Sheppard & Flanagan – Part 1 of 2


This original version, now edited for international appreciation, was written by Rod Skivington and is reproduced with his kind permission and acknowledgement to the The Budgerigar Council of Victoria Inc.


Introduction by GSB

Sheppard and FlanaganThis is the second of several Australian articles to be published on to illustrate the effects that the UK hobby has had on the Australian fancy since the first UK exports arrived in the 1990s.

Prior to 1989, the Australian Standards excelled in type, but lacked credibility in head qualities.

It should be stressed that this partnership is but one of a group of important studs that now exist. These will be featured at a later date. It does however, in itself, depict the improvement that has been made by S&F given such a small initial outlay that they could afford at the time.

At the Beginning

Most of the bird fancy has heard of this most formidable budgerigar partnership, but perhaps few know the story of how this partnership has developed to this pinnacle of success that they now enjoy.

They first met as they joined the 1st North Moorabbin scout troop when they were just eight years of age. In later years they played for a local football club alongside each other in the back line for the under 15s and under 18s.

In the early scouting days (and unbeknown to each other) they both had a few pairs of birds breeding at their homes. It was their parents that identified this common interest and, as they lived in the same suburban block, the two became inseparable at weekends as a brief bike ride would link their common interest.

Their combined confidence grew and they travelled beyond their suburban block in East Bentleigh in search of other breeders. Alan Moss and another breeder in Bentleigh were a real hit for these two boys as they witnessed at first hand other breeders with all those new varieties and so many breeding cabinets.

It was not long before they found another breeder – just a short bike ride away lived Frank Gardner. There is no doubt that this introduction was the turning point for these two young lads in their budgerigar breeding future.

Developing the Essential Knowledge, Skills and Attitudes

Sheppard and Flanagan - Best Opaline 2009Back in those days, Frank Gardiner was the Chairman of the BCA, the Chairman of the Judges and standards committee and ran the monthly judge’s training school at the Camberwell football ground, his contribution to the bird fancy was significant and he was a respected national icon of the bird game and was even said to have invented the budgerigar!

Frank took these two enthusiastic youngsters under his wing and the tuition that was passed on over many, many years was second to none. In those years when Frank went out judging he had the two youngsters in tow most of the time.

Frank had a constant stream of visitors to his birdroom – people such as D Demoore, A&D Bassett, B Grinlington, A Bugg, L Vines, H Eady, I Hunter, J Scoble, H Heath and many more – but what an introduction for these kids and be assured they were there listening to every conversation.

After a long conversation with Bruce & Colin’s parents, Frank was permitted to take the boys to a local budgerigar club meeting. They were probably around 14 years old by this time and it just happened to be the Nepean Society. Here they were introduced to more big names of the bird game – G Campbell, G Gill, B Adams, R Reed, H Wise, C Bishop, F Stone, B McDowell and J Tanner.

In those days, as part of the monthly meetings, Frank Stone conducted a monthly education program that focused on a variety or an aspect of the fancy. This was accompanied by hand-out notes that were cherished by the two as they were so eager to learn.

Under the close tuition of Frank, Bruce and Colin passed the judges test before they had their drivers’ licenses, and importantly Frank instilled in them the important values for a judge and what it meant to be a competitor – all of which these days are more commonly referred to as life skills.

The Nepean Society is responsible for giving them their strong competitive nature. Nepean was a strong club and very competitive in the various local inter-clubs and shield competitions – all of which flow onto the National competition.

The two are quite passionate about being foundation members of the Mountain District Society, as it was a difficult time for them as they severed long standing ties with Nepean and almost immediately had to compete against their old and favoured club at the shield.

They went on to establish even more relationships with a new bunch of members such as B Grinlington, J Hobbs, B McVilley, J Verdonk, N Collins, P Bach, A Borg and R Skivington.

Bruce and Colin were fortunate enough to join Frank as councillors on the BCA and it was here that their involvement in the administration of the fancy began.

To date Bruce has been the Chair of the BCV, Treasurer, Ring Registrar, Chair of the Judges and Standards Committee, as well as an ANBC delegate and team carer on many occasions. Colin has been the BCV Vice President, BCV Secretary, a member of the Judges and Standards committee, Classis Show Manager, National Show Manager and ANBC WBO Delegate.

Forming the Partnership

Sheppard and Flanagan - Best Blue 2009 ANBC National ShowAt the beginning Bruce and Colin showed separately, though birds were exchanged regularly between the two at the time of pairing.

The Sheppard & Flanagan partnership was formed in 1990 – by necessity in a way, as individually they could not afford to import a shipment of birds from the UK separately. So, as a partnership, they participated in the very first shipment (nine birds) and the majority of their stock was purchased from Tom Williams and Peter Sanderson.

The limited numbers of birds that came in from the UK really restricted the flexibility for the two – when you divide some nine birds into two separate sheds there is not a lot to work with!

Fortunately a few of the imported birds were prolific breeders, consistently producing strong shouldered birds, with great length of body, exceptional head feather and deep mask that were full of large spots.

Something that was plentiful in those early days was smaller type cobby hens. They exhibited really good conformation with no real faults other than being a little smaller.

And herein lies one of the great secrets of the bird game. The hen described in the last paragraph is a breeding type of hen – a hen that is bomb proof i.e. she will breed no matter what cock she is paired too! If you are to be successful, first and foremost, you must have birds that will breed for you no matter what the circumstances. You must have a line of hens that are strong on fertility, feeding, nurturing and weaning.

The Success

All readers, especially those outside Australia, will want to know how successful Colin and Bruce have been on the show benches in recent years.

Suffice to say there is no doubt they have both made their mark on the Australian National Budgerigar Council Inc. (A.N.B.C) National Competition Show. For those unfamiliar with the Australian structure, for exhibits to be accepted for the National Show, they first have to be assessed at State level as a first hurdle. After that, if thought worthy, they go forward.

The National Show takes place mostly in the east of Australia to sympathise with those who travel for days from Western Australia, from Perth, to get their birds there.

Colin and Bruce live in the State of Victoria which is a bed of quality breeders. At the Victorian Shield Competitions they have had great success in the last four years with twenty Unbroken Cap Bird Shield wins and nineteen Young Bird Shield wins.

At National level they have also been highly successful and as a result of their success were awarded the A.N.B.C Hall of Fame Trophy in 2007. The photographs of their entries in recent times accompanying this article, tell their own story.


Colin's aviaryBruce and Colin have been fortunate to have visited many aviaries in the UK and stewarded at the BS show.

Together they have established a strong nucleus of Normals, Opalines, Dominant Pieds and Cinnamons, before moving into a much wider range of more specialist varieties, where each concentrate on only a few but they do include: Blackeye, Clearwing, Greywing, Yellow-Face, Crest, Spangle, Lacewing and Clearbody.

Bruce and Colin beleive that a full collection of varieties does go a long way to ensure that Mountain Districts are able to compete with the best of the Victorian clubs.

These days they have almost “come the full circle” in that they see more of each other as they are getting older – even with the distance between their residences.

They are also keen to point out that a very important part of the successful partnership was the support of their partners – Karen and Leanne – along with the birdroom manager at Colin’s place – his daughter Stephanie.

Part two of this article can be read here.


Filed Under: Profiles



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.

RSSComments (0)

Trackback URL

Leave a Reply