What happens at the NBS !!  

As stated on the Homepage, the society  holds most of its meetings and shows in the Bowburn Community Centre, Bowburn  - just a few hundred yards off the A1(M), Junction 61- on the first Sunday in each month stating at 2:30 pm (except July and August when we have no meeting because of shows in the area).  We welcome all fanciers and those who feel that they may be interested in taking up this enjoyable hobby, at any of those open meetings. Please introduce yourself to one of the society's officers, if you are a newcomer, as soon as you arrive so that we can make you feel 'at home' and aware of what is 'going on!

 This page is intended to give a flavour of the most pleasurable part of those meetings - the talk or Questions and Answers session with a visiting fancier. Those speakers come to us from outside the Northern B.S area (which covers Cumbria, Durham and Northumberland) and take the first part of the meeting as they usually have a long homeward journey to make afterwards.

I print, as Publicity Officer,  reports of some of these meetings in 'reverse order', that is, starting with the most recent. If you wish you may also go direct to any of the two items immediately below by "clicking" the link for a more detailed report:-

BS President's Day 2009

Fanciers Day 2008

Convention 2007


Sunday 1st May 2011

A very successful Open day, which attracted an attendance of about forty members to welcome our guest speakers, Jac Cuyten and Chris Snell.

It was good to have this prestigious event at our own headquarters at Bowburn, which is now a very attractive venue for meetings and shows following its total refurbishment  - a job well done by the community association - and we must offer hearty thanks for arranging another successful day for the members

Sunday 10th Oct 2010

One week later than our normal date, because of the BS Club Show last week, this meeting (on a memorable date) proved to be yet another red letter date for the NBS,  a goodly attendance of around thirty members foregathering for the visit, as speakers of Messrs Robert  Staig and Colin Leesk

    This was very much a ‘two-hander, Robert addressing us first about his return to the fancy. He explained that he has been, to all intents and purposes, out of the active fancy for some nine or ten years, while he returned to his first love of Zebra finches, but a short while ago he decided that the time was right to take up the undoubted challenge of budgerigars once again.

    For some time now, he has been acquiring birds from and based on the stud of the successful partnership of R & M Miller, with help from other established fanciers. As he is not, himself, so keen on the showing aspect, he has entered into equal partnership with Messrs Pringle and

     He has had an new birdroom built, as he felt that his old one was past its best, and is in the process of equipping it with new breeding cages and plastic nestboxes. He hopes that these will be in plce within a month to allow him an early and successful start to the breeding season.

    He confessed that, following a visit to this years BS Club show he felt some trepidation; he was surprised at the great advances that the top budgerigars have made and began to wonder whether he had forsaken Zebra finches in error. However, he drew assurance from f the assurance of friends that the birds which had taken him so far aback were very much the exception, and that the normal opposition which he can expect to encounter is certainly not so far ahead as those at the Club Show.

 He therefore looks forward to the future with cautious confidence, and in a session of questions and answers gave further details of the construction of his birdroom  (Which also involved his replacing his wife’s greenhouse – at he request – with a superb hexagonal one!


 After the tea break, his place was taken by, it was the turn of Colin, who gave us a very detailed , convincing, but perhaps necessarily somewhat overwhelming, talk about some of the alternative medicines and treatments which are available from those, such as himself, who have made deep study of homeopathic cures and supplements. There is no doubt that he knows his subjects, and we were very interested to hear of the range of products that are shortly to be marketed.

      There is certainly a strong case made that the modern day budgerigar, as developed in its present exhibition form is a distinctly different animal to the tight-feathered, smaller, smarter specimen to which many of us became accustomed thirty, forty, or more years ago. This modern bird requires something more than the basic staple diet that their progenitors received. Only supplementing that basic diet, he asserted, will ensure that our birds so described will be able to maintain the desirable vigour to maintain their own health and to ensure the production of similarly healthy young.

   He left us anxious, generally, to learn more and this session ended with a promise that further details will shortly appear on the Northern BS website

Sunday 5th Sept 2010

Following our normal ‘break’ to avoid show-date clashes, the NBS resumed its programme of monthly meetings in September. A good turn out of around 25 members greeted our visiting panel of speakers from lancs, Ches & North Wales BS a trio of fanciers who more than adequately represented one of the most popular and vibrant of area societies. Having been greeted as such, the panel of John Cosby, Ian Fielding (Chairman) and Roger Taylor returned the compliment, expressing admiration of the fact that the NBS cam continue to attract a solid body of members to Open meetings, month in and month out.

   In a lively, informative – and sometimes controversial session of Questions and Answers, the panel answered a series of questions on topics covering the usual very diverse subjects of breeding, exhibiting, judging, and the overall decision making of the budgerigar society on matters relating to all things, including the - to some, infamous -  judging and exhibiting guidelines. As mortals will, criticism was levied about the BS legislating on some aspects, yet not doing so on others!   It proved a very successful afternoon, well worth the journey and we fervently hope that our visitors felt similarly.




Sunday 6th June 2010

I thank Bruce Ross for his very kind words in placing the following report on the Official Northern BS website, which can be accessed by following  www.communigate.co.uk/ne/nbs/

"We were delighted to welcome Dave Herring President of BS and his brother John who gave a cracking presentation of how our hobby has evolved over the last 50 years and there were over 25 members who attended.

They showed us slides of birds through the ages and how they had changed in appearance.

Faces were put to names of the past officials of the BS and the NBS.

A year book of 1939 was shown which more or less proved to us that the NBS were affiliated to the BS in 1937.

A lot of work had gone into this presentation and everyone present thought it was well worth it!"

Sunday 2nd May 2010

Our now Annual event, the "Open Day" - not that our normal monthly meetings are not also open, but this was a full day devoted to the appreciation of our shared enthusiasm.

     ...... and good it was to see so many fanciers, almost fifty in all, foregathered for this day, which included a Carvery lunch (with no option, as the law courts expressed it). However, at £10 for the full day (including three tea/coffee breaks) it did represent extremely good value.

     The excellent catering and comfortable room were surpassed only by our guest speakers , the partnership of Chris Huxley and Alan Marchant, plus Chris Snell, (representing the partnership of Chris & Mary Snell)

     The Huxley and Marchant partnership took the floor for the two mornings sessions, discussing their methods and general approach towards the common goal of those of us who are exhibitors of breeding that next to perfect exhibit. They highlighted the  importance and use of increased feather, which so enhance the head of our birds, but  explained that many of us neglect the need to get a good backskull in place, for thus supports that feather which makes the head so strong. Without this support, a good head can visibly disappear when a bird is startled in the show cage, and thus many an exciting specimen, tipped for Best in Show awards, has failed to excel in the final stages of judging. The problem is that they tend to recover their apparent superiority in time for the public to come it and berate those judges which failed to spot an obvious winner.

      After an excellent lunch, Chris Snell took the chair and gave us much to think about in the actual organisation of our hobby. He gave much praise to the Budgerigar Society, but feels that the moving of the show date to late September/October was a retrograde step. Chris remembers well the difficulties that fanciers of many years ago had in getting their birds to shows, before the availability of cars and good road systems. However, he feels that were the society and show fancy to start again not we would perhaps do things differently.

       He expounded two separate changes which may be a possibility; the first is moving the ring issue date forward to October/November, and the second is of returning to the old date of March, which many regard as being the natural time for birds to breed. He commented that it is still a great source of contention, because many find that, at present, when they pair up at the former date, they do find that a goodly number of chicks are bred in the first round -- but sometimes this falls off in the second round. On the other hand when he has not paired up until late February, he has still ended his season at the normal time and with the same number of chicks.  The decision ultimately rests on the dates of the show season.

       Asked about his thoughts on two year breeder classes, Chris then advanced a third ring option and that is to retain the present issue date, and to scrap Young Bird classes completely, removing from fanciers the sense of urgency commonly felt in getting one's birds paired up in order to provide entries for Young Bird classes. This was an option which seemed to strike a chord with many - although no great discussion was held on the issue.

Sunday 19th April 2010

A mere seven days after our last meeting, this time "the mountain went to Mohammet" ; or rather to Carlisle, for our annual gathering in the western side of our area - a fixture which has been part of the NBS programme for some forty years or more.

In the introduction to the meeting, Brian Batey gave those present a resume of the society's activities over recent months, and confirmed both that the society remains in good heart financially, and that attendances at monthly meetings on the east side of the area are doing very well at both NBS and local club level.

    We were looking forward to hearing, as our speakers, Jim and Linda McGeehan but unfortunately, only three hours before the meeting was due to start, they had to cancel the engagement - each having been smitten by a virus which rendered them incapable of comfortable speech.


An impromptu panel was therefore arranged, headed by NBS President Ian Clarke and including Bruce Ross (Assistant Secretary and Webmaster) Brian Batey -who surrendered his Chairman's gavel - , and me, as Publicity Officer (as I was not suitably dressed for a more formal role).

   A fruitful question and answer session thus followed and the stimulating debate was certainly enjoyed by our side of the table, and hopefully also by the 'questioner/listeners's side who managed to provide as many answers as they did questions.

A good afternoon all round. Thank you Carlisle and District.

Sunday 12th April 2010

Our guest speakers this month, Bill and Lynne Bancroft, were enthusiastically greeted by over thirty members, which is becoming typical of our monthly attendance figure.  In their turn, our speakers marvelled at such a large gathering for an 'ordinary' meeting.

           As usual, the meeting began with our speakers. Lynne opened the first half with a resume of her introduction to the fancy, via access to "Cage & Aviary Birds" at her place of employment, the world-famous Bodleian Library in Oxford, some thirty-plus years ago, and how the partnership with Bill came to be formed. She told us about their birdrooms past and present, and throughout their talk this successful couple displayed their continuing enthusiasm for our hobby, demonstrating in doing so their vast store of knowledge gained from attention to detail and a    deep study of all aspects of budgerigars.

     It is common knowledge of course that Bill - now a sprightly 86 years of age - has had to come through a series of health traumas in order to maintain his life-style and continuing activity. These traumas started, over forty years ago,  with the loss of his right hand, a terrible blow for a right-handed budgerigar breeder, and Bill told us - and demonstrated- how he had set out to overcome this and other obstacles to leading a complete life in the fancy.

      In showing us the many aids that he has 'bespoken' in order to allow his to do the many jobs in the fancy - such as hand-washing his show team and completing even the more intricate parts of show preparation, including dressing their masks and spots.  Those who were and are amazed at this expertise were even more taken aback to learn that he also continues to ring his own youngsters !

     Small wonder, indeed, that Bill Bancroft remains somewhat scornful of fanciers who complain of problems in carrying out their own aims and objects in the fancy. He feels that if he can overcome setbacks, so should also the rest of us! Who would argue with that ?

      For many years, Bill and Lynne have been respected breeders of some of the Rare varieties and in the final part of their talk they each demonstrated that this aspect of our fancy has developed in them a greater insight into the importance of the Colour standards. They pay great attention to 'variety content' and welcome the growing campaign to see a return to the original variety integrity, commenting that, for example, the standards for the Clearwing variety has been changed seven times over the years in order to reflect what breeders were producing rather than what should actually be the Ideal in line with the features observed in the original mutations . The same comments apply to quite a number of varieties, both new and old.

      This was, indeed, a very thought provoking as well as entertaining afternoon and we look forward to their return, when perhaps they will tell us of the progress of the plans that they are now laying for possible changes to their setup!

Sunday 7th  March 2010

Annual General Meeting and Presentations


Especially considering that there was no speaker booked for this Annual ‘Business’ event, the attendance at this meeting by three dozen or more members was particularly gratifying. It was, indeed, the highest attendance at an ‘ordinary’ Northern BS  meeting for some years, and gave additional encouragement to the officials of the society, who have seen early promise of a revival of the fancy in our area become increasingly fulfilled.

      Officers for the next twelve months were elected as follows :-


            President                           Ian Clarke

            President Elect                  Linda Heighton

            Chairman                          Brian Batey

            Vice Chairman                  Don Rowell

            General Secretary & Treasure              Roy Cooke, 27 Valley Gardens, Blackhill, CONSETT  DH4 8RQ

            Assistant Secretary (& Webmaster)      Bruce Ross

            Patronage Secretary          Jim Smith

            Minutes Secretary             Linda Heighton

            Publicity Secretary            Dave Herring

            Show Secretary                 Brian Batey

            Year Book Editor              Lee Marshall


            Committee                        L Heighton, G W Carr,  D Cairns,  C Wright,  A Elliott,  K Thompson, 

                                   K   Allison, N  Waters,  J Kime,  J Smith ,

            Auditors   D Rowell & I Clarke 


GOLDEN BIRD    There were two nominations for the award of the Golden Bird  --  Don Fishwick (who has just retired from the committee after years of loyal service) and Bruce Ross, our Assistant Secretary and Webmaster.  Many of the members found this choice a very difficult one to make, but the outcome was the award going to Bruce Ross. Congratulations, and commiserations to the candidates!!


Presenting their separate reports, Brian Batey (Chairman) and our secretary. Roy Cooke  expressed his delight that this has been such a successful year for the Northern BS at meeting level and, indeed, the whole area. Shows in the area, including our Rare & Special Varieties show in July, have shown a very good increase in entries and, indeed, Newcastle and Gateshead BS show is now a ‘Gold Patronage’ event. Hopefully, others of our shows will make a similar mark this year. The fact that attendances at our open meetings have been so strong over the past twelve months reflects a new enthusiasm, and a competitive edge which is pleasing to note..

    The added finances received from “Awards for All” has allowed the society to buy the staging that it requested (and has also acquired materials to allow for further construction) plus computers and printers to advance and enhance the work of the society.

       The application for the award, said Brian, was only ultimately successful, on repeated applications, through the diligence and perseverance of our secretary, to whom our fervent thanks are extended.


    Membership has held up well, and indeed at this stage shows some promise of a gain on aggregate, but it remains regretful that so many fall ‘by the wayside’.


Notice of Motion – Subs increased UNANIMOUSLY !!

… and this was a very pleasant surprise, as there are usually at least some voices of dissent whenever folk are asked to pay more !    It had been decided that we would hold a paper vote on this issue which it was felt could be controversial, but after the auditors had explained exactly why the society had showed a profit this year (exceptionally generous donations and income from an auction), the membership moved that we dispense with this formality and decide the issue by a show of hands. Result – an increase in subs to the tune of £2 per head to £11 per annum (£1 for Juniors and OAPs to £6 per annum ) was unanimously adopted.


Presentation of Trophies for Most points in sections , at affiliated shows over the Show season

This feature of our A G M has always been something of a highlight. It was again, but there was some disappointment that very few of those successful fanciers were not present to receive their awards. It does seem, sometimes, that once someone is beginning to achieve results on the showbench, they no longer need the ‘services’ of some of the societies to which they belong!


     Nevertheless, our heartiest congratulations to those winners, who are as follows :-


           Champion Any Age   Rowell & Heighton

           Champion Young Bird   P. Redford

           Intermediate Any Age   B A Wilson

           Intermediate Young Bird   French & Ratcliffe

           Novice Any Age   I Cuthbertson

           Novice Young Bird   I Cuthbertson

           Beginner Any Age   J & K Kime

           Beginner Young Bird   K Sleightholme

           Junior Any Age   C Forrest

           Junior Young Bird   K French

Sunday 7th  February 2010

 A good turn-out, upwards of thirty members came to this, the first meeting of 2010. This was the best meeting attendance, so early in the year, for a while and gives added encouragement to the committee.

So, what was the attraction. Undoubtedly it was largely the fact that the team of speakers was from Castleford BS , and comprising Pete Smith (Chairman). Roy Tickle, and Nige Clark. 

 This triumvirate gave us an entertaining, informative afternoon, answering questions covering mainly very topical subjects centred around birdroom practice and management. Like the rest of the country (including we in the north East), this winter has been a very severe one in comparison with the last few years, but the panel, all of whom have experienced a slow start to the season and some losses amongst their breeding stock, are not sure that the weather has had any effect, as their birdrooms are all heated.

    On the subject of additives, all three are very cautious about the use of such and tend to feel that we can pamper our birds too much, taking them further and further away from their natural ability to fend for themselves and fight infections using their own resources. In general. Softfood is restricted to being offered only in the breeding season, and largely to those birds with young. They stressed that many fanciers are very successful despite offering their stock only hard seen and plain water. However, as they had initially stressed, they advised everyone not to change successful management methods ‘on a whim’, depending on the latest thing that they had heard.

   Asked about breeding cage maintenance, all said that they clean out nest boxes and cages on a very regular basis, particularly adding fresh sawdust where they have ‘wet hens’, which prefer to rear their young in a damp environment and  transport water into their nests. The risk of disturbing adult hens to this extent was touched upon and Pete said that he has never lost a chick through such disturbance.

Asked about maintenance of their stud, all three said that they bring in  one or two outcrosses yearly, to introduce specific features as well as to maintain the vigour of their bloodlines.

All were agreed that, although results can be disappointing from time to time, the budgerigar fancy is a stimulating and fulfilling one, the more so as we are able to meet fellow fanciers and make so many good friends through our meetings and shows.

Sunday 6th  December 2009 

We welcomed some very good friends from 'across the border' to this, our regular monthly meeting. The Dumfries B & FBS have long been admired by NBS members for the excellent show that they annually stage at the latter end of the show season, when despite the vagaries of the weather, they usually attract 1,000 entries or more. Unusually bad conditions this year provided something of a 'hiccup' in this record, but no doubt 'normal service' will be resumed this year.

   .....and this stalwart society could not have been represented better than it was at this meeting.

Andy Brown (Chairman), Billy Wilson and Allan Murray, provided a good cross-section of opinion on a variety of topics and in their solid, common-sense replies to a variety of questions made it clear what binds us all together in this excellent fancy.

Questions posed were very much down to earth, including the use of Spangles as outcrosses for Red-eyes (they were against it) and whether separate shows for Rares Varieties was beneficial (views were mixed). Otherwise, general management was discussed, giving a salutary reminder to members as to what is important, particularly at this time of year. A good meeting, and a great advertisement for Area societies such as ours to continue to hold Open monthly meetings.

 Sunday 1st  November 2009 

Perhaps what will turn out to be something of a red-letter day for the NBS, for this was a special event, organised by the society to welcome BS Show secretary Ronnie Simpson to give a presentation explaining the features of his Show organisation program which he has developed over the years in which he has carried out the prestigious position of Show Secretary for the highly-acclaimed  Budgerigar Society Club Show.

The need for a program such as this has long been recognised - although 'old-stagers' such as myself were happy to 'bat on' using the original program that was commissioned by John Readman of |Teeside BS in the late 1980's (was it really so long ago) and that served me well until my Dot matrix printer broke down and I did not have the technical knowledge to overcome the problem.

 Such folk were 'crying out' for a Windows-based program -- and what a pity it is that they did not come to this presentation to see their demands met !!

However, despite their noted absence, this meeting was surprisingly well attended by interested parties who doubtless acquired much knowledge - and therefore encouragement , to take up the challenge of running a show.

Hopefully, therefore, we will now see an end to the distressing closure of shows and perhaps also the resurrection of some of those which have succumbed in recent years.

In a very detailed presentation, Ronnie made it quite clear that  he continues to upgrade the program constantly and that it comes with a variety of patronage shows catered for. He will however, also tailor the program for specific requirements - and all this without charge  - he offers the disk gratis to all show promoting sociteties for the benefit of the fancy and as an acknowledgment of the pleasure and satisfaction that he, personally, has derived from his time in the hobby.

What a man !!


Sunday 1st  November 2009 

A considerably poorer turn-out for this meeting, no doubt because of the dreadful whether we experienced on that day.  It seems that we have become spoiled by the improving climate it recent years !! The meeting was billed as a 'double header', the first element being a 1-11 show, in which members were invited to enter a team of birds with ring numbers between 1 and 11. Unfortunately, there were only two exhibitors and the winner was Keith Allison, with Charlie Bowman 'breathing down his neck' for the remaining places.

          While Peter Watts (below, left) took on the heavy responsibility of 'sorting out the exhibits' - placing the awards, Bruce Ross gave us a presentation which was of particular interest to the older members and an eye-opener for the more modern exhibitor. The presentation comprised a DVD transcription of an old VHS recording of reports on five of the shows in the N.B.S area in the mid 80's. Not only were we re-acquainted with former members, but of particular interest was the quality of the birds, with winners which were tighter in feather, being largely 'Yellows'

         A very enjoyable afternoon and other fanciers are urged not to miss future showings of this recording


Sunday 4th October 2009 

     The excellent programme of speakers that Roy Cooke, our General Secretary has compiled for us continued with the visit another friend of our society with contacts in our area ---- a Past BS President, Past BS Chairman, Past BS Patronage Officer ( who did so much to bring order to all three positions - an order and structure which is still, thankfully, present ). So, basically, he is past all that !? Not in the least - he remains as active and forward-thinking as ever! He is, of course, Roger Carr - and no stranger to this area.

..... and as such, was warmly greeted on his return to the Northern BS at its October open meeting!  It was additionally good to note than increased attendance was recorded for this event - in fact the highest for some time - and the gathering was given much food for thought in this varied talk.    






















           Roger started by telling us that he is now wondering what type of nest box to introduce in the next stage of his own aviary management, and held aloft a nest box concave that he had borrowed from the 'shop' that Malcom and Charmain Redden run at NBS meetings. This concave led him to discuss the many designs of nest box, accessed from both inside and outside the breeding cage, which have been used successfully by fanciers over the years and he particularly recalled the tall, square nest box favoured by Derrick Bowler, and which comfortably housed only the hen and her eggs plus chicks up to fledgling age.

He is planning going over, this year, to wire breeding cages next season. In fact, having heard such good reports of them, he has acquired the materials, and it is now just a question of finding time to erect them.  He anticipates that this will suit both him and, more importantly, his birds and that the latter will express their satisfaction in a suitably robust breeding season. He is certainly looking forward to the benefits of easy maintenance that the new system should bring, especially as he is not getting any younger!

      He sees this system as being the nearest system, for the birds, to a colony system, while still retaining control of the selection of pairs.  He feels that the colony atmosphere will be present throughout the bird room, with more of the birds being in visual contact with each other.      

      Roger feels that most problems in breeding can be laid at the door of infertility in the cock birds – it is not always easy to determine when the cocks are not only fit, but also in the most fertile condition, but we keep plugging away!. The greatest fun in being in the fancy is in listening to one another and sometimes acting on suggestions made by other folk. He is a stickler for cleanliness and goes through a very full annual routine in addition to his normal management.

     He advises that we always keep our management under close scrutiny, especially where problems arise. It is generally true to say that we should not experience great problems, and if we do we should first look to our own systems for the root of the problem, and the suggestion of other methods.

     And what about the exhibition aspect?  Roger enjoys showing, but major success, though welcome is not a ‘be all and end all’.  He urged Beginners to consider that the best fun to be derived from the hobby lies in breeding your birds and discovering their elements of compatibility, using the knowledge gained to breed one’s own winners. The study of genetics as applied to one’s own stock is a wonderful thing.

    On the subject of genetical make-up, he then counselled fanciers not to be afraid to buy that smaller bird, whose proved siblings are visually so much better, from a breeder whose rectitude is in no doubt. Such small birds may well be the ones which produce those birds which will bring success.

     Returning to matters of husbandry, Roger Carr asked us to consider whether we should feel a need to give our birds chemicals? He feels that we should be able to provide all that our birds need from natural sources.  He gives a lot of vegetable content in the diet that he offers his birds, which also spend a lot of time grubbing around among the natural floor of his outside flights. He referred to a fancier from his past, Bill Watts, who gave many talks to societies centred around what he classed as ‘Nature’s Larder’ in which he described the many seeding grasses and the like which were available to us, with which to supplement our birds’ diet. He used to bring samples of these, and Roger had obtained one such pack and offered them to his birds, which devoured them voraciously.

      On topics which some would regards as ‘Political’, Roger advised that the recently produced Colour Standards and Guidelines document, a bold venture, will be kept under review and any anomalies dealt with. However, he feels that judges who blatantly refuse to comply with the spirit of the changes must be removed from the panel. He is rather concerned that selections for major awards are still tending to be made on a basis of ‘Judging for power’ rather than seeking the elegance suggested by the written standard.

       As to the BS Club Show date, which has caused so much debate, he very much tends towards favouring the November date rather than the present one. September is, of course, a period of lighter nights etc, but road travel has improved immeasurably over the years, and the original date at the end of the show season is more appropriate, he feels, particularly as so many budgerigars are beset by a major moult in the September/October period. Additionally, November is a better date for the likes of Trade Stands, Area Societies who can transact business which relate to the imminent breeding season, and the start of the new subscription year.

       So, much to consider and debate, delivered in a challenging way. Another excellent afternoon!                             

Sunday 6th September 2009 

           The first day of what is, for the NBS meetings programming, a new term, having been interrupted as ever by our local shows.     What better way to start a new programme than with a visit from one of our many friends North of the Border, in Douglas Mathie?


















A good attendance, of around thirty members, gathered to hear Douglas Mathie address the September open meeting of the society. Largely in response to questions, he spoke mainly on topics concerning his methods of husbandry.

         2009 had not been the best of seasons for him, because, he considered, of his own human error; he had delayed pairing up this season until after the turn of the New Year, and found that his breeding team were rather ‘over the top’ and he had a very poor first round. However he has subsequently bred sufficient birds to assure continuity and has the stock that he need for the coming breeding term.

       This year he has not used many additives at all – and none in the water, offering only Maxifeed in finger drawers . Other than that he gives only a basic diet of his own 50/50 mix of Plain Canary and Mixed Millet  plus Iodine nibbles, grit, cuttlefish in constant supply. These are supplemented by a softfood mix based on ENP with grated carrot and protein food.

         Douglas is, of course, noted for the quality of his Recessive Pieds and discussed some of the features of the variety.  He confirmed that flecking is something which one needs to control, as much as in other varieties, especially as Normals are brought in to improve them. He needs to be very careful as he does not wish the fault to spread throughout his Recessive Pieds. This year, his best two birds are flecked but their quality is such that he feels that he must use them. He will bring in a further two Normal cock birds this year.

        In obtaining outcrosses, he tries to steer clear of the Cinnamon factor, but it is not always possible. Further, he said that he has met with no success in trying to breed from Buff hens, not matter what mate he tried to introduce to them. He firmly believes that the best chance of success lies in producing one’s own hens, rather than trying to bring them in from outside, and he prefers to use those good quality hens which are not the type which are usually winners on the show bench – he often sells those hens which are visually the most striking.

         On the showing aspect, he far prefers to show young birds, and thus his poor start to the season has not provided him with a good show team this year. He added that it is not his practise nowadays to pull nestfeather tails, in case they do not grown again.

         On the markings of Recesssive Pieds, Doug feels that while the standards laid down are difficult to achieve, he believes that the B.S has got it about right! Hens are, of course, usually darker in the wings than are cocks, but allowance is made for this. He tries to keep his markings down by careful selection, but it is not 100% predictable.  For example, he has often paired two heavily marked birds together and has bred lighter-marked progeny. The use of splits does not always affect the degree of marking.

        He has not felt any need to go abroad to seek outcrosses, as he feels that there are sufficiently high quality birds available in this country to enable him to meet the challenges of this fascinating hobby.


   Sunday 7th June 2009 - BS President's Day

    Yet another 'Red-letter' day for those Northern BS members who are able to drag themselves away from the delights of hearth and home to attend our monthly Open meetings. As is customary, the society invited this years Budgerigar Society President, Bob Francis, to attend as Guest Speaker. When invited, Bob suggested that he bring a fellow Welshman, Gary Hale,  with him and the society was happy to accept this suggestion and expanded the normal meeting into what was more or less another 'Mini-Convention'.

         In view of the great distance involved, Kevin Batey and his wife extended their hospitality to our guest, who were therefore able to make a week-end of it. Our thanks to those members who provided such hospitality.

      ...And what a successful day this turned out to be.  It started with Ron Fairhurst, NBS Past President and current Vice Chairman, acting as Master of Ceremonies and introducing our Guest speakers. First 'on the menu' was Bob Francis, BS President, as well as being the second longest serving of the BS General Council members, giving us a short presentation on the subject of his old birdroom, and his decision following a few years of poor breeding results to replace it, siting the new structure in a different part of his garden and away from the possible influence of the relatively new overhead high voltage Electricity cables which he suspected of being to blame for his poor results.

        Bob explained that this appears to have solved the problem because over the past few years, using the same system of management of his birdroom, he has seen a return to his normal 'productivity' and success.

        He then went on to a Face-to Face session, skilfully chaired over two sessions (separated by a refreshments break) by our own Assistant secretary, Bruce Ross, who covered a vast array of subjects as to Bob's husbandry of his birds, their housing and care. They also discussed a series of points regarding the organisation of our fancy, both at local and national level. 

  An excellent buffet lunch, organised by the committee and superbly prepared and served by Mesdames Blakemore, Bowman and Heighton, was next on the agenda. This gave all present the opportunity to meet our speakers on a person to person basis and enjoy fellowship with fellow members.

       Certainly, we were extremely well provided for, and it is a pity that there were not more than the thirty plus members present to enjoy all aspects of the day

  After lunch, our Chairman introduced Gary Hale, who gave us an extremely enlightening presentation about his relatively brief, but extremely successful, time in the budgerigar fancy from 2001, the highlight of which, to date is his winning the Supreme award at the B.S. Club Show in 2005.  Knowing about his relatively brief time in the fancy (this time around) it cam as no surprise to learn that he was already a very successful stockman - a breeder, exhibito and judge of Zebra finches at the highest level - immediately before he switched his fancy to budgerigars.

     This excellent day was rounded off (following another cup of tea and another assault on the buffet table) with a questions and answers session, which also covered a wide range of topics concerning budgerigar breeding.

          ( for a more extended report, click HERE)


Sunday 3rd May 2009  

Our May meeting was another success, albeit held on Bank Holiday weekend when so much was going on elsewhere to distract local fanciers  - namely the relegation struggles of Newcastle AFC and Sunderland AFC, both of whom had matches on during the meeting.

             The chair was taken this month by our Vice-Chairman Ron Fairhurst, who took to this task "like a duck to water" and ran a very smooth meeting, starting with the introduction of this month's guest speaker......


.............Geoff Tuplin, who was welcomed by a gathering just short of thirty. As usual, Geoff kept the meeting well entertained, giving his views in his usual direct way, in response to members’ questions.

He told us that he has enjoyed a good breeding season, and described his methods of bringing his stock into condition by allowing them to complete their moult in only subdued light by using shutters over the windows from late July for all but about three hours each day, before they come into breeding condition.


 He explained that he uses methods which were successful for both himself and fellow fanciers in the Pigeon racing hobby – his first love in the livestock world.

Geoff also explained his methods of establishing signs of breeding fitness – especially in cock- before pairing them up, but stressed that he does not use, of recommend Artificial insemination.

           Having recently attended the BS Judges meeting, Geoff voiced his largely unanimous support for the new guidelines, adherence to which can only enhance the possibility of re-establishing  the best features in the various colour varieties, and in the condition of budgerigars reaching the show bench. He commented that in shows that he has visited in Germany, badly faulted birds are turned away before they reach the judging stands.

                    On breeding to form a good stud, he advised members to look to breed their own family of birds, and that once this is firmly established the regular introduction of occasional outcrosses will stand a better chance of continuing success

Sunday 19th April 2009  

The committee reported that the recent meeting in Carlisle had been particularly successful. I was sorry to miss this visit but was required that evening at Sunderland Minster.


In the event, a gathering of about twenty fanciers from the North West attending to receive the panel of NBS members from the North East. Visit the report and picture on the official NBS site, at   .....

www.communigate.co.uk/ne/nbs/index.phtml   Plans are already under way for next year’s event!

Sunday 5th April 2009  

Another memorable day for the NBS. We recorded our highest attendance at an ordinary open meeting for a couple of years or more. This possibly had something to do with the fact that we recently announced the award, from "Awards for All" of a grant of £7,038 for the purchase of two laptops and printers, plus new lighter show staging for the use of shows in our area. Overall, the aim of the society is now, with these great items of expenditure provided for, to meet its long held ambition of 'spreading the word' about our wonderful hobby to those unenlightened souls who as yet do not know about budgerigar breeders and the joys that a shared interest can bring to fanciers far and wide.

      I have written on this subject locally, throughout this area and nationally and will continue to 'bang the drum' until, hopefully, more folk take up the challenge. My great wish is that I see our fancy 'turn the corner' before I finally drop off the perch!

     Another great attraction, and service to fanciers generally, is now provided at the meeting by Malcolm and Charmain Redden who have on sale a range of products which are highly recommended to, and among, fanciers. They aim to attend most, if not all, of our open meetings so hopefully even more fanciers will be coming to our meetings to check these wares!

       The 'top of the bill' at the meeting was, however, undoubtedly our guest speaker, Phil Reaney (no stranger to NBS meetings) who gave us a riveting. informative and challenging presentation, delivered in his inimitable style punctuated with humour, which had our members wanting more. There is no doubt that he will receive an early invitation to make another journey to Durham.

      During the meeting, Don Rowell presented Dennis cairns with the new representation of the "Golden Bird" , which he has so strongly merited for his work over the last three years. As well as keeping the society's staging trailers in good condition, Dennis also completed the task of updating our rules to meet current day thinking on matter socially politic, in order that we could qualify for funds and grants from outside the fancy.

      Finally, a reminder that our meetings at Bowburn Community centre, just off the A1(M) at Junction 61, start with our guest speaker at 2:30 pm   -- so if you intend to pay us a visit  --- BE SOON!! (as older members will recall the late Hylda Baker saying)

Pictures above, from top, left to right :-

Phil Reaney sets up his presentation,   part of the engrossed audience

New Chairman Brian Batey - the introduction,  Phil and our President, Don Rowell ,  Ian Clark with refreshments

Dennis Cairns receives the "Golden Bird" award   Phil Reaney & Brian Batey Malcolm and Charmain Redden ply their trade (below)     Barbara Blakemore, Patronage and Minutes secretary

Sunday 1st March 2009   

 Annual General Meeting day  -- always a most important day in our calendar of events. This year saw only one change in the main officials  -- but a very significant one, as Norma Phillips stood down after four years as a very successful and progressive Chairman of the society. Her place is taken by Brian Batey - hitherto our Vice Chairman. Norma is not, however, lost to the society but remains as our Year Book Editor and, of course, the areas representative on the BS Council.

Norma was presented with a bouquet as a mark of the gratitude and respect of the society, which she received graciously, but with her customary modesty.

Pictures above (from the top) :-

                          Roy Cooke                                                    Norma Phillips                                   Brian Batey

            Ron Fairhurst  & Don Rowell

                  Charlie Bowman                        Linda Heighton                            Brian Verity                                   Albert Jennings

                    Mick Cooke                    

We have not lost Norma, however. She continues as our excellent Handbook editor and will continue to bring her experience to the work of the committee.

This feeling of change is more than compensated for by the continuing guidance and service of our General Secretary, who has bee in post for something in the order of twenty years - we believe that this is a Northern BS record in itself! Thanks Roy.

       The full list of Officers for 2009 is as follows:-

President                   Don Rowell
President Elect           Ian Clarke
Chairman                  Brian Batey
Vice Chairman          Ron Fairhurst

Secretary                   Roy Cooke,  27 Valley Gardens,Blackhill,Consett. Co.Durham DH8 8RQ.                   (Tel No. 01207 509251)email roycooke27@tiscal1.co.uk 

Year Book Editor       Norma Phillips, 12 Honiton Way, North Shields, Northumberland.
Assistant Secretary     Bruce Ross
Publicity Officer         David Herring.
Patronage Secretary   Barbara Blakemore. 18 Warkworth Lane, Spennymoor, Co.Durham DL16 6UY
Minutes Secretary      Barbara Blakemore.

Show Secretary           Brian Batey. 25 Sunniside, Sunniside, Gateshead, Co.Durham. NE16 5QE
Budgerigar Society Councill Member for the NBS area            Norma Phillips
Committee                 Derek Adcock, Gerry Carr, Colin Wright, Ray Blakemore, Don Fishwick,                                          Linda Heighton.Norma Phillips




CHAMPION ANY AGE – ROWELL & HEIGHTON            (39  POINTS)        




NOVICE ANY AGE - BRIAN VERITY                      (46 POINTS)


BEGINNER ANY AGE - STEVE WILSON                     (42 POINTS)




We have now had much of the good news. The SAD NEWS is that another society in our area – Blyth Valley BS- has closed down, largely because no-one was prepared or, more kindly perhaps, felt sufficiently competent to take on responsibility for the official positions. (This more usually refers to the job of show secretary – the duties of the other officers are very straightforward). They are not the first in recent years. It seems to me to be a great pity that societies who find themselves unable to run a show don’t decide to carry on as a monthly social gathering, concentrating there efforts on telling folk of the existence of a budgerigar fancy and society in their town, and continuing to meet as a social gathering of folk with the same interest until the time again comes when they feel able to form a team to stage a show. This is something that other societies (including my own society-Sunderland BS  in 1963) have done in the past and thus secured their continuation. It is vital to have a local meeting place to which potential new members/fanciers can be attracted  - call them ‘Mission posts, if you like !

      Local societies have now thus benefited from a donation by Blyth Valley to their 2009 shows. This is much welcomed and appreciated, but I hope that I will still be around when that and other societies re-form so that I can reciprocate their donation!  The encouraging sign is that one or two keen exhibitors have asked me “What can we do to get another show in the North East area  - would the BS allow the NBS to run another one?” I had to reply that I do not think that this will be possible. What I did not say was “ If you want another show, get a society going to stage it  -- that’s how all this started!” Hopefully, promise for the future…!


So, we look forward to those shows still left to us. The NBS Specialist & Rare Variety Show on Sunday July 5th 2009, will again be held in the Bowburn Community Centre, Bowburn .Judges are Jack Brett & Nigel Beevers both from Yorkshire. This is the first of quite a few shows left in our calendar. The Northern BS Area Open Club Show will take place on Sunday October 11th 2009, as the climax to our year. The judges are Maurice Roberts, Edgar Swann, Rodney Harris all from Cornwall, George Booth Worcestershire & Geoff Tuplin, Yorkshire.  Hopefully, many of the entries for this years show are now 'on the sticks'  and that all exhibiting members will make the most of these and show their support.


Sunday 1st February 2009   

   Despite the fact that we had no meeting ( as usual) in January, it was heartening to welcome an attendance of thirty members for our first meeting of the year.

 We were very pleased to welcome, as our speakers,  John Charlton & Peter    Watts , forming a Teesside B.S. panel and these visitors from 'just South of our border'. They responded in a lively and informative way to a variety of questions from the floor and gave us a very enjoyable afternoon.  

Our Chairman, Ron Fairhurst moved the Vote of Thanks.











This was also the nominations meeting, prior to our Annual General Meeting in March, and most of the officers accepted re-nomination. However, after a very successful spell as Chairman of the society, Norma Phillips is stepping down as Chairman of the society, because of increased domestic responsibilities. Her place will be taken by the present Vice-Chairman, Brian Batey.

       The full list of Officers for 2009 will be published in the next report.

Sunday 7th December

      Ghalib Al-Nasser, always a popular speaker at the N B S, as elsewhere, attracted a very good attendance at this meeting. Unfortunately, as in November, I was away and thus unable to report on the event, but I understand that this presentation lived up to Ghalib's very high standard.

      Sunday 2nd November   

  .......... saw a societies' Inter Club Show at which the judges were Ray Graham and Ken Tart.

        Unfortunately, this event was not so well supported as we had hoped, for a  number of reasons, but we look forward to trying a similar event in the future.

5th  October 2008


Around 25 members gathered on Sunday 5th October to enjoy the company and knowledge of a Yorkshire BS Panel, comprising Messrs P Smith (in the Chair), Mick Arrowsmith, Geoff Moore and  Fred Kennedy.

This proved to be one of those red-letter afternoons which resulted in the meeting running rather later than usual – always a good sign.

      Topics covered started with the recent BS Club Show at Doncaster and we were able to here the opinions of some of the keen workers at the show, fanciers who have performed this task for a number of years, and whose opinion was well worth the hearing. Their feelings, from basically ‘shop floor’ level, was that this had bee a good, happy event, at which they felt that the level of enjoyment was greater than in previous years.

        The Sales section was much reduced in entries and the feeling was that this may have been influenced by the £1 charge which may have led potential sellers to  believe that visitors to that area would be reduced. In the event, there seemed to be  a greater percentage of birds sold, at greater prices than in previous years.

         They were also impressed that, at the end of the show, a greater number of fanciers stayed back to assist in dismantling and clearing the staging – a thankless task for which the added help was much appreciated.

          Naturally, the date was discussed and the general feeling, from both sides of the table, was that this is not the best time to hold the BS Club Show. Arguments about traveling difficulties later in the year were accepted, but generally they held that bad weather can, and does, happen at any time of the year and he road are better for driving than they ever were. The BS Club show should come as a climax to the year.  As things stand, birds “not sent” are a problem.

         Mention was also made, from the panel, of the number of classes on offer, which makes for very small classes throughout most of the show. This removes much of the competitive edge apparent in well-filled classes and is something that they feel should now be addressed in these times of generally smaller shows. Additionally, the society and fancy in general should do as much as possible to urge those folk who are interested in exhibiting birds to get into the showing habit more regularly. Too many folk in this day and age profess to be prepared to show ‘only their best, which they think will win’ and do not consider that they have any duty to help boost entries in general.

          A questioner asked whether the panel felt that the BS Club Show should be a One day event. Pete Smith said not, and as well as the administrative difficulties involved in running a show, he regretted the way in which the social side of the fancy has dropped off, particularly with the dearth of two day shows generally. Nowadays fanciers drop[ their birds off at the show and often return only in time to pick yhem up. The are not interested in discussing the birds with their fellow fanciers. He recalled one fancier who strongly criticized two day show as being “ bad for the birds” and yet was seen after one Saturday Show, peeling off his cage labels and replacing them with new ones for the Sunday event – to show the same birds!! So much for the birds’ welfare! Mention was again made of the fancy in Brazil and Australia and the time span and the distances that birds there have to travel to go to shows, as explained by the guest speakers at the BS seminars.


             A wide range of other subjects was amply covered, including general husbandry. The panel agreed that, whatever the means employed, the strict attention to record keeping is essential in order to keep the best possible track of blood lines within the birdroom.  There was also considerable debate about the number of fanciers who acquire stock from Europe, spending large sums in the process and some surprise was expressed that the influence of such birds is not as apparent as may have been anticipated.   Feather problems and possible treatments, basic genetic colour inheritance, Egg – laying problems, all came under scrutiny and were well discussed.


             A grand afternoon out this. Why do so many fanciers opt to stay at home and watch ‘the match’ or the like ?



7th September 2008

 This meeting we welcomed George Booth, who is a Past president of the Budgerigar Society (our national body) and was elected its Chairman in May of this year. George has been a budgerigar fancier for a great number of years and in that time has held office in every post in the budgerigar society, so has a wealth of knowledge.

    At this meeting he referred to the very large number of books, booklets and pamphlets that he has accrued, as a collector, over a great number of years, and he used extracted illustration from some of these volumes to discuss the changes which have occurred with our perception of the Ideal budgerigar, from a showing point of view and with regard to the 'evolution' that we have perhaps hastened through our selective breeding. He stressed, however, that those changes are largely in the feathering of the birds, the body colours, and modifying factors such as Opaline, Cinnamon, Spangle and the like, while the phycal fram of the bird has changed very little. We need to be careful that such changes do not damage the bird as a species.

     The wide range of colours now being produced has resulted in a dramatic increase in the number of classes staged at our shows, and the increased number of awards which now have to be offered as a consequence.

      George thus gave us much food for thought.


Unfortunately, I was unable to attend the May meeting, as it was also the BS AGM weekend, but I have had very enthusiastic reports on the visit by J. McGeehan – hopefully I will catch their next visit


6th April 2008

      We welcomed Ken Fagen, one of the most successful of our exhibitors in very recent years, and one whose progress many fanciers are following with very keen interest  gave us his fascinating presentation on his birdroom and breeding and management methods, giving those present much to ponder.


Unfortunately, I was unable to attend the May meeting, as it was also the BS AGM weekend, but I have had very enthusiastic reports on the visit by J. McGeehan – hopefully I will catch the next

1st June 2008


Traditionally, we invite the BS President to address our June meeting. We were therefore disappointed that Geoff Capes was unable to attend, but he had another booking, talking to passengers on a cruise overseas so naturally, he was unable to make it this time. Happily, Geoff was able to arrange an alternative date with us, so we look forward to his visit as a ‘pleasure deferred’ and anticipate his visit with pleasure.

        Geoff’s place was taken, rather aptly by a former BS President (and Chairman), Eddie Geary, who always has much sound advice to offer and comment to make in his forthright way, and his visit was graced once again by his wife, Joyce, who has supported him over the years in their joint work for the fancy in general and the BS in particular. 

         As usual, Eddie seasoned his talk about the Budgerigar Society, and the fancy generally, with words of wisdom from other sources. Unfortunately, I was not able to record these, but in my quest for some other information, I was able to find a quote from him, in The Budgerigar for May 1987, when he became BS President, and addressing critics of the society, he said:- 

       “If you work for an institution, in heavens name work for it.  Work for it, stand by it, and speak well of it:

if put to the pinch, an ounce of loyalty is worth a pound of cleverness.

If you must vilify, condemn, and eternally disparage, then resign your position, and when you are outside damn to your heart’s content.

But as long as you are part of that institution, do not condemn it.

If you do, you are loosening the tendrils that hold you to that institution, and the first high wind that comes along, you will be uprooted and blow away in the track of the blizzard; and you will probably never know why”

 Sound advice indeed from Eddie to all folk who make wholesale, or personal attacks on some of the folk who work hard for the fancy.



Fanciers’ Day on Sunday 18th May 2008

Held at our normal headquarters, the Bowburn Community Centre, Bowburn, Durham, this was one of the society’s most recent “Great Days”, a day filled with excellent images, sound advice, very good fellowship and a great sense of enthusiasm for our shared hobby.

 Around forty of our members attended this event; this number was a little disappointing, considering the star line-up of speakers provided. It is ironic to reflect that this number was exceeded by a dozen or more at last year’s convention, for which an admission fee was charged. Perhaps it was a case of “If you don’t have to pay for it, it can’t be up to much !  In the event, nothing could be further from the truth and  those who did attend agreed that this ‘free’ day which included a well-stocked buffet lunch (thanks to donations from members) would have been well worth paying the usual charge for. Perhaps next year?

     Speakers at the event were two nationally recognised successful partnerships. The first session was a presentation by Richard Miller who gave a fascinating run through slides of a vast range of his birds, based largely on birds from that extremely successful breeder, Frank Silva. This proved a great ‘hit’ with the gathering and prompted great interest. 

     Following this, the ‘other half’ of the partnership, Michael, spoke in great detail about their feeding methods and the various medications that they use from time to time. It was immediately obvious that Michael has as great a knowledge of this, his specialist subject, as Richard does with the breeding and stock control and selection side. The fact that they have their separate areas of responsibility makes this an ideal team and it is therefore apparent just why they are so successful.

      After a leisurely and satisfying lunch break, Harry Hockaday gave us his presentation which met with success at the last BS Convention and a couple of years or so ago at the BS Club Show. Those who have not yet had the opportunity to see this presentation are heartily advised to try to ‘catch it next time’, for in it, Harry explains the way they have succeeded in this, their third venture into breeding exhibition budgerigars, having totally re-vamped the way that they have planned and built their stud, in order to achieve a very high standard of stock throughout their stud.

       Part of this talk centred around the concept of “pairing two cocks together” by judicious use of mating their respective offspring, and no doubt the sound advice offered from such a successful breeder will have caused many present to re-evaluate their own method.

   The final session was a Question and Answer session to a panel of the foregoing speakers, and rounded off a very well enjoyed day. As one who was only ably to attend for the “middle-half” of the event, I greatly regret having had to miss the rest of it and look forward to another such opportunity in the future 


Convention on Sunday 13th May 2007

What the eye does not see, the heart does not grieve about, so they say, and no doubt this applies equally to NBS events, but I can report that those who missed this 70th Anniversary convention missed a true treat. This was an excellent day out, including morning tea/coffee, a generous carvery lunch, two contrasting speakers, augmented by a third for a final question and answer panel: it did, in fact, epitomise the best of the Northern Budgerigar Society. What more do you need ? Oh yes, and  the gathering of almost fifty -yes fifty, surely a superb response to such events in the present day- fanciers who came and had no reason to regret that decision.

       Maurice Roberts, back by popular demand took the first session and covered many aspects of our glorious fancy and began by stating that he has been very fortunate in this choice of hobby. He stressed that he keeps budgerigars, purely and simply, as a hobby and has not lost the initial enthusiasm which he developed as a boy. He has approached the fancy in the old way, "serving his apprenticeship"

        The fancy has given him the chance to meet some very nice and good people and to find friends like Jeff Attwood who incidentally, introduced him to the Fire Service in which he has worked for some 33 years. Such contacts have enabled him to acquire more and more knowledge about our birds over the years and yet he feels that he has still only scratched the surface. What he doesn't know probably far exceeds the depth of his knowledge, which are encapsulated in some of the methods he shared with us:-

     Bird Rooms and Equipment.  Budgerigars are extremely accommodating and adaptable animals and can be satisfactorily housed in a variety of settings. This is a message that the Budgerigar Society is stressing. In these days of increased planning legislation, smaller gardens and thus less room to erect outbuildings we need to stress that it is by no means necessary for the welfare of budgerigars to have a palatial birdroom, and in fact the hobby can be enjoyed by folk who have only very little space at their command for their birdroom. What is important is that, however humble, that accommodation is comfortable and draught-free, but at the same time, well-ventilated. In his own birdroom, Maurice pays great attention to this, making use of extractor fans to augment the natural flow of air. This is equally important in both small aviaries and large.

          Concrete, brick or stone birdrooms are the ideal, he feels for a number of reasons: they are much easier to make vermin-free over succeeding years; he strongly advised fanciers to remain vigilant as to the condition of their wooden structures as an infestation of vermin can prove disastrous - especially if a rat or weasel gets into the aviary. Additionally, concrete/brick/stone structures maintain a more constant temperature and atmosphere throughout the seasons.  

               Maurice Roberts' breeding cages are now of the more conventional type. For a few years he had the all-wire design and found that his results were very satisfactory, and felt that the fact that the various pairs could see each other added to the colony effect in the birdroom. However, he felt that the wire design added too much of a 'battery' effect and therefore he discontinued this method.  

            His nest boxes are the plastic box-type, fitted externally to the breeding cage, but he is taken by some of the nest box designs that he has observed in the North east - particularly the desk-type and is inclined to think that the nest box inside the cage may give birds a better sense of their being within their territory.

           Maurice holds that feeding a healthy and varied diet, allied to good management, sets one on the path to forming a sound, healthy stud.  His seed supplies are obtained with  friends who, acting as a consortium, buy a number of seeds, including a wide range of millets, mix them and share them out as required (and thus avoid paying the tax which commercial mixes attract) . He uses open seed dishes: at present he offers that mix of seeds in one dish for ease as his leisure time is limited because of the demands of his employment but he looks forward to the time when he will be able to give his stock a more defined choice by offering seed in separate bowls.

           He does not use commercial softfoods, but has his own recipe including porridge oats, Duran wheat, clipped oats, various beans and liquidised vegetables. All the pulses are pre-soaked and well rinsed before use.

            Water is offered in stainless steel cups hooked on to the cage wire, which gives birds the option of bathing their heads in it as required. Additionally, Maurice feels that the larger amount of surface water in the birdroom is an aid to ensuring that humidity levels are sufficiently high.  He stresses the importance of having a ready supply of fresh water available to one's birds and feels that ideally we should change water on, at the least, a daily basis.

          Strict compliance with a well-ordered regime should help safeguard the health of our birds. If any health problems with a few birds are noted, the first thing that we should do is to look at our own management for the possible answer. He maintains that it should not be necessary to offer pro-biotics on a regular basis, although they do have their place after illness or perhaps on the birds' return from shows.

          Breeding cage floors are lined with newspaper and grit is offered, not in pots but direct on to the floor. He uses a variety of grits and uses them on a form of rotation as he feels that each variety of grit brings particular advantage to the health of his stock, particularly in the variety of minerals and trace element which they contain.

          So much for daily management.  Weekly, he cleans out all cages and yearly does a thorough clean throughout the birdroom. At this stage he commented that systems of management of aviaries will vary from fancier  to fancier, but he asserts that the really important thing is to ensure that we are consistent and regular in following the system we choose. We should try to arrange matters whereby seed, softfood, water, are replenished at the same time each day. Such a routine adds to the feeling of security enjoyed by stock and thus restricts the amounted of unnecessary stress felt by them.

 Records of breeding results, year by year can be extremely useful and indeed vital where one is following a breeding plan based on in-breeding. Pedigrees so kept and building up over a series of years can be an invaluable tool and he commends meticulous attention to maintaining such records to everyone. With this is linked a general knowledge of the laws of inheritance-Genetics- which can both tell us more about the birds with which we breed and help us to plan for those which we hope to produce in the future. The best and most successful studs, long term, are those where there is more in-breeding than out-crossing year by year. All birds have visual or physical weaknesses and in-breeding brings such faults to the surface, allowing us to discard the worst of our faults and concentrate on consolidating the good points. This said, he stated that out-crossing is a necessary tool to be used carefully from time to time to maintain vitality and infertility and establish new features in one's stud.

        Fanciers who wish to follow such a regime should start out by acquiring stock from one fancier who has been successful over the years using such methods. By careful selection from future breeding results, one's own style and stud will be developed. He commended pairings of cousins as a useful introduction to this system.

 Show topics.   Those fanciers who are interested in the exhibition side of our hobby must become fully familiarised with the Ideal. The written standard is virtually unchanged - only the pictorial interpretations have been updated and there are still conflicts of opinion as to the direction that such interpretations should take. Maurice is rather sceptical about the pictorial changes put before us as they seem more and more to emulate the heavier style of bird with which the fancy has such problems in the breeding pen However, the basic truths lie in the written version and guides us towards a bird of perfect symmetry, pleasing to the eye. Knowledge of this ideal should be set as a background against which to judge one's own birds; we must be ever-vigilant and critical of our own stock in order to make a true appraisal; this is true of all exhibitors, however successful, because all birds have some faults - the perfect bird has not been bred.

        Maurice feel that one of the most attractive features of a good exhibition bird lies in it's showmanship -swank- which is portrayed by a slight curvature in its back line. It should be a combination of both Yellow and Buff feathering

         He would welcome a similar judging method as that in Denmark and some other countries, whereby all stages of the judging can be viewed by interested fanciers, sometimes using binoculars, and the judge will be asked question about his awards throughout the adjudication process, though not, of course, questions such as "Why have you not put MY bird up".  This sort of question should still, of course, be asked after judging. He urged all exhibitors to raise such queries as he always welcomes enquiries, properly made

         The BS Club Show is THE show of the year and he firmly believes that the best judges should be engaged to place the awards there. He does not think that every BS judge is necessarily capable of discharging this onerous responsibility and he pointed out that in other livestock fancies- for example, at CRUFTS, only the most respected judges are engaged.

          He would like to see increasing emphasis on the actual application of the colour standards. Variety content is a facet which has been largely neglected for some time and he hope that this situation will be reversed.

       Finally on this topic he pointed out that shows are our public shop window and it is important that we stage our birds in well-painted, clean cages, which also set our birds off to their best advantage. A combination of swanky showbirds, well presented can often serve to beat birds of  perhaps better basic quality but which have not the advantage of good preparation.

        In a very comprehensive talk, Maurice ran out of time long before he ran out of subjects, but summarised the main theme of his talk in one word -dedication. He asserts that dedication is the key to success in all aspects of our fancy and he commended it to the membership.

 Frank Silva took centre stage after lunch with a well crafted presentation basically about his successes on the show bench since he took up this fascinating hobby. His achievements, he said, have brought his fame and have, at times, involved him in controversy - especially at the time when he failed to meet engagements to speak following the Reo-virus outbreaks etc. (On this matter he misquoted the writer on alleged criticisms of him as a person, but he was moved to assert that they were now good friends, alongside such fanciers as Geoff Capes !!?)

        He contradicted many assertions made about his success, the first being about money and that he had thus bought success. Frank Silva categorically stated that this was not so: in his early days in the fancy, which followed years of great success with other livestock, he did initially spend very many thousands of pounds in Germany over a period of some years, but stressed that he had no success with these birds and, in fact, his stock is founded on purchases made on a very modest scale, within the budget of the average fancier, in this country.  He then asked his audience whether they no of any studs that have benefited from the introduction of stock from Germany!?

       By all means enjoy such trips and the excellent hospitality on offer, he said, but bear in mind that spending large sums of money will not guarantee success. Go, instead, to local successful fanciers - there are quite a few in this area - and put yourselves in their hands.

       As for himself, he is now in the fortunate position that he has not needed to bring in outcrosses to his stud for many years, and if he did, there are so many highly successful fanciers who have founded their stock on birds acquired from him that he would not have any problem getting in the new blood that he needed. I fact, very recently, the successful partnership of R & M Miller offered him the pick of their stock, should he need it.

        He then said that the fancy is not about the rubbish and politics we talk about on the General Council of the BS - but he did not expand on this, returning quickly to matters of the birds themselves, and briefly on show preparation. He said that, unlike a recent speaker at the NBS, he does use spraying to bring birds into show condition, as well as washing the caps of their heads. e keeps his show team in stock cages and feeds them a plain diet. He does not give them softfood, Tonic Seed or Japanese Millets as he feels that these foodstuffs all tend to promote moulting.

        In general husbandry, he does not use additives to the drinking water, and especially in breeding cages. To do the latter, he asserts, can be positively dangerous because breeding pairs take in more water when they have young, and will absorb more of such additives that can be good for them.  He added that Iodine should not be added to the drinking water as it has been known to cause infertility - it is thus best to avoid it entirely.

        Asked about the varieties that he keeps, Frank Silva said that at one time he kept and bred most varieties, particularly when he was training to join the BS Judges panel, as he felt that he should have a sound knowledge of those varieties that he would be asked to judge, and the Ideal to which he was to judge. As an aside he stated that if he his birdrooms were full of birds of the calibre of the B.S Ideal, he would open the doors and  throw them out! 

        He has fewer varieties.   Asked about Anthracites, he said that this variety is not among them and he has no desire to keep this variety  - he sees no real point in the as they are not pleasing in colour and he feels that they represent the fixing of a colour fault - albeit a true mutation, it is not a desirable one.

      Frank's presentation was richly illustrated with stunning photographs of some of his best birds which served to mark his progress through the fancy. This was an item in the programme which was also very well received.

 In the closing session, Maurice Roberts and Frank Silva were joined by Ray Graham, perhaps the most successful exhibitor in the NBS area, for a question and answer session, Ray taking the chair. A very wide range of topics was covered and discussed  by the panel, but the chairman directed some of the questions to only one of our two speakers, eliciting replies as follows:-

   Frank Silva advised that he considers a very reasonable price for a beginner to pay for a pay of good birds to begin founding a stud of exhibition budgerigars would be around £60. For this price a beginner should be able to acquire a pair -from one successful breeder - which would not be too rough in feather and be a compatible pair, and about three pairs should initially be bought.

     Asked about initial pairing up birds, Maurice Roberts said that he puts the hen in the breeding cage first, followed later by the cock. He fills up the nest box with sawdust so that the hen needs to clear it to prepare a nest as he feels that this stimulates successful breeding . Frank Silva differs in his approach, introducing the cock first as he feels that otherwise, in some cases, the hen will dominate the cock and this does not normally give for successful mating.

     Maurice added that if a suitable pair has already become bonded in a shared flight, he will put nest box and the pair in together.

     On French Moult, Maurice felt that this is a virus and when asked by fanciers how to deal with this, he has always advocated stripping the aviary clean and thoroughly disinfecting all surfaces and equipment, before re-introducing the birds. He stated that this has worked well in most cases and, indeed, birds affected by this have responded well to having the affected parts dipped in a disinfectant/antiseptic solution.

     Frank Silva is rather sceptical about the general usage of probiotics and feels that a drop of cider vinegar in the softfood or drinking water can encourage the desirable condition in the gut of our birds.

   On two day shows, recalled from long past by some of the exhibitors present who extolled them for their social side, both panellists agreed that, generally, they would not like to see a return to this format - the BS Club Show in an exception. They both feel that generally the rigours of a two-day event are too much for a budgerigar and too many birds have succumbed after such an event. Conventions and Open meetings are the places for purely social gatherings  and especially in the current day we need to be vigilant as to how we are seen by the outside world with so many pressure groups looking for aspects that they can criticize.

 The cost of entries to shows was raised and it was generally agreed that this is something which show promoting societies need to address in view of the increasing costs entailed in organising such events. It was agreed that the new BS patronage structure may do much to take some of the pressure off shows to hunt for additional entries, and things may be able to be restored to a better balance. It should not be necessary to look outside the fancy for financial support for our hobby.

 The controversial topic of Colour Standards was raised, especially following the recent debate about Recessive Pieds and the increasingly dark-marked birds which have been shown. The panel agreed with the criticism, although Maurice pointed out that heavier marking on the hens of this variety are acknowledged to be typical of the variety. However, it was agreed that there is increasingly a demand for judges to pay more attention to variety content when placing the awards, and comment was made from the floor about the way in which the Dominant Pied standards have been changed to the extent that it does not describe the variety which became so popular when it was first introduced many years ago.

     Similar criticisms were made about the Opaline and the iridescence which was such an attractive feature of the variety.

Further varieties were mentioned and Maurice said a few words for the Anthracite at this stage, saying that it is a distinct new variety which has just appeared and may have exciting prospects - we do not know how this may develop. There is a place for all varieties in our broad church. 

Finally, asked about favourite varieties, Frank Silva said that he likes all varieties, as long as they are represented by good birds, while Maurice broadly agreed but said that he has a soft spot for Cinnamons but mainly he likes what he describes as "God's Colour", that is the original Light Green. He feels the same about other livestock, preferring the original coloured cockatiels to the other varieties that have appeared.

           Thus ended a very successful Convention and our thanks to those officers who did so much to make it a success.




NORTHERN BS REPORT – June 2009       BS President’s Open day


Sunday 7th June 2009 gave us yet another 'Red-letter' day for those Northern BS members who are able to drag themselves away from the duties and delights of hearth and home to attend our monthly meetings. As is customary, the society invited this years Budgerigar Society President, Bob Francis, to attend as Guest Speaker. When invited, Bob suggested that he bring a fellow Welshman, Gary Hale, with him as co-speaker and the society was happy to accept this suggestion and therefore expanded the normal meeting into what was more or less another 'Mini-Convention'.

          In view of the great distance involved, Kevin Batey and his wife extended their hospitality to our guest, who were therefore able to make a week-end of it. Our thanks to those members who provided such hospitality.

      ...And what a successful day this turned out to be.  It started with Ron Fairhurst, NBS Past President and current Vice Chairman, acting as Master of Ceremonies and introducing our Guest speakers. First 'on the menu' was Bob Francis, BS President, as well as being the second longest serving of the BS General Council members, giving us a short presentation on the subject of his old birdroom, and his decision following a few years of poor breeding results to replace it, siting the new structure in a different part of his garden and away from the possible influence of the relatively new overhead high voltage Electricity cables which he suspected of being to blame for his poor results in his former birdroom.

        Bob explained that this appears to have solved the problem because over the past few years, using the same system of management of his birdroom, he has seen a return to his normal 'productivity' and success..


        Bob then went on to a Face-to Face session, skilfully chaired over two sessions (separated by a refreshments break) by our own Assistant secretary, Bruce Ross, who covered a vast array of subjects as to Bob's husbandry of his birds, their housing and care.

 His new shed is shorter in length, but the overall dimensions of 16' x 10' provides a more spacious area and gives him the facility to breed in the region of 200 chicks yearly. He has equipped the room with wire breeding cages, set on Melamine shelving over plastic trays and finds that he can thoroughly clean all his cages within an hour.

The BS President did not propose to discuss his basic feeding as he was reluctant to risk persuading anyone who has their own methods to quickly change to his – and thus risk disruption of their own success. When pressed, however, he did give some details of his softfood and feeding of vitamin supplements in water.  He also told us that he offers soluble calcium once per week, does not give Cuttlefish and has not used iodine blocks for many years. Haith’s Mineralised grit is always available toi his stock, but he does not give Oystershell grit as he feels that this can lead to budgerigar eggs having too hard a shell. He does find, however, that hens which lay soft shelled eggs usually benefit from being given this grit for a few weeks prior to re-pairing.

He has not had any Thyroid trouble in his birds – the main reason normally given for providing this supplement. Again, Bob warned against wholesale changes in one’s own regime !

      Asked his opinion of the modern day budgerigar in comparison to those of past years, Bob said that overall he believes that the present day birds are better visually than in past years, but commented that the difference lies in density and quality of feather. As far as is known, there is little change to the skeletal dimension of budgerigars over the years.

 They also discussed a series of points regarding the organisation of our fancy, both at local and national level. Topics included under this heading was the new Pictorial Ideal – the culmination (perhaps a compromise) of over three years of discussions, but like its predecessors one which has attracted much criticism.

      He advised all beginners always to buy their birds direct from a reputable breeder. Although there may be some ‘bad apples’ the vast majority of BS members are very honest and know full well that it is theire duty not to sell birds without warning the purchaser of any problems that have been experienced. Having said that, Bob commented that it is in our nature to blame the seller of any bird which fails to breed, and suggested that wherever possible, we should buy young birds. Admittedly those will always be the less exciting visually of the breeder’s output but can bring success through the quality of their parentage.

  An excellent buffet lunch, organised by the committee and superbly prepared and served by Mesdames Blakemore, Bowman and Heighton, was next on the agenda. This gave all present the opportunity to meet our speakers on a person to person basis and enjoy fellowship with fellow members.


  After lunch, our Chairman introduced Gary Hale, who gave us an extremely enlightening presentation about his relatively brief, but extremely successful, time in the budgerigar fancy from 2001, the highlight of which, to date is his winning the Supreme award at the B.S. Club Show in 2005.  Knowing about his relatively brief time in the fancy (this time around) it came as no surprise to learn that he was already a very successful stockman - a breeder, exhibitor and judge of Zebra finches at the highest level - immediately before he switched his fancy to budgerigars.

      It was good to view the images Gary showed us as he outlined the meteoric development of his stud, mush of the time working alongside his former partner, David who amicably decided to ‘cut his own swathe’ at the end of last year. The whole presentation must have  proved an encouragement to the many juniors, beginners and novices present, especially when Gary confided that as well as skill, there is always some element of luck in managing to establish a sound, stable stud.


     This excellent day was rounded off (following another cup of tea and another assault on the buffet table) with a questions and answers session, which also covered a wide range of topics concerning budgerigar breeding. Certainly, we were extremely well provided for, and it is a pity that there were not more than the thirty five or more members present to enjoy all aspects of the day.