Pairing Skills – Terry Tuxford UK

Selecting pairs of budgerigars, which breed youngsters of quality, is a skill which makes the difference between success and failure for the exhibitor. Occasionally luck occurs and produces a winner from an apparently poorly matched pair. However, producing winners year after year suggests that something more than luck is at work. Even so, when a carefully chosen pair breeds a top quality youngster it often also produces brothers and sisters which are not so visually appealing.

It is important to make a distinction between show birds and stock birds. Most show birds are well balanced and attractive to the eye and portray as many of the positive features of an exhibition budgerigars as is possible. A good stock bird however, has a surplus of some feature such as height above the perch, browiness and thickness through the neck. Unfortunately, countering the excess of a desirable feature there is usually a fault such as bad wing carriage, so giving the impression of imbalance.

Chicks Of Less Quality

tuxford_green_chick_4_weeksNature has the habit of regressing from an excess and the outstanding features of any Budgerigar tend to be diluted in its young. Even two well balanced show birds usually produce chicks of less quality than themselves when paired together. Loss of size is the problem most often encountered in the young of such matings. Spreading desirable qualities through a stud dilutes them. If we could find a way of increasing a desirable quality we would have solved the problem of consistently breeding top quality livestock, but nature is not so obliging.

When selecting breeding pairs today we must take into account flecking, which was not so much of a concern when I first came into the fancy and we cannot afford to ignore it in the breeding room. Intelligence needs to be employed when using flecked Budgerigars in breeding programmes or else we could lose the beautiful clean caps that the best exhibition birds possess. Many breeders believe there is a link between flecking and quality, and this is much stronger in hens than it is in cocks. Hens with grizzled caps are often far ahead of their clean counterparts in respect to overall head qualities and size.

This is far less true of cocks. Grizzled males are seldom ahead of clean ones in quality. For this reason it makes sense to limit the flecked Budgerigars in the breeding team to hens, which also ensures that flecking is limited to one side of each pairing only. Even this is not completely foolproof as some Budgerigars carry the fault of flecking recessively in hidden form.

No Place In Any Stud

A quality Budgerigar that is flecked can bring benefits to a stud but flecked individuals of only average quality have no place in any stud at all. Some fanciers buy in a flecked Budgerigar in the belief that quality is always allied with the fault as they believe that their studs will be improved. In most cases they may increase the size of their Budgerigars’ throat spots but the problems they introduce completely outweigh the benefits. A flecked headed hen will often produce clean headed cocks but which in turn breed dirty-headed daughters.

It would be best if all pairings consisted of two clean headed partners but unfortunately such individuals capable of breeding winners are few and far between. If they can be obtained they are priceless and should never be put with flecked partners.

When selecting pairings, my considerations are influenced mainly by what I can see followed by what I know about the family from where they came from. When an outcross is brought in, more account must be taken of visual properties due to your lack of knowledge of its pedigree than that of one of your own birds. Some breeders will bring in an outcross but then use it with the lesser quality birds in the stud. This is just crazy because if a budgerigar is worth obtaining then it is worth the best partner you can find.

Getting Down To Basics

tuxford_breeding_cagesWhatever methodology you use in selecting pairings in the birdroom you need to get down to basics. Each of my breeding cages is fully prepared with sufficient food and water to minimise disturbance of the pairs for their first few days together.

The cocks in my breeding team will have been selected as a matter of course in the months prior to breeding through daily observation. My first consideration is overall quality and only the top cocks are used for breeding. Some pairings select themselves because they were very successful the previous year. I have heard it said that little progress will be made if pairings are repeated from year to year. My view is why change a good thing when you’ve got one.

The cocks are placed into their breeding cages and the most suitable hens are selected from the flights. Of course fitness does govern the timing of this activity. It is usual that the best cock is paired with the best hen but even so, this does not often produce the top quality youngsters. Top quality Budgerigars are paired and produce chicks which are useful but not outstanding. The best youngsters come from the young of the top quality parents from the following year. So the Budgerigars retained and used for breeding are not always the best looking ones. Very often it is the brothers and sisters of the most striking individuals who breed the specials winners. This situation has been confirmed by breeders for many years.

A Change In Partner

Once paired and seen to be getting on together, the Budgerigars are left. To get full eggs followed by chicks requires the cooperation of both the cock and the hen and if a pairing fails it can be either bird that is at fault. There are times when a change in partner is needed. Some cocks just do not have the libido to stimulate the hen into successful mating. I am never too quick to return a hen to the flight as a failure. I try another cock as a partner first.

tuxford_eggs_and_chickIntroducing a new partner to any Budgerigar calls for vigilance in case there is fighting and this is even more important when one partner has already reared a nest of chicks. In my experience a hen which has reared accepts a new partner more readily than a cock in the same situation. To minimise the risk of problems it is best to put the pair into a cage which is new to both the cock and the hen. However, make sure the nest box is in the same location.

Many of the problems encountered during the course of the breeding season are caused by imposing your selection of a cock to a particular hen. Of course doing this is essential to any pedigree livestock breeding programme and so the difficulties have to be accepted and attempts made to overcome them.

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Terry Tuxford About the Author:

Terry Tuxford first began breeding budgerigars in 1979 and joined the BS in 1980. He was elevated to Champion in 1985 when he went into partnership with Brian Poole. This partnership is probably one of the longest existing partnerships in the UK hobby today having lasted some 27 years so far and is still going strong. Terry and Brian are also partnered by Yvonne Tuxford who joined the BS in 1990.


Terry demonstrated his penmanship early in his budgerigar career and wrote in the second edition of Budgerigar World. Little did he realise then that in just over 8 year’s time he would become editor following a 20 month apprenticeship with founding editor, Gerald Binks. Terry went on to edit a total of 245 editions up to May 2011.


In 1993 Terry took his Budgerigar Society Judges final examination and was awarded Subsidiary Judge of the Year and has gone on to judge the Budgerigar Society World Show on three occasions as well as many top shows at home and abroad. He is also an accomplished speaker and has been a guest at societies throughout the UK as well as Australia, New Zealand, USA, Canada and many other European countries.

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  1. Gerald Watson says:

    This is a very ‘transparent’ site by any comparisom.
    Well presented with frank, honest, and helpful information to any interested party.
    A rarity in a site demonstrating credability.

  2. Ninu says:

    Got lot of knowledge about breeding.
    Good for beginners and even those ‘seniors’. Thanks

  3. Very informative and will help to the every beginner in planning.

    Thank you very much Terry.

    Habib Ur Rehman,Pakistan

  4. RIZWAN ASHRAF says:

    i am the biginner and i got lot of information through your informative articles
    thanx alot……….Mr.Terry
    RIZWAN ASHRAF
    Pakistan

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