(Website biography: Hastings William Sackville Russell was born on 21st December 1888 and was to be the only child of Herbrand Russell, the second son of the 9th Duke of Bedford, and his wife Mary du Cauroy. In 1891 the 9th Duke died and shortly afterwards Herbrand's elder brother, who had succeeded as 10th Duke. As a result of Herbrand becoming the 11th Duke of Bedford, Hastings acquired the lesser family title of Marquess of Tavistock until he succeeded as 12th Duke of Bedford on the death of his father in 1940.
His father was President of the Zoological Society of London from 1899 to 1936 and his mother was a noted ornithologist, who presented several papers on the subject. She was created a Dame of the British Empire (DBE) for her work in radiography and radiology. The Duchess also remarkable in taking up flying in her sixties, accompanying an experienced pilot on flights to Europe, India and South Africa before qualifying as a pilot in 1930 at the age of 65. By Spring 1937 the Duchess, then 71, had flown solo for 199 hours and five minutes and planned to complete 200 hours with a short flight close to her home at Woburn Abbey. She failed to return and several days later pieces of wreckage from her aircraft, a Cirrus Moth, were washed up on the east coast of England near Yarmouth. It is believed she aligned her compass incorrectly, flew into some bad weather and crashed into the sea.
Hastings was a keen aviculturist and kept many parrots, including all the blue macaws except the Glaucous Macaw. In the 1920s he produced Parrots and Parrot-like Birds in Aviculture with eight plates - including one of a Hyacinthine Macaw - by Edward. J. Boosey for private circulation. He believed in keeping macaws at liberty even though the risk of them being shot was high and indeed he lost a pair of Lear's Macaws in this way. He died on 9th October, 1953.)
ANODORHYNCUS (sic) LEARI
Adult-Hyacinth blue. Head and neck paler and more slate-coloured. Breast feathers with paler tips. Bill black. A patch of naked yellow skin on the cheek. Length 28.5 inches.
Lear's Macaw differs from its close ally the Hyacinthine, in its slightly smaller size and less richly coloured head and breast. Unmated birds are gentle, friendly creatures and, though they can certainly make themselves heard, they screech somewhat less raucously than their parti-coloured relatives, their voices, as Mr. Astley noted, having something of the carrion crow timbre about them.
The species is excessively hardy. A bird in my possession, when in rough importation plumage, flew into the top of a bare oak tree and stayed there for more than forty-eight hours during a spell of raw January weather. When at length he decided to come down he was not a penny the worse for his long fast and exposure.
Lear's, like Hyacinthines, are bad stayers at liberty. After a lot of trouble I did manage to induce a couple to settle down for some months, but both eventually strayed and were shot. The hen used to gratify her taste for society by flying daily to a town three miles distant where she amused herself by pulling out the pegs of people's clothes lines and playing with the dogs. She was sometimes bitten but such contretemps did not seem to make her any less fond of her canine companions.
Wednesday 8th September 2021
Update on the wind farm in the Lear’s macaw conservation area
I have received an update on the situation with the proposed wind farm in the Lear’s Macaw conservation area in Bahia provided by American Bird Conservancy. You can read the update on its website at Read More »
" Naturam expellas furca, tamen usque recurret "
( If you drive out nature with a pitchfork, she will soon find a way back)
Horace (65-8 BC)