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Budgerigars For The First Time

by Mrs. Ann Barboza
, Texas, U.S.A.

Keep your first bird purchases simple with a few pairs of good Novice quality birds to begin with. Learn to handle, mate, ring and groom on these initial birds. You will always make mistakes but it is better to make basic ones at this time rather than down the line on the more expensive acquisitions.

I would advise against the inclusion of costly birds, rare varieties and extremely buff feathered birds to start with. This can be a recipe for disappointment and eventually a lost fancier. Discouragement is the enemy of all Beginner breeders and they do not need the problems inherent to buffs and the genetic ramifications of rare breeding at this time. My earlist attraction was to the Opaline Pied Sky Blue, and to my delight, years later I won a Best in Show with one, but I could not have done this in my first year or so with the experience gained from handling the standard varieties and learning the basics of genetics from them.

Comparison at shows
Once you have raised your first birds, enter them in a few shows to see how they compare against the birds in their division. If possible, ask the adjudicator of the day for his thoughts.

When the show season has ended, you may have birds to let go. If so, ask a knowledgeable breeder to help you cull through your birds, learn what to look for that makes one bird expendable and another a "keeper". The main aim being the eradication of faults! You will find that faults are very likely to be dominant in nature, occurring lines and subsequent generations, while virtues are very often elusive and hidden.

Once you have learned the basics, decide what style of bird is attractive to you. Most breeders know what the Ideal looks like in the photograph, but a trip through several aviaries will tell you that it is indeed subject to interpretation. The Ideal, like beauty, lies in the eye of the beholder. With this in mind, decide on no more than two or three breeders from which to acquire your stock. Perhaps you want the head and shoulders of one stud but the longer body of another stud. This then should be your goal. Buy the very best you can now afford. I would suggest requesting the pedigrees of the birds purchased to rule out the accidental acquisition of outcross birds, before you are ready to introduce them into the lines you are trying to establish. Breed these lines together looking forward three years for the end results to prove out. Limit your outcrossing during this time if it is at all possible.

Be judicious
Once you have the traits you deem most desirable fixed on your birds then you may feel you need the advent of an outcross. Be judicious in the use of an outcross and also the number. Massive outcrossing can disrupt the lines you have worked so hard to build and lead to the mongrelization of your stud to the point that the birds will not have, nor can they produce a pulled-together look.

Develop patience. There are very few overnight successes in the fancy anymore. Don't be in a hurry to advance from one level of competition to the next. Each level has its own unique contribution to the learning experience of exhibiting. Absorb all there is to know from each division and use this time to work on your birds every year. Be tenacious in your goals. Keep them firmly in place at all times. By the time you reach the Champion level of competition you will have realized one thing; that there are a lot of birds that stay on the back bench and very few indeed reach the rarified air on the top. Consistency is the name of the game to reach, to stay, at the top.

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