Part II


PART II(ii) : 1920 - 1944

By Josef Lindholm III
First Published in The Avicultural Magazine Vol. 100 No. 3
Copyright © 1994 Avicultural Society, Published with Permission

'For nine years I had not been to see my friend Mr. G. H. Gurney's aviaries. I was delighted, when last August I arrived at Keswick to find that their number had more than doubled ... The aviaries are built in three groups: the oldest one is in a small garden surrounded by walls. There is a central path, on the right side of which is a long and large aviary inhabited by Black-necked Ibises, Cattle Egrets, Oystercatchers, Ruffs and Reeves... Alpine Choughs, Crested Pigeons and Dominican Cardinals. On the left side one finds six smaller aviaries, all with heated shelters ... the first one is stocked with many small birds, mainly Finches and Weavers, one White-crowned Plover and a rare South American Whimbrel... the last one, very roomy, with three Tiger Bitterns.

'... the second group of aviaries, also surrounded by walls, is newer and larger... These birds, in the day time, walk about the garden and paths between the aviaries: there are pairs of Dusky Trumpeters, Razor-billed Curassows, Pileated Guans, a Screamer, an American Wood Ibis and various Guinea Fowls...

'On the left a very nice aviary.., has been erected inside a greenhouse: there are males of the lovely Elliot's Pitta, Bellbird, Fairy Bluebirds, several Tanagers and Bulbuls. In cages, a few small Parrots, one very old Golden-fronted Bulbul, a Black-collared Barbet, and a very fine Crimson-breasted Shrike that Mr. Gurney has had for four years. It is to be noted that both Elliot's Pitta and the Shrike have kept very bright their green and red hues.

'...there is a wide turfed path, on the left of which is a long flight inhabited by Manchurian Eared Pheasants, Budgerigars and a Cocoi Heron, which is quite harmless to small birds to my amazement?

'On the other side, a row of nine fine new aviaries.., contain many birds, among which I noticed Common Francolins... Kagus, Sclater's Crown-Pigeons on the nest... The central compartment, very roomy, is inhabited by Scarlet and White Ibises, Lesser Egrets and Gray's Pond Herons. In spite of the habits of its occupants, the four unfertile eggs. In 1931 she laid five, three of which hatched and two young were reared... An Imported pair of Mikado Pheasants produced thirteen young ones in 1930, and the same number again in 1931. This fine species from Formosa does not seem to breed before two years old. I have just obtained another pair from Formosa which will enable me to renew the blood.

'I also own some wild-caught, and therefore pure-blooded, Amherst Pheasants which I brought in 1930 from Yunnan. The wonderful Blue Crossoptilons sent to me in 1929 by Mr. Hampe being all males, hybrids with the brown species were reared last year and look almost like pure blue ones. One of these 1930 hybrid hens bred, in 1931, two young ones with a pure blue cock; these are indistinguishable from their father. In 1930 we reared some Soemmerring's Pheasants, a few of which escaped from their coop and have become established in the woods, where they are occasionally seen, together with some Bel's Kalij... During these two breeding seasons we also reared a fair number of... Broivn Crossoptilon, Elliot's, Edwards', Imperial, Black-crested Kalij, Horsfield, Versicolor... Madagascar Guineafowl... Some Doves and Pigeons were bred: Diamond, Australian Crested, Bronze-winged, Jobi and Marquesa rub esecens, and, for the first time since I have kept birds, one Nicobar Pigeon. To my surprise the young one remained nearly six weeks in the nest, till quite fully grown.

'The collection of Waterfowl is better than it ever was, although 1 must admit I have no more Pink-headed Ducks, Pigmy Geese, African Black Ducks, White-backed Ducks or Hottentot Teal... In 1931 a pair of South African Shelldrakes produced six young ones, and we reared one curious hybrid Rajah x Ruddy Shelldrake in size and shape: dark reddish brown, with white head and neck. Also we had a few Madagascar White-eyes and Meller's Ducks.

'Sea Ducks are doing very well on our clear running water. There are fifteen Eider and two Barrow's Golden-eyes, which feed greedily on grain and mash, with dried meat. One pair of Common Scoters have now lived for over three years and keep perfect condition, but they seem to thrive on natural food only, while a male Velvet Scoter, wounded at sea in August, has quite recovered and looks perfect; it has become fairly tame and feeds freely on grain and mash...

'I am sorry to say that the old Sarus which had been free-flying for more than ten years met with its death last summer, as it struck a high-tension electric cable, some distance from the park'.

Bird notes from Clères. January, 1932. (Series IV), Vol. X ,5 - 8.

'... in a large aviary, all planted with pine trees and heather, often changed, there are some Capercaillies, Hazel Grouse, Black Game and Siberian Jays, all tame and kept in perfect condition during the last three years. The very complete collection of Ostrich-like birds contains such rarities as Beccari's Cassowary, Spatz's Ostriches, Darwin's and Great-billed Rheas, the latter the form R. americana , much darker than the common Grey Rhea.

'In the Bird House one sees some very rare Weavers and Whydahs, three Egyptian Plovers Fluvianus, Birds of Paradise, a tame Woodcock, many Humming-birds, several in perfect condition, a large Cotinga Pyroderus scutatus, but the real treasurers are two pairs of very pretty little Lorikeets Psitteuteles iris and Parrot Finches Chiorura microrhyncha'.

On a recent visit to the Berlin Zoo. January, 1933. (Series IV), Vol. XI, 21 - 22.

'Another interesting event was the first breeding in captivity of the Bronze-tailed Peacock Pheasant Polyplectron chalcurum. A pair of these quaint little birds, purchased two years ago as Mr. Frost brought them from Sumatra, started laying early in May. Unfortunately the first clutch was destroyed by the Rheinart's Argus living in the same aviary - which, by the way, is the largest compartment in my small birds' aviaries, 65 ft. by 22 ft., and where the crowds of Doves and small birds live beside the Rheinart's and Bronze-tails. However, instead of depositing her next two eggs on the ground, the little hen.., chose for her nest one of the baskets hung under the roof for ... Pigeons and Doves ... The eggs were at once removed and placed under a Bantam. One was clear, but the other one hatched and the chick was reared to the adult stage...'

'My old Black-necked Crane, the only one ever imported into Europe, dies last summer. A great loss.'

'In the small birds' aviaries a certain number of more or less common species of Finches were bred, the most interesting being the Madagascar Weaver Foudia. I kept in the largest flight two pairs of birds that I brought over in 1929. One pair nested three times last summer in a privet, rearing four young ones. Of course, as it started breeding one of the males killed the other one...'

Bird notes from Clères for 1932. February, 1933. (Series IV), Vol. XI, 34 - 39.

'In the last two or three years, in fact since I have started keeping delicate small birds in a Tropical House, with heat and moisture amongst a rich vegetation, a good many rare and little known species have come to me to be tried there, with good results as a rule.

'... in my first Tropical House ... Rainbow and Indian Crested Buntings are very satisfactory; also Chinese Painted Quails which look lovely as they walk among the plants, Bartlett's and Marquesas Doves. With them live the old Fork-tail, tame and beautiful, a Blue-tailed Pitta, a White-capped Redstart, a pair of Niltavas, a Clarino, a pair of Fairy Bluebirds, at present nesting, a Rubythroat, some beautiful Manakins and Yellow-winged Sugar Birds, and a Senegal Sunbird. Peace reigns in the community and not a leaf is damaged by the birds. The next compartment houses only a breeding pair of tame Shamas and a fine Red-breasted Sunbird C. gutturalis, which there retains his brilliant scarlet at the moult, but is so spiteful as to kill any weaker bird.

'The central part of the new house, which is connected with the old one by a glass-covered passage, contains a breeding pair of Purple Sugar-birds, a Vigor's Sunbird, finger-tame, a pair of Larger Minivets, one Lesser Minivet P. cinnamomeus, a pair of Tickel's, one White-browed and one Blue-throated Blue Flycatchers, a pair of Red-headed Tits A egithaliscus concinnus iredalei, a Blue-headed Robin Adelura coeruleucoceph ala a Plumbeous Redstart, and a true pair of Hooded Pittas ... To them have been added a pair of Black and White Manakins Manacus manacus and some Humming- birds, such as Eupetomena glaucis, Pygmornis, Thalurania, Lampornis and 1-fylocharis.

'In the side aviaries, which do not contain any vegetation but are surrounded by creepers and other tall plants, there are a Rifle Bird of Paradise and avery pretty Yellow-legged Ouzel Turdusfiavipipes from Brazil, rare Barbets Megalaema lagrandieri, which I caught in Laos, and a Brazilian species Capito aurovirens; although of very different sizes they agree well, but will attack wickedly all other birds.

'... another flight is given up to a large and varied population, Black-throated Cardinals P. gularis a very rare small species, Abyssinian Red-headed Barbets, Amethyst and Royal Starlings, a Cayenne Troupial, an Annamese MesiaM. cunhaci and some larger Tanagers; in others are a pair of Matacca Parrakeets, Red-headed P. rubricapilla and Beautiful Manakins C. pareola, and many sorts of smaller Tanagers. The special Hummingbirds' compartment contains about fifteen Humming Birds of the following genera: Phoelornis, Aryrtria, Hylocharis, Chlorostilbon, Melanotrochilus, Eulampis and Polytmus'.

Notes on the small birds in the Tropical House at Clères. July, 1933. (Series IV), Vol. XI, 179 - 181.

'Although many species of Pittas have been introduced into Europe during the last twenty years... none had so far bred or even nested in captivity'.

* * *

'... it is almost impossible to keep two together, even in a large aviary and cock and hen of the same species, and this has been the principle obstacle to their breeding in confinement'.

* * *

'In the early spring of 1933, however, I succeeded in keeping together two BreedingHooded Pittas Pitta cucullata. A species which is often imported from India ...'

* * *

'Both parents fed the chicks mostly on cut-up Bullock's heart, with meal-worms, a few earth-worms and insectile mixture... On 24th May one young one disappeared and was never found.

'...the growth of the youngsters was very quick. They came out more and more on the platform now, so much so that on the 31st one was out of the nest flying well enough. The weaker one also came out, but ... was drowned on 5th June, after having been flying well for several days. Both parents fed the remaining young bird devotedly, and did not abandon and bully it as I had feared, as the mother had started laying again in the old nest on the 31st, while the cock began another nest, further away ... the hen laid every day, as many as ten eggs, by 12th Jnne. She insisted on laying in the old nest, and all but one egg dropped on the ground ... The cock had by then completed the new nest and would not go to the old one again. The birds were not sitting. On 13th June I removed the old nest and put eight eggs into the new one (I thought ten were too many). Very docile, the hen went to the new nest and incubation started immediately. Two eggs, probably addled, were rejected after a few days. At the same time, both parents continued feeding their first young, now quite strong, and eating also by himself since 12th June. However, on the 21st, I took him by hand (he is very tame) and removed him into another compartment, where he now lives happily.'

* * *

'On 23rd June the head of a chick was observed, and four the following day. At once a platform was built in front of the nest.

'On 11th July, on my return from the Ornithological Congress at Oxford, the four young Pittas were out of the nest, and they all have been fully reared.

'But we now come to the sad end of the story, and we shall see that, like the Thrushes, Pittas have the most wicked and puzzling temper.

'As soon as the young ones had left the nest, the cock Pitta, whose plumage, and especially the quills, were in a very worn state, started at once building another nest ... [which] by 15th July ... was almost completed. I noticed that day there was a fight between the two parents, but I thought it was only, as usual, an introduction to their mating, and paid little attention to it. The next day the hen was chasing the cock, who kept hidden most of the time, and I decided to keep a special watch... I went into the greenhouse every hour or so, to see how matters were going on; it was very much the same. But at the end of the day the male was found dead in the pond!

'... The hen has not laid up to now ... She carried on feeding the young ones and still is looking after them most devotedly to this day...'

Breeding the Hooded Pitta Pitta cucullata. September, 1934. (Series IV), Vol. XII, 222 - 226.

'... each year three pairs of Demoiselles nest, always at the same places, very far distant, and rear their young without difficulty... catching insects all day long for their chicks, This year an old hen Eastern Sarus, who never had produced fertile eggs as long as she had a cock of her own species, hatched and reared two fine hybrids with an Australian Crane... One cannot say yet what they will look like...

' Shelldrakes have been particularly successful; in the last two seasons over fifty Paradise, South African hybrid Rajah, Ruddy and Common Shelldrakes were bred. Ducks were bred in numbers, the rarest being Brazilian, Green-winged and Cinnamon Teal, Blackbilled, Fulvous and true Red-billed autumnalis Tree Ducks, and Madagascar White-eyes.

'...Among others, we have bred [over the last two years] Blyth's Tragopans (6), Rheinarte's Argus (4), Germain's Palawan (4), Bronze-tailed Polyplectrons, Blue Crossoptilons (25), Mikado, Copper, Edwards', Imperial and White-crested Pheasants. One hybrid Koklass ( darwini x macrolopix) unfortunately died when three months old.

'One pair of Grey Polyplectrons has produced no fewer than eighteen young ones in two seasons. Roulrouls were hatched, but not reared...'

Bird-breeding at Clères. January. 1935 (Series IV), Vol. XIII, 24 - 25.

'BreedingCourier Water-TyrantFluvicola climazura climazuraIn most parts of South America one sees along streams and ditches, and even in towns and gardens, some very pretty white, grey and black birds which remind one of our Wagtails...

'They are Water-Tyrants of the genus Fluvicola. Many years ago I saw many of the White-shouldered Water-TyrantWhite-shouldered species, Fluvicola pica in Guiana and Venezuela, and I was very much struck with their attractive appearance. But I was told that they could not live in captivity. Fortunately M. C. Cordier, of Pernambuco, has found the way of keeping most Brazilian birds alive in his aviaries, and afterwards to send them to us.

'I got my first Water-Tyrants F. climazura more than two years ago. They arrived, it is true to say, in poor condition, and only two sun'ived. Let out in one of my tropical houses, they soon settled down and enjoyed immensely the stones and water lilies of the pond. They proved tame and harmless to other birds. But they probably were of the same sex, as after over a ycar no attempt at breeding took place. They are purely insectivorous birds and take readily to the usual mixture, a little raw meat and a few meal-worms.

'Last summer I received two more specimens which, after they sufficiently recovered, were let out with the first two. Things did not go smoothly; fights took place and after some time two were killed. The two remaining birds were evidently a pair.

'Early last winter they started carrying moss and small twigs and soon built a purse-shaped nest, rather loosely made, in a creeper at a height of 8 feet overhanging the pond... but after about twelve days the nest was found to be empty and one broken egg, containing a well-developed chick, was found at some distance on the soil.

'Soon after another nest was built, in another creeper 2 yards away from the first one and higher up still. Eggs were laid again and, on 25th February, two young Tyrants left the nest... One chick was weak and died after three days, being found in the pond. The other one developed normally, and it is now indistinguishable from the parents. The young were reared quite easily on the parents' diet.

'A third clutch was laid in the same nest in May, and on the 26th three strong young ones came out. They are now in perfect health and although they have had a new brood the parents have never so far molested their first baby. It is the more remarkable that they try to attack savagely a newly imported specimen in a neighbouring aviary.

'As Mr. de Quincy tells me, these Water Tyrants are quite hardy, and his pair wintered safely out of doors this year. They also bred but the young died soon after they came out of the nest. There is no doubt that tropical birds have a much better chance to rear their offspring when always kept at a favourable and even temperature, as is the case in my greenhouses.

'Three years ago a pair of Shamas reared two full broods without losses in one of the compartments; and one knows that, although they nest freely, the young are not too easy to breed in an outdoor aviary. Also it may interest our readers to hear that my Hooded Pittas have young again. The breeding pair is composed of the old hen and one of her sons bred last year...'

Breeding of Courier Water-Tyrant Fluvicola climazura climazura. July 1935. (Series IV), Vol. XIII, 171 - 173.

'Like every other year, 1935 has had its good and bad points....

'In the outdoor aviaries, we had a number of young of the Forest Foudij [sic] Foudia omissa, the rarer of the two red Madagascar Weavers. Also, for almost the first time in the fifteen years that they have lived in their aviary. Pekin Robins reared a brood of four, and perhaps more, as nests were overlooked, and they seem to be now so numerous than before.

'Some Whydahs and Weavers also nested, but I do not know quite which species actually succeeded.'

'My pair of Lidth's Jays gave us hope at a certain time, but they did not go any further than carrying sticks. They are very tame and amusing, and I think the most beautiful members of the Crow family in spite of their rather dark hues.

'A few pairs of the pretty Fischer's Whydahs were brought to me from Abyssinia last spring, the males in full colour and perfect condition. They have done very well out of doors. At the end of November, the cocks still are in full colour. I keep these Whydahs, as well as Queen, Pintail, Steel and Paradise, in large aviaries inhabited by various Waxbills, Zebras and Grassfinches in case Whydahs may some day lay in their nests...

'Among the new inmates of my outdoor aviaries, I should like to mention some Pink-crested Touracous, Wood-hoopoes, Amethyst Starlings (which are much hardier than supposed, and do badly indoors), some very pretty Red-headed insectivorous Weavers Anaplectes melanotis, and, thanks to Mr. Sydney Porter's generosity, some lovely Mountain Witch Doves. Five Madagascar Partridges were reared by the parents'.

'Waterfowl were quite satisfactory in 1935. Some 400 were reared which is not a bad result when one realises that there are between 2,000 and 3,000 birds here of about 600 species, belonging to the most varied groups. And all need looking after carefully!'

'For the first time in captivity, the New Zealand Shoveler ..., was bred. Mr. Sydney Porter brought home one male and two females last year and kindly lent them to me in the spring. They were full- winged and were put into a duck aviary ... where Cotton Teal, Spotted Tree-ducks (... imported for the first time from New Guinea), and a few small waders are also kept'.

Breeding and other notes from Clères. January, 1936. (Series V), Vol. 1, 2 - 6.

'M. E. Plocq, a well-known and very clever amateur ... bred Swallows in his aviaries at Roc Roche-sur-Yon (Venée) last summer. M. Plocq, for more than twenty years, has been rearing Swallows, taming them so that he can let them fly out at complete liberty and they come back and settle on his hands whenever he whistles. He usually lets them ... migrate south in the autumn. For the last three years, however, he kept one male as well as a female Rock Martin throughout the winter... He also kept in the same way a hen Swallow during the winter 1934 - 5. In the following spring the pair of Swallows built a nest... against the wall of an aviary 25 feet by 12 feet by 6 feet... Five young were hatched, the first two died because their birth was not noticed and no proper food was supplied; the next three were very easily reared by the parents on ants' eggs'.

Swallows breeding in captivity. May 1936. (Series V), Vol.1, 140 - 141.

'On 14th November I left Chicago at 6.30 am by air, and before 7.30 pm I was at the Sacramento Aerodrome, ajourney which takes over three days by train. Mr. L. Leland Smith was waiting for me, and took me to his home at Fair Oaks...

'Mr. Smith owns the finest collection of Pheasants in America... the gems of which are several pairs of the White Eared Pheasant and a pair of Chinese Monaula. He also possesses and breeds Koklass, Rheinartes, Argus, Palawan and Bronze-tailed Polyplectron; and I saw there a pair of the rare Tetroaphasis thibetanus, a large Partridge from the high mountains of Western China'.

'For an Old World aviculturist, one collection is of very great interest, that of Mr. Eric Kinsey, at Manor, in a cool and shady canyon of Mann County, north of the Bay of San Francisco. Mr. Kinsey, the president of the Cooper Club, is an excellent ornithologist, who knows as much of wild Californian birds as anyone on earth. But, quite rightly, he believes that there is a great deal more to be learned of the habits and behaviour of birds by keeping them in captivity... Mr. Kinsey has specialised on Californian Passerine birds, and keeps no others, except a few Anna and Allen's Humming-birds. Of course, he can only do so by enjoying a special scientific permit from the Federal Government and the State of California... I spent several days up country with Mr.. Kinsey to trap some of the birds that I was kindly allowed to take home with me, and I had a very interesting experience, watching and catching such lovely species as Western and Mountain Bluebirds'.

'As our members know well, it was Lord Tavistock's enterprise that started Parrakeet breeding in California. The birds he sent several years ago have produced many of the present inhabitants of the Los Angeles aviaries. All aviculturists ought to be grateful to him for such a happy initiative.'

'The largest private collection of birds in the district of Los Angeles is perhaps that of Mr. W. J. Sheffler, a vice-present of the Avicultural Society... At his home has... one of the most varied mixed collections of birds that I have seen in the district... Large box cages are the home of some Tahitian blue Lories, which nested last summer, but unfortunately resented inquisition and forsook their eggs.

'Some miles away, but still in Los Angeles City... Mr. Sheffler has built a large block of aviaries... In the numerous compartments live many different species of Parrakeets; Mealy Rosellas and Pennant's breed very freely, as well as different Cockatoos and Conures. I noticed especially several Brown's, a pair of Norfolk Island's, Lucon Tanygnathus, Mitchell's and Forsten's Lorikeets, and hybrids with Swainsons's. There are also quite a number of Jay Thrushes, Mexican Jays, etc., and a fine pair of Harris Hawks Parabuteo unicinctus.'

* * *

'Mr. and Mrs. B. Black have very large, wild aviaries ...For over ten years they have bred the fine Olidiphaps nobills [Pheasant Pigeon], and they still have eight of them. I noticed a gorgeous hybrid between Borneo Fireback x Swinhoe Pheasant. Mr. Black claims that they reared a hybrid between the Nicobar Pigeon and the Otidiphaps, which unfortunately, I could not see'.

* * *

'Mr. Gilbert Lee has been successful in breeding Grey Parrots and Eclectus for several years, and be has quite a breeding stock of them... The gems of his collection arc a newly arrived and exquisite pair of Marquesan Blue Lories... and a pair of Kuhi's Ruby Lories... These have been nesting repeatedly for several years, but only one young was so far reared, all the others dying after a couple of days. Mr. Lee is now trying a new and more insectile diet, which they probably require.

'Dr. Leon Patrick, at Orange, is one of the first and most successful Parrot breeders in California, and many of Lord Tavistock's birds have been entrusted to him. He has a choice collection, including several pairs of Norfolk Island, Pileated and Derbyan Parrakeets. He has just bred a hybrid Panama x Levaillant's Amazon.

'In the vicinity of San Diego... we visited what is perhaps the largest private collection of Parrots in America, that of Mr. I. D. Ptnam. He has some 150 large outdoor compartments... Mr. Putnam owns many pairs of different species of Australian Parrakeets, including Brown's and Pileated, of Conures, Lories, Macaws, and a few others. There is a beautiful tame Masked Parrakeet from Fiji... and also a few Game birds, among them some Masked Bobwhites Colinus ridgwaysi, from Texas, a rare species.'

'Mr. and Mrs. Keith Spalding own a unique collection on their large estate of "Rancho Sespe"... A very bright Red Shining Parrakeet from Fiji, attracted my attention, among many other rarities.., higher upon the slope of the hill, there is... a Game Farm, with numerous roomy pens; many pheasants and innumerable Peafowl live and breed there, as well as what made "Rancho Sespe" famous in the avicultural world - a breeding pair of Ceram Cassowaries and their offspring... The male and the female live in adjoining pens, but separately; they can only be safely put together... for a few hours at a time... In 1934 two were bred and they look now almost like adults. Last year the hen killed the chicks through the wire partition, so that now the male and his brood are removed father away. This year there is another fine chick...'

American Aviculture. May, 1937. (Series V), Vol.11,125 - 139.

'In the early months of 1932 my friend, M. R. Homberg, sent me two male Velvet Scoters Oedemiafusca from the sea shore near the Somme estuary. He had been endeavouring for some time to procure for me some of these interesting birds alive, by shooting them slightly in the neck, at long range, with very small shot. Both birds arrived in fairly good condition, but of course with rather stiff necks. One survived only a few months, while the other one gradually improved, and eventually recovered completely. Let out on the lake, the bird soon became very tame and greedy...

'... the Velvet Scoter looked perfect, till about a year ago, when hz began to show signs of old age; the nail of its bill grew too long, and we had to cut it; its general appearance became gradually that of an aged bird. It died early this year.

'have never yet seen another Velvet Scoter in confinement, nor heard of any being kept in captivity for more than a few weeks...

'A beautiful male Long-tailed Duck, caught and sent to me by M. Homberg at the same time, and by the same method, is still in perfect condition...'

The Velvet Scoter in captivity. May, 1938. (Series V), Vol.111, 129 - 130.

'Luck seemed to be against us in 1938; the impossibly cold and dry spring, and more still the serious illness of Mr. F. Fooks during April and May, were a serious handicap to successful breeding. And to add to it, I had to make preparations for the International Ornithological Congress which took place at Rouen in May, so that I personally had very little time to spend with the birds at Clères.

'...However, quite a few [birds] were reared this last season...

'A pair of Manchurian Cranes reared a fine female, hatched in April. They live in a 50 acre enclosure, where natural food is plentiful, in company with Darwin's Rheas, Pseudaxis Deer, and a few waterfowl...'

* * *

'My old Harlequin drake literally committed suicide by following Mandarin females on foot hundreds of yards from the water, up in the park, as they were looking for nesting holes. When I discovered it, it was almost too late, and he died of exhaustion, never taking time to feed properly. His mate had died the summer before after five years on the lake'.

* * *

'... the Courier's Water Tyrants ... reared two broods as usual in the greenhouse'.

Breeding results at Clères. January, 1939. (Series V) , Vol. IV, 2 - 4.

'M. Cordier accompanied me to Indo-China last autumn. While I was >collecting skins in North West Laos... he went to Chapa, a hill-station in Tonkin, close to the Yunnan border. In 1929-1930 we had made there a remarkable collection of skins, obtaining over fifty new forms...

'Mr. Cordier arrived on 12th May, with about 300 birds, many of which are new to aviculture, and extremely attractive. The greatest part of them are now at Clères and at Foxwarren. As they inhabit quite a cold country, where frost and snow are not uncommon in winter, they should prove very hardy. Perhaps a few words on the more interesting species may prove of some interest...

'LONG-TAILED BROADBILL Psarisomus dalhousiae - a marvellous bird ... A common forest bird in damp country, purely insectivorous and difficult to keep, which has never been brought alive before.

'FULVOUS PITTA Pitta oatesi - a large high-ground Pitta, of a beautiful pinkish chestnut, with green upperparts. First arrival.

'ELLIOT'S PITTA Pitta elliotii - one of the handsomest of all Pittas; my pair, imported three years ago, build and nest every year, but destroy their eggs. The nest is dome-shaped, but wide open in front.

'BLUE-WINGED LAUGHING THRUSH Garrulax squamatus... FOOK'S LAUGHING THRUSH Garrulax subnicolor fooksi - bronzy brown bird, wing feathers lined with yellow. GOLDEN-WINGED LAUGHING THRUSH Garrulax connectens ... RED-TAILED LAUGHING THRUSH Garrulax milnei indochinensis - crimson wings and tail, grey body, reddish cap, and white cheeks.

'These four Laughing Thrushes are very beautiful and remind one of a large Pekin Robin in their ways. The three first are new to aviculture, and of G. milnei, only one was brought home by myself in 1929; it is still alive;.

* * *

'In October, 1938, M. Cordier had brought for me from Guatemala twelve Ocellated Turkeys. With the exception of one adult pair, all had been brought up by him from the egg. Now six of these very rare and difficult birds are well acclimatised and live at Clères, and four at Leckford'.

'At the same time he brought over some rare small birds, of which I shall mention some lovely Hummingbirds: Lamprolamia ramhi, Eugenes fulvens, Saucerottea devillei, S. feliciae, Chrysuronia aenone, Chlorostilbon alicrae, Colibri iolata; and some Tanagers: Ramphocelus icteronotus, R. passerini, R. sanguinolentus, Thraupis abbasand Chiorophonia occipitalis'.

'Since writing the above notes, a young BreedingElliot's PittaPitta ellioti has been reared, and a pair of Shamas, which arrived at Cléres on 10th May, bred three young in the nest on 20th June in one of my Tropical houses'.

M.C. Cordier's collection. August, 1930. (Series V), Vol. IV, 267 - 271.

'All our gardeners and four bird-keepers have joined up since the beginning of the war; another one is soon going. But Mr. Fooks is fortunately staying at Cléres, and is able to carry on with a reduced staff. By the doubtful privilege of age, I an remaining in the district, though on military duty, so that I can see my birds at frequent intervals.

'For the moment we have decided to keep the whole of the collection, only thinning out gradually to a couple of pairs the more ordinary species of Pheasants, waterfowl, and small birds, or even suppressing the very common ones altogether'.

'Cranes laid very well, but we were unlucky in several ways... The White Asiatics laid one unfertile egg, the first one since eighteen years they have been at Clères. The Eastern Sarus paired up to an Australian, which had reared many young in the past, laid late, and did not hatch. One Manchurian was reared...

Rare Geese were raised: 1 Red-breasted, 5 Lesser White-fronts, 3 Greater Snows, 4 Blue Snows, 5 Ross's, 4 Emperors, 2 Cereopsis, 4 Ruddy-headed, 2 Ashy-headed, 6 Blue-winged, 4 Andean, 5 Maned (hatched late in August), as well as many Paradise, South African, Common and 3-4 Radjah Ruddy Sheldducks [sic], and 3 Australian Sheld-ducks, the latter for the first time in captivity, and also seven Comb Ducks, hatched in September. It is the first instance of their breeding at Cléres. The seven eggs were laid in the same nest as eight Maned Goose's eggs, in a hut up in the park... Twenty wild Muscovies were reared from one pair...

'Many Ducks were reared from eggs collected round the lake and ponds: ... Chinese Spot-bills, Yellowbills, Meller's, American Blacks, Chiloe Wigeons, Shovelers... Red-heads, White-eyes Madagascar White-eyes, Lesser Scaup and Common Pochards; three Common Golden-eyes could not be raised, as well as one Ringed Teal. New Zealand Shovelers laid unfertile eggs.

'Several Ducks were reared on the lake by their parents, including Red Shovelers, Versicolor and Cinnamon Teal, Greater Scaup, and a few commoner species.

'Among game birds, 23 Tragopans of four species, 12 Blue Crosoptilions, 20 Mikado, 7 Elliot's, 9 Soemmering's, 6 Bel's, 3 Lineated. 1 Horsefield's, 3 White-crested, 6 Edwards' Pheasants, 10 Sonnerat's and many Red Jungle Fowls'.

'In the greenhouses, an Elliot's Pitta and seven Indo-Chinese Shamas (two broods) were successfully bred. White-capped Redstarts nested several times without result, proving extremely spiteful during the season. A pair of Garnet-throated Hummingbirds built a lovely nest in an hibiscus tree, but did not go any further.

'Now, all the birds have been removed from greenhouses to bird-rooms, as it would have been very difficult to obtain coal to heat them during the winter. The rarer plants have been deposited at the Rouen Botanical Gardens, and I hope to be able to replant the houses when the war is over. It was very heart-breaking to me to close these houses, which were so attractive in every way; this is the only noticeable difference that the war has made to Clères so far...'

The birds at Clères in 1939. November, 1939. (Series V), Vol. IV, 347 - 350.

'I suggest that any member or breeder who owns some of the better Pheasants and for some reason has to part with them, gets in touch ivith either the O.P.S. or the Avicultural Society, so that his precious birds can be saved by others more fortunate, who can endeavour to see them safely throughout the present war'.

The preservation in captivity of Chinese Pheasants. November, 1939. (Series V), Vol. V, 1 - 2.

'Clères, as a bird park, is no more...

'When last I saw it, on 7th June, 1940, some thirty bombs, dropped a fortnight before, already had marred its appearance in many places and several hundred birds and mammals had been killed. I was then ordered away with my army unit and I have not seen Cléres since.

'But I know that on the day I left, as well as on those immediately after, the park suffered greatly from further bombings, as well as machine-gunning from the air. Four people, as well as many more birds and animals, were killed.

'Then came the German troops. There followed looting and the loss of still more birds and animals. Some of these escaped through doors left open, while others mixed with different species and were killed in the ensuing fighting. However, the Germans permitted three of my men, who had remained near by, to return and care for what was left... But naturally in the interim all the more delicate species, including the Birds of Paradise, the Humming Birds, Sunbirds and those of insectivorous habit, had died of starvation.

'Mr. F. Fooks, who for twenty years had taken care of my collection and managed my estate with the utmost zeal and devotion ... had wanted to stay on at any price and against my advice. But on 8th June, having moved some of the rarer birds to a place of supposed safety further west, he found he could not re-cross the Seine and so was cut off from Clères.

... Some days later we met by luck at the home of an old friend and bird lover, M. A. Decoux, near Limoges in Central Frances, whose fine collection of Parrakeets, Doves and small birds, I am glad to say, is still intact and so far unmolested.

'Here Mr. Fooks and I parted. As I watched him, his French wife and his children depart in a car driven by one of my sergeants, I realised that the last connecting link between me and what had been my life for many years had been severed. The Fooks family eventually arrived safely in England after a perilous journey, while I went to Agen, in South-western France. Here I was demobilised on 20th July. My small part in the defence of France was finished'.

'After spending four months following my demobilisation in an idleness which was painful, despite the companionship of my mother. I was lucky enough to be allowed to go on to New York, where the hearty welcome of my American friends gave me a new taste for life. I was soon offered the position of Consultant to the New York Zoological Society. Needless to say I accepted and the great interest I am taking in the work, as well as in some other of a scientific nature at the American Museum, no doubt will gradually lessen my bitterness over everything I have lost in Europe'.

* * *

'Aside from such memories as the writing of papers may revive, or which may result from other causes from time to time, for me the past is dead. Perhaps my bitter experience may serve as an object lesson to those who hold material possessions in too great esteem and to remind others that nothing in this life should be regarded as permanent.'

The end of Clères. May - June, 1941. (Series V ), Vol. VI 81 - 84.

Captain Delacour's years in New York have been discussed in some detail in a previous number of this magazine (Lindholm, 1988).

'I have spent an early June weekend in the country with my friends, Mr. and Mrs. Milton Erlanger, and for the first time in many months I have had the time, and everlasting pleasure, to watch aviary birds. This may sound strange, as my present position of Technical Adviser to the New York Zoological Park gives me the control of the mammals, birds and reptiles, and our collection of birds is the best now existing, numbering 1,800 specimens of 700 species, about half of which are perching birds. But my duties are many and absorbing, with planning, committee meetings, and office work, and I have little time to do more than quickly examine the birds in our zoo. Mr. Lee Crandall, the Curator, and Head Keeper George Scott, themselves overworked, are both excellent aviculturists, and I rely on them to take care of our birds. Although we almost entirely lack suitable outdoor accommodation, so necessary to many species, the condition of our collection is excellent, the longevity of our birds being quite remarkable, with losses at a minimum. But, as I have just said, our outdoor flights are almost non-existing, a deplorable state of affairs which would already have been remedied if the war had not brought in additional difficulties...'

A collection of small birds in New Jersey. July - August, 1942. (Series V), Vol. VII, 117 - 119.

'For more than ten years it has always been a thrilling experience to see Mr. C. Cordier arrive with a collection of birds. It happens once or twice a year. Until 1939 he used to bring his collection to Cl#xe8;res, and the surplus material found its way mostly to the London Zoo, to Mr. A. Ezra and Mr. Spedan Lewis in England, and to Dr. E. Beraint and M. Francois Edmond-Blanc in France. Those happy days are over, alas! But Mr. Cordier still brings his collections, now to the United States. He brought us, to the New York Zoological Park, a marvellous Colombian collection in December, 1941, and early in October 1942, he was back again, this time from Costa Rica, with perhaps the finest lot ofbirds he has ever secured.

'There are ninety-six birds in the collection, including three Umbrella Birds which have never before been exhibited alive. Fifty-four Humming Birds of which the majority have never been imported anywhere, and eighteen Quetzels'.

* * *

'In the new home of the Hummingbirds that is being rushed in the Bronx Zoo's Bird House, they will be exhibited behind glass in small brightly lighted cages, while the public will view them from a black passageway'.

* * *

'We had to dispose of some of the Quetzals, keeping ten for our collection. For the first time, I saw perfect specimens... tame and feeding well. Six inhabit a large planted aviary, and although there are several adult males, they never quarrel; neither do they molest the small birds, mostly Sugarbirds and Tanagers, which share their flight. The Umbrella Birds are also extremely tame and harmless.

'We are now completing the transformation of our halls, where pigeons and Parrots used to be kept in rather old-fashioned and ugly cages. We are making five long planted flights of different styles, more or less in the same way as the greenhouse aviaries at Clères were planned. One has a fast-running stream and is called the "Tropical American mountain stream". It contains some Blue-headed and Ruddy Buntings, a small South American Barbet, a dozen Manakins and Sugarbirds, a few small Tanagers, and a pair of Fire-throated Humming Birds Panterpe. The next one is an "lndian-Malayan jungle"; there live some small Fruit Pigeons, Green-wings and Bleeding Heart Doves, a Pitta, a Rothschild's Starling, a Shama, a small Javan Barbet, some bulbuls and BabbLers, a few Timor Paddas and Crested Buntings.

'The other three, which will soon be completed, will be a "desert!", an "American Garden"; and a "Tropical American Rain forest". It is great fun designing and planting these aviaries. I find it the best substitute to the pleasure I so long used to have at Clères on a larger scale'.

A collection of birds from Costa Rica. March - April, 1943. (Series V), Vol. VIII, 29 - 32.

'At the present time Mr. Fooks has taken charge of the estate and collection of Capt. the Hon. Henry Broughton at Englefield Green. Captain Broughton, now in the army, possessed at the beginning of the war, a large collection of perching birds ranging from Humming) Birds and Sun-birds to Birds of Paradise, Kingfishers and Parrakeets, with many extremely rare species among them. The feeding of such delicate birds under the present food restrictions in England is a difficult problem, in fact most of such birds at the London Zoo did not survive the privations of 1940. But Mr. Fooks managed to keep those in his care in excellent condition, even rearing broods of the rare Rothschild's Grackle in 1941 and 1943 and having Touracos and Woodpeckers nest. On the diet of his birds he writes as follows:-

'"The compostion of our substitute for fruit is simple - boiled potatoes and boiled carrot, 2 lb of the former to 1 lb of the latter, passed through a mincer then well mixed together and dried-off with chicken or dog-biscuit meal. If properly done there should be nothing sticky or wet about this mixture, but should be fairly dry and crumbly.

'"The Insectivorous mixture is made up daily as follows: Scalded granulated dog or chicken biscuit, to which is added 10 per cent of meat meal and a little finely grated carrot.

'"Touracos, Cocks of the Rock, Manakins, etc., are given the fruit substitute with a little of the Insect food hitherto called No. 1 and No. 2 with a little raw minced horse flesh added ... Small Kingfishers Halcyon, minced horse flesh (heart), gentils and mealworms. Laughing Kingfishers and Frogmouth, mice and raw horseflesh. Note: All meat for insectivorous birds, including Cissas, Rollers, etc., is well mixed with biscuit meal and that given to small Kingfishers just sprinkled with it"'.

* * *

'It is quite remarkable to hear of such an achievement. Of course, much depends upon the way in which these substitute foods are mixed and it is all important that the mixture be always dry enough and crumbly'.

Substitute diets for insectivorous and frugivorous birds. March - April, 1943. (Series V), Vol.VIII, 50 - 52.

'Having recently been appointed a collaborator of the [United States Fish and Wildlife] Service, and acting as an advisor, I have inspected in May, 1944, the present haunts of the Trumpeter Swans, and possible locations where the birds could be established.

'The following extracts of my report will give an idea of our present project to propagate and save the species:- ...'

The fate of the Trumpeter Swan. November - December, 1944. (Series V), Vol. IX, 127 - 132.

The detailed report from the field was reproduced in its entirety (Dolton 1988) in Volume 94 of this magazine.

'...After more than four years, I somehow still cannot realise that it is all a thing of the past. I shall never cease to regret the loss of such an accumulation of feathered treasures.

'However, let it be but a happy memory. To-day I have come back to where I stood when I was five years old. I personally own two birds: a Roller Canary in my bedroom, and a very good Shama, a present of a kind friend, Mrs. E. Erlanger, which enlivens my charming office at the Bronx Park. As I write, he sings delightfully...'

Avicultural Entente Cordiale. November, 1944 (Jubilee Supplement Series V), Vol. IX, 5 - 10.


  • DOLTON, K. (1988). Dr. Delacour and the Trumpeter Swan rescue programme. Avicultural Magazine XCIV, 59 - 64.
  • GIBBARD, A. (1988). Jean Delacours contributions to the Avicultural Magazine, 1916 - 1982. Ibid. XCIV, 70 - 81.
  • LINDHOLM, J. H. (1988). Captain Delacour at the Bronx (1941 - 1947). Ibid. XCIV, 31 - 56.
  • SETH-SMITH, D. & POCOCK, R. I. (1923). Editorial. Ibid. (Series IV) 1,1 - 2.


I am most grateful for the assistance of Steven Johnson, Librarian of the International Conservation Society.
I wish to acknowledge the foresight of Lawrence Curtis, who while Director of the Fort Worth Zoological Park, in the early 1960s, arranged for the purchase of a partial set of the Avicultural Magazine, complete for the '30s and '40s.

Part III