Avian flu takes its toll as Bird Keeper closes

By Colin Crummy

IPC has blamed the threat of avian bird flu and the decline in the aviculture market for the closure of Bird Keeper.

The monthly title, which the company publishes alongside tabloid weekly Cage and Aviary Birds, had struggled to sell more than 5,000 copies a month and suffered a sales decline of 33 per cent in the last two years. Advertising revenue was also falling.

Publishing director Hamish Dawson said: "Current trading conditions in the aviculture market are challenging. The total aviculture market has been in steady decline for a decade and is showing little sign of recovery.

"A recently launched competitor, Birdkeeping World, closed after only three issues, and in view of the threat posed by avian flu, we anticipate that the market conditions will deteriorate further during 2006."

A source at the magazine denied that bird flu was a contributing factor to the closure. "Devoted aviculturists would be more likely to buy the magazine to find out the latest cases and up-to-theminute advice, rather than less likely to buy it," said the source. "After all, presumably they would not be at risk from coming into contact with the pages of the magazine."

Terry Tuxford, editor of Budgerigar World, said the threat of avian flu had exacerbated the downturn in the market for specialist bird magazines, but added: "Aviculture as a pastime is certainly in the decline. There were numerous factors at work, including the simple fact that many homes have very small gardens that are not large enough to accommodate an aviary."

IPC said it intended to concentrate on Cage and Aviary Birds, which remained profitable.

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