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Taught Us A Lesson

by Richard Risebrow

It is with some trepidation that I respond to the request to submit an article on the breeding of Yellow-Wings as I consider the top breeder of this color is a member of Clwyd Budgerigar Society.

However, not all breeders have the same viewpoint and manage their stock with varying degrees of success and as a result it is hoped that my contribution will, at the very least, be provocative.

For the uninitiated the Yellow-Wing is the green series of the Clearwing variety of budgerigars, needless to say the White-Wing is the blue series. In terms of color the variety follows the color of a normal in that it produces Light, Dark, Grey-Green and Olive although the latter two are less common on the show bench. For showing purposes a Yellow-Wing must be a "normal", but variations of the color are found with Opaline and Cinnamon tendencies. At present these varieties do not conform to the color standard of the Budgerigar Society. In fact it is the inconsistency of judging with regard to cinnamon clearwings which is currently causing confusion and concern within the fancy.

The first clearwings were exhibited in this country in 1937 and immediately became a focus of attention with their depth of body color and purity of wing. After the war, interest in the variety continued and eventually in 1963 The Clearwing Budgerigar Breeders Association was formed and today is one of the largest of the specialist societies.

I pressed, I must admit that I prefer the Yellow-Wing to the White-Wing, but perhaps it is because we have always produced better birds of that color. Actually our first pair comprised of a cobalt White-Wing paired with a Whit/Blue. Having later acquired a pair of Yellow-Wings from a local fancier we were beginning to build a line of winning clearwings at local shows as beginners.

However, we soon realized that if we were to progress to the top we needed an injection of new blood. We had been impressed with the birds exhibited in the early eighties by Ron Payne and because his stud had been acquired by the Amos & Thumwood partnership we decided to make the trip to Warwick. From the visit we purchased two cock birds, a Dark Green Yellow-Wing and a Yellow. The Yellow-Wing was a prepotent bird, good head quality and exceptionally long. The wings were awful almost as marked as a normal, but it went on to produce some cracking youngsters. His ring number appears on almost every pedigree card of clearwings in our stud. He taught us a lesson that breeders ought to take note of, never discard a bird so soon. After regularly filling eggs for a number of years, he suddenly had two breeding seasons of clear eggs. In an emergency he was used when seven years old and shocked us by rearing a further twelve chicks that year.

In the breeding of Yellow-Wings one is looking to produce a bird of good size with a contrast of body color and carrying wings with hardly any markings at all. The difficulty is that efforts to increase size invariably result in "dirty"wings and vice-versa. Over the years we have been advocates in the use of yellows with resulting success and I recommend this approach as opposed to dabbling with normals.

Obviously the best pairing is Yellow-Wing and if possible pairing a Dark Factor (DK Green) to Light Factor (LT Green) in order to retain the contrast in body color. Beware of birds with pale body color and a pale violet cheek patch, these are almost certain to be cinnamon Yellow-Wings. A further check can be made on the feet when compared to a normal clearwing they have a pink appearance.

On the showbench a Yellow-Wing correctly prepared looks quite stunning. Before a major show the birds are placed in stock cages for at least a month were they receive a daily spray of tepid water. Three days before the show the heads are shampooed with a baby shampoo, tails laid flat on the worktop and brushed with a toothbrush dipped in shampoo.

Apart from the Club Show we almost refuse to exhibit unless it is a one-day show. For more than one day we take soaked groats and millet sprays with us as I firmly believe birds suffer a great deal of stress as a result of showing. A fact substantiated in that all our "top-drawer" birds have not lived as long as their relatives which stay at home.

In conclusion I would recommend, especially beginners, the breeding of Clearwings. They are generally prolific breeders and in the main good parents and you don't even have the fiddling job of de-spotting before a show.

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