Chasing “Buffalos”

The title suggests that anyone attempting to seek out water buffalos (specifically) has to be out of his / her mind. As one of the most feared animals, especially when angry or wounded, the buffalo is one to be avoided at all costs. So what is Gerald Binks on about now? The answer is that I have in mind a new feature on budgerigars feather structure which reminded me, once I woke up to it, of the horns of a water buffalo. So once I started talking about it and referring to it in articles on my website www.budgerigarworld.com it quickly caught the imagination of many fanciers who are now talking about it.

It is only a few years since the hobby fully recognised it had to turn to understanding feathers and feather structure in more depth than previously. This included feather length, feather width, feathers that are coarse and soft and above all feather direction. We all knew about directional feather in obtaining width of face over the cere, but not the other factors mentioned.

Historically there was one man, who sadly passed away recently, who made the first steps with feather direction in the fifties and sixties. That was of course Ken Farmer who was a fancier I admired above all others, for a variety of reasons. He created the modem budgerigar as we know it today. I have a model of the Leamington Spa Budgerigar Ideal in my showcase at home here in Virginia Water. It is dated 1958. Frankly it is worse than the average pet shop bird of today, but in its day it was quality in every sense of the word. Such is progress. Ken was joined by Harry Bryan, both great showmen, an area in the hobby which is my Achilles Heel in my character these days, borne out of trying to reform the hobby in the 1980’s into a modern 21st Century progressive hobby, only to be denied by awful politics by just six members of the Budgerigar Society who were anti-commercial (so they said) but who embraced it, after a fashion, later on. Where are those “blockers to progress” now? The answer is: “nowhere” – and look what has happened to the hobby as a result of their attitude. I still get depressed at what might have been. It’s very sad to see well intentioned committee efforts, which are implemented but not thought through completely, and have a deleterious effect on members leaving the hobby. Not all the rules by any means, but some that make fanciers question what budgerigar breeding is all about.

The above said, I am as keen as I was 70 ago when I started at the age of 12. I smile when I hear “Binks cannot have the quality, as he doesn’t show” Really? The comment comes from those who have not been here and seen the quality on the perches. The Hough Brothers were here among many others recently and stated in my aviary and later to others, that it was the best stud in the country in depth of quality. Not just a few good birds and then the quality drops like a stone, but several hundred desirable birds. The Hough’s went a bit far in my opinion, since I can think of several studs that do very well who have birds that I would love to have, but it was a nice uncalled for comment which I appreciated. Certainly, I have been bringing in quality outcrosses from abroad in recent years that have reproduced really well in quantity when crossed to my own existing material and now I have spotted THE BUFFALO EFFECT!!!

The Buffalo Effect (BE ) is created when a bird possesses great width above the cere before it sweeps upward but in no way downwards! Think of the buffalo horns. They are wide but then from the horn tips the horns dip downwards to well below eye level before suddenly going up again to join the head. I saw it in the aviaries of Daniel Lütolf in Switzerland some 18 months ago and thought what a beautiful feather structure it was without affecting the eyes in any way at all or the bird’s vision. There and then I called it The Buffalo Effect and the name has stuck and is spreading fast.

Depending where you go it will entail some travelling to get it. Few aviaries have it as yet but I guarantee it will be a feature that judges will look for in future years. I have illustrated buffalo and non buffalo feathering in this article which I hope you find interesting. I had to laugh the other day when talking about such feathering. My listener suddenly called me -yes, you’ve guessed it – “Buffalo ——–s “. Sometimes we all get far too serious and political about the hobby and occasionally vicious. It is supposed to be fun and enjoyable and we should laugh at ourselves. Maybe then the membership will get back to really good levels again. Have fun and look for those BE’ s – if you can find them.

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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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