New Zealand is a very tiny nation with two major islands and a population of little more than 3 million people.
As a result, the bird obsession has become more interwoven. We do not have specific budgerigar clubs like other nations, but rather Cage Bird Clubs that include canary, budgerigar, hook beak, and finch breeders. Each club is a member of the New Zealand Federation of Cage Bird Clubs, which is our governing organization. Each fancy has its own specialty society to care after it. Budgerigar Society, Yorkshire Society, Bengalese Society, and so forth. These organizations are also linked with the Federation, but they are in charge of creating standards, issuing closed rings, judging, and maintaining the hobby for that species in general.
The Budgerigar Society of New Zealand was founded in 1935 and now has over 470 members, including partnerships. Rings are given on August 1st, and we breed our birds from then until just after Christmas, when most fanciers cease breeding because the weather becomes too hot. That is, late winter, spring, and early summer.
The show season runs from the first weekend in May through the end of July, when the Grand National takes place. Because of their magnitude, the displays are called Bird Shows and cater to all aspects of the hobby, not only budgies. The shows will range in size from 150 to 400 budgies, with the Grand National hosting 500-600. We have two classifications: Novice and Champion, with Champion being obtained by accumulating points by winning five or more classes or by winning best Novice. You are promoted to champion after scoring 10 points.
Despite their tiny numbers, the birds are of high quality. We were a long way behind in terms of standards four or five years ago since we didn’t have any imported birds; as an island country with primary industry as our foundation, it was prohibited to import birds. In the mid-1980s, a few of our members began to go abroad, and with publications like Budgerigar World, we recognized we were falling behind.
We changed our standard to the English standard in 1988, and this resulted in an instant improvement since the former standard was for the yellow feathered birds, and the buffier birds were never given a chance, so everyone still attempted to produce the nicer birds. At the same time, Alan Gamble was looking for methods to import birds from Britain.
We chose to take out painted cage fronts on the display cages in 1990 and replace them with chrome fronts over a three-year period, as well as convert the perches from bossed short ones to full length perches. This was another wise decision; no painting fronts between exhibitions, and they seem much wiser during the events.
A experimental cargo of birds was brought in from the United Kingdom through Australia in 1993. This cargo got the green light to bring in a complete load. This was determined by Australia and was first set at 60 before being upped to 100. Fanciers were requested to submit a letter of interest when it was initially proposed in 1988. Those who did were offered the chance to participate, and the majority did so by joining syndicates that brought in many pairings. From the moment the birds were purchased until we got them in June, it took around seven to eight months. Most birds were coupled up shortly after, and I’m not sure whether it was due to outcrossing or because the birds we received were not as much buffed as the birds used by English breeders, but fertility seems excellent. Four years later, the majority of the birds on the show benches are descended from those imports. Most have kept the English lines pure, and they are becoming better every year.
New show classes will be introduced next year, with certain cock and hen divisions being combined. What we lack in numbers, I believe we make up for in excitement, and our activity is growing in popularity on the other side of the planet.
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