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International and National Bird Matters

Saturday, 22nd July was a busy day for officials of COM/UK and NCA (National Council for Aviculture) when the former held its AGM in the morning and the management committee of the latter held a business meeting in the afternoon at the Fieldhead Hotel, Markham, Leicestershire.

Full details of the COM/UK AGM will be published separately but the main items of business included: appointment of officers for the next three-year period (Richard Lumley, President; Chris Smith and Alan Robinson, Vice-Presidents; Ghalib Al-Nasser, Secretary; Simon Tammam, Treasurer; Brian Hogg and Gary Mann, Committee members. A full report of the 2016 World Show has appeared in Cage & Aviary Birds showing the increased number of UK exhibitors, entries and medals. Conveying birds to the 2018 World Show will again be shared with COM-Eire with help offered for exhibitors in southern England by High Wycombe CBS who have put together their own collection system. It was also agreed to consult with the Zebra Finch Society and the National Bengalese Fanciers Association to request formally through COM/UK standards for Zebra Finches and Bengalese at COM shows.

The well-attended afternoon meeting of the NCA management committee under the chairmanship of Chris Smith commenced at 14.10. Items covered include the following:

The new NCA/CC Ring scheme proposed at the last meeting has now been agreed with the Canary Council. Chris Smith will administer the scheme and a detailed announcement will be issued in September via Cage & Aviary Birds. Canary Council Chairman, Barry Mills, welcomed the new ring scheme which will strengthen the link between both organisations and offer a new service to all canary sections and NCA-affiliated   clubs.

The on-going search for a definitive description of Champion and Novice Show Status remains unresolved since each canary section and indeed other varieties have their own specific preferences which can also change from time to time. Where a distinction between champion and novice persists it is usually based on either the number of years an exhibitor has been showing successfully or on the number of wins over successive show seasons. Unless and until a common definition can be agreed by all canary sections would-be exhibitors should consult with the canary section specialist organisation.               

CBS Liaison Officer, Adam Kendall, was unable to attend the meeting due to work commitments but had written to the secretary about progress made on plans to update the NCA website and create a Facebook page. It was agreed to invite Adam and his IT specialist contact to make a presentation at the next meeting.

The revised General Licence to arrange a bird gathering (fair, market, show, exhibition) came into effect on 15th May 2017 as reported in C&AB on 28 June 2017. All show secretaries are advised to consult the official DEFRA website for details of the new licence and how to notify the appropriate Animal Plant Health Agency (APHA) at least 7 days before the event occurs. Bio-security is a key element of the general licence and it was agreed to recommend that all bird shows follow the Budgerigar Society’s long-established bio-security regime.  This can be found on the BS website: .

Secretary and Treasurer, Ghalib Al-Nasser, presented a sound financial report which had been helped by the increase in uptake of the NCA’s public liability insurance scheme offering cover of £5m to participating societies for all their activities, shows and meetings throughout the year. 145 individual clubs are currently benefitting from this scheme. This increase in numbers also increases the cost of cover for the NCA so, as agreed at the AGM on 8th April 2017, from 2018 the proposed premium of £65 per annum will include NCA affiliation and public liability insurance for all those taking part in the scheme.

In his DEFRA update  Chris Smith reported that the next planned meeting is scheduled for 3rd August. Since African Grey Parrots have been moved to CITES 1, DEFRA are experiencing a problem with a backlog of applications for registration. A particular problem arises because in the case of many older birds there is no original paper-trail. At present there is still no post-Brexit guidance from DEFRA.

Bob Partridge reported that it was possible that new Regulations will be placed before Parliament in October, but he had presently been unable to obtain information on possible content. He also reported on discussions with DEFRA and Natural England. NE do not seem to be listening to arguments on larger ring sizes for the larger races and BP promised to continue to ask for evidence that the present GL15 General License conditions are being transgressed. It was also reported that the RSPCA are again seeking police powers. It is difficult to see how they can act as both investigator and prosecutor.

NCA Stand at  the Surrey County Show proved successful with many visitors asking questions and taking free copies of the “Welcome to Birdkeeping” booklet. Brian Hogg is sourcing a supply of pop-up display banners for NCA use at future shows and exhibitions. NCA President Bev Hutt offered to staff  the stand   during the morning of the National Exhibition at Stafford.

Gold Long-service Badges had been requested by the North Lincolnshire Foreign  Bird Society for Keith and Pat Garner who have been active members and holders of numerous club positions for almost fifty years.  The gold awards were agreed unanimously. [Please see the NCA website for details of how to apply for long service awards ]   

Under Any Other Business the issue was raised of ‘neighbours’ suggesting that keeping more than 12 birds at a property (council or private) constitutes a “change of use”. This was being applied to a small bird rescue organisation. Doubts of the legality of this were expressed by several management committee members. The chairman agreed to investigate and respond.

The next meeting of the NCA management committee will take place at the Charnwood Arms Hotel, Coalville, on Wednesday 11th October, starting at 10.30am.

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National Council for Aviculture
2017 Annual General Meeting

At the NCA AGM held on Saturday 8th April 2017 at the Charnwood Arms Hotel, Coalville, Chairman, Chris Smith, delighted the members present by announcing that contrary to his previous intention to retire from the post of chairman he had reconsidered his position and had decided to serve another three year term of office. There being no other nominations Chris was re-elected Chairman unopposed.

The reasons for his decision were the challenges to bird keeping following the Brexit result of the recent referendum. These include possible changes to border controls affecting   movement of birds to and from the UK; the on-going issue of ring sizes for British Native species; the possibility of bird keepers needing to register and other legislation affecting bird keepers, breeders and exhibitors.

Unity within the fancy at this time is paramount to resist any negative impact of future legislation. Given that DEFRA and Natural England will only deal with national bodies rather than individual associations it is essential that support for the NCA’s parent bodies (the Budgerigar Society, The British Bird Council, The Canary Council and The Foreign Bird Federation) remains strong. This is particularly true of the Canary Council in view of COM’s apparently cavalier attitude to the changing of breed standards in contradiction of its own constitutional obligation to preserve the right of countries of origin to control breed standards. The Lizard Canary Association has already suffered this interference and a similar move is underway to amend the Yorkshire Canary model. The YCC has already copyrighted the model, standard and images and will resist change unless its members agree to any change. This issue and others including an NCA ring scheme via the CC to be raised   at Canary Council AGM on 7th May.

Chris stressed the need for the NCA to continue or increase its support for the “National” by offering 5 tier rosettes for best in each section plus a trophy for best in show. Regarding the World Show he congratulated COM-UK on gaining a record number of medals this year. High Wycombe and South Bucks have equipped themselves to be able to exhibit independently in Continental Europe.

Treasurer Ghalib Al-Nasser presented a positive balance sheet for the past year with income exceeding expenditure by almost £450. Whilst income from sales of badges and diplomas has dropped demand for the NCA public liability insurance scheme has increased substantially so that a record 128 specialist clubs and CBSs   have applied so far this year. In the subsequent management committee meeting after the AGM it was agreed that from 2018 onwards affiliation and insurance would only be offered jointly @ £65.

In his role as Secretary Ghalib reported on the four meetings held in the past year and the ongoing concern with DEFRA/SUN developments and the contentious ring size issue for British Native Birds which remains unresolved. More positively COM-UK had increased its entry to 229 birds from 39 exhibitors at the World Show in Almeria, Spain resulting in 14 gold,  8 silver and 5 bronze medals – the highest tally in COM-UK’s history. The show attracted an entry of £25,953 from 3,124 exhibitors coming from 22 countries.

Since the last AGM Colin O’Hara, Bryan Reed, Dave Ross, John and Val Ward and Dennis Webster have been added to the NCA Roll of Honour, and Ernie Gallimore, Chris Allaway and Roy Stringer to the Hall of Fame.

It was a particular pleasure to create history by inaugurating Bev Hutt of the BS as the NCA’s first female President. Brian Hogg as outgoing President became a Life Vice President and handed Bev the presidential chain of office and Chris Smith, Chairman, welcomed Bev to the highest office of the organisation to which she replied graciously that this was an honour she had never expected and she will do all she can in the year ahead to further the cause of bird keeping. (A separate report of Bev’s inauguration and career in bird keeping will appear in C&AB soon). The President Elect for 2017 was confirmed as Dave Paine proposed by the Foreign Bird Federation.

Other officers were re-elected as follows:

  • Chairman: Chris Smith (for 3 years until 2020)

  • Vice-Chair and Minute Secretary: Dennis Webster

  • Secretary/Treasurer: Ghalib Al-Nasser

  • Publicity Officer: Barry Mills

  • CBS Liaison Officer:  Adam Kendall

  • Awards Panel: Robb Brown, John Cosby, Brian Hogg, Dave Paine.

Parent Body Representatives on the  Management Committee:

  • BBC: Bob Partridge, Robb Brown, Craig Walker, Julie Walker.

  • CC: Brian Hogg, Terry Salt, Saviour Camilleri, Barry Mills.

  • BS:  Ghalib Al-Nasser, Beverley Hutt, John Cosby, Maurice Roberts.

  • FBF: Dave Paine, Graham Lee, Dennis Webster.

Adam Kendell, CBS Liaison Officer, reported that he would shortly be organising a Facebook page for the NCA. He asked also that other publicity methods be considered e.g. a U-tube channel and an interactive website listing societies by area to enable new fanciers to locate local clubs. The current website needs updating by a good web designer,   if possible with bird keeping experience. The hunt for such an individual is on.

Chairman, Chris Smith, reported that British Bird Council representatives Robb Brown, Bob Partridge and Alan Robinson have attended meetings with Natural England on a range of topics such as General vs Class licenses, breeder and exhibitor registration etc. but have made very little progress. Chris had been asked to write to the DEFRA Parliamentary Under Secretary responsible for Natural England pointing out our problems with Natural England proposals. Neither  Chris, Bob nor Robb were able to attend the next SUN/DEFRA meeting scheduled for 19th April. Post-Brexit it is likely that current EU rules on livestock related issues will be accepted by the UK with only minor changes.

It was agreed to purchase a new, more portable display stand for exhibitions and pet fairs. Brian Hogg undertook to arrange this.

Awards nominations had been received from several societies for long service badges which the Awards Panel approved: Hetton & Houghton CBS: Ernie Scochern (gold), Fred Baker (gold), and Alan Barker (gold). NE Lizard Canary Club: J.Dave Ross (gold); Southend & District B&FBS: Jan Hill (bronze); Gainsborough CBS: Doug Salt (gold), Roy Broadbent (gold), Mick Snell (bronze) Keith Jackson (bronze), Mick Thompson (bronze), Kim Hung (bronze).

COM-UK reported that the next World Show of the Southern Hemisphere will be held in Cuba in July. Graham Lee will be the COM-UK representative. The AGM of COM-UK will be held in July and in this new cycle the NCA representation will be reduced from four to three and the IOA will increase from three to four with the IOA taking the presidency. The NCA trio will be Chris Smith, Ghalib Al-Nasser and Brian Hogg.

CITES have asked through COM for all ring issuing authorities to include a country designation on all closed rings. This could represent a space problem for UK ring issuers.

The next Annual General Meeting will be held on 7th April 2018 at the Charnwood Arms Hotel commencing at 10.30am.

The next management committee meeting will be held on Saturday, 22nd July at the Fieldhead Hotel, Markfield starting at 2 o’clock (following the COM-UK meeting in the morning)

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Calling All Club Secretaries !    Run for Cover!

A reminder from the NCA (National Council for Aviculture) to all conscientious club secretaries -especially those who have previously secured Public Liability Insurance through the now defunct Foreign Bird Association-  that you can secure £5m of public liability insurance covering all your club’s activities (shows, meetings, fund-raising activities or – Heaven forefend – the negligence of your club’s officers leading to damage to any third party or their property)   from January to 31st December 2017.

The NCA provides   this cover through Mead Sport and Leisure Ltd at a very competitive premium of £65 which includes NCA affiliation entitling   your club to 4 rosettes/diplomas for  your club’s show, access to legal advice, the support of our CBS Liaison Officer, Adam Kendall, the NCA’s long service awards, membership badges, the Hall of Fame and Roll of Honour. The NCA represents all cage bird fanciers at national level with DEFRA protecting your interests and our hobby in the ever-changing circumstances of BREXIT.

Simply go to our website and on the home page click on the banner “Application for Club Affiliation & Public Liability Insurance” and you can download the simple form which you should complete and send with a cheque payable to the NCA and your email address for an electronic reply or an S.A.E. for hard copy reply by post. Alternatively, send your request for a form with an S.A.E. to the NCA Secretary, Ghalib Al-Nasser, Evenstar, Pinkuah Lane, Pentlow, Sudbury CO10 7JW.

Get the security of PLI cover for your club now…………you know it makes sense.

Insurance cover

The NCA was sad to read of the demise of the Foreign Bird Association which is being wound up at the end of this year. For those who have used the FBA’s third party public liability insurance scheme which ends on 9th January 2017 and wish to find a replacement provider please visit the NCA website (  for details of our insurance scheme offering £5m of Public Liability Insurance cover not only for your annual shows but all your club’s activities including meetings, official fund-raising and social events, members’ shows etc. 12 months PLI cover costs £50, NCA affiliation costs £20, or £65 for both. Because this insurance covers all your activities throughout the year apply a.s.a.p. The insurance application form can be downloaded for free from the NCA website.

Show support

All our affiliated CBSs will receive 4 diplomas and 4 rosettes  for their own mixed shows while Budgerigar & Foreign Clubs  will receive 2 of each.

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