giving view to birds and fishes. Cages and aquariums would have been decorated and planted. The effect would have been that of so many animated, living pictures. They would be set up in a wide corridor encircling the hall, where all facilities would be provided for cleaning and for the care of the creatures.

'The centuries-old rooms at Clères, with all their historic interest, did not allow for such a scheme. But I had hoped to build a special house some day... Fate has decided otherwise... However, I had the chance to achieve at the New York Zoo for the public what I once had dreamed to do at home for my own satisfaction. The result has been what we call the 'Jewel Room'.

'The Bird House in New York consists of three halls, the largest of which has not been much altered these last years. We have only redecorated the big central flight and some of the compartments. The second room has been completely changed in 1942. The numerous cages and small compartments for Parrots and Doves have been removed, and five roomy flights have replaced them. They are decorated and planted so that they now form the "New England Garden", for native species; "Arid Plain", for desert birds; "Indo-Malayan Junglc"...; "Tropical American Rain Forest".

'The third hail was particularly unattractive in its former state: a large room... with an ugly glass roof and plainly built compartments all around... They were badly lit, and none of the beautiful colours or metallic reflections of the inmates could be seen at real advantage. It was the more unfortunate that it always housed a wonderful collection. This hall has been entirely renovated during the winter of 1945...

'The transformation has been comparatively simple and easy - a smaller room has been built inside the hall, entirely dark but for the light which comes through the glass front of the cages that open in the walls... The cages form two groups... Those of the first... ten in number and of three different sizes, are dedicated to Humming Birds. The others consist of one large (10 ft. by 11 ft.), unplanted but nicely decorated aviary mostly for hardbills, of two fair-sized planted compartments (5½ ft by 5 ft) and seven smaller ones (3½ ft by 3 ft). They are at present occupied by a Fairy Bluebird, a Rothschild's Starling, a Cock-of-the-Rock, and a number of Manakins, Sugarbirds and small Tanagers, which are doing exceptionally well in such quarters... It looks like Gould's plates, but it is alive'...

(The Jewel House in the New York Zoo. July-August, 1946 Vol. LII, 123 - 125.)

For further details of Captain Delacour's work at the New York Zoological Park. the reader is referred to an earlier article (Lindholm, 1988).

'In 1940 there were nearly 500 waterfowl at Clères. All the known species of geese, Sheldducks and Treeducks were represented, also all the ducks and swans with the exception of about twenty-five.

'In 1945, practically nothing remained all have been killed or removed. A lone Whooper Swan, a couple of Common Sheldducks, a dozen or so hybrids between Mallards, Meller's and Black Ducks, some three-quarter-bred Yellowbills, a few diving Ducks, which look like a darker and more elongated Scaup (Probably with Whiteeye and Redhead blood), and oddly enough a male Sharp-winged Teal and a female Bufflehead. According to Monsieur Georges Olivier there were still a number of birds till the final slaughter in 1944, and during the occupation Cape and Sharp-winged Teal had reared broods on the Lake.

'In 1946 Mr Spedan Lewis kindly presented us with a good collection: a pair of Black Swans, Emperor, Greater Snow, Magellan, Ruddy-headed, Blue-winged Geese, South African Sheldducks, and Red-crested Pochards. The Paris Zoo contributed Emperor, Red-breasted, Bar-headed, Egyptian, and Cereopsis Geese and Mute and Whooper Swans. Major Pam reared Blue Snow Geese for us. Mandarins and Carolinas arrived from America... while Chiloe Wigeon, Rosybills, Tufted and Bahama Ducks. and Ashy-headed Geese are coming from Leckford, more Ruddy-headed Geese from Foxwarren, more Bar-headed and Barnicle from Wormly Bury, Paradise Sheldducks from Whipsnade, and a couple of dozen species of the various European ducks from Mr Schuyl in Holland. Many species of course are, and will long be, missing, particularly the Tree Ducks, now vanished from Europe, and all the sea-ducks of which we used to keep such a wonderful collection...

'My old breeding pair of Black-necked Swans, that for twenty years reared their young at Clères have naturally vanished, and the species is now terribly scarce in captivity. But pairs of their offspring at Leckford and in Holland, at Mr Schuyl's, have bred this year and I hope that later on, a new Black-necked menage will replace their grandparents in the pretty pool by the waterfall at the end of the lake, now temporarily occupied by a handsome but vulgar pair of Mute Swans.

'While I was in England last spring and summer I was delighted to see how extraordinarily successful Mr Terry Jones was at Leckford in rearing young waterfowl..., often the offspring of old, worn-looking pairs. If many interesting species have been saved for aviculture we owe it to him'.

(Waterfowl at Clères in 1947. November-December, 1947 Vol. LIII, 198-199.)

'Soon after my return from Europe, I went on my annual tour of inspection of the Trumpeter Swan's refuges'.

'Two conclusions are obvious. First, in the wild state under the present circumstances the annual crop of cygnets is practically wasted. The Red Rock Lakes Refuge is already over-stocked and the surplus population leaves it, only to die of starvation or lack of water, or to be illegally shot outside. We did not capture any cygnets in 1946 nor in 1947 in order to find out whether or not the previous captures had affected the level of the wild stock. The answer has been that it did not in the least. It seems, therefore, preferable to capture more young birds every year. Second, it is hopeless to expect this large sedentary species to thrive in unprotected parts of the country now settled by man. Enforcement of the law is well nigh impossible in these remote thinly inhabited highlands. Our programme of propagation of the species under control appears to be sound. The captive birds at Malheur Lake (Oregon) are doing well and the 1944 pairs should start breeding next spring in separate pens. I have just transferred twelve 1945 birds to the Ruby Lake Refuge, Nevada,... where we hope to establish later on the young Swans which may be reared by these captive pairs'...

(Waterfowl notes from the western United States. November- December, 1947 Vol. LIII, 215 - 217.)

'...The Scarlet subspecies, however..., is the only one to have been imported alive so far... It is the finest of all and the only true Scarlet one. It was first brought alive to New York in December, 1941, by C. Cordier, who landed twelve specimens..., three of which remained at the Bronx Zoo, the others going to other zoos and a pair to Mrs Milton Erlanger... At the time of writing, two of the original males are still living at the Bronx Zoo in perfect condition, if a little faded in colour. One has been sharing for a few years a large planted compartment with Quetzals, Umbrella Birds, Tanagers, and several other birds, and there has been no quarrels.

'Since Mr Cordier's visit in 1941, the inhabitants of Southwestern Colombia who had learnt from him how to catch and to feed Scarlet Cocks-of-the-Rock, have recently sent a few every year to the Louis Ruhe firm in New York. The same thing happened with Quetzals in Costa Rica, so that these two marvellous species arc well represented at present in American collections'...

(The Scarlet Cock-of-the-Rock. January - February, 1948 Vol. LIV, 1 - 2.)

Dr William G. Conway informed me in September, 1994 that Charles Cordier had died that month in Switzerland, at the age of 97. He had sent his final shipments from Bolivia in 1983.

'We went to see Mme Y. Malisoux, at Béez, near Namur. The loss of M. Yvan Malisoux, soon after the liberation of Belgium, has deprived aviculture of one of the most intelligent, observant, and capable breeders of Pheasants. Mme Malisoux carries on courageously with a few rare species. Today she keeps three pairs of Satyrs and three of Blyth's Tragopans, the latter being the only good stock left in captivity. This year 13 Satyrs and 2 Blyth's have been reared; some of the Satyrs belong to the fifth generation bred in captivity. They are extremely well fed and cared for so that they have not deteriorated in the least degree. Mme Malisoux also possesses a pair of Palawan Peacock Pheasants, and she has recently added Amhersts, Mikado, Grey Peacock Pheasants, from the Leckford Collection. During the war birds were kept and reared at Béez quite successfully, particularly the difficult Indian Koklass, which, Mme Malisoux says, gave no trouble at all, a happy exception with these delicate mountain birds

* * *

Postcript. - I have just heard burglars have stolen and killed all of Madame Malisoux's Tragopans except one pair of Blyth's and one of Satyrs. A shocking loss.

(Belgian aviaries January - February, 1949. Vol. LV, 29 - 30.)

'... When I saw Clères on 7th June, 1940, for the last time until the autumn of 1946, the grounds had already been bombed heavily twice, and many animals and birds had been killed; but for craters and damaged trees, the park still looked lovely, with hundreds of creatures all about the place...

'...When Mr Fooks was allowed to come to Clères in 1945, one Muntjac, one Crane, some Junglefowl, a Swan, and a few Ducks only remained.

'Mr Fooks had reported that, empty and spoiled as it was, Clères could be restored. I then decided that he should return, which he was eager to do, and resume managing the estate as he had done so well in the past twenty-five years. Despite tremendous difficulties, which further occupation by Allied troops did not alleviate although they proved helpful and considerate, most of the park, the gardens, and the aviaries were soon put in order. When I returned in September, I was agreeably surprised at the results of Mr Fooks' work. The place looked much as before in a general way, and it was already fairly well stocked, thanks to the generosity of... Mr Spedan Lewis... and Major A. Pam... . Also Professor A. Urbain, Director of the Paris Museum, had returned birds which he had kept for us during the war, and loaned many others and some animals. It may be said here that I have bequeathed Clères and the adjoining property to the National Museum in order to ensure its future as far as can be done in these troubled times...

'Clères was officially reopened on 25th May, 1947 by M. Andre Narie, Vice-Premier and Minister of Justice, accompanied by all the authorities of Normandy, the British and American consuls, the Director of the National Museum, and the delegates of numerous scientific institutions and societies; many of my friends were there, among them Miss Barcley-Smith... and Mr Peter Scott. To me it was a very moving occasion.

'Since that day Clères has been a public park, where visitors are admitted every day and may wander as they please, the gate takings paying for most of the upkeep...

'...The main aviaries have been done up, as also a good part of the pheasantries, the rest being damaged beyond repair... The tropical houses and indoor bird galleries, however, are a total loss, and it is hardly worth while reconstructing them as long as fuel and special foods are not available...

'...I could even obtain a pair of the rare Imperial Pheasant, which I discovered in Indo-China in 1923; there are still a few of them in American aviaries, all descendants from the original pair which bred at Clères for the first time in 1925; it is nice to see them again where their ancestors lived before... Among the Doves, most of the Australian species are represented, including the pretty Brush Bronzewing, Philippine Cuckoo-Doves, Grayson's, Bleedinghearts, and African Blue-headed puella Budgerigars of many new colours, Fischer's Lovebirds make a good show in some of the aviaries, while a pre-war pair of King Parrakeets, which spent several years in a cage in Paris, have bred the last two seasons... Other aviaries are well stocked with Glossy Starlings, Weavers, Whydahs, Waxbills, and other seed-eating birds from Senegal, easy to obtain in France at present. In spite of great difficulty with labour and food, a number of birds have been reared the last three years.

' a home, Clères hardly exists for me to-day; but the site remains, picturesque and harmonious. If I never again can completely enjoy it as I did in the past, since so much I loved is missing, others can derive pleasure from it. It was, I think, my duty to preserve Clères to the utmost of my power...

'...In many ways, it is painfully different to-day, but it has kept a great deal of its former charm, and glorious memories still dwell under its tall trees, along its transparent waters, and in its ancient stones. And gorgeous birds still live, call, sing, and nest in the romantic old park.

(The re-birth of Clères. March-April, 1949 Vol. LV, 62-66.)

'Since my return from Europe at the end of August, 1949, I have had the pleasure of visiting many of my aviculturist friends in different parts of the United States...

'In the vicinity of New York one of the first week-end visits was to Mrs Erlanger's country place at Elberon, New Jersey. There is certainly the choicest collection of small birds in eastern North America... In a long garden aviary along the house, during the summer are kept such insectivorous species as the Red-bellied Niltava, White-capped Redstart, Indian Crested Tit, Fork-tailed Flycatcher; also Frugivorous birds, such as Quetzals and various Tanagers...

'One of the pearls of the collection is a beautiful pair of Scarlet Cocks-of-the-Rock, finger-tamed and quarrelling to a minimum. The male, thanks to a careful diet of tomatoes and other appropriate food, has kept his brilliant deep red colour... They have already played at nesting, and hopes are high for a brood some time' ...The outstanding success of the season, however, was the breeding of two Yellow-winged Sugar-birds, which had been out of the nest a couple of weeks when I saw them. An excellent Racket-tailed Drongo, a tame European Robin, and Vermilion Flycatcher must also be mentioned.

'There are several very good collections... of waterfowl in New Jersey and in New England...

'...that of Mr J. Livermore, at West Redding, Connecticut,... is excellent, far the largest in America. All the more current species are represented, often by a dozen or more pairs. Among the rarest are Blue-winged, Ashy-headed, Red-breasted, Emperor, Orinoco, Ross's and Maned Geese, Coscoroba Swans, Baer's and White-eyed Pochards, Ruddy Ducks, Golden-eyes, Cape and Marbled Teal, Comb Ducks, Australian and South African Sheldrakes and Crested Ducks... The collection of Doves is very good including Plumed Ground, Grayson's, Bronze-winged, Galapagos, and many other species...

'A little to the North, at Litchfield, Dr. Dillon Ripley has gathered a very choice collection of waterfowl on a delightful little lake fed by a stream... He keeps... many ducks, including Baer's and White-eyed Pochards, and three rare and lovely Philippine Mallards'.

* * *

'At Milbury, Massachusetts, Mr J. Deeter, another farmer with a great love for, and a long experience with waterfowl, is doing exceedingly well. Last summer I saw there two nice young Ross's Geese, bred from an old pair born at Clères and sent before the war to Mr C.S. Sibley who has unfortunately since givcn up birds'...

* * *

'I have kept for the end a remarkable establishment which during the last few years has become more and more familiar to me: that of Mr W.J. Mackensen, at Yardley, Pennsylvania... one hour out of New York. For some fifty years Mr Mackensen, alone in this country has managed to make a steady living out of his birds, mostly Pheasants, Peafowl and waterfowl.

'More than twenty years ago I went to Yardley to buy Geese, and when I came to live in New York I got in touch again with Mr Mackensen. I found him so utterly conscientious and reliable that I asked him to procure or to handle all the birds I acquire for Clères... I enjoy the proximity of Yardley during the part of the year when most of the birds I see are stuffed specimens, and frequent visits to the Mackensen farm are welcome diversions'.

(American Aviculture - 1949 (I Eastern Collections). March - April, 1949 Vol. LVI, 62-66.)

Mrs Erlanger's Cocks-of-the-Rock did eventually produce chicks which, however, do not appear to have survived. Though otherwise unrecorded in this magazine, this event is referred to by Jan van Qosten (1957, P.49).

'...I had unfortunately no time to visit Mr Thierry, near Oakland, who breeds a few of the rarer Pheasants and has several pairs of the White Eared Pheasant and Palawan Peacock-Pheasants, nor several other excellent breeders, but I saw at leisure the two Largest collections in Northern California, both in the vicinity of Napa: Those of Mr R.H. Gibson, at St. Helena, and of Mr Claude Hooke, at the Circle H Ranch.

'Mr Gibson owns a great deal of land, mostly vineyards, and a very important wine business... There are all sorts of game birds... The most remarkable are Victoria Crown Pigeons, Vulturine Guineafowls, Siamese, Malay and Bornean Firebacks. White Eared Pheasants, Nicobar and Wonga-Wonga Pigeons and Mountain Witches. Many young have been reared, particularly Edwards', Blue, Brown and hybrid Blue x White Eared Pheasants.

'Away in the high hills and far from any town, the Circle H Ranch is beautifully situated among forests of Redwoods, California Laurels and other interesting native trees. The game farm is large and it contains the finest collection in America today... All the species of Pheasants kept in captivity to-day are represented, among them the only pair of Great Argus in America and the last female Rheinart's Argus; an excellent pair of Imperial Pheasants, reared at Clères many years ago, which produced this year over a dozen young, two pairs of White Eared Pheasants, Satyr and Temminck's Tragopans , Germain's and Grey Peacock-Pheasants, Berlioz ("Bel's") and Horsefield's Kalijs. Three Ocellated Turkeys and dozens and dozens of Sonnerat's Junglefowl were also reared in 1949.

'Mr Hooks gathered this exceptional collection during the last ten years, buying the totality of the stock of the late Leland Smith, of Mr Howland and Mr F. Johnson, which were among the best in the country... I have just passed to him the presidency of the American Pheasant Society, and it could not fall into better hands'.

* * *

'Mr D.W. Rich, of San Gabriel, an experienced and keen veteran breeder, also possesses interesting waterfowl and Pheasants, among which Black-necked Swans, perfect Lineated and Horsefield's Kalijs, and Java Green Jungle fowls are conspicuous...

(American Aviculture 1949 (II Californian Aviaries. May - June, 1950 Vol. LVI, 5 - 8.)

'...I will end with a few words about Clères. Thanks to Mr F. Fooks' incredible energy and ingenuity, it has regained almost completely its pre-war standard. Despite the disturbance caused by thousands upon thousands of visitors, who are necessary due to the very heavy cost of upkeep..., a number of young birds were reared last summer, mostly waterfowl, game birds, pigeons and parrakeets. Among the more interesting species, I should like to mention five Red-breasted and four Greenland White-fronted Geese, the latter for the first time in captivity...

(Notes on European Aviculture, 1950 January-February, 1951 Vol. LVII, 5 - 8.)

'Co. P. Milon, who has spent four months on Kergelen Island during the the autumn and winter of 1950-51, has recently brought to Paris ten Kergelen Pintails Anas acuta eatoni. They all look, at this time of the year (June-July), like very small, dark, reddish female Common Pintails, the size of a Chilean Teal... Four of these... are now at Clères, the others remaining at the Paris Zoo. No specimens of these southern Pintails had so far been seen alive about anywhere in the world outside of these southern islands

(First European Importation of the Kergelen Pintail. September-October, 1951 Vol. LVII, 1955 - 56.)

'...this fine species has always been scarce in European collections, where a few have figured now and then in the past, but never bred. In 1938 Mr C. Cordier brought to Clères and to Leckford less than two dozen birds caught, or reared from the eggs, in the Peten district of Guatemala. But at the end of the last war the only birds left in England were merely a couple of hens at the London Zoo.

'After the war Mr Cordier accompanied Dr. D.S. Mewill to the Peten, and they brought over a nice consignment, which was distributed among American zoos and a few game breeders. Two or three young have been reared in recent years at the Washington Zoo and at Mr C. Hooke's game farm near Napa, California, now closed. But the only real breeding success of these fine birds has occurred at the San Diego Zoo, where a very favourable climate as well as special and adequate care by the Curator of Birds, Mr K. C. Lint, make conditions particularly propitious'.

* * *

'There was a good stock of Ocellated Turkeys at San Diego when I last visited the zoo on 29th June, 1952. Besides the three breeding pens of a cock and three or four hens, five young birds reared in 1950 and five more hatched in 1951 make up a total of some two dozen specimens. About twenty chicks were lively and well, and others due to hatch. Mrs Benchley is determined to establish and propagate this most interesting species and to distribute her birds' offspring as widely as possible'.

(Breeding Ocellated Turkeys at the San Diego Zoo. July - August, 1952 Vol. LVIII, 148 - 150.)

'After nearly twelve years of life in New York City, on the 16th floor of a Fifth Avenue building, I have moved to California as Director of the Department of History, Science and Art of the Type County of Los Angeles... Last summer I bought a small house in one of the many charming residential sections of this unusual city, which is really a collection of suburban towns'...

* * *

'I had, of course, to keep birds. Possibilities, however, were limited. I did not want to spoil the garden, and in town, noisy things, which might bother neighbours, are not allowed. At the north side of the garden, by the house, is a garage which I promptly turned into a bird house. Nearby, a large window of the sitting-room looked on to a narrow (10 feet) passage of drab bricks. This was transformed into an aviary... 12 feet high, 24 feet long, and including the slice of the garage used as a shelter, 20 feet wide... style='font-size: 10.0pt'>This... aviary has a population of finches, one or two pairs of most of the Australian species; Lavenders, Ruddies, and Cordon-bleus; Avadavats; Auroras; Rainbow Buntings; Red Hooded Siskins; Pintail Nonpareils, etc., about sixty altogether. There are also pairs of Painted Quails, Mountain Witch, Bartlett's, Silver Diamond, Talpacoti and Pigmy Doves; a Shama; Giant Whydahs; a pair of Bourke's Parrakeets, and a few Sugar Birds When the housekeeper, who takes my place in the care of the birds when I travel, has sufficient experience, more difficult birds will be added such as small Tanagers and Sunbirds. As the garden is usually occupied by wild Humming-birds, it is not necessary to keep any in confinement where space is very limited...

'Along the fence following the first aviary is a similar one, 28 feet long, 10 feet wide. It contains a pair of Palawan Peacock- Pheasants; pairs of Harlequin Quails, Bleeding-heart, Ashy and Diamond Doves, Diamond Sparrows, Australian Crimson Finches, several varieties of Zebra Finches, Red-crested Finches, Cuban Finches, Indian White-eyes, and a European Song Thrush.

'There was an obvious location for another aviary between the bridge and the solid fence on the south side of the garden. It was only a question of roofing over the space between the bridge and on the sides. The result is a large flight, 50 feet and 20 feet, very high in the centre over the stream which flows in a deep gully. I keep there a few small ducks and teal, Mandarins, Puna and Sharp-winged Teal, Maned Geese, Lesser Indian Whistling Ducks; some Doves: Brush Bronze-wings, Cassin's, Peruvian Ground, Green-winged, Chiriqui Ground-Pigeons, and a few other birds such as Pekin Robins, Orange-headed Ground Thrush, Spectacled Jay Thrushes, a European Blackbird, Dyal Bird, Tricoloured Spreos, and Purple-headed Glossy Starlings.

'These Californian aviaries are few in number and small in size compared to those at Clères and, in the long past, at Villers. But they are suited to the present circumstances and very attractive, giving me much pleasure. At past sixty I am just as thrilled as ever by watching my birds, and I still enjoy caring for them as I did when I was ten years old. Bird lovers are incorrigible, I am afraid.

(My California aviaries July-August, 1953 Vol LIX, 111 - 116.)

'...With the passing away of Alfred Ezra, a happy, prosperous and delightful era has gone. I probably will miss him more than anyone else, as he was my best friend. But my sorrow is shared by many others, not only in England, but in France, and the United States, and all over the world.

(In Memoriam - Alfred Ezra O.B.E. [Part]. September - October, 1955 Vol. LXI, 218 - 219.)

'Among my new birds in Los Angeles are Fairy Bluebirds, Hooded Pittas and an Emerald Starling.

'The breeding season at Clères was handicapped by Mr Fooks' illness during the spring. However.., many waterfowl bred, the most interesting young being 5 Andean Geese, 10 Philippine and 5 Hawaiian Mallards. The latter come from a pair which I had kept three years in Los Angeles without good results.

'...I spent the months of March, April and June in South America, first with an expedition of my Los Angeles County Museum to Brazil, later on visiting Argentina, Chile, Peru, Ecuador and Colombia, in the company of Mr and Mrs Dillon Ripley, in the interests of the International Committee for Bird Preservation. In the course of this very interesting journey I had an opportunity to visit some collections of live birds...

'... in the vicinity of Rio de Janeiro... Dr. E. Beraut keeps in a planted verandah a beautiful collection of Humming Birds, which he and his collectors obtain throughout Brazil. But the visit that I made with him to his friend, Mr F. Ruschi, at Santa Teresa, Espirito Santo (the state just north of Rio) will remain in my memory as one of the greatest thrills that I ever had. Mr Ruschi... knows birds as well as plants; his property contains museums, gardens and aviaries of the greatest interest. In particular he has built an enormous flight, 300 x 100 feet and 30 feet high, where hundreds of Humming Birds live and breed freely, including the lovely little Coquette. I saw fifteen on a bush, all reared by one original pair. There are about twenty local species in this aviary... Furthermore, a beautiful large (100 ft. long) house has been built, with a passage for visitors along its front, to accommodate the equatorial species from Amazonia which will not stand the cool nights of Santa Teresa.

'Both Mr Ruschi and Dr. Beraut now entirely feed their Hummers on sugar or honey-water and on quantities of fruit flies. Even the difficult, mostly insectivorous, species of Phaetornis and Pygmornis do perfectly well on such a diet.

(Bird notes for 1956. January-February, 1957. Vol. LXIII, 19 - 21.)

'...Sydney Porter was kind and unselfish, giving to his friends many rare birds brought over from his expeditions abroad or in his aviaries. For instance, he sent to Clères in 1934 a trio of New Zealand Shovellers, a species which had never been imported before, nor has come again since; young were reared in 1935... This is but one example of his friendly generosity...

(Sydney Porter (1900-1958) March-April, 1958 Vol. LXIV, 56.)

'In the course of this year I retired from the position of Director of the Name Los Angeles County Museum, having reached the age limit of seventy, and I had reluctantly to move out of my California house. It was not possible to maintain it as I plan to stay there only two or three winter months each year, spending the spring and summer at Clères, and the autumn in New York, not to speak of many travels. I deeply regret leaving my garden and aviaries, as it was great fun to grow exotic plants and to keep birds in this wonderful climate. I had nine pleasant years in California and I am thankful for the experience.

'Many of my Los Angeles birds have been sent to Clères, but the most delicate ones had to be disposed of over here, owing to an unwelcome one-month quarantine imposed by France on all birds from the United States and Great Britain because of Newcastle and other avian diseases prevalent at present in those countries. Obviously Sunbirds, Sugarbirds. Tanagers, Trogons, Cotingas, and other softbills could not have survived it. It was a bitter disappointment.

'While California had one of the hottest and driest years ever recorded, Normandy was very wet, like the rest of Europe, which did not help in rearing birds. There were, however, at Clères... a number of Pheasants, including Mikados, Bel's, Brown Crossoptilons, Sonnerat's, and Ceylon Junglefowls... The most interesting waterfowl reared were two Australian Radjah Shelducks, Brazilian and Puna Teal... A pair of Hyacinthine Macaws laid cggs which did not hatch.

'A number of important acquisitions were made during the year, the first being a pair of Congo Peacocks which the Royal Zoological Society of Antwerp most kindly loaned us. They looked perfect. but they have not laid yet. We received some good Congo birds from Charles Cordier: Hartlaubs Ducks, large Hornbills Ceratogymna atrata, Ross' and Schueti's Touracos, Amethyst Starlings. Black and Plumed Guineafowls; White-eared and Knysna Touracos, Rufous Motmots also came, as well as a great many geese and ducks.

'The aviaries for doves and small birds are now renovated and improved, and by the next spring, our collection of such birds will be greatly increased.'

(The birds at Clères in 1960. November - December, 1960 Vol. LXVI, 220 - 221.)

'The most attractive additions have been five European Bee-eaters, hand-reared from the nest. They are tame, they eat strips of lightly cooked meat, insect mixture and grated carrots, with only a few mealworms a day. They are in perfect condition, inhabiting a large indoor flight. There is also an interesting pair of Yellow-crowned Mynahs Ampeliceps coronatus and some Rothschild's Starlings'.

(Clères. 1962. September - October. 1962. Vol. LXVIII, 165 - 166.)

'One more of my old and dear friends has left us - taking with him more of my fond memories ... John Spedan Lewis, a Vice-President of the Society since 1939, died on 21st February. 1963.

'He had a very full life. We can only mention here the tremendous work he has done in expanding very successfully the large business he inherited from his father, and more so in turning it into a partnership thus presenting his employees with the large fortune he could have kept. Spedan Lewis' unselfishness and idealistic generosity have few, if any, equals in the world today...

'Spedan Lewis joined the Avicultural Society in 1924 and I met him at the Zoo the following year. He was then living at Hampstead, where he had built some excellent aviaries, with large heated shelters for rare passerine birds, particularly Birds of Paradise, and a few others. He also had a fine collection of wild cats in outdoor cages. He soon took great interest in owls and gathered a large collection of them, which were housed at Wargrave and cared for by Miss Ethel Chawner, a learned and enthusiastic naturalist, and long a specialist of these birds.

'He became a member of the council in 1927. When he left his house at Hampstead, he built a series of aviaries at Odney (Cookham), a park used as a country club by the John Lewis partnership. He acquired many more birds, including pheasants. a large number of them brought over by Messrs. Frost. Webb, ShawMayer, and Cordier, sharing those collections with Ezra, Whitley and me.

' Spedan Lewis moved to Leckford, Stockbridge, Hampshire, in 1933, and Miss Chawner followed him. Great developments soon took place. With my advice, many very spacious pens for pheasants were erected up on the hill, and they were as good as any I have ever seen: also a large duckery was established in the valley on fast-running chalk streams and ponds, in a perfect location. There were furthermore, roomy pens for swans, geese, and cranes. Excellent collections of all these birds were gathered, many of them bred at Clères...

' Spedan and I had great fun planning this accommodation. We had become close friends through the years and saw a lot of each other in England and in France. He was also a benefactor of the London Zoo, presenting many rare species, and of the British Museum, several expeditions being sponsored by him.

'A livestock department had been opened at Peter Jones, one of the London stores of the Partnership, in 1938. It was soon closed down, but a fortunate result was that Mr. Terry Jones, who had been engaged to work in it, was then sent to Leckford... when Miss Chawner, a great friend to him, was obliged to curtail her activities, he assumed full responsibility for the collection... The Leckford collection was at its height when war was declared. Mr. Jones joined the Navy. It became more and more difficult during the following years to feed and care for the birds. Many were disposed of, particularly the cranes, but a good many species of waterfowl and pheasants were preserved. It was lucky as European, and even American, collections were replenished... from that valuable nucleus'.

(Obituary. John Spedan Lewis 1885 - 1963. May - June, 1963 Vol LX1X, 128 - 129)

'I had wanted for years to have a glimpse of New Guinea... My age does not allow me any longer to go on tiring and difficult expeditions, as I used to in the past... Therefore a quick visit to Sir Edward Hallstrom's Station at Nondugl [sic], in the Whagi Valley of the Central Highlands, was a perfect opportunity. Sir Edward's health last November did not permit him to come with me, but he kindly arranged for my visit. I flew to Port Moresby, an insignificant town among the dry hills of the coast, and soon a small, old plane (DC3) was to take me to Goroka. However, landing there was prevented by a storm, and I found myself at Madang, on the east coast, which is hilly, lush and attractive. But soon a six-seater flew me to up to Goroka, over the high mountains. The other passengers were all native Papuans, in local dress - that is to say a small belt, shell or bone face ornaments, and feathers in the hair... Another little plane took me over a range to Minj, some 20 miles from Nondgul [sic], where I was driven by landrover along a difficult road, as the wide valley is cut up by ravines such as I had never observed elsewhere. I was welcomed by Mr. Fred Shaw Mayer, the well known collector, whom I have known well for many years. He had brought over, in the thirties, year after year, magnificent birds from New Guinea and the neighbouring islands for my late friends Herbert Whitley, Alfred Ezra, and John Spedan Lewis, and also for mc. He now manages Sir Edward's property in New Guinea. I was glad to spend four days with this old friend and to talk of the past, as we have so many common memories'.

'Mr. Shaw Mayer has laid out the grounds at Nondugl with great skill and taste, and besides the numerous aviaries, there are several large ponds, beautiful trees and shrubs, and orchids...'

'The aviaries number nearly one hundred and consist of four well-spaced rows of ten compartments, each of the proper size for a pair of Birds of Paradise and of several groups of bigger ones. All have large shelters at the back, and are very heavily planted, except for a few containing Parrots and Birds of Paradise particularly destructive to vegetation; some are very large...'

'Birds of Paradise predominate in the Nondugl Collection. There were, in November. 1962, about 160 of twelve species; Salvadori's, Finsch's Lesser, Blue, Ribbontail, Stephanie's, Meyer's, Sicklebill, Carola's Six-plumed, Lore's, Wattled Loboparadisea, Ring, Hunstein's Magnificent, King of Saxony's. I had never before seen the latter alive: there were several males adorned with the tremendously long, horny head feathers. Four species have successfully nested at different times; Blue, Lesser, Ribbontails, Stephanie's; the last two having also produced hybrids. To this must be added Salvadori's. Three young, plumeless males and several females live in a large planted flight, and there was a nest. Mr. Shaw Mayer so far doubted that non- adults could breed, but we looked into the nest; there were newly hatched chicks in it!

'I had never seen before anything like the Nondugl aviaries and it taught me a great deal. It appears to me that the usual treatment of Birds of Paradise in Europe, and in the United States, is wrong. Their cages are too small; they are given too much heat; they are overfed. They should be in large, outdoor aviaries, well protected from winds, with a large shelter at the back kept just warm enough (40 to 50 degrees) during the coldest days. Indoor cages in hothouses are unsuitable... The more space the better. The food they receive at Nondugl consists, in the morning, of a mixture of mashed papaya and banana (10 per cent of the latter), crushed dog biscuit and fresh ant eggs. This food is eaten by mid-day, when the birds are given plain fruit, mostly papaya and any available berries. Only a few (six to ten) mealworms a day; no meat. When ant eggs and papaya are not available, comparable ingredients can be used but, on the whole. this is a very satisfactory diet...

'There are other interesting birds at Nondugl; Pesquet's Parrots, Green-winged King Parrakeets, Eclectus, Opopsitta, a Long-tailed Buzzard Henicopernis, Victoria Ground Pigeons and lovely little Salvadori's Ducks, three of which were brought in when I was there

'Young were reared a number of times in previous years on the large, natural ponds of the garden. Mr. Shaw Mayer found them very pugnacious and one pair only could be kept on each pond. Clutches always consisted of three eggs.

'While I was at Nondugl, native men and boys were constantly coming in, sometimes large parties, to bring ant eggs and other insects, fruit and berries, and sometimes birds. It always was exciting and it reminds me of the good old days in Indo-China...'

(Notes on Austral and Southern Pacific birds IX. - New Guinea. November-December, 1963 Vol. LXIX, 2312-2324.)

'Too few people, in other countries, realize that some of the best collections of live birds existing at present are located in Northern Italy. It has been my privilege to visit a few of them recently with my old friend Professor A. Ghigi, whose series of pheasants, at Bologna, still count among the best in the world. Some forty Hume's Bartails, eight Satyr Tragopans, and many others have been reared in 1965 in his aviaries, and he possesses such unusual species as Malay Crestless and Sumatran Firebacks, Argus, Ocellated Turkeys, and White Eared Pheasants. It is always a great pleasure to stay with him, as I have done for so many years. At the age of 90, he is just as active as ever, and we did not waste much time during the four days I spent at his fine villa on the hills above the old city...

'Dr. P.F. Callegari has a big garden in the suburbs of Ravenna, where he and his brother keep a large and unusual collection of birds as well as a few mammals. Let us mention of the latter a family of Lesser Pandas, with young born there, and a tame Great Anteater which positively astonished me! He was curled up in the fork of a large tree about 30 feet above the ground! I had no idea that these large Anteaters were climbers - its owners stated that it went up every morning, sleeping the whole day there, coming down to feed in the evening, and spending the night indoors.

'The most difficult birds live in perfect condition in the Ravenna aviaries. There are... some... birds at liberty in the grounds, including a beautiful pair of African Jabirus [Saddle-billed Storks]. Close to the house are many large moveable cages, about 6 x 4 feet. which contain various insectivorous and fruit- eating birds, several species of Kingfishers, Trogons and Tanagers, a number of other seldom seen species, and best of all, a dozen Bee-eaters, among them the beautiful Carmine Merops nubicoides, and the Pigmy M. pusillus, besides European M. apiaster and M. bullockoides, all in perfect condition. A pair of small Wood Hoopoes were particularly attractive. These cages are brought into a large hall during the winter. In September, a few birds were kept there and two hand-reared Nightjars were its most exciting denizens. Lots of live insects are reared and collected to feed all these birds, hard to keep as a rule.

'There is in the garden a roomy greenhouse with indoor compartments and outdoor flights, full of rarities. Pied Kingfisher, Rollers, Quetzals, etc., and many large aviaries. Several shelter interesting birds of prey and pigeons, others almost a complete collection of European Waders, particularly Snipe and three Woodcock, tame and in perfect condition after over three years in captivity... But perhaps the best of all is a large-domed one, with an extensive pond of running water (perhaps 30 x 15 feet) where Mergansers and, more particularly, Great Crested Grebes are kept in excellent shape, living there for many years. The secret of such an unusual success is the fact that no fish, particularly cut-up fish, is ever thrown into the pond, but are placed in a small catching basin where the overflow from the pond falls and runs out continually. In that way, no fish oil can pollute the water in which the Grebes swim. Otherwise they would have their feathers oiled and soiled, and then die quickly...

'Dr. Roberto Bucci lives at Faenza and there are two collections that he has gathered. One is in the town's public park, where Dr. Bucci has generously built fine accommodations... His home, outside the town, is surrounded by a fine park... There are all the existing species of Flamingos. Along one side are numerous aviaries containing many species of pheasants, small birds, doves, pigeons and parrots. I noticed among the latter a beautiful pair of Spix Macaws, four Queen of Bavaria's Conures, and several rare species of Pyrrhura. Dr. Bucci has business interests in Brazil and brings some birds from that country...'

(Some Italian Bird Collections, November - December, 1965 Vol. LXXI, 187 - 189.)

'A first period of nearly a half century of the history of the park at Clères, has just ended. Frank Fooks, its director for many years, died on 27th January, 1967, after a long illness.

'Born at Briantspuddle, Dorset in 1892, Fooks came to Clères in the spring of 1920, as I was settling down in the Château. Seriously wounded in action in France during the First World War, he had worked for some time at the livestock department at Derry and Toms in London. Before the war, he had kept and reared birds which he loved as a boy.

'At Clères, Fooks at first attended to the animals and birds, and, after a few years, he took charge of the whole property, which became the unique object of his interest and devotion. It is because of his great efficiency and reliability that I was able to leave every year on expeditions to Indo-China and elsewhere, and to travel extensively... He was a master at keeping and rearing birds, and also a perfect agent to run the estate'.

'His loss has been a terrible blow to me after forty-seven years of close association and friendship.

'Dr. P. Ciarpaglini, a veterinarian and an assistant at the Paris Zoo, has come to succeed him, and I have taken measures so that the Château and the Park will go, after me, to the Museum National d'Histoire Naturelle and the Department of the Seine Maritime. It is the only hope to perpetuate what is perhaps the last of the larger country homes adorned with an extensive collection of birds and park animals, such as we knew a number in Europe before the war, which have since vanished. I therefore trust that all the years of incessant labour that Frank Fooks has devoted to Clères will not have been in vain. To me, it never can be the same without his presence'.

(IN MEMORIAM - Francis E. Fooks 1892-1967. March-April, 1967. Vol. LXXIII, 45 - 46)

'Today, air transportation has changed the picture entirely. Native trappers in remote parts of the world can despatch their catches easily by aeroplane and the flights are so fast that even very delicate birds can be left unattended until they reach their destination. Innumerable species which had never before been seen outside of their native countries, many beautiful and unusual: Humming Birds, Sunbirds, Quetzals, Tanagers, Cocks of the Rock, etc., are frequently exported in numbers - in fact, they have been captured far too much; the early losses have been tremendous by lack of careful and knowledgeable handling and restriction of such activities is urgently needed. As a result of this new situation, the great harbours and bird shops of such as London, Liverpool, Marseilles, Le Havre, Antwerp,- Rotterdam, Hamburg, Genoa, have been closed, and the new ones are found in the vicinity of the main airports.

'As circumstances have changed considerably, so have the bird collections; very few large private ones remain, while numerous new zoos, large and small, open to the public, have appeared, particularly in England and in France. Several of these maintain very good bird collections. Keen bird keepers and breeders, however, who maintain comparatively small numbers of rare and difficult species, very well housed and cared for, are even more numerous than they used to be, and they carry on with the same skill and enthusiasm the work of their predecessors'.

'It is interesting to note that, as time passes, bird-keeping is gradually becoming less difficult...'

'Avicultural Societies, of which there are only a few in the world, ours being the most important, are probably more prosperous today than at any previous time. This is mostly due I believe, to the greatly increasing interest of the public in general in natural beauty, and birds stand at the top of the ladder. It seems to be one happy result of a sad human situation: the artificial, cramped, distressing conditions of life of so many city people make them crave for trees, flowers and birds. It contributes to the increase of our membership'.

* * *

'In my early days, orthodox ornithologists considered aviculture just as a nice hobby, and it was generally accepted that the observation of confined birds was scientifically worthless. Captive animals were supposed, as a result of a lack of knowledge, not to show the greatest part of their natural behaviour patterns. I am happy to state that a complete change of opinion has since taken place. Perhaps, in a small way, I have contributed to this favourable reversal, as a good deal of my ornithological work has been based on the study of captive birds, even those of a systematic nature. My friend Konrad Lorenz, probably the best ethologist of our time, has done more than anyone else to make aviculture a recognised scientific endeavour.

'Practically all his remarkable work has originated in the observation of captive birds as well as other forms of animal life. We both started very young as enthusiastic bird lovers and keepers; neither of us have any reason to regret it. Aviculture at present, has grown to be altogether a delightful kind of sport, from which great aesthetic pleasure and satisfactory interest is derived, as well as a very important technique of Biological Science, as it is necessary process for study. Also, it constitutes an important step in the preservation of the threatened species by their controlled propagation'.

(The progress of aviculture during the last three-quarters of a century. November, 1969 Vol. LXXV, 224 - 225.)


  • LINDHOLM, J.H. (1988) Captain Delacour at the Bronx (1941 - 1947) Avicultural Magazine Vol. XCIV, 31 - 55.
  • VAN OOSTEN, J.R. (1957) Adventures with softbills. Ibid. Vol. LXIII, 46 - 50.


I am most grateful for the assistance of Linda Coates, Librarian of the Zoological Society of San Diego, and Steve Johnson, Librarian of NYZS/The Wildlife Conservation Society.

Part IV