Attack, Attack, Attack

Introduction

Gerald BinksAs most established readers will be aware, I have been in this hobby for 70 years from the age of 12.

In my own area of operations I doubt if there are many who have devoted themselves so much to trying to bring the hobby into the 21st Century, as much as myself. The great difficulty was surmounting the politics of less than 10 others (in my case) who chose to undermine anyone who dared to try. They possessed an ostrich like mentality that wanted to adopt the policy of “We have always done it this way”.

But of course they got the results they have always had and the hobby is where it is today – shrinking! They refused to accept change where change was and still is screaming at the hobby to be effected. Where is the marketing of the hobby? It is totally useless preaching how good the hobby is to ourselves when the public at large know nothing of our existance.

Let me give you an up to date example which I have written about before in other publications.

Take the Budgerigar Society World Championship, for example. Outside the Dome (in Doncaster) is a massive branch of ASDA. There is not even a tiny notice saying this great show is taking place, yet there are hundreds of cars with families inside the zone passing that point. So they don’t even know they could take their families inside a big show and perhaps lead their children into a hobby that could keep them off the streets and enjoy something of what essentially would become their own personal interest.

Inside the hall, I would delegate experienced fanciers to be introduced to them to explain what the hobby is all about and what a challenge it is. It would also be promoted around the local papers – all of them! It would be promoted on local radio and even TV – but where is the attack on this area? Basically nowhere.

This is not an attack at all on the Budgerigar Society. Today all nice guys, but all looking inward instead of outward. At my age it doesn’t matter to me personally, but I sometimes cringe at what might have been today if I had been fully backed in the mid 1980s. I have mentioned this item for several years now to the Budgerigar Society – but still nothing is done. It is the first thing I do when I drive in to the Dome area – look for the show promotion.

The same applies to all shows. In the south, I see exactly the same. Nobody is delegated to take a grip and given a free range to take action. It really is a great shame after so much effort goes into the show build up by the hard working officials, whom I always greatly appreciate having run the massive Budgerigar World shows on a personal basis.

To Budgerigars

BA23 BirdTo quote my great Scottish friend Jim Moffat who sadly is no longer with us, “I am still as keen as ever on quality budgerigars”.

In recent years since stepping aside as the Budgerigar World editor and writing “The Challenge”, I have attacked the birds like crazy and have been prepared to travel anywhere, even long distances of 6000 miles, to get what I want in terms of outcrosses.

Some folk have said I am expensive but in what I term the REAL purchasing outcross world, I am not in the same class. lf you have not travelled around much you would not realise what is being charged for what essentially are visually beginner / novice type birds.

You have to use your head, go alone or at most with one friend ideally, and never in a coach! In a large group you are helpless and you can get carried away trying to buy from someone with a famous ring number or whatever after travelling a long way. So be advised. Within numbers you cannot negotiate. Remember that.

At Tanglewood

BA23 BirdAs everyone knows you cannot stand still in the hobby. From recent visits to two top shows in the south this year it is abundantly clear that apart from perhaps six birds at most, quality has plummeted on the bench and that is out of 500-700 benched.

There are a few breeders who have woken up that they have to attack quality now or give up. That is why I have attacked that myself and built up a great depth of quality so that breeders know they have a good chance of getting something to improve what they have at home. There are few aviaries around with the quality depth – perhaps only 10 in total in the UK.

Where the Moffat birds were concerned when I was gifted 50% of the stud by Jim and his family, there were some super cocks among them. They formed the basis of my red ring line today which has been taken to greater heights after working in new outcrosses. The hens at that earlier time were not quite as strong but still ideal to breed with. Jim was always looking for hens whenever we went anywhere. I wish he could see his line today. I wrote as much to his wife a short while ago saying as much – but it cannot be.

Moffat line aside, I was, and still am a grey green fanatic. The grey greens carry the size and quality so well that if you can win a big grey green class in the champion section, or intermediate section, you can go on to be a serious contender for Best in Show. So I bought in grey greens initially from Daniel Lütolf in Switzerland. I lost some which was a blow but pressed on until in 2005 I bought three young cocks which all did brilliantly and set the pattern for what I have today. They are all massive birds, great depth of mask and big spotted with 80% with round spots. Width across the cere level is excellent now and in my terminology “the buffao effect” is present in good numbers and increasing fast numerically.

Modestly he says “I am now in the position that I am uncertain where to go to bring in essential birds to prevent losing size and punch that is now fixed to avoid losing size, as happens, if you don’t outcross.”

Lütolf is a breeder who buys all over the place and produces super birds in the process and turns out massive big headed stock, which I find very interesting.

A Change of Style!

At this point the reader will begin to think “This is a different Gerald Binks to what I am used to. He’s boasting about his stud.”

I agree it is not my style at all but it arises from Robert Nawarauckas, persuading me to write about myself and my birds for the first time in my writing life.

I have never pushed or have ever been promoted in any UK magazine in this way, so allow me a bit of licence please for once in my latter years.

Two Points

Two matters to mention.

Firstly I no longer have any involvement or control over the Budgerigar World Magazine since I passed it over to Gwyn Evans at County Press in North Wales after the first 100 editions. I felt that I had to do so, both for being let down by the previous printer at a critical time, but mainly because I was feeling that I had come full circle with writing about the hobby and a fresh person should take over the editor’s role – which of course happened.

BA23 BirdSecondly, I have not shown for many years, as is generally known. Why you ask? Well I became very disenchanted when on two occasions I was in competion at topmost national level to win Best In Show, BUT the establishment regarded me as Mr Budgerigar World and couldn’t swallow the thought of Mr Budgerigar World taking the top award and in one instance put up an awful old fashioned keyhole exhibit up instead. I couldn’t see the point after that of showing if certain folk were putting their personal vendetta politics in front of what was morally right.

Happily those few are no longer to be seen. Derrick Bowley and Mick Freeborn will verify this at any time, if asked. Both were disgusted and those involved never regained their credibility.

It is a fact that all who come here now will at some point start saying “Gerald you have to get these birds on the bench and get over the past”. So far it has not happened, but I have bought new Basil Thomas made show cages recently so I am perhaps weakening a bit. 2010 may see a difference?

The Challenge

The Challenge - Breeding Championship BudgerigarsIn 2006 I was flattered to read that a signed first edition (in good condition) of “The Challenge” was advertised at £240. This was of course before the 2nd edition came out so I guess the demand value will be less for a first copy. The new edition created another 8 months work, but has already nearly sold out. I am not certain if I will produce a Third but time will tell.

There are two chapters in the book I would draw your attention to. These are the chapters on feeding. They are the most important chapters by far, as they are the clues to successful breeding. Two consecutive bad seasons and you are virtually dead in the water and may leave the hobby.

Why do I mention this? The reason is that I have continual e-mails and calls asking for help. When I ask “Have you read those chapters?” the answer is normally in the negative. Readers love to read and look at what they regard as the “juicy” bits, but don’t get down to feeding since they glance at them and feel they are a bit technical. They are not and are easy to understand in plain language. So if in trouble – get serious!

Scottish Fanciers are Travelling

BA23 birdThese days I am pleased to say that some serious Scottish breeders have realised the quality here and are visiting annually. So far they have all been satisfied with results and recently I heard that a skyblue bred from a BA23 bird had won Best Breeder at a major show.

Reflecting on travelling a distance to buy new stock, what with fuel costs and B & B’s, I will sell, say 5-10 birds and buy one. I have done this all my birdlife having come from humble beginnings. I realised early on that it was useless buying within a distance of a 100 miles as all the stock was basically inbred as it was just circling around and it was only when I broke out of that mould that I made progress.

Today, I travel any distance to get what I want. I have just been to Germany again – a round trip of 1200 miles to obtain new birds. There are others like Roger Long, Les Martin and Brian Sweeting who do the same and it’s great fun and pleasure in seeing great birds around Europe and in my case also South Africa.

What is totally worthless is travelling in a big coach with 30 others and drawing lots as to who has the first choice on any birds available. You cannot get to personal grips with the breeder really well and it’s all a scramble. That is not the way to spend hard earned bird money. Another thing – what is the use of buying new outcrosses if your feeding system is at fault and is not reproducing numbers at home?

Tora ! Tora ! Tora !

You will all recall the film about the Pearl Harbour debacle during the second World War – “Tora ! Tora ! Tora !”. The title (effectively) meant “Attack, Attack, Attack”.

That is my attitude to this hobby and there are quite a few who do likewise – but not enough. So many just “drift” as I term it and the quality of the shows has dipped as well as numbers benched. Fanciers will only bench their best and if they feel thay have not bred the quality – the answer is obvious.

The BA23 Stud Quality

Unlike periodic fanciers who enter the hobby, have quick success and it goes to their heads, I prefer to let the birds do the talking.

This article is well illustrated. The birds can speak for themselves – you like them or you can fault them, as all birds have faults. The challenge is to reduce them to the minimum and that is the great pleasure of the hobby.

Enjoy – as they say.

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About the Author: Gerald Binks began breeding budgerigars when he was 12 years old and is now arguably the most knowledgeable budgerigar fancier in the world. He has bred his fair share of Best in Show birds, judged in no less than 20 countries, founded the World Budgerigar Association, and has published two of the three classic books on the hobby. His stud in the UK attracts fanciers from near and far and is always high on the list for those wishing to purchase BA23 quality budgerigars.

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  1. Ray Fox says:

    It is good to see your new website up and running I am sure it will be a great success.

    Your article is once again written with enthusiasm, great wisdom and perspective.

  2. Barry Chant says:

    Breeders in the UK are fortunate to be able to import birds from the continent (& elswhere).

    Here in Australia most of the birds on the show bench today are descended from the few import shipments that were permitted quite some years ago.

  3. Dear Barry,

    As I was the co-ordinator for all 4,500 budgerigars that were shipped to Melbourne over a decade ago, I know the Australian hobby is desperate for outcrosses.

    Therefore, I am making a special request to your Government and AQIS, for a sensible consideration to begin imports again. After all, the closure of Spotswood Q. S. was nothing to do with budgerigars at all.

    No budgerigars at all were affected with psittacosis, about which your authorities were natually concerned, but amazingly racing pigeons are allowed entry.

    The main problem seems to be that your authorities talk in terms of “years” before any decision is arived at, which by any standards is remarkable.

    I am hoping that my letter will reach the right top people and I do not receive a “standard stock reply”. I will do my homework first and perhaps AQIS will consider a very small quantity for QT as a test for future (small) imports thereafter.

    After all, a few is better than none at all.

    Watch this website for anything positive. However do not anticipate anything swift!

  4. Habib-Ur-Rehman Sherani says:

    Dear Gerald

    Yes, I got the answer in the above article regarding Henry George imported birds!

    Actually ‘budgerigars’ are the “Ministers of Love” around the world and in our hobby ..we have a pace to “Attack & Attack” and your book “THE CHALLENGE” & Dr.Rob Marshall’s “THE BUDGERIGAR” are the Bibles for budgerigar breeders.

    As a breeder I’m quite satisfied with your books & just trying to UNDERSTAND the game of 3Cs i.e CHOICE, CHANCE & CHANGE – through sharing ideas and knowledge. It’s taking time, but I’m on the way and happy with budgerigars.

    Your website is a Live portal to find all about budgerigars – thank you.

    Habib Ur Rehman Sherani
    Karachi
    Pakistan

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