The Passion – Part 1 – Lady Luck

“Passion” is what you need as a beginner to succeed with budgerigars – if only this were true and life was so simple!

Let’s look at three other elements that play their part in successful budgerigar breeding.

1 – Lady Luck

A four-left cloverLet us start with she who is notoriously fickle and to whom we turn when things go wrong or when, with false modesty, we have done something right even without realising it.

An Affinity With Animals

Always remember that you are indeed lucky to be here today and the fact that you are reading this article is a reflection of the only bit of true luck or good fortune that you will ever have. You are a survivor and the child of survivors, the product of your parents’ genes.

The very fact that you keep or want to keep birds is part of your genetic makeup because one of your ancestors (and mine) found that the affinity that they had with the animals that they had been hunting and were close to wiping out, could help to counter the food shortage that they were facing by domesticating and nurturing some of the flock animals that previously they had slaughtered. Their intelligence and emotional skills at handling the process enabled them to survive and those abilities were passed onto some of their offspring.

As a result, some of us are still emotionally hardwired to succeed at it. The chances are that all your life you have been fascinated by animals and birds and indeed if you are an adult and are only just taking an interest in them it is probably too late to start. Sorry, but, if you prove me wrong, then I will be delighted both for you and the fancy as a whole.

In The Genes?

Whenever I talk with someone whose success with budgies (or other birds of the feathered kind or any other form of livestock) about how they came to start, it is striking that their passion started spontaneously and almost invariably it ran in the family.

This mirrors my own experience. My first school report from nursery school when I was not yet three years old, noted the intense interest I had in the animals that they kept at the school. I was interested in their care and feeding not just because they were cuddly and cute. The same school noted a year and half later that I had an ever lasting passion for animals. At the time, where we were living during World War Two (WW2) we had no animals or pets at home.

My father shared my enthusiasm and was described once as having kept everything “from a canary to a camel”. It is worth noting that none of my other five sisters and brother has shown any interest in animals, so it was not an environmental influence. My father’s interest came from his father and possibly also his mother who was a farmer’s daughter. It is curious that even though as bird breeders we accept that genetics are an essential element of success, we are uncomfortable with the truth that some people are simply not cut out to succeed in a particular field of activity but prefer the suggestion that they should be capable of being educated to succeed at it. Try teaching the tone deaf to sing.

A Guiding Hand

So it isn’t a matter of “luck”. If you want to succeed you need determination and help. Obviously there are lots of self–help books and journals to advise you and none better than “The Challenge”, a mine of information which if carefully read and absorbed will take you well along the road. However, it alone is not enough.

I assume you have the necessary passion and determination, but you need a guiding hand. A fancy name for this is a “mentor”. These people do not fall off trees like a ripe fruit ready to pluck. They have to be identified by you and feel they want to help you. They will not do this out of the kindness of their hearts or a sense of duty, but because they have come to like you. You cannot make people like you but you can make them feel that you are useful to them.

Get Involved

So go out and join a local bird club, make yourself useful at shows, do the dirty jobs like shifting the staging and sweeping up afterwards, contribute to the raffles and fund raising, sit at the door helping to check in the birds and check them out at the end of the shows.

Stewarding is fine, educative and rewarding, but people will soon notice if you only turn up with your birds do the fun part of the stewarding, watch the judging and then push off to chat to people. A good mentor will identify you as much as you him. He or she will not only explain what is written in the books in terms that you find easy to understand, but will open doors to other fanciers who in turn will help you because you come with a recommendation. They will protect you, a bit, from the less scrupulous, but remember in the end it is always up to you because at the end of the day nobody respects a sucker.

Grow Broad Shoulders

Luck and success at shows are a constant source of gripe. If you win, someone somewhere will find grounds to criticise you, your bird or the judges. Comments like “I have got a better one than that at home” are just sour grapes. Judges do make mistakes and in the past, of course, have been notoriously biased. Over time the quality of a stud and the way you prepare your birds will show, despite everything. Above all enjoy your success even if you feel you have been lucky.

Part two of this article can be read here.

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About the Author: David Turner started breeding budgies in 1951. He gave up in 1960 when he went abroad to work. On retirement in 2001 he returned to the hobby and through his mentor, Bob Crisp from Bishops Stortford, got to know Gerald Binks. In 2010, David became an applicant to the Budgerigar Society Council.

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