Didier Mervilde – Breeding Rares

Didier MervildeMy name is Didier Mervilde, I was born in 1952 and live with my family in Aalter Belgium.

I first became interested in budgerigars in 1965 and at that time I kept about 5 pairs in a mixed aviary.

It was in 1986 that, after a visit to the aviary of Gerald Binks, I decided to breed budgies of show quality to compete in shows.

Since I was always fascinated by the colours, I decided to build an aviary for only “Rares”. This was not the easy way to start – but it was a challenge and I still have the rares today.

History

As a boy, I was always fascinated by birds and other animals, but I think it was in my genes because my grandfather was a well known racing pigeon breeder and my father kept canaries.

So, I was destined to do the same.

First, I started with racing pigeons, later on canaries and then I concentrated on budgies.

Many years ago I became a member of a local club and soon after that I became a member of the boards of several clubs. First the parrot clubs, then later on I started, with some other fanciers, the B.G.C (Belgian Budgerigar Club). I also became the first Vice-President and after that I became President. I was at that time one of the delegates at the W.B.O. for Belgium.

It was Gerald Binks who taught me the way to breed and keep budgies. After a while I became a correspondent for Budgerigar World for my country and I am still a member today.

Meanwhile, I became involved in the Belgian Lovebird Society as editor and judge and I still have the same interests in the “rares”.

I reorganised the BBS and was editor and member of the board. At that time I was also one of the two Belgian delegates at the WBO meetings and an WBO judge. BBS was one of the three budgie clubs
in Belgium. I left the club in 2008/2009 and in 2011 the club stopped its activities.

Breeding

Breedingroom insideKeeping rares is one thing, but breeding them is quite a challenge.

So I bought a lot of books and videos and attended as many meetings as possible to learn about other aspects of the birds – such as genetics, colors, feeding, standards etc.

I contacted Mr. Inte Onsman, from MUTAVI, and through him I learned about the genetic rules. Indeed, I was so involved with this subject that I became the liaison for MUTAVI in Belgium.

To breed rares you need to have a basic understanding of genetics, otherwise you will miss a lot. You can breed good budgies without knowledge but specialising in rares demands the knowledge of genetics.

In the past my aviary contained Slate, Saddleback, Texas Clearbody, Easley Clearbody, English Fallow and recently Recessive Pieds.

Breeding rares without some good Normals is not possible – you need them in order to obtain a better standard in the rares. That is why I always try to put a good Normal to a mutation – this makes the birds stronger.

My Normals came from two different lines namely, BA23 (Mr. Gerald Binks, U.K.) and RE 08 (Mr. Roger Reynders, Belgium).

Now I have also birds from German breeders Mr. Dieter Keller (100% Mannes line) and Mr. Gerd Bleicher (Anthracite line).

Every year I visit one of those breeders to obtain one or two outcrosses and, due to the mixing of bloodlines I used in my aviary from different breeders, I have developed new genes from Mannes and Moffat through the BA23 bloodline, Ormerod and Mannes through the RE 08 and Keller bloodline.

With that base I try to build up my own strong bloodlines.

For a few years I do not attend any of the shows with my birds in my country. The reason for that is a lack of time on my part and also a lack of co-operation within the Belgium clubs.

In Belgium we have 2 clubs. There is a lot of discussions and politics going on between those clubs and members – so I decided to leave that and concentrate only on breeding.

With the modern way of the Internet and websites I have no problems in keeping contact with breeders all over the world and selling my birds to countries like Germany, The Netherlands, France, U.K., Portugal and the U.S.A. (where I introduced the Slate).

I like to enjoy myself in this hobby and that is why I do this.

Slates

My first Slate came from a breeder in The Netherlands, who had stopped breeding Slates because of the lack of interest from the breeders in this mutation.

I concentrated on the normal Slates without darkfactor, one dark factor and two dark factors, I am getting rid of the Opalines because I do not like them.

Slate is a sex-linked variety, so if you want to start with Slates it is better to start with a visual cock or hen, just to be sure you have the mutation. Later on in your breeding program you can use split birds.

To improve the mutation I have never paired Slate to Slate and prefer to put a blue split cock to a slate hen.
It is also possible to breed Green series Slates – but in my opinion it is better to stay in Blue series birds.

Always avoid the grey factor as it masks the Slate. The Slate mutation is sex-linked.

Fallows

Breeding Fallows is a real challenge, not everyone is able to do this because it takes years of breeding to obtain a very good bird.

If you want to breed Fallows you must understand the differences between the three mutations:

  • English Fallows
  • German Fallows
  • Scottish Fallows

Most common are the English and German Fallows.

English Fallows are supposed to have an iris ring with no white so the eye seems to be red. In fact, there is an iris ring but it is deep pink in color.

German Fallows, on the other hand, have a white iris ring and between the two mutations there is not much difference in body color.

Paring German and English Fallows together is not a good practice because the youngsters are all “black eyed” and split for German and English Fallow. The Fallow mutation is recessive.

Most Fallows are small birds, so when you are breeding this mutation you have to use your better Normal birds – this is why I said earlier that it is always good practice to breed back to a Normal.

I prefer not to use Cinnamon because I found that it did not improve the Fallow mutation.

In my breeding room I have only English Fallows and after 10 years of breeding I do not have the standard bird that you would expect.

In conclusion, I can say that the Fallow is a very attractive budgerigar, but is a bird for the experienced breeder.

Clearbodies

Here we have two types who are common, the Texas Clearbody and the Easley Clearbody.

The Texas Clearbody is sex-linked whilst the Easley Clearbody is dominant.

The Texas Clearbody is the most common variety to be bred in Europe. It has close links to the Ino mutation to which it is dominant.

An Ino cannot be split for Texas Clearbody, a Normal can be split for Texas Clearbody and Ino, but Texas Clearbody can be split for Ino.

In my aviary I have two different lines which can produce Clearbody. The first line is a mating between Clearbody and Ino, the second line is a combination between Clearbody and Normals.

Later on I have put the youngsters from the two lines together to produce a Texas Clearbody with the correct markings.

Texas Clearbody coming from the first line have a better yellow color but the wings are white, those coming from the second line have better wing markings and color on the flights. Putting them together gives me a bird who has a nice body color, good wing markings and a better standard.

I have had the Easley Clearbody in my aviary since 1999 and I am trying to breed a DF Easley Clearbody, so the challenge goes on.

Anthracites

Since 2007 I have introduced the Anthracite mutation in my aviary. You can read more about this in other articles on my website – didiermervilde.bestofbreeds.net.

Aviary

Aviary 1I have two aviaries, so to understand it better I will call them Aviary 1 and Aviary 2.

Aviary 1 is a wooden summerhouse with 20 breeding cages with no special facilities.

Aviary 2 has a wooden construction and isolated walls, tile floors and is just big enough to be managed on one’s own very effectively.

Inside the aviary I build breeding cages and a flight for the surplus birds and young. The breeding cages measure 30 x 30 x 80 cm, the inside flight is 4 by 6 metres.

In recent years I built a second flight which measures 3 by 3 metres.

Aviary 2I use outside boxes for the breeding cages and keep a record of all my birds on the computer so it is easy to see which pedigree and bloodline they have.

As seed I use a mix of 50% canary seed and 50% millets.

As additives I give Abidec (multi-vitamin solution) and Cytacon (vitamin b12 solution) – a product that I buy in the U.K. because in my country it is not available – and for the youngsters I use Biovit soft food. I also give grit and iodine blocs.

I give the additives continuously in the breeding season, and twice a week in the non-breeding season.

I give the soft food once a week in the non–breeding season, and every day in the breeding season.

An Enormous Challenge

Breeding rare budgerigars is certainly an enormous challenge.

After years of work and with a little luck, one day you will achieve success.

Enjoy your success and be aware that breeding budgerigars is a challenge but first of all it is a lovely hobby.

Photographs

All photographs below were kindly supplied to us by Didier Mervilde.

Click on any image to enlarge it.

 

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About the Author: Didier Mervilde is a leading Belgian Specialist in the Rare Varieties. He began the hobby in 1986 following a visit to Gerald Binks and later became a judge in his own right and a member of several of the main societies in his country and the WBO. He is a regular contributor and writer for many magazines including the German Wellensittich Magazin and Budgerigar World Magazine. He now also writes for Budgerigar.co.uk .

RSSComments (9)

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  1. Moheb Nabil says:

    Dear Didier,

    I would thank you for this high quality article from a very special man.

    I look forward to reading more of your valuable comments.

    Thanks and regards
    Moheb Nabil, Eygpt

  2. A wonderful article Didier.

    Thank you.

    Habib Ur Rehman, Pakistan

  3. Thank you Moheb and Habib for your kind words.

    Didier Mervilde, Belgium

  4. Javed Khaanzada says:

    Didier,

    A very informative article.

    Thank you,
    Javed Khaanzada, Pakistan

  5. Thank you Javed

    Didier Mervilde,Belgium

  6. Carlos Araújo says:

    Caro Didier Mervilde

    Em primeiro lugar gostaria de agradecer a informação partilhada connosco.
    Iniciativas como a sua são importantes para os criadores que estão começando e também para aqueles que já partilham de algum tempo nessa paixão.

    In English:

    Dear Didier,

    I would like to thank you for sharing this information with us.

    Initiatives such as yours are important not only for for beginner breeders, but also for those who have been in the hobby for some time.

    Carlos Araújo, Portugal

  7. Hi Carlos,

    Information is the source of knowledge and a hobby like this would be impossible without information.

    You can find more articles on my website – didiermervilde.bestofbreeds.net

    Didier Mervilde, Belgium

  8. Jo Ann Boyle says:

    Dear Mr. Mervilde,

    Thank you for your efforts on my behalf in information of rare varieties: Dutch /Clear Flight / Frosted Pieds. I look forward to growing in this area.

    Sincerely,

    Jo Ann Boyle, Georgia, USA

  9. Dear Miss Jo Ann Boyle,

    Thank you for your kind words

    Regards,

    Didier Mervilde, Belgium

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