Thoughts from Tanglewood – Part One – Terry Tuxford puts GSB on the Spot

Gerald Binks has been breeding budgerigars for an incredible 67 years and I have been fortunate enough to know him for more than 30 of those. In the early days of Budgerigar World, Gerald was my mentor and it would be true to say that it was his guidance and support that led me to becoming Editor of The Budgerigar today.

If you know Gerald, you will understand the following statement – Gerald Binks is a man with an opinion. Over the years he has voiced that opinion and often put those views into action – not always, I add, with the blessing from others but nothing he has written or said has ever been refuted. Whatever your feelings so far as our hobby is concerned, he is part of the budgerigar scene. He has put his own unique mark on our pursuit for improvement that will last for all time.

So with the pleasantries over I decided to put GSB on the spot and ask him a few more unusual questions I had in my mind, starting with how he had managed to sustain his enthusiasm for the hobby for such a long period. Over to Gerald………

Prior to beginning in November 1945, immediately after the war when the first pet budgerigars were costing £4 in the big stores, I was a very enthusiastic bird watcher, or twitcher, as they are called today. That was a great time and an excuse to get away from the drudgery of school homework, which I hated and consequently was reflected in my school reports, most of which were based on the old adage of “could do better”. Unfortunately they frequently inserted the words “must do” into the phrase! Also as an only child and the only grandson on both maternal and paternal sides, I felt heavily pressured to achieve greater things, but due to immaturity I didn’t respond. However, bird watching and being a member of the RSPB was my release between the age of 9 and 12.

A Box and Wire Affair

When I was just 12, at Grammar School, a good friend said to me one day, “would I like to see my brother’s aviary?” This was a box and wire affair on the back of their father’s house with budgerigars. I said, “What do you do with those?” His brother disappeared and then came back with a small cage – a show cage. He said, “I compete at shows where they are judges and I get the odd prize occasionally.” Just like that I was hooked! I realised this was for me, as it was a hands on hobby instead of a rare bird being spotted in the wild and disappearing – as they do! It was a magic and defining moment in my life, but as the year’s progressed a continual drain on pocket money and on eventual earnings with BP the oil company. It was “pay out” all the time for perhaps 20 years and when new blood is required today, it is no different. The overheads are considerable.

Your editor’s question as to how I have sustained my interest is quite new to me but thought provoking nevertheless. The short answer is that I never cease to enjoy breeding this species and the thrill of seeing a “belter” in the nest has never left me. As a certain book title states, it is a continual Challenge that is the cause of the sustaining interest, as well as steadily climbing the ladder in a variety of ways in the hobby and becoming better known without initially realising it.

Achieved Many Things

Coming to 2013; age and running a big stud is now having its effects, but a close friend said to me recently, “You achieved many things in your own way but had the time you spent helping so many fanciers with your articles, books, how to produce quality exhibition birds, founding an International magazine and recently an International Internet Magazine, been totally directed to the birds themselves, then perhaps that route may have served you far better.” It was a very good point as I have found out many times that you cannot help those to improve who will not help themselves to do so, given clear examples to follow.

From those early school days with their dismal exams, because I couldn’t see the purpose, it was the humble budgerigar that became my inspiration and more importantly made me realise one vital asset that I had inside me. That was “drive” and leading by example. It is these two factors, I would submit, that have sustained me for 67 years, but coupled with a wonderful supportive wife whom many others know and like, without whom those great years would have been curtailed very early.

You Never Stop Learning

You could easily assume that after 67 years of doing the same thing you would pretty much know it all. However, one thing that is often said about Budgerigars is that you never stop learning. To put this to the test, I asked Gerald to tell us the top 3 new things he has observed about budgerigars in the last 5 years.

You never stop learning as the phrase goes. It is so very true as every season something small appears to make me sit up and notice something new or needs a rethink.

Firstly, I realised that the outside deep nest boxes that I used were still allowing the hens to leave their eggs a bit too frequently, as well as the chicks emerging too soon and running the risk of dying from cold before I spotted them. So, the answer was a much deeper box and it was increased to 275 mm (11 inches) in depth overall. Result? Hens sat and incubated far better and young chicks were unable to leave the nest too early because the nest hole was beyond their reach until they were mature at 5 to 6 weeks old.

Secondly the chase for “length of feather” and “width of face” giving what I named in 2004, “The Buffalo Effect” is a new challenge for the hobby everywhere. Highly desirable in the head region but undesirable below the shoulder, when the feather length that is achieved affects type and creates a much longer bird; so long that the wing carriage and tail droop. Some well intentioned fanciers are already talking about long-flights! In truth however, only fanciers of my generation understand what the original long-flights looked like. That said, if we are not careful we will be bringing the long-flights back again and a great deal depends on our judges. If they, like some breeders, get overawed by head qualities to the extent that they ignore style, carriage and type – we are in for serious trouble in the years to come. We are, in my opinion, on the edge of destroying the beauty of the Exhibition Budgerigar. The big question to the judges is which of you has the courage to put down a big-headed exhibit for lack of type.

Learning The Hard Way

I bred a super grey normal youngster this year and at six weeks old the parents refused to feed it. No amount of trying him in other nests would work and I decided to really have a go at hand feeding supplemented with appropriate drugs. I placed him in the warm hospital area I have and each day I fed him three times via crop needle containing Dr Rob Marshall’s super solution Quik Gel, plus some amoxicillin antibiotic mixed with a baby powder and all administered warm direct to the crop. It took time but as his strength improved I placed another self eating chick in with him – sick birds need a companion.

After this hurdle, he began to eat really well and was approaching full recovery. It was at this stage I learned something! I stupidly offered him a standard commercial egg food, very soft, but it would harden as it dried out. Then a big problem arose very quickly. He went backwards and I checked his crop only to find a hard “ball” of undigested food blocking the alimentary canal. I crop fed him some warm water and applied gentle manipulation with only partial success. It wasn’t a blocked gizzard as this is situated further down, but on the third day I lost him. My fault entirely and was I cross as he was fine without the softfood. I cannot in all confidence say I was completely correct as other factors could be involved – but I learned something new. As Jo Mannes says when anyone rings him and says “Jo. That bird I bought yesterday has died” Jo’s response is simple, “They do that you know.” Such is life when you are dealing with livestock, but I learned not to make the same mistake again.

To be continued……………..


Filed Under: BeginnersBreedingFeaturedFeedingHealthManagementShows



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. Delia Smith says:

    Fascinating article. Sad loss of the super Grey Normal youngster for Gerald. I would suspect the ampicillin. Antibiotics for very young birds, administered prophylactically is not considered practice. The new digestive system is usually cleared of any good assimilating bacteria as well as any potential bad ones. Digestion is then impaired with results ranging from poor feed utilisation, stunted growth, crop impaction or worse. It would take a course of live probiotics to restore it. The best thing, is to keep those sociable older birds who will feed any begging youngster thereby sharing their beneficial gut bacteria along with the food.

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