As Gren and I have traveled over the nation delivering speeches to different organizations and clubs, it seems that the fanciers who have the greatest issues are Beginners and Novices who do not get assistance from their local Champions. In this post, I will attempt to recall my Beginner days and, using the knowledge I have gained over the years, advise people considering a career in the world of exhibition budgerigars.
In the first place, it is essential that you get some experience in the breeding and maintenance of budgerigars, since it is worthless to run out and spend money on them without first learning how to care for them. So, if you’re just starting out, purchase a few pairs for practice and utilize this time to travel to shows and meet other fanciers to understand what makes a good exhibition budgerigar. Try to go out to shows in other counties and take notice of exhibitors who are winning in young bird classes (not necessarily Champions) at the championship level. Your goal is to develop an eye for a nice bird so that when it comes time to get your first display stock, you will know what to look for.
When you are confident in your management, feeding, and breeding abilities, and have spent some time stewarding at shows to get acquainted with high-quality birds, you will be ready to acquire some birds. The inexperienced buyer would often purchase a magazine and seek for adverts in it, but be wary of the professional breeder who mass produces stock for sale. While they may win in shows, these birds or any related stock are unlikely to be provided to a beginner. How many bird enthusiasts can provide birds for sale week after week after week? If they do, they are almost often merely making figures to sell.
If you did your research when attending exhibits, you should have a good sense of whether exhibitors have a consistent and competitive winning team (not one or two birds). They may be beginners or novices who went to top studs and paid high sums for birds. While you can’t purchase them, you can get valuable siblings and sisters for a tenth of the price of the parents. These have the same genetic make-up as their better siblings and sisters and will serve you better than the “Stormer,” who was produced from ordinary parents and is the only decent bird in the nest. When purchasing stock, always want to view the parents, as well as siblings and sisters, if feasible. It is preferable to acquire a poorer bird from excellent stock than a superior bird which had been developed from mediocre parents and is what we term “a one off”.
Choose two or three studs for your first purchases, and if feasible, buy two or three pairs of each. Choose studs whose traits complement one another. For example, one stud may have large-shouldered birds, another may have birds with excellent head quality, and a third may have feather quality in the proper area. By breeding them as real lines and ultimately crossing the lines over, you will be able to piece together all of the traits of all the lines into one primary line, which will finally carry all of the features in one bird. You may then establish your own line based on this bird or species. With the exception of an open cheque book, all of this will take a few years, and there is no fast route.
To begin, it is critical to focus on the characteristics that distinguish an excellent display budgerigar, independent of color or variety. I’ve been asked multiple times, “What is the most challenging feature to achieve?” Well, I’d think that the most challenging aspect is head quality. A bird with a wide face, a deep mask, a rear skull, and a feather quality that is round and keyhole in appearance when seen from any direction, face on, symbolizing fearlessness. A judge is unlikely to miss such birds since they demand attention. The shoulders should be broad and show no neck to follow through from the head. While the size of the bird is essential, it is not usually the deciding factor. In my perspective, a huge bird without the head attributes to march its size cannot compete with a somewhat smaller species with outstanding head and balance.
The majority of head quality is determined by feather density and direction. Try to maximize these points by pairing birds with lift (feather length on the head) with birds with lateral feathering. At this time, forget about color preferences and focus on developing a stud of high-quality birds; only then will you be able to effectively breed the specialty variants. Remember that it is the quality of the exhibit that wins, not the color, therefore pair for quality rather than color. So many times, Beginners and Novices have made the fatal error of just choosing blues or greys of lesser quality and left behind the greygreens because they “Don’t like the hue “.
It is sometimes feasible to obtain a flecked-headed bird with nice face characteristics. Flecked birds have a place in all reputable studs, but there are a few rules to follow. Never employ a flecked bird unless it has characteristics that will help you develop your stock, and then match them carefully. Remember that breeding a flecked-headed bird with a clean one will result in children who are both clean and flecked. Those that seem clean will have the flecking in their makeup and may pass it on to any chicks they create. As a result, during the following two generations, it is best to match any birds from flecked parents with clean mates that have been bred from clean parents. Most flecked birds, in my experience, are opalines, and they should be paired with clean-headed normals. Keep meticulous records on all birds bred and probable splits, such as blue, cinnamon, and opaline. Flecked parents might be mentioned as a footnote to remember you later.
Patience, perseverance, and the ability to spot flaws in the stud and pair to correct them are essential for being a successful breeder and exhibitor. Remember that only by showcasing your birds can you compare them to others and see where they need to develop. Winning is secondary, but it is really lovely once it begins to happen. Finally, don’t become spot blind; learn to detect excellent birds even if the spots are minor since they can be corrected quickly; overall head quality is much more essential.
Good luck, Beginners; we need fresh blood in the Fancy and on the performance scene.
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