Gerald Binks Under The Spotlight

In this question and answer session Gerald Binks responds to a number of fundamental questions based on his extensive experience in the budgerigar hobby.

Reducing Flecking

When pairing my birds, what is the best way to reduce flecking in the chicks?

Firstly, it is vital that you keep an accurate record of any bird that is paired which possesses flecking of any density whatsoever. Grade it as a percentage of density, in your opinion. In this way you will create details of any flecking present in the pedigree of each bird for future reference. So, you have a flecked quality cock which obviously you want to pair to a visually clean headed hen otherwise the problem will be deepened. You now refer to the background of the hen. Has she any flecking hidden there in her history? If not, pair her to the flecked cock. If yes – find another partner. The results will be say in a nest of five chicks, one clean headed bird, one or more slightly flecked and perhaps one dense in flecking. Discard what is not usable and note all details on your records.

Ioniser

Would you recommend installing an ioniser in the aviary?

Frankly no. Its purpose is to make dust particles coagulate so they drop to the floor quickly and keep the air cleaner. With aviaries, the problem is that our birds are kept behind wire cage fronts or flights with retaining wires, or mesh. This fact prohibits the action of your ioniser taking effect as the wires act as an impenetrable field. The result is that the birds air cannot be cleaned and putting an ioniser in say, the flights could be a serious hazard to the birds should they chew the device.

White Ceres

What should I do if I have some hens with white ceres which never change to brown?

A. If the hens are feather fit and active, pair them up. The reason is connected to an imbalance in the endocrine system, which are the ductless glands. These include the thyroid, the pituitary, the gonads and the adrenals amongst others. The same cause can result in a cock bird with a perfectly blue cere that turns dark brown – imbalance of the ductless glands of which the pituitary is “the conductor of the endocrine orchestra”. Pairing may stimulate this system and good results can be obtained in many cases.

Cod Liver Oil

Could you advise me why Cod Liver Oil is often recommended as the birds do not ingest the husks?

 

Cod Liver Oil has three main constituents; Vitamins A & D plus iodine. Tests were done many years ago on seeds coated with relative small amounts of cod liver oil and it was proven that allowing the seed to absorb the oil for 12 to 24 hours, the kernels had absorbed the oil through the husks. Also oil is swallowed as the husk is shucked by the birds. Cod Liver Oil is seriously valuable for its vitamin contents as these give health and great energy to the stock, as well as the iodine content for the thyroid without which budgerigars do not reproduce easily.

Worming

Would you recommend I worm my stud of budgerigars and also dose with an anti protozoa drug against trichomoniasis and giardia?

Apart from an overall treatment in the first instance, if it has never been done before, you should not treat again unnecessarily. The sensible action is to isolate all new arrivals in a separate room and treat them immediately before release into the main stud. Your outside flight must also be covered on the roof to prevent any indigenous infected birds excreting into it and thus infecting your disease free stud. There are countless examples of fanciers ignoring these basic rules and budgerigars being lost in significant numbers.

Check Before You Buy

When buying a bird, what should I check before parting with my hard earned money?

Firstly examine the bird closely. Is it tight in feather or loose feathered and huddled? Hold it and check for the following:

1) Is it clean round the vent area and with no stained feathers?

2) Is it full in the hand and has bright eyes?

3) Look for and feel for any cysts around the lower gut area and in particular examine the wing butts where cysts are easy to miss.

4) Feel the crop. Is it normal with some seed inside it or is it bloated which raises a question about the bird’s digestive tract?

Enclosed Aviary

My aviary is completely enclosed to avoid any chance of the indigenous avian  population infecting my stud. What should I do about the lack of direct sunshine with its vital vitamin D factor?

That has to be obtained artificially from multivitamin solutions and/or cod liver oil bought from your pharmacy

Showing Hens

Should hens be taken to shows?

Ideally, perhaps two or three Shows only and not three day Shows, if you expect them to breed really well. They are generally more easily stressed during transport and while being moved around inside the exhibition. Do not over show them and they will subsequently breed well. On arrival home from a show, give them every care and attention and allow them access to food and grit before putting out the lights should you arrive home late.

Breaking Up Pairs

What is the safe process for breaking up a breeding pair after the last chicks have been removed?

Remove any eggs that you do not want to transfer, but leave the box open for a day. After a day close off the nest box entrance. Allow the pair to adjust to the new scene for another 2 days. Then remove them to a stock cage along with others similarly affected, but make sure the pair  are close together. After two weeks there, both should be safe to place in the flights and the hen’s internal organs will have reduced back to normal. Treat hens very carefully at this time.

Depressing Politics

I came into budgerigars for the hobby — not politics which is depressing when it is destructive rather than constructive. Should I stay?

It is not a good answer, but it’s life everywhere especially in all forms of exhibition  livestock breeding. Successful Societies are when there is a good Chairperson who will not brook troublesome Members who are out of order and do not know how to behave in a public meeting. A weak front table of well intentioned fanciers, who form the Officers of the Society, is a measure for aggravation and loss of members. The cure is obvious – you have a Vote. The Society is more important that an out of hand member. Put another way, tennis was more important as a game than the irrational behaviour of John Macanroe in his heyday, which should have been stamped on immediately on the very first occasion it occurred.

Artificial Lighting

Regarding artificial lighting, what extra hours does one allow for the aviary lights to be on  when darkness begins to set in?

As a generalisation, lights should come on in the summer months at about 17.00 hours until 22.00 hours. In winter advance this to on at 1500 hours and off at the same time as summertime. No need for any other change unless you need to enter the aviary early in the morning.

 

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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. That’s the way to teach and lead thank you very much Gerald.

    Very comprehensive explanation given by you.

    Habib Ur Rehman,Pakistan

  2. Ric Estigoy says:

    That was very enlightening. Thanks.

  3. Delia Smith says:

    I hope many beginners read this sensible and valuable advice. Although any level of fancier can find gold nuggets herein, I know I have. Thank you Gerald – still at the forefront.

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