The Shape of Things to Come

Barrie ShuttWhy would anyone want to keep, breed and exhibit budgerigars? And, supposing you did, where would you get the know-how?

Apart from the unexplained and instinctive attraction we feel for their brilliant colours and delightfully biddable ways, there are probably as many different contributory factors that motivate the hobbyist as there are hobbyists.

For some, getting the knowledge is almost the next logical step after learning first to walk, then to talk.

Others take their greatest satisfaction from the sense of community they get from local groups, almost like the camaraderie shared on the terraces by lads in matching scarves.

Observing the outcomes of selective breeding is what might motivate others, while seeing the hardware stack up after the wins at major shows may be the driving force in some cases.

An Accidental Fancier

For me, what became a lifelong fascination and source of great pleasure began almost accidentally.

More than fifty years ago as an animal-lover with what was left of his first meagre pay-package burning another hole in his holey trousers pocket, I was desperate to own a pet.

There would have been no question of being allowed to keep anything that took up house room, and it was love at first sight when I came upon the pair of red eared waxbills in a local pet shop.

But despite what the songs say, love is not always enough. Ignorant and unable to find any resource that would inform me on their needs, I learned the hard way that some things are not hardy enough to withstand the Cumbrian climate and a well-intentioned amateur touch.

After a decent period, I decided to do things a little differently and my next venture began from a different starting place.

New Found Knowledge

Barrie Shutt in 1960The local library, a conveniently free source of knowledge, had a tiny section that included information on budgerigars, and I read every word.

If I had learned my subjects as keenly at school I could have been the Chief Executive of a blue chip company by the time I was twenty one!

As it was, I was supplementing my income by doing a paper round for the local newsagent, upon whose shelves I came upon a publication called “Cage Birds”, which became my mentor’s voice.

Equipped with my new knowledge and a cobbled-together shed, my life as a breeder and exhibitor of budgerigars began. And the learning process is a life’s work. Like many, I had neither benefit of an experienced mentor nor virtually unlimited resources to encourage and enable me to breed world class birds.

Having started from that place, I have a particular passion to develop support networks that will enable this season’s pet owner to become next year’s top-class breeder.

Identifying Good Information

Information has never been more widely available and the Internet is an extremely important source.

It does not need to be said, however, that identifying reliable, informed advice and opinion is a skill by itself.

There is good stuff out there, based on learning, experience and quantifiable evidence and there is less trustworthy stuff that ranges from the purely anecdotal to the downright bad.

Barrie Shutt's birdroomOf course, we have to guard against reading opinion as fact, for those two things can be very different.

Potentially, the various on-line forums are capable of being a valuable source of information and support, because they enable us to “meet” and share information with breeders from a wide range of backgrounds and abilities.

One example is “Budgerigars.co.uk” – with a history that dates back to April 1999, this well-established site is the source of a vast amount of information and its interactive forum, established in July 2006, currently gets over 60,000 visitors per month from over 100 different countries. The budgerigar breeder community is now truly global.

Changing Times

We have seen massive changes in the hobby as it evolved and adapted to enable survival in the 21st century.

Yet despite the eugenics and bird-room technologies, and the high-end competitiveness that has attracted interest from businessmen and entrepreneurs (who would seek to make a profit or even a livelihood out of the hobby), budgerigars are still budgerigars – and for most breeders the interest, the joys, the rewards are the birds themselves.

Some things have never changed. The fact that we all start somewhere is self-evident but for a young person with his pocket-money budgies, the world of the top breeders and the world-class show can look a pretty daunting place.

It is also self-evident that without new blood the hobby will eventually die out and that, in my opinion, would be very sad.

Keeping the Hobby Alive

How do we attract new people into the hobby? How do we support their start up? How do we encourage beginners to stick at it and enjoy what they do? How do we encourage and enable them to move, if that is their ambition, from pet-owner to champion breeder?

Promoting the hobby is not something that necessarily requires a degree in marketing techniques.

Promotion begins with word-of-mouth communication – come on, you must remember it? Old fashioned talking about it!

Either as an individual to your mates and neighbours, or in association with your local club, you can help spread the word, generate interest and share your enthusiasm by taking presentations to community forums who are always looking for guest speakers; examples might include schools and colleges, elderly care residences, women’s, church or hobby groups. (Don’t be offended if they ask you to provide your personal details as we all have a duty to protect the vulnerable in our society.)

Talk to the local press. Let them know when your meetings are and invite them to your shows. They may ask for features to provide a background, which provide extra publicity.

Have an open day. Run a free course at the local college – it could be just a one-off couple of hours, or something that can be developed to run over a few weeks.

See if you can have a stand at any local events and arrange to staff it with your most approachable members.

Arrange visits to clubs outside your area and invite them back to yours.

Most importantly, make sure that any new faces are made to feel properly welcome.

There are lots of ways of spreading the word. Ask your club colleagues for their ideas. Of course, if you do happen to have a degree in marketing, it couldn’t hurt!

Breeders Benefit

There is an important spin-off here for existing breeders, by the way, and that has to do with how we generate and maintain a market for our surplus birds, which may not be good enough to exhibit but may be the accessible, affordable starting point for new owners.

Similarly, you can forge links with local pet shops and veterinary surgeries that may hold a list of local breeders, both of which can point potential buyers in your direction.

Supplying birds and equipment to new starters either at low or no cost is a win / win situation, as you increase the size of your network and the beginner does not have to invest his life savings in something that he may find is not for him after all.

Mentoring

Barrie ShuttAt the General Council Budgerigar Society meeting in February 2011, the Budgerigar Society approved a proposal I had submitted for an idea that would establish a list of those members who would be interested in becoming mentors to support beginners.

The list would be made available through the Budgerigar Society web site.

Mentoring can include aspects of guidance, help, advice and teaching, dependent upon the resources of the mentor and the needs of the mentee. It might be one-to-one in person or based on friendly chats over the phone or internet.

For the beginner the mentoring system is a genuine opportunity to feel supported and a part of something.

For the mentor there is the chance to share your knowledge and experience and to know that you are genuinely helping.

Any BS member who is interested can contact the society secretary including your details.

As a member, you can encourage all Area Societies to adopt the mentoring scheme by following the example set by The Northern Budgerigar Society, who brought the proposal to its members and agreed to take it up through the democratic voting system at their meeting.

If the idea were taken up by the World Budgerigar Organisation, people elsewhere in the world could access accurate information that had not become distorted through translation.

Spread the Word

If you care about the future of the hobby, you have a part to play in securing it; as an individual, at local club level and through the Budgerigar Society.

Share your ideas instead of jealously guarding your acquired wisdom.

If you are one of the lucky ones who is time and resource-rich, think back to your first days and have some compassion for the tentative first steps of the new starter, as one disparaging remark can cause his/her interest to be stillborn.

Spread the word – on the street, on the forums and on the social networks.

Below are a few of Barrie’s birds – click on an image to enlarge it.




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About the Author: Barrie began in the hobby in 1960 after becoming desperate to own a pet as a young boy who was totally interested in animal life. His first purchase was a pair of red eared waxbills. These did not withstand the Cumbrian weather, so his next foray into birds began by reading every bird book he could lay his hands on - before coming across the weekly publication, "Cage and Aviary Birds". This began his life's interest in our hobby which he regarded as a continual learning process year by year. Barrie is a great supporter of the internet and as well as www.budgerigarworld.com, he also finds www.budgerigars.co.uk to be a good source of information. However, he stresses that there is good information and poor information out there in magazines as well, but you have to think carefully and sift out the purely anecdotal from the downright bad material.

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  1. Beautiful article and wonderful birds – especially the DF spangle!

    Thank you,
    Habib Ur Rehman, Pakistan

  2. Great article Barrie and nice birds!

    Marianne Marlow, UK

  3. Mick Lowe says:

    Top drawer again Barrie, keep up the good work mate.

    Regards,
    Mick Lowe (Durham), UK

  4. Darragh Frawley says:

    A very good article from one of the most knowledgeable men in the hobby, and a man I had the recent pleasure to meet when he judged our show.

    Barrie has the right mindset, in my humble opinion, and has the vision to possibly help bring this wonderful hobby more up to date.

    If people close ranks and don’t share knowledge and experiences to new members, how can the hobby possibly survive?

    Barrie gave an excellent crop demo after our show – and I for one would never dare to use a crop needle before Barrie showed me, and a room full of others, how simple it is.

    That’s just one example of passing on basic experience.

    Thanks Barrie

    Darragh Frawley, Ireland

  5. A super article Barrie and a great read.

    If only there were a few more like you – those who were totally focused and committed to promoting the hobby, tirelessly and at every opportunity, and for all of the right reasons! And, unlike a great many others, never with any hint of self interest, self promotion or self gain.

    They are out there, but so too are the other sort!

    Paul Cunningham, Portugal

  6. An insightful article from an insightful mind.

    Barrie placed the awards at the recent Éire B.S club show. His attention to detail, delivered in a most relaxed manner, demonstrated to me how someone at the top of the game behaves.

    Barrie is without question one of thee greatest promoters of the hobby.

    His work for our hobby is tireless, selfless and encompasses all aspects of our wonderful hobby including all those wonderful “Pet Budgerigar” enthusiasts, who some day as Barrie says, may “Exhibit”.

    I wish you success in every aspect of your wonderful knowledge-emparting life Barrie.

    “Vorsprung durch Barrie”!

    Gerard Lanigan
    Secretary
    Éire Budgerigar Society

  7. Alan Bundy says:

    Barry, I feel as though I know you well since I have been active in the hobby only 5 years.

    It is refreshing to see your patience with those less experienced.

    I have read numerous articles you have written and learned much.

    Although I am new in the hobby your actions motivate me to carry on.

    This article shows us your dedication and your example speaks louder.

    Thank you,
    Alan Bundy, USA

  8. Arif Raza says:

    Excellent learning article and quality birds.

    Arif Raza, Pakistan

  9. roli says:

    Nice article Barrie.

    Sharing is the best way to help others to know about our hobby – and make them a hobbiest also!

    Roli, Philippines

  10. Alan Kelly says:

    A very interesting article, a pleasure to read and to know a very knowledgeable man – whose heart is in the hobby of budgerigars, whether a simple pet or quality exhibition birds.

    Alan Kelly, UK

  11. Carlos Araújo says:

    Dear Barrie,

    Firstly I would like to thank you for the information shared with us.

    Your budgerigars are truly amazing.

    Initiatives such as yours are important for breeders who are starting and also for those who already share some time in this passion.

    Although all of your budgerigars are amazing, I must confess that I’m truly in love with the dominant pied.

    Andrade Carlos Araujo, Portugal

  12. Valerie Bedwell says:

    Superb article Barrie.

    You should be as proud of it as we are of you.

    Valerie Bedwell, Spain

  13. Ray Fox says:

    Great article Barrie I enjoyed it very much, nice to see how proud your family are of you.

    Ray Fox, UK

  14. Another good read Barrie.

    From a man who puts 110% into this hobby.

    Well done you on a very good article.

    Well done Gerald for posting a good thread on a real genuine man.

    If we all took a leaf out of this article, we would not go far wrong.

    Paul Stannard, UK

  15. Mark Hawke says:

    Good read Barrie.

    I didn’t know that you started in 1960, that’s the same year I was born! I bet that young looking man was good with lots of birds….

    Mark Hawke, Australia

  16. Adrian Proud says:

    What a great read.

    Great knowledge and an insight into the hobby past, present and future.

    Adrian Proud, UK

  17. Barrie,

    Thanks for the article – finally a champion breeder with the heart for the beginner.

    I hope all the champions in the world read this, and in doing so the fancy could have a revival.

    Keep up the good work!

    Patrick Duyck, Belgium

  18. Mick May says:

    Excellent Barrie …top man for the job …a very interesting read …

    Mick May, UK

  19. Javed Khaanzada says:

    Superb article Barrie.

    Regards,
    Javed Khaanzada
    Vice President BSP (Budgerigar Society of Pakistan)

  20. Fernando says:

    A very nice article from a true budgerigar man….

    A perfect mentor to follow.

    Fernando – Qatar

  21. Dean Fallen says:

    A true credit to any website or association Barrie. Couldn’t have gone to a better budgie man.

    You do so much for the worldwide hobby as it is, but it’s great to see you getting further afield and dipping your electronic toes in some new waters!

    Regards,

    Dean Fallen – New Zealand

  22. Bill Wade says:

    Like Barrie I started the hobby with no experience (Except I am 70 years old), and have found Barrie to be a most helpful and informative source of good information. I am sure this site will benefit from his knowledge and enthusiasm.

    Bill Wade, UK

  23. Andy hind says:

    Super article Barrie, an ambassador for the fancy.

    Andy Hind, UK

  24. Vivienne Gould says:

    Good article Barrie – as ever, full of good advice.

    Thank you.
    Vivienne Gould, UK

  25. John says:

    Please check out the Brand New Forum at:

    exhibitionbudgerigarsuk.myfastforum.org

    …Become a member now

    Thank You
    John, UK

  26. Harry Blanton-Binkow says:

    I have known Barrie Shutt for quite a few years. I am grateful for the technological advancements of the Internet, for we live across the ‘great pond’ from one another.

    Barrie would always reach out to newcomers, such as myself, to share his knowledge. And so the saying goes, “friends for a life time…” Great article Barrie.

  27. I would request to Barrie Shutt to share recent posted or shared photos with us here in context the shape of things to come.

    I’m sure all friend of budgerigars will be glad to see super quality and their development.

    In my opinion Barrie is an Institution!

    Habib Ur Rehman, Pakistan

  28. Arif Raza says:

    You are very famous here in Pakistan and hobbiers gives you very high regards. They consider as Mentor in Budgie hobby.

    The article is very knowledgeable and helpful for hobbiers.

    Thanks for sharing the knowledge.

    Best Regards

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