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Interview with Maarten Heylen


Whenever there is a discussion on top breeders of exhibition budgerigars in Europe today one name that is always mentioned is Maarten Heylen from Belgium. One look at the partnership's birds and it is easy to see why.

Heylen Birds

The Heylen Partnership Website

I first met Maarten Heylen at the WBO Meetings in Stoke-On-Trent in England during the Budgerigar Society Convention. Maarten and Dirk Meskens were the delegates representing Belgium.

WBO Judge
Maarten receives his WBO Judges Certificate during the BS Convention... with Ghalib Al-Nasser and WBO Chairman Gerd Bleicher

At Harry Hockaday's
It was great to spend time with Maarten, Dirk, and our friend Daniel Lutolf talking birds and visiting breeders in the Stoke area including Harry Hockaday.... a meeting of some of the top budgie breeders of our day.

Recently I asked Maarten a few questions.....

What started your interest in budgerigars?

My father has been breeding birds all his life, so I think it’s in the genes.  First we were breeding Australian parrots in big flights, afterwards we had to move and didn’t have enough space for this kind of flights.  So we started looking for alternatives, and ended up with some pairs of budgerigars…

How long have you been in the hobby ?

18 years

Tell us a little about the hobby in your country:

Belgium is well known for his bird breeders (race pigeons, Canaries, Lovebirds,…) but the budgerigar hobby is not really wide spread.  The Belgian Budgerigar Society (BGC) counts around 200 members, but there are more breeders that not only specialized in exhibition budgerigars, but also breed the color budgerigar.  This is why we decided also to admit the color budgie on our National since 2013.

Youngster Young Bird Youngster young greygreen

Young  Bird

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A few youngsters

Where did your first budgies come from?

The very first budgies were coming from the pet shop.  Later my friends William Dierickx and Bert Sempels provided me some pairs. In 2003 we went for the first time to Daniel Luetolf.

Which breeders have influenced and helped you the most? And why?

In my years as a beginner, Bert Sempels and William Dierickx guided me around and provided me the right info in order to start in the hobby.  Later Daniel became more or less my role model. In recent years Mike Ball has also influenced my view on the modern budgie.

with Daniel

Daniel Lutolf & Maarten inspect a youngster.

What bloodlines are in the background of your stud today?

Lutolf, Cuyten & Ball

What Club & level do you show at?

We are showing in champion class at the BGC (Belgian Budgerigar Society)

How many birds do you keep going into breeding season?

We try to keep around 180 hens and 100 cocks for the whole breeding season.

How many breeding cages do you use?

As we are a partnership we have 3 different locations.  At Mario Waerzeggers place we have 36 cages, at my father’s another 36 and at my place 57.  So this would make a total of 129 cages. But in our partnership the birds rotate. This means that there is always one shed where there are no birds, and maximum two sheds where the birds are breeding.

Maarten's Birdroom

The Birdroom


What varieties do you keep?

We keep all normal varieties, lutinos and during the past 2 years recessive pieds.

What has been your best ever bird and for what reason?

A cobalt cock we bred 4 years ago. He was ahead of his time but unfortunately died before we could pair him up…

pair breeding pair

A couple of matings

What is your best memory in the hobby?

BIS of the Belgian BS and BIS on the Dutch BS in one year (2014)

Name your 3 top budgerigar breeders

In  random order....

Mike Ball, Daniel Lutolf, Heylen-Effertz-Nettekoven

If you could only show at one show, which would it be?

The BS Club Show in Doncaster.

Pied  Youngster 10

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What are the things you like most about our hobby?

Breeding is the most fun part of the hobby for me. It’s fun because it isn’t an exact science and it always remains a challenge to breed the bird that combines the right features together.  Also important for me are the friendships made trough the hobby and the social aspect.

Is there anything in budgies that really irritates you?

Sometimes the jealousy and backbiting between the breeders…

Do you have any other hobbies?

Too many…  I like to travel and work with my 2 dogs.

Your Occupation?

Now, since one year, Export Manager at Joels Bvba, manufacturer of bird food and bird supplements. An exciting opportunity to play a new role in our hobby, helping to formulate and test new nutritional products for our birds, then taking these products to market.

 ProLine  ProLine

(Left) Maarten with his partners Mario and Erik make sure their birds get the best nutrition possible. Now the ProLine products fill this need.. and (Right) The camera comes out again for a product shot when Daniel Lutolf comes to visit.

What do you do other than breed budgies?

When not spending time with my wife and our two children I love to go fishing.


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Judging The Cairo Show with Maarten

It was a pleasure to judge Egypt's Second National Budgerigar Show with Maarten in Cairo during April 2016.

Check Out The Heylen Partnership Website

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arrow** Note for Budgerigar Club Show Managers **


Maarten is now on the World Budgerigar Organisation International Judges Panel and is very much in demand. He judged the Baby & Young Bird Show in Lahore Pakistan 2015. In 2016 his assignments included The National Budgerigar Show at Aleef World Exhibition in Cairo, Egypt, The Baby Show for BCG Flanders, the VGC show, Münchener Derby... And another show in Germany. In 2017 Maarten is schedule to judge the Budgerigar Association of America's Grand National in September...  .. If you are looking for a top line judge for your show Email Maarten

.More interviews with top breeders in the Reference Library

Templates in Time