Part III


PART IV : 1970 - 1982

By Josef Lindholm III
First Published in The Avicultural Magazine Vol. 101 No. 4
Copyright © 1995 Avicultural Society, Published with Permission

At the conclusion to this autobiography, The Living Air, Jean Delacour (1966) wrote: "It becomes difficult to face the future. One has the uneasy feeling of being anachronistic. The end lurks around the corner, and it must be met gracefully, but I pray that it comes before my interest in life has been dulled, or even suppressed by illness and infirmity. Until then I shall delight in all that is beautiful, exciting or simply funny in the world, and I am resigned to departing at any time, without regret ..." He was then 76.

'The summer of 1969 has been one of the best I can remember, as far as the weather goes, in Western Europe. But it has not been a good breeding season for birds. The spring was dull and cold and the number of clear eggs high. Certain species even did not lay at all...

'A large number of young birds ... however were reared at Clères including Ringed Teal and another brood of five Black Brants. But there were only six Emperor Geese, while none of Red-breasted or Ross laid at all. By luck, the only hybrid produced was from a male Black Brant and a female Lesser Whitefront (an almost entirely black bird). A brood of Ruddy Ducks did not survive, the six chicks having been carried away by the flow of the running water. We now have two pairs of Trumpeter Swans, sent by the United States Government.

'The Tasmanian Water Hens raised 18 young, six under a bantam hen. All the others were reared in the park by two pairs...

'A number of new birds were acquired during the last season: pairs of West African Ostriches, Two-wattled Cassowaries and Wattled Cranes, ... Ijima Copper Pheasants (a gift from Mr. Ed. Fitzsimmons), White-headed and Ross Touracous, also a number of small tropical birds for the new accommodations which have been built during the last summer; a modern bird gallery in what used to be the drawing-room of the chateau (50tf. x 25ft.), destroyed by fire in 1939 ...

'The collection ... is varied. There are only one, two or three birds in each of the smaller cages, while the four flights can accommodate up to 70. They consist of Hummingbirds, Sunbirds, Sugarbirds (including Dacnis lineata and an Iridophanes puicherrima), Mexican Golden-browed Tanagers Chiorophonia callophrys, all the species of American Painted Buntings Passerina, Red-breasted Parrot Finches, a pair of small Red-headed Barbets Eubucco bourcieri, a Cock of the Rock, a Blue and White Indian Flycatcher and several Toucanets. The two larger aviaries contain big Tanagers (Scarlet, Black-throated, Mountain, Red-rumped and White-winged Blue), Blue and White Kingfishers, Pittas (Irena's and large-billed), Bellbirds, Amethyst Starlings, Bulbuls and Leafbirds, Rosita's Buntings, Black-headed Sugarbirds, Roulrouls, Silver Chinese Quails, Sand Grouse and a few Waxbills. The two smaller ones are the home of Calliste Tanagers (10 species), Sugarbirds and Sunbirds.

'Larger aviaries in adjoining halls are inhabited by several species of Toucans, including the Mountain Blue Andigena laminirostris, Barbets, Troupials, Weavers, Whydahs and Starlings.

'Some of those birds came from the collection of the late Mrs. Milton Erlanger, as are five Knysna Touracous, all reared in her aviaries at Elberon, New Jersey, during the past few years. They were presented to me by her family and they constitute a living memorial to a great bird-lover and a perfect friend ...

(The birds at Clères in 1969. January - February, 1970 Vol. LXXVI, 24 - 25).

'Once again I had the pleasure of visiting Brazil in November 1969, spending a couple of weeks with my friend Dr. B. P. Béraut near Rio de Janeiro. His collection of tropical birds and plants looks like a huge conservatory...

'Although there are 25 aviaries, large and small, and more in the making, none can be seen when you walk through the grounds. All are built along the outer fences, sheltered by walls and hidden by shrubbery...

'Three of the flights are of large size and full of trees and plants. They are close together, but irregular in shape. A corridor divides two of them and gives access to a bird kitchen and to shelters where caged birds and hand-fed fledglings are kept. Nine compartments run along the back of the third aviary, and plans are made for making another dozen of those breeding accommodations, where pairs of birds are secluded. At present, they consist of several pairs of Eclectus Parrots, most of them reared there, some Toucanets, Motmots, Tacazze Sunbirds, Garnet-throated Hummingbirds, Blue and Golden-breasted Sugarbirds, Fairy Bluebirds, the latter with young. When pairs of birds are showing signs of nesting in the larger aviaries, they are quickly removed to the privacy of these breeding pens. The corridor is the home of a few pets - a Razorbill Currassow, a Sun Bittern and a Purple-capped Lory.

'The three large flights contain remarkable species of soft-billed Passerine birds, exotic as well as South American, of which it no doubt is the best collection existing to-day.

'The first one is inhabited by a pair of Umbrella Birds Cephalopterus penduliger, and three male and two female Guianan Cock of the Rock Rupicola rupicola. They are all tame and agree perfectly well. The male Cocks of the Rock display together. A Lesser Bird of Paradise has been there for eight years and is in superb plumage. A pair of Blue-winged Pittas and a Brazilian Ant-Pitta Grallaria varia also live in peace as well as a few smaller birds: Golden-winged Sunbirds, a Waterton's Wood-Nymph, and a few small Formicariidae, including the lovely Pithys albifrons... with a crested white face of the most unusual appearance. I have seen long ago these curious birds following army ants in French Guiana whence Charles Cordier brought some to Clères later on.

'Another large flight is the home of Central American and Golden-headed Quetzals, Scarlet Cocks of the Rock, a number of Cotingas: a lovely and tame Swallow-tailed Phibalura flaviventria, a Bare-necked Fruitcrow Gymnoderus foetidusand a Black-necked Tityra T. cayana; a Swallow-winged Puffbird Chelidoptera tenebrosa, various Tanagers, Scarlet-chested Sunbirds; several small Hummingbirds Sericotes holosericeus, Augastes lumachellus, Stephanoxis lalandei: White-capped Redstarts Chimarrhornis, Royal, Splendid, Amethyst Starlings, American Jacanas (nesting), different Plovers, etc.

'The largest aviary (about 35ft. x 25ft.), heavily planted, has a little winding river where Cotton Teal can swim; there are also Roul-Rouls and small Rails Laterallus leucopyrrhus; but is otherwise dedicated to small species. There are Sunbirds N. pulchella, Hummingbirds of several sorts, Paradise Tanagers, different Sugarbirds, Flowerpeckers Dicaeum, African Paradise Flycatchers, a few Old World Robins, and Blue Cotingas. But most remarkable is the collection of Manakins, which live there in perfect condition and never quarrel: Pipra fascicauda, P. erythrocephala, P. rubrocapilla, P. pipra, P. serina, Manacus manacus, Chiroxiphia linearis, C. caudata, C. pareola, Elicura miliraris, Machaeropterus pyrocephalus, and the magnificent Antilophia galeata, a fairly large manakin from the interior of Brazil (I found it common in Goias), black, with scarlet helmeted head and back,

'There are other groups of aviaries. Two good-sized ones contain pairs of African Pigmy Kingfishers, Irena's Pittas. Jamaican Long-tailed Hummingbirds, Blue-and-Whitc Indian Flycatchers and a few others. Five more are inhabited by Ross and White-headed Touracous, Short-tailed Ant-thrushes Chamaza, Gnateaters Conophaga, several species of small Rails, Roul-rouls, etc. There are pairs of Leadbeater's Cockatoos and Queen of Bavaria's Conures in a large flight. The Conures were laying in a log, but it is interesting to note that the Cockatoos, although in perfect condition, have never nested, probably due to the lack of a cold enough winter and of too much humidity. Elsewhere live several Toucanels Aulacorhynchus sulcatus, Pteroglossus beauharnaiesi, P. hitorquatus, a number of Hummingbirds, Sunbirds, and various small insect and fruit eaters.

'At the time of my visit, many nestlings collected very young in Dr. Béraut's extensive land holdings at Tapirapuan, Mato Grosso, were being hand-raised. The most interesting ones were 16 Trogons of four species T. strigilatus, melanurus, curucui, collaris; Cotingas, Puff birds, Swallow Tanagers Tersina and 17 Jacamars Galbula ruficauda. These were in broods of three or four. Very small when I arrived, they grew up rapidly and were flying and perching within 10 or 12 days. Absurdly tame, they were fed every hour on small, soft pellets composed of one-third ground beef heart, one-third grated carrots, one-third maize cake (cooked). These highly insectivorous birds are perfectly raised on that diet, which they continue to eat when grown up. They live so well on it that they have attempted to nest, digging in an artificial bank. But they are quarrelsome birds, and the female injured the male. Adult-caught Jacamars always refuse any food but live mealworms and never lived long; Dr. Béraut hardly gives any to his Jacamars, mealworms being scarce in Brazil. There was also an excellent young Squirrel Cuckoo Piaya cayana and a Nightjar, fed the same way as were the young Trogons.

'Because of various difficulties in procuring certain foods, all birds in Dr. Béraut's aviaries receive that same meat-carrot-maize- bread mixture, with diced cheese and for fruit, cut-up tomato and papaya, and occasionally grapes; practically nothing else. They all remain in perfect health as well as in excellent plumage and colours; all the red tones are perfectly preserved by the carotenes contained in tomatoes and carrots.'

(Brazilian Bird Collections. March - April 1970 Vol. LXXVI, 71 - 75)

'Mr. Fitzsimmons has gathered a magnificent collection of Pheasants at Livermore in Northern California. It is supervised by Mr. Vern Denton, who owns the ranch on which the numerous and very well built aviaries stand.

'Rare species only are kept there, with the exception of pure, recently imported stock of Golden and Amherst's Pheasants. Many Ocellated Turkeys, different Junglefowls, Mikados and Ijima's have been reared, for example. There are several pairs of many desirable birds, including Malay, Bornean Argus, arrived lately, and a most remarkable collection of Peacock-Pheasants: all the species are represented including a pair of Rothschild's P. inopinatum and 1.3 Bornean P. m. schleiermacheri, both extremely rare, and never before seen in captivity. The Rothschild's have reared one young bird this year ...'

(Mr. Ed Fitzsimmon's collection of Pheasants. January - February, 1971. Vol. LXXVII, 23.)

'... A few other birds, some rather interesting, have also been reared: ... Collared Barbet, 1; Superb Spreo, 3; Pagoda Starling, 2; White-winged Blue Tanager Thraupis episcopus coelestes, 4; Golden Tanager Tanagara arthus aurulenta, 1; Green Cardinal, 1.

'Dr. P. Ciarpaglini will later on publish here accounts of the most interesting cases.'

'Among the interesting novelties acquired in 1970, are a ... pair of African Trogons Apaloderma narina [which] are doing well, eating fruit and vegetables as well as insectile food, cake, meat and meal-worms. I had never before seen them in captivity. Kori Bustards have proved a problem, as they will eat any egg or small bird they come across, and they cannot be kept free in the park as I had hoped ...'

(Birds at Clères in 1970. January - February, 1971. Vol. LXXVII, 31 - 23.)

'... Our Black Brants were unsuccessful. We kept the last three years' offspring, over twenty birds, and they proved much less colonial in their nesting habits than we expected; they fought bitterly, three birds being killed, and even the parent pair failed to breed... The old female Australian Radjah, over twenty-five years old, died after laying two clutches of clear eggs; we now possess only one pair of that subspecies, probably the last one in captivity'

(The 1971 Season at Clères. January- February, 1972. Vol. LXXVIII, 24 - 45.)

'It has long been my contention that the various birds considered as members of the Sugar-bird family Coerebidae with the exception of those of the genus Coereba, really are Tanagers Thraupidae ..My belief in their very close relationship as members of the same family ... has just been highly supported by the recent production of hybrids between two species

'During 1971, several broods have been reared at San Diego Zoo from a pair consisting of a male Yellow-winged Sugar-bird Cyanerpes cyaneus and a female Mrs. Wilson's Tanager Tangara nigrocincta fanny

'The hybrids are intermediate and generally resemble Sugar-birds of the genus Dacnis. The males are a light blue with a white belly; the females resemble them but show much grey on the head and neck.

'It is interesting to note that there are many other Sugar-birds and Tanagers in the large planted aviary, through which visitors walk continually in the day. It is therefore not because of a lack of more appropriate mates that those birds have paired up and bred together ...'

(Sugar-bird Tanager Hybrids. March-April, 1972. Vol. LXXVIII, 48.)

'In these days of astonishing and disorderly proliferation of zoos and bird parks throughout the world, it is a rare pleasure to discover a really good one. But it is just what has happened to me and to my friends, Mr. and Mrs. Paul Jourde, when we stopped at the small town of Villars-les-Dombes on the 5th June, 1971.

'It is not that this new bird park was unknown to me. Three or fours years ago, I received at Clères a group of leaders of the Department (County) de l'Ain, which is situated in the East of France

'... Dr. Ciarpaglini and I, also in Paris Prof. J. Nouvel, Director of the zoos, and his assistants, tried to help them in all possible ways in the planning of their park. A great deal of skill time and money was spent on the project and the bird park was opened on 18th July 1970. But one never knows, and previous disillusions in different countries, when I had seen for the first time the results of well intended good advice, have made me suspicious. My wariness, this time, proved quite unnecessary. The Parc Ornithologique de la Dombes is a success, and no doubt one of the best of its kind in the world.

'It consists mainly of a long lake (Etang Grand Turlet) with smaller ones at both ends. The landscape is typical of a marsh, with comparatively few trees, mostly poplars and willows. Many others, however have been planted and are growing well. All around the lake is a walk, and at the sides, away from the lake, are groups of aviaries and enclosures... Near the entrance is an excellent birdhouse...

'... Good breeding results were already achieved in 1970...

'... In addition... 25 local breeding birds were hand-reared: Long-eared, Brown and Little Owls, Black Kite, Kestrel, Montagu' s Harrier, Purple Heron, Night Heron, Little Tern, Grey Wagtail and Oriole.

'... On the north side of the lake, between the shore and two long islands, some twenty pens have been built to house the pairs of swans and geese which have to be isolated. Some Crested Grebcs are also to be seen here...'

(The Ornithological Park in the Department of la Dombes, France. May - June, 1972. Vol. LXXVIII, 96 - 99.)

'... Some 20 specially built aviaries are inhabited by Cockatoos (including Leadbeater's), Macaws (Lear's, Ambiguous), Amazons and other Parrots

'Seven species of Touracos live at Clères but only one, Knysna, have bred successfully this year, two pairs producing six young, three of which reached maturity. A regrettable accident took place after two young, just out of the nest, were removed when the male, evidently disturbed, killed the female.

'Three Kookaburras were hand-reared, the eggs being removed and hatched in an incubator, as the parent birds have developed the habit of devouring the chicks as soon as they are out of the shell.

'... two Baltimore Orioles were raised in the aviaries, probably for the first time in Europe. We also hand-reared five Fairy Bluebirds, three Orange-headed Ground Thrushes and one Fulvous-fronted Parrotbill Paradoxornis fulvifrons, all of them taken from the nest when eight to ten days old ... The breeding of a small Parrotbill, or Suthora, is probably the first of that genus in captivity ...

'Black-eared Weavers Malimbus melanotis built several beautiful hanging nests and laid, but no chicks came out. Rothschild's Starlings, White-winged Blue and Black-faced Scarlet Tanagers did not rear, their young this year. Tacazze Sunbirds also failed and a female Violet-eared Hummingbird built several nests without laying. A deplorable loss was that of a cock Scarlet-necked Tanager Anisognathus igniventris, killed by another bird (possibly a Pink-crested Touraco) when a brood of two had just hatched in a privet bush, The female failed to raise the chicks.'

(Bird Breeding at Clères in 1972. January - February, 1973. Vol. LXXIX, 16 - 18.)

'Since its beginnings almost 80 years ago, our magazine has been famous for its beautiful colour plates, depicting rare and interesting birds, either from paintings or photographs of live specimens.

'We must keep up such a happy tradition and I urge all our members who can help to subscribe to our special fund for coloured illustrations.

'It is a pleasure for me to open the campaign with a small donation of £50.'

(Colour Plate Fund. January - February, 1973. Vol. LXXIX, 34.)

'Some twenty miles north of Paris, at 'le Clos du Cédres', Mesnil-Aubry, Dr. Henry Quinque has gathered an unusual collection of rare birds, particularly Parrots and Parrakeets.

'The accommodation consists essentially of a basic block of 30 aviaries designed for Parrots. Each flight is 40ft. long, 4ft. wide and 6ft. high and has a heated shelter. They are elaborately built of steel and concrete, with all sorts of modern devices for the welfare of the occupants. A long indoor corridor and an open air one serve the aviaries at both ends.

'Other aviaries are found in different parts of the grounds, inhabited by other Parrakeets and also by some rare passerine birds, particularly Rothschild's Mynahs, Red Birds of Paradise and a few others.

'The small park surrounding the house is walled-in and has a large pond: Cranes, Flamingos and Waterfowl live there at semi- liberty, as well as a few mammals. A pair of Kagus inhabit an enclosure.

'The following species of Parrots and Parrakeets are represented at present at Mesnil-Aubrey:

Great Palm Cockatoo: A pair, plus a tame male, over 40 years old, which used to be U. Decoux's pet. Gang-gang Cockatoo: Three pairs in perfect condition, which have not yet started breeding. Queen of Bavaria's Conure: Several tame young specimens, recently arrived. Amboina King Parrot: Also several lately arrived. Australian King Parrot: Regularly breeding pairs. New Guinian and Australian Crimson Wings, also regular breeders. Horned Parrakeet: A male of this very rare New Caledonian species. Uvea Parrakeet: Two males of this rare species, one of which has produced hybrids with a female Red-fronted Kakariki, several pairs of which live and breed there. Rock Peplars: Regularly breeding. Twenty-eight, Port Lincoln, Cloncurry and Brown 's Parrakeets. The latter reared a number of young, but Dr. Quinque has some difficulty in keeping them alive after the first six months. A fine pair of Pesquet's Parrot has recently been added to the collection.

'Of the smaller species one finds a number of pairs of Many-coloured, Hooded and Naretha Blue-bonnets which are breeding very successfully.

' Swainson's and Scaly Lorikeets are also present, as well as some wild-caught Cockatiels.

'We hope that Dr. Quinque will soon report personally on the breeding successes with his rarer birds.'

(A collection of Rare Birds Near Paris. July - August, 1973. Vol. LXXIX, 115 - 166.)

'... We then went to see the remarkable collection of Mr. V. Denton at Livermore... I saw there three males, one female and one young of the extremely rare Bornean Peacock-Pheasant, a very scarce bird on that island, for fewer than a dozen specimens are preserved in the great museums of the world. There are also hybrids between it and the Malay, a close relative and only subspecifically different. One of the four pairs of Bulwer' s had laid, but the eggs proved infertile; this seems to be the first clutch ever produced in captivity, as specimens at Clères and elsewhere before the last war had never nested ...'

(Some Northern Californian Collections in 1973. March - April, 1974. Vol. LXXX, 65 - 67.)

'... One Australian Radjah Shelduck was bred from the old pair which is, I believe, the only pair in Europe, and there is another in the Philadelphia Zoo.

'We lost recently a Green-billed Toucan which had lived at Clères since 1947 and we now have a Guyana Cock of the Rock which came here over twenty years ago; also five Ruffs and an Oystercatcher sent by Copenhagen Zoo in 1946. Those waders, of course, share a large aviary with other birds, but they are not overcrowded ...'

(The Birds at Clères in 1973. May - June, 1974. Vol. LXXX, 112- 113.)

'1 had the pleasure of paying a visit to Mr. Charles Sivelle at Huntingdon Station, Long Island, early in March 1974. I had been (here a few years ago, and I was delighted to see how much his collection of pheasants had increased and improved: it is probably now the finest in the world

'We ... find several pairs of Koklass nipalensis and Blood Pheasants Ithaginis cruentus (both species reared young last year) as well as Satyr and Temminck's Tragopans. There are also two pairs of White Eared Pheasants drouyni and an imported pair of pale grey ones which I believe to be the rare Crossoptilon c. dolani. Mikado and three forms of Copper Pheasant - Ijima's , Soemmering's and Scintillating are present and breeding ...

'More delicate species inhabit a long double row of pens connected with adequate shelters in a large central house with roomy heated compartments on each side of a central corridor. One finds there a dozen pairs of Malay and Bornean Argus which produce many young; different firebacks, including Lesser Bornean and Malay Crestless, and four magnificent pairs of Bulwer's. The latter have not yet started laying, but they are well acclimatised and in excellent condition ... Mr. Sivelle has moreover been very successful with Roulrouls, Tree Partridges A. torqueola and the Bustard-quail Turn ix sylvatica which breed freely ...'

(A Great Collection of Pheasants in New York (Long Island). July - August, 1974. Vol. LXXX, 137 - 138.)

'... The exceptional chilliness of the spring resulted in very poor breeding results with many tropical species. Usually reliable breeders such as touracous, various ground pigeons, Fairy bluebirds and Superb Spreos failed to rear their broods. . Splendid Glossy Starlings, however, raised two young, the first born in captivity to our knowledge. There were also four Kookaburras and five Orange-headed Thrushes.

'... A pair of Bare-faced Curassows produced three chicks in two broods, first two females, then a male. Sexes can be recognised very early, as the females immediately grow heavily barred feathers.

'I was in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil, from 12th November until 3rd December, 1974, enjoying the hospitality of my old friend Dr. E. P. Béraut ... His collection ... continues to be excellent ... Mr. C. Cordier had recently brought him species from Bolivia, particularly three Blue-eyed Cocks of the Rock Rupicola peruviana salurata and several Sappho Hummingbirds Sappho sparganura ... I noticed two unusual Brazilian Cuckoos of great interest: a tame hand-reared Squirrel Cuckoo Piaya cayana and a large, beautiful Ground Cuckoo Neomorphus geoffroyi from the state of Bahia, a very scarce bird of the vanishing primaeval forests. It was interesting to realise how close they are in shape, ways and behaviour to the lndo-Malayan cuckoos of the genus Phoenicophaeus...

(Notes from Clères and from Brazil. January - March,1975. Vol. LXXXI, 35 - 37.)

'There are two remarkably successful bird breeders in the vicinity of the city of Phoenix and I have made a habit in recent years of visiting their aviaries every winter when I am in the western United States ...

'... Mr. B. Roer has a long record of successes with a variety of birds ... He has reared in recent years, among many other species, Crowned, Demoiselle and Stanley Cranes., and also various curassows such as the Great, the Wattled and the Blue-billed; he had partial success with the Nocturnal, a rare species which so far has only been completely reared at the Houston (Texas) Zoo ...

'Also in the vicinity of Phoenix Mr. L. M. Ollson, a younger enthusiast, maintains one of the largest and finest collections of tropical and subtropical birds to be found in the western world and he is particularly successful with them. He has built numerous aviaries and enclosures, all of generous proportions and well planted ... They are strictly practical and no visitors are permitted to enter the ground with the exception of other bird specialists.

'... Mr. Ollson has been especially lucky with his Double- wattled Cassowaries C. casuarius for he has been able to keep three together, one male and two females, in a roomy pen about 100ft. x 100ft. and planted with trees and bushes ... Mr. Ollson's birds, which were raised together not only tolerate one another, but they have bred during 1974, the two females laying fertile eggs and one young one reared.

'... Argus, different peacock pheasants and others are doing very well, but Mr. Ollson's most interesting achievement is his outstanding success with curassows and other Cracidae. His collection of these Central and South American birds is no doubt the biggest in existence and he has reared more of them than anyone else. Crestless Crax tomentosa, Salvin's C. salvini and Black C. alector. Curassows have bred in his aviaries for the first time in captivity during the past three years and many young have been reared; also Great C. rubra, Wattled C. carunculata, Bare-faced C. fasciolata and Blue-billed C. aib cr11. The Nocturnal Curassow Nothocrax urumutum has laid, but none have been reared ... Mr. Ollson's experiments with curassows and allied species have been of great value to Dr. D. Amadon and myself in our recently published monograph of these birds

(Two Collections of Birds in Arizona. April - June, 1975. Vol. LXXXI, 73 - 74.)

'... I have seen them wild at Clères on only a few occasions. Nests have been found several times in the hollows of old trees in orchards. A brood of four was brought to us in 1947; they were reared and eventually presented to Mr. Alfred Ezra at Foxwarren Park where they bred. We kept and reared a few at Clères a little later on

(Hoopoes. January - March, 1976. Vol. LXXXII, 1 - 2)

'... Seven Cuban Whistling Ducks, however, produced 29 young, the largest brood from a trio, and we had a dozen Comb Ducks from a group of one drake and six ducks

'... Two pairs of Orange-headed Thrushes produced 15 young, but only two were saved. They were heavily parasitised by some kind of roundworm, which, in other birds, are fairly easily controlled by vermifuges; but thrushes do vomit the medicine and therefore cannot be cured ...'

(News of Clères, 1975. January - March, 1976. Vol. LXXXII, 50 - 51.)

'During a recent visit to Orlando, Florida, on the occasion of the annual meeting of the International Wild Waterfowl Association, I had the pleasure of visiting the fine collection of birds that Dr. and Mrs. Michael Dam maintain in the neighbourhood with the enthusiastic assistance of their two young daughters ... The pheasantry contains such rare species as Bulwer's and all the different firebacks, argus and peacock pheasants, Horsfield's and Edward's, the last named in some numbers. There are many swans, particularly Black Swans which live and breed in a large colony: they are literally resting in a thick bed of duckweed, which covers the waters. These most useful and nourishing floating plants grow so fast that the birds cannot eat them all as they do in less favourable places. Great success is met with Radjah Shelducks, of which I saw well over a hundred - Orinoco and Maned Geese, and a number of tropical and subtropical ducks: tame Sandhill Cranes roam the grounds.

'The very large Disneyland, also in the area includes a vast freshwater lake with, in the middle of it, a "Treasure Island", most cleverly landscaped and planted, which is a dream of a tropical jungle. There are several big, well camouflaged flights, with macaws and other parrots, birds of prey, waterfowl, game birds and, particularly, a huge one which visitors enter and cross on a long rustic, winding bridge; Scarlet and Sacred Ibises, Argus, Palawan Peacock Pheasants, hornbills, toucans, Crowned Pigeons, Whistling Duck and a few other suitable species are discovered here and there, just as they would be in their natural habitats, and it is a most successful exhibit. A flamingo lagoon follows before you reach the sandy beach and board a boat to leave that enchanted island.'

(Notes from Florida. October - December,1976. Vol. LXXXII, 214 - 215.)

'Once again freak weather played havoc with the birds in 1976: we had a very hard frost at the end of May, when many waterfowl were ready to nest, and it just stopped them. Many species simply did not lay, not even usually reliable breeders such as Black Brant and Ross's Geese; we had no eggs from Red-breasted and very few young from Emperor, Greenland White-fronted, Bar-headed and Swan Geese. Unfortunately hybrids cropped up in the broods, Emperor x Bar-headed, Barnacle x Emperor, Barnacle x Bar-headed and Black Brant x Cackling. It is inadvisable to rear together chicks of different species, as they may become imprinted to each other and pair badly.

'Sarus, Demoiselle and Crowned Cranes never nested at all, but a pair of Wattled Cranes laid seven eggs, all of them infertile. A fair number of ducks were reared, none particularly rare. Among the young pheasants were seven Edwards', four being females. Our collection has been much improved thanks to the generosity of Mr. C. Sivelle, Mr. K. Howman and Major I. Grahame, who sent us pairs of Bornean and Malay Firebacks, Ijima Copper, Cheer and other pheasants; also Germain's Peacock Pheasants. We also acquired Bronze-tailed Peacock Pheasants, a species recorded breeding in captivity for the first time before the war. 'A number of doves were reared, particularly Mountain Witch and Bleeding-heart. It was a good year for touracous and we raised four Senegal, three Knysna and one White-cheeked; the latter was produced by a pair living at Clères for more than 20 years. They had never nested successfully before and they are of such a murder ous disposition that they have to be kept strictly by themselves in a separate aviary, as they attack even large pheasants.

'The flamingos settled down to breed on the southern bank of the lake in May, building their own nests without any help, the Caribbean seven, Greater one and Chilean five, a little farther away They all incubated (heir eggs normally, but only one (Caribbean) hatched and was reared without any special care.'

(Notes on Clères - 1976. October - December 1976. Vol. LXXXII, 216 -217.)

This, in its entirely, was the last report from Clères written by Dr. Delacour, 56 years after the first.

'I had long been aware of the existence of two great collections, particularly of game birds, in Mexico .., but I had not had a chance to visit them until last November, when I found them absolutely remarkable, and though they have been mentioned before in American magazines, particularly by Mr. C. Sivelle ..., I feel that my experience should be recorded in the Avicultural Magazine where I have for so many years described bird collections in the various parts of the world.

'... Señor Jose U. Zunco Arce, a graduate economist, owns and manages an extensive estate at Tuxpan which includes a vast cattle ranch and a large bee farm, besides his collection of living wild birds...

'There are some 200 aviaries elaborately and elegantly built of steel and slender concrete supports on solid vermin-proof foundations, with brick walls and tiled-roof shelters at the back. They are good sized, a number very large and high, containing tall avocado and other trees ... Gamebirds form the most important pan of the collection, but there are many other birds... Roomy aviaries are inhabited by crowned pigeons of three species. Nutmeg and other pigeons and doves, parrots, toucans, quetzals and trogons show themselves here and there ... A few hummingbirds are kept in cages and a tame pair live free in the dining-room - an exquisite sight. All species of pheasant available at present are kept and reared in numbers: I particularly noticed Argus, peacock pheasants, firebacks, very tame Buiwer's Pheasants and Ocellated Turkeys. There are also Roulroul and Bhutan Wood Partridges Arborophila torqueola and the very rare tree partridges Dendrortyx of southern Mexico and Central America, one species, D. macroura, breeding.

'Curassows, guans and chachalacas, however, form perhaps the most interesting part of the collection ... All species of Curassow with the exception of the very rare Blumenbach's and Southern Helmeted are present; also many guans, some of which I had never before seen alive.

'Among the most unusual are the two species of Sickle-winged Chamaepetes goudoti and C. unicolor, the Wattled Aburria aburri and the Highland Guan Penelopides nigra. The last named ... has been breeding well at Tuxpan during the past three years, and I was able to observe immature males with a barred brown juvenile plumage a peculiar case in the family where otherwise no distinctive juvenile pLumage exists, the chicks assuming immediately the adult plumage.

'Perhaps the most sensational birds in the collection are three huge, strange and beautiful Horned Guans Oreophasis derbianus from the high volcanos of Southern Mexico and Guatemala, a striking and very rare species. As big as curassows, thick-set but with shorter legs, their black and pearl-grey colours, red horn, white eyes and curious bill give them an extraordinary aspect. These three fine birds, tame and in perfect condition, have been hand-reared from wild collected eggs. They arc thought to be two males and one female, but the sexes are alike in appearance.

'Most species are represented by several pairs and are breeding, the greatest success having been achieved with the Venezuelan Helmeted Crax p. pauxi, of which a good number have been reared during the past few years. Señor Zuno possesses one of the very rare buff-barred females, an unusual colour phase, but she has so far produced only black young...

'Dr. R. J. Estudillo Lopez is the other outstanding Mexican aviculturist. A trained zoologist and a veterinarian, particularly an expert on poultry diseases, he teaches at the University of Mexico, but he also manages an enormous poultry farm and a laboratory, supplying most of the vaccines used in the Mexican poultry industry. Dr. Estudillo lives in the neighbourhood of the capital city at an altitude of 2,200m. where the weather is never too hot, nor in winter cold enough to injure tropical birds. His 120 aviaries are very well and carefully built... They are disposed in several rows facing one another and separated by large pens for pinioned and non-flying birds such as cranes, rheas and cassowaries (Bennett's). Farther away is a large enclosure with ponds, the home of flamingos, swans and other waterfowl, bustards, Andean Giant Coots, three species of screamer and trumpeters... There are many crowned pigeons, rare toucans, hornbills, parrots, including four pairs of Hyacinthine Macaws living happily together... Gamebirds, of course, particularly cracids, are very numerous: there are two trios of Bulwer's Wattled Pheasants, a species reared there for the first time in captivity in 1974, the parents having been brought from Borneo by Dr. Estudillo himself. All the tragopans, firebacks and other species of pheasant now available are well represented and breed regularly, as do Green Peafowl and Ocellated Turkeys. Curassows and guans are, of course, a special feature of the collection, all the curassows being represented except for the Southern Helmeted Crax unicornis of which the Antwerp Zoo possesses a pair sent by Charles Cordier from Bolivia and the very rare C. blumenbachi from south-eastern Brazil that is on the verge of extinction, but was found again by Dr. A. Ruschi in the State of Espirito Santo. I had recently the opportunity of observing a live pair in the São Paulo Zoo, for the first time..

'Most species of curassow have bred in Dr. Estudillos'aviaries the Great rubra since 1965, Wattled 1966, Blue-billed 1971, Razor- billed 1972, Crestless tomentosa, Yellow-knobbed daubentoni, Venezuelan and Colombian helmeted p. pauxi and p. gilliardi, Nocturnal Nothocrax urumutum all since 1974. There is in the collection a very puzzling male collected in Bolivia. It resembles in the general shape of the bill and crest the Great Curassow, but it is a little smaller, has white tips to the tail feathers and its bill knob is pale greenish-blue, quite unlike other speciesin colour. It no doubt represents a still unknown form.

'Guans and chachalacas are very numerous: Aburria aburri has been breeding there since 1974 and Chamaepetes goudoti since 1972, both for the first time in captivity. Among the more unusual species, I noticed a Pipile cumanensis, Penelope montagnii, P. supercilliaris, P. obscura, P. perspicax and P. pileata. There are two different subspecies of P. jacaquacu; one, from Bolivia, is larger, brighter in colour and a bluer facial skin; its windpipe is not elongated as in the typical form, and it probably belongs to another yet unknown form'.

(Two collections of birds in Mexico. January - March, 1977. Vol. LXXXIII, 50 - 53.)

Dr. Delacour made no contribution to the Avicultural Magazine in 1978, the first year, since he began writing for it in 1916, that he had failed to do so.

'It is about a hundred and fifty years ago that pheasants of many species began being imported, reared and established in Europe. In those days, parks, extensive shooting preserves and game farms were numerous. Their owners were trying to introduce new game birds and most of them maintained pheasantries to exhibit the most beautiful species, which constituted fine additions to their gardens. Zoological societies, particularly in Paris, London and Antwerp, were organised and they built their zoos; one of their main activities was to import, acclimatise and propagate suitable mammals and birds which could be distributed later to their members...

'When I started collecting pheasants in 1905, many species were still extensively bred. Fine pheasantries were not rare... In fact it was then easy to acquire, each summer, specimens of all the species kept in captivity...

'Pheasant keeping started developing in America at the same time. Until then, only the New York (Bronx) Zoo and a very few others, and privately, Colonel A. Kuser in New Jersey had good collections

'Pheasant studies and collections had reached a peak in 1939, but the war destroyed the European stocks to a great extent. A few rare species, particularly Blyth's Tragopans and Crested Argus disappeared and have so far never been replaced.

'There still were, however, a number of birds left in America and even in England. Soon after 1946 others came from their native countries and pheasant collections prospered again. They have now reached a very high standard and I feel happy to witness the accomplishments of many friends, particularly in America. Changes in physical and social conditions have necessitated new techniques and ways to rear birds, and they prove to be adequate.

'The propagation of game birds is the more important at present since most species are threatened with extinction in their native lands by the destruction of the forests, their indispensable habitat, nor to speak of the increasing interference of man.'

(Introduction to the Pheasant Issue. October - December, 1979. Vol. LXXXV, 171 - 172.)

'It never occurred to me that I would have, one day, to write the obituary of Phyllis Barclay-Smith.

'Not only was she considerably younger than I am, but I had found her in a good state of health during a long visit she paid to Clères in August 1979. When she left to return to England, I did not suspect that it was the last time I would see her...

'We had been close friends and associates for a long time. When I first met her, she was a young assistant to her uncle and aunt, Mr. and Mrs. F. Lemon, who in those days managed the affairs of the Royal Society for the Protection of Birds as Secretary. She held that position between 1929 and 1935. Soon after the organisation of the International Council for Bird Preservation (1922), of which I am the only founder still alive, I started as its Vice-President for Europe, working with the RSPB, and I came into contact with Miss Barclay-Smith. Here, unusual efficiency was already obvious. Her association with all the ornithologists interested in preserving birds all over the world developed gradually, and in 1935 she became an Assistant Secretary of the ICBP. She soon took over a number of the various responsibilities of the Council, and between 1938 and 1958, while I was its President, she actually managed our activities all over the world, carrying on under my successor, Professor Dillon Ripley, until 1978 when she relinquished her position of Secretary to become a Vice-President.

'... All that pertains to birds was Miss Barclay-Smith's greatest interest, not only their conservation in a hostile and ever more threatening world, but their study in nature and their observation and propagation in captivity. She dedicated herself to those various pursuits with an energy and a relentlessness that were a guarantee of success. She became the Honorary Secretary of the British Ornithologists'Union (1945 - 1951) and later on a Vice-President.

'She certainly was an aviculturist in a special restricted way. Living in London, she could only keep a few caged pets, which she did with unusual skill and devotion. Her old friends will remember, in particular, a pair of Yellow-winged Sugar Birds which she possessed for a very long time. No birds have ever been kept with more sentimental and elaborate care.

'The Avicultural Society, just before the Second World War, was in a difficult situation. We had to find a new editor for the Magazine. The late David Seth-Smith, who had been, on and off, its editor for over thirty years, finally had to retire. There was no suitable replacement in sight and our President, the late Alfred Ezra, and I endeavoured to persuade Miss Barclay-Smith to accept the position. She was reluctant to assume a responsibility, but we promised her all the possible help and she finally agreed to try. She edited the Avicultural Magazine for the next thirty-five years (1938 - 1973). ... Now that hard work appears to have become an oddity, it is difficult to imagine that anyone achieved so much, for so many years. In the course of her incessant activities, she had met all the prominent ornithologists of the world, and many became close friends...

'Miss Barclay-Smith's singular achievements were widely recognised. She was made a member of the British Empire in 1958, and a Commander in 1971. She was awarded the gold medal of the RSPB and the Medal of the ICBP, as well as a number of foreign orders and awards.

'... To-day, when not only birds, but nature itself, are threatened with destruction by man's senseless over-exploitation and consecutive pollution, she will be missed to an extent still difficult to evaluate.'

(Miss Phyllis Barclay-Smith, CBE. January - March, 1980. Vol. LXXXVI, 46 - 48.)

1981 was the only other year during his association with ;this magazine that Dr. Delacour did not write for it.

'It has been a great shock to Len Hill's many friends all over the world to hear that he died suddenly on his return journey from the Falkland Islands that he visited every year. He was not quite 70 years old and appeared to be as fit and active as ever when he left England six weeks previously but he fell asleep on the plane and did not wake up.

'Len Hill was an unusually bright character. He came from humble origins and started working life as a boot boy, living with his parents in the stableyard of the very place that he later acquired, Chardwar Manor at Bourton-on-the-Water. In his youth he became a successful builder and then, because he loved birds, he gathered together one of the best collections in the world in the four acres of gardens at the back of his lovely old manor, the famous "Birdland". He had, without doubt, a very special gift for planning aviaries and enclosures, as well as a great deal of taste, and no space was wasted.

'Now at Birdland there are beautiful greenhouses full of well arranged tropical plants and suitable birds, very pretty outdoor aviaries, laivns, ponds and penguin accommodation...

'There are also excellent educational and public facilities. I remember opening a lecture hall there a number of years ago which was adorned with a beautiful mural by Peter Scott. There was a great reception on that occasion, attended by many of our old members who have since left us. Len Hill was a marvellous host and a very generous man. In the course of the years, he gave many delightful parties for our members we paid for the reception but the money collected went to our treasury. He was, in fact one of our very best supporters and gave equally generously of his time by entertaining the members at social meetings when he showed films of his birds.

'Len Hill had a flair for special undertakings, the most unusual being the acquisition of two uninhabited islands of the Falklands group, Grand Jason and Steeple Jason. Birds, particularly penguins, arc abundant there and he scrupulously preserved them taking only, now and then, a few specimens for his Birdland. He could also write well about this and his other bird activities.

'In these difficult days for private initiative that the world is going through, Len Hill stood out as an exceptional example of free enterprise. The members of our Society, and indeed all those in the world who share our interest in birds, will feel the poorer for his sudden and unexpected departure.'

(Len Hill - An Appreciation. January - March, 1982. Vol. LXXXVIII, 56 - 57.)

This concludes Dr. Delacour's 281st and final contribution to the Avicultural Magazine, written when he was 91. Thereafter, arthritis prevented him from further writing. Physical impairments, however, did not interfere with his command of ornithology and aviculture, as was quite evident to all who knew him in his final years. To the end he took a vigorous interest in the latest developments and enthusiastically expressed his opinions of them... I will close with what he told me in 1985, the year he died, about the Glaucus Macaw Anodorhynchus glaucus that he saw on childhood visits to the Jardin D'Acclimatation in the Bois de Boulogne: "It was quite ugly! - Too large a head, too short a tail, an unattractive colour - Not pretty at all. But ... it was the only one I ever saw."


  • DELACOUR, J.T. 1966. The Living Air - Memoirs of an ornithologist. Country Life, Limited.