The Budgerigar Society
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This was, if anything, the convention which triumphed over adversities, confounding all odds to allow it to go ahead. Originally scheduled for 2005, the event had to be re-scheduled when, as the final details and arrangements were being put into place, the convention headquarters were dramatically overwhelmed by fire, thus making it impossible to stage the event, even in modified form.
The fact that it was possible to reorganise such an ambitious event for a date only twelve months later than first planned, and at a venue at the other side of the country, speaks much for the versatility of the organising committee and we congratulate them on such a magnificent achievement.
Southport has really just about everything going for it as a holiday venue: a location near to the sea (when the tide’s in!) is always special and Southport combines this attractive feature with a vibrant and attractive town centre, complete with one of the most famous high street in this country – Lord Street with its Edwardian canopied shop fronts
The Royal Clifton Hotel, despite an ambitious programme of refurbishment with all desirable modern day conveniences readily to hand, still evoked for me memories of BS functions from decades ago, and this made everything seem ‘right’ for a get-together like this. Rooms were excellently appointed and the standard of catering throughout complemented this. The fact that all function rooms/suites are named after royal residence seemed particularly fitting for these regal surroundings.
Added to this, the weather was superb throughout the week-end - in fact it was too hot for much of the time, but we cannot say that we were not warned as we were told what to expect by Dave Cottrell who appeared to be trying to take the credit for even this aspect of the success story, on behalf of the BS – but I suppose that that is part of the President’s job !!
All in all, the venue selected could not have been more apt, sited as it is in the home area of the main sponsors for the convention, the Fanciers Stand, who I understand are now finally bowing out of the fundraising role that they have occupied for a number of years now. Dave Cottrell, President, in opening the event officially made particular reference to this fact, regretting that one of the three leading lights, Brian Redman, sadly died while the event was in its final planning stages.
Dave welcomed Eric Simister and Jack Singleton, as the surviving partners, thanking them warmly for their efforts which have allowed us all to meet together for this event, as well as for their contributions to the financial success of a number of events over a number of years. Brian had made a number of requests that a convention be held in the Lancashire area and the LC & NWBS deem it an honour to welcome the BS to their area.
Dave also felt it fitting that the first speaker should be someone he met when he first came into the hobby, thirty plus years ago, before he even had joined the BS or Area society. They had formed a friendship from that day, having been partners for part of the time.
Dave Hislop, as Vice President formally introduced that first speaker, the worldwide renowned artist and lecturer Eric S Peake. He said that it was his pleasure to introduce someone who started in budgerigars at 16 years of age, and who has now been in that fancy for fifty years. A dedicated worker for the budgerigar society, who gives talks all over this country.
Eric S Peake
Before starting his presentation proper, Eric explained that he has brought some of his budgerigar prints for sale at £15 each, that money to go towards raising funds to seek the importation of the vaccine developed by Dr Ritchie (USA) to prevent Beak and Feather syndrome and allied diseases. (French Moult etc).
On to the presentation, Eric asserted that budgerigars in this country are in danger of going "beyond the point of no return". He is rather discouraged and disappointed when he reads in the likes of "Cage & Aviary Birds" about the issue of ‘directional feathering’ and particularly the ‘Buffalo effect’ because what fanciers who pursue this road are doing is creating a different form of feathering to that which nature intended. Nature demands that the species should be propagated via a system of ‘survival of the fittest; this means that the birds which don’t make it will fall by the wayside. This being so, we have to determine that the birds we rear to be the strongest are also the most suitable for breeding for the benefit of the species generally.
Budgerigars are Colony birds, gregarious and promiscuous and in fact even in our own semi-controlled colony systems it is impossible to be entirely sure about which cock birds sired which clutches of chicks.
Budgerigars, although the most domesticated birds in the world, should be kept in conditions favourable to them. His birdroom is constructed in a garden surrounded by flowers, this attracting insects and providing something of a bird haven for wild birds, and it faces South to maximise the amount of direct sunlight that it receives.
Really, what he was inviting us to consider is the way that we keep birds. What we do is we put a basically wild bird into a closed confinement, in a aviary, shed, birdroom cages or whatever we like to call them – giving them causes of stress, when they should really be flying about in a colony and group where they are happy and would reproduce more birds as fertility would be higher in such an environment. We take them away from their natural group situation to pair them as we wish. Additionally, we tend to keep far too many birds, and this fact in itself militates against a birds natural inclination to reproduce – they will not breed when they do not have a conducive environment.
This was only one major point of many which Eric made in a very wide ranging talk, illustrated by colour slides of his own birdroom, birds, paintings etc. The use of paintings also presented his with the opportunity to compare the modern day budgerigar with the original drawing made by John Gould who first observed and important the species to these shores, and we were also given the chance to look at other version of the budgerigar from the intervening years – very interesting and instructive comparisons.
On the issue of size of budgerigars, and the ideal which we strive for, Eric drew our attention to his painting of the Ideal which he completed for the Budgerigar Society and showed us a slide of this print – 8.5 inches in length, correctly mounted in a show cage. In doing this, he demonstrated that 8.5 inches is still a very large budgerigar and this alone was sufficient to cast doubts as to whether this size has yet been truly achieved!
Among other points made were that we appear to have lost a complete row of secondary light since the birds observed and recorded by Gould. Eric Peake believes that this is because we have changed the variety so much in our quest for size –we have increased the feather rather than the body – this is the biggest problem with today’s birds and is something which we will have to address sooner rather than later. (644words)
Janice Al-Nasser, our President Elect, "Face to Face" interview, with Geoff Capes.
The subject was a very interesting one, and specifically was aimed at looking at the budgerigar fancy from a woman’s viewpoint. For a great many years men have, sadly, dominated the fancy; unfortunately many of those men have been rather strident in advancing their views that, even in the fancy, the woman’s place is in the kitchen.
Happily, in recent times, this attitude has been challenged and the cause has found no greater ‘Champion’ than Janice Al-Nasser. In an often humorous, but always philosophical recounting of her early struggles, Janice told us how, bringing with her years of experience with a vast range of livestock (including budgerigars), she was eventually able to prove her worth and abilities in all aspects of the fancy – even the semi-sacred area of show management, secretarial work and (horror of horrors) judging.
The fancy has been greatly enriched by adopting a far more all-inclusive attitude and much of this is owed to folk such as Janice, who continues to urge all women who are attracted to the fancy to stand firm and argue for their rights to take as full a part in the fancy as they wish. Having said this, she does not, of course, imply any criticism of those fanciers or fanciers’ wives and girlfriends who do so much excellent and much appreciated work on the catering and fund-raising side of the hobby. Without these stalwarts, we would be in grave trouble.
Janice stated that she owed much to John and Jean Smith who acted as mentors to her in her early years of society life, with North Essex Budgerigar Club. Within a short time, she has switched her "variety allegiance" from Clearwings to Normals, Opalines and basically dominant varieties including a Dominant Pied from the successful partnership of Muir and Crossman, and then on to Spangles.
Her administrative involvement in the fancy began here and has since progressed through ever-widening stages to her present position in the BS.
This was an extremely in-depth, and therefore thought-provoking interview, which I hope to report in full at a later stage. If there were any men of "the old school of thought" present it will perhaps have occurred to them that if Janice could perform all these duties, they will certainly be able to at least partially emulate her. Who knows, more men may also be moved to cut sandwiches, make Tea and Coffee, and do the washing up at their next show !?
It is without doubt to the fancy’s great advantage to have, among its members a keen fancier who is also qualified as vet. With this knowledge in mind, small wonder therefore that this particular session was extremely well attended, by fanciers who were thirsting for knowledge on aspects of the fancy other than how to breed more chicks or how to breed even better birds.
However, in a way, we were also given some indication as to how we should set out to achieve even these two aims: Kevin Eatwell did not provide us with any panacea to cure all our ills but gave us every indication as to how we should approach the fancy in future, by addressing the diseases that we all have from time to time in our aviaries.
He covered a full range of topics; from the many ways in which birds can be spread both around the birdroom, by droplets in the air, from nasal discharges etc, faecal material, feather dust, transmission by handling affected birds and then handling healthy birds immediately afterwards, and from outside that immediate environment by people visiting the aviary in contaminated clothing, footwear etc, or bringing birds to compare, etc – in fact all the normal transactions and inter-action between fanciers. We might be part of this, for example, if we go to care for other fanciers’ birds while they are on holiday, and do not change our clothing to tend our own flock. Additionally, there are issues such as airborne particles from wild birds droppings, feathers etc in to open flights.
The showing side is also a possible source of contamination, requiring thought and care – for example when transporting our birds in other fanciers’ car boots, etc. Unfortunately, harsh as the judgement may seem, we should really trust nobody when it comes to that kind of care of our birds. All our exhibitions are possible sources of infection especially in view of the duress under which our birds labour at such events. It is not helped, of course, that our birds are then taken back home and put straight into the aviary instead of, ideally, a period of quarantine
We need to run diagnostic tests to see what is ailments are and are not in our birdrooms, and he urges that all members of the society should join the BS’ own Veterinary Diagnostic service as a matter of course.
Kevin has agreed to give us the full text of his presentation for a future issue of the magazine, and this paper is one which we should all look forward to reading.
Mick Freakley & Ian Ainley
The partnership of Freakley and Ainley (Mick and Jackie, Ian and Scott) is a name that most, if not all, serious exhibitors will recognise and this presentation was enhanced by the superb quality of pictures used to illustrate this presentation.
Their partnership has now been going strong for some four years and it was stressed that they had been co-operating, as friends, for a long while, by exchanging birds from time to time and by frank exchange of opinions, having more or less shadowed each other in their progress for ten years through the exhibition ranks of the fancy and their eventual merger seemed almost inevitable. Each partner now had the additional facility of taking from the other’s birdroom any bird for a specific project or mating; hitherto, they drew the line at asking for each other’s best bird.
In starting the presentation, Mick Freakley pointed out that this is a true partnership inasmuch as they now have one fairly small stud, albeit on two sites: many of the birds travel between both sites at various parts of the years. They are not merely a showing partnership. They have one common aim – to breed quality budgerigars throughout.
Mick and Ian feel the strength of their partnership lies largely in the fact that they basically agree about the birds; they seem to see their birds the same way and the fact that they get on well socially is instrumental in an all-round good relationship.
Ian explained that he had an additional bonus in his partner through Mick’s skill as a photographer because it meant that he, Ian, had a wealth of material to look at when considering their stock. A good photograph can add a dimension that is not always apparent in looking at the birds themselves. Perhaps some of the finer details of feathering, etc, which become apparent at this distance makes him think deeper about such matter.
The lecture/presentation was designed to show just how they have one about, and continue to do so, in striving to achieve their goal. That goal is to win the Club Show; they get bored in saying so, but that is what they are trying to do.
Breeding budgerigars is a hard task – any birds with "any kind of feather on them" are difficult to breed. In the following slide show and talk they described much about how they went about it
The penultimate speaker as the 2006 convention was a long-standing member of this society, Gerd Bleicher of Germany, the current Chairman of the World Budgerigar Association. He recalled that this was not the first time he had been one of the speakers at the World Convention, at which he had to give three talks, but present each of them three times! This element of one talk presented once comes, therefore, as a holiday while the previous occasion classed as business!
His topic this time was the Anthracite budgerigar, one of our newest mutations. He has already been asked many questions and he felt that most would be answered in his talk, although some points remain open to debate and further study. What he felt he could do was point us in the direction that that research should take; he hoped that he would also leave the room with more ideas for further developing the subject.
The talk was illustrated with a number of slides, which well illuminated the points he made and came as a subject of great interest to folk who knew nothing of Anthracites.
It is the dream of every breeder to produce and fix a new mutation, and this was something, which fell to his colleague. With many new varieties, the change is not detected by the breeder themselves but by someone more knowledgeable identifying the uniqueness of the bird(s) before him. He receives many phone calls from fanciers asking him to examine birds which they feel are something new and while he is careful to accept the information, he is very critical and invariably the enquiry ends in disappointment. It needs someone who is well versed in all varieties to confirm that something different is present.
The first Anthracite appeared in 1998 in the aviary of his very close friend Hans Lenk, who established the bird as a breed, once Gerd had confirmed he felt it was a new variety and eventually, in 2003, sold three cocks to Gerd (who insisted on paying the price he had already fixed for them). He thus acquired them and, as they were in prime breeding condition, he put them down to breed. In acquiring these birds, he had done so in order to closely study the Genetical attributes of the variety. Hans had felt that it was , if anything, a recessive variety, but having studied Hans’ results, he had reached a different opinion.
The anthracite factor has a profound effect on the body colour of other varieties – e.g. Skyblue becomes a Cobalt in appearance – and the depth and type of colour is such that it registers entirely different definitions in the Pantone scale when electronically measured. Even the markings are different -Jet Black- and the cheek patches follow the body colour. Basically, the variety is dominant, even to Grey.
There is obviously much about the variety to attract and to work upon and it will be fascinating to follow the development of the breed over the next few years. Hopefully, we will be able to read Gerd’ s full conclusions at a later date.
H & D Hockaday
Pairing Cocks to Cocks – and other dreams! Rather a fanciful idea, but, basically, this was one of the messages that Harry Hockaday put across to us: yes, it would be great if we could pair up, to each other, those two favourite cocks which look as if they would together produce that Ideal bird.’ But, when they came to analyse the idea, they realised that they could at least come close, by careful selection and pairing of progeny from each of those two birds, and subsequent re-pairing to establish more closely a gene pool into one set of young.
Harry said that, in the course of the presentation they would talk about the principles of in-breeding, line breeding and what to do about outcrosses, but that the first and main consideration is whether the fanciers intended to have only a collection of birds, however good, or wished to set about the somewhat more discipline process of building his or her own stud. By that he meant that a collection is where stock held by the fancier is a gathering of non-related birds, from many sources. This probably applied to the vast majority of people in the room, he considered, who go around the country seeking stock and if unsuccessful with one, will move on somewhere else. There is no problem with that depending on your ambition, because fortunately this hobby caters for people at all levels –most are happy with the occasional win – which is OK.
If you are determined to try to build a stud of exhibition budgerigars, then you have to tackle this ‘collection’ element because you won’t develop a stud by getting birds her, there and everywhere, because you are introducing too many variables that will never become concentrated in the stud, whether it be matters of head quality, length of feather, spot, or whatever.
If you just want a collection, buy from whoever takes your fancy – with such a mix you probably won’t have trouble with fertility and it has been proved that anyone can breed one winner. The skill is fixing the qualities which produced it and ensuring that it won’t be a ‘flash in the pan’. For this reason he recommended the ‘Stud’ route, buying stock from a breeder who has taken the same path.
How they achieved this, at their third time in the fancy, he explained in a very entertaining presentation, which we strongly commend to anyone who has not seen it. Catch it next time!
Was the last but by no means the least of the speakers at this convention, a GC member since 1989 who started keeping budgerigars in 1971. A past recipient of the prestigious Silver Bird and the current General secretary of the World Budgerigar Organisation, he is a very hard working BS member and worker for the fancy.
Ghalib’s subject was the Specialist varieties in budgerigars but this is, of course, such a vast subject that he was not able to cover the whole field. He pointed out that there have been numerous mutations in budgerigars discovered and fixed and with each new variety, our knowledge of genetics has increased: all the laws we have ‘discovered ‘ in budgeriars have reference to the work of Mendel in the 1866, put subsequently to great use by Dr Hans Dunkker & Kramer of Germany: their major work took place in the 1920’s.
Any departure from the ‘wild type’ of bird is a mutation. We as breeders are not responsible for actually producing these mutations, but we have identified such and managed to establish them. The first was the Light Yellow, in 1872. It was followed in 1881 (both these in Belgium). The mutation may of course have first occurred in the wild - such have been noted flying in the wild but the mutation becoming hidden as both are recessive factors and lay hidden until brought into captivity.
Some mutations have disappeared in this country – the recessive grey, Brownwing and Recessive Lutino have all been superceded.
This explanation made Ghalib then took us through a number of examples, under the Dominant gene, such as the Dominant Grey, the Dominant Pied, the Spangles and the influence of the Single and Double factor versions of such varieties. With these and other varieties, he went on to explain in details, with illustration of actual birds and tables of expectations, expressed in percentages the theoretical expectations of all these, stressing that those tables are based on a very lare number of results in all cases.
Unfortunately, such is the extensiveness of his knowledge that he simply ran out of time, but as the old variety artists used to advise "It is best to leave’ em wanting more" !
The Convention Show
This event attract an entry of just under 300 birds, and this was just about an ideal number for the occasion. The birds were staged very comfortably in the Balmoral suite at the hotel and this again was another aspect of this ideal venue – no long walk needed to a separate show venue
The standard of exhibit was quite high, particularly among the certificate winners and our congratulations to all those fanciers who were able to play such an important part in the overall success of the convention by staging a show team.
The awards were placed by J Alcock (Normal Blues, Opaline Cinnamons, White wings and Dominant Pieds), R. Aplin (Normal Greens, Opaline Blues, Yellow wings and Yellowfaces), G.T. Booth (Normal Grey, Opaline Greens and Lutino) D Cottrell (Normal Cinnamon, Crest, Spangle and Any Other Colour) and D.Hislop (Greygreen, Albino, Recessive Pied and Rare Varieties). They selected an excellent Normal Cinnamon Greygreen Cock, staged by the Dewey & Wright partnership, as Best Bird in Show.
Other Certificate Winners/Best of Colour :-
Normal Green, M Rothlisberger, Normal Blue Kenyon & Holden, Greygreen R & J Taylor & Son, Grey C & D Jones, Opaline Green A A Wilson, Opaline Blue A & D Woan, Opaline Cinnamon Kenyon & Holden, Lutino I Saunders, Albino M & M Chapman, Yellowwing G & J Al-Nasser, Whitewing C Hogarth, Crest C & D Jones, Spangle T & A Luke, Dominant Pied H FaGan, Recessive Pied G Capes, Yellowface R Fox, Rare Variety R & J Taylor & Son, Any Other Colour A & D Woan
Best Beginner B Collins Skyblue Cock Best Junior L Hutt Op Cinn Skyblue Hen
All this plus …
A Break in Proceedings……This is probably the first time in the history of the Budgerigar Society that a major event has been scheduled to accommodate a Football match, but after all, England were playing their first World Cup match on the Saturday afternoon so another lecture was out of the question as the audience would, apparently, have been too depleted. So it was on this occasion, that the glory of the Budgerigar Society congregated to enjoy the country’s National Sport, that is, criticizing referees, one’s own team members, the opposing team – and, of course, anyone who rose up or passed by and thus partially or totally obscured the screen! Among the large gathering of budgerigar fanciers who felt the stirrings of their English blood were a considerable number of Scots, and other UK nationals who had just discovered that they had long family ties with Paraguay, so that was where there loyalty lay!! (but to no avail : as we all know, England beat Paraguay 1-0).
An entrancing evening with the dazzling delight of the Delectable Delores (courtesy of Eric Peak) who acted as Question master (or is it mistress ?) of a Team Quiz after dinner on the Friday evening. Winners were the Al-Nasser team.
The Gala Dinner on the Saturday night, followed by speeches, reported as memorable, by Roger Carr and the President, Dave Cottrell. This was a really festive function, the dining room being decked out in balloons in acknowledgement of the celebratory nature of the event. About 160 folk sat down to enjoy the meal – but, what a treat missed by so many in the fancy! The rest of the evening was taken up in music, dancing, following the evening’s cabaret act, Mel Blake.
The week-end ended with the Presentations and Closing ceremony on the Sunday afternoon.
BS Publicity Officer