How do I proceed?"
I appreciate the point of view of young fanciers who cannot commence with many pairs, and I realize that the majority of new Budgerigar keepers are men and women who wish to begin in a small way, and that is why I have especially devoted this short chapter to them.
The initial breeding stock has obviously got an important bearing upon future results, and if the beginner starts with poor material it is not likely that he will breed youngsters in the first year sufficiently good to serve his purpose in founding what he hopes will eventually be a successful show team, nor suitable for him to make use of them in accordance with the established principles and characteristics.
Therefore, I want to emphasize the importance of a maxim which has become almost common, eg., quality before quantity. In other words, if' your initial expenditure must be limited, spend your money on comparatively few good well-bred birds in preference to twice tine number of inferior specimens. So many young Budgerigar Fanciers make the mistake of filling their aviaries with faulty birds merely because they want to have a display of colour for their friends to see. It would be much more profitable to them to expend the same amount on only three, four or five pairs which, whilst not necessarily good enough to be exhibited, are satisfactory breeding stock possessing more good properties than bad ones; well-bred and obviously likely to produce offspring better than themselves and capable of forming the basis of a collection which will be a credit to their owner and eventually bring honor to them.
Of course, this advice does not apply at all in the case of those people who do not desire ever to become exhibitors, but who merely want to own aviaries lull of Budgies as an adornment to their gardens.
IMPORTANCE OF GOOD INITIAL STOCK
It is wise not to be too cheese-paring when making the first purchases. A few bucks extra spent at the beginning can come back fourfold ultimately, providing always, of course, that one obtains value for money; and this is not difficult to ensure in a Fancy containing so many good breeders, so many good birds and so many genuine devotees. It is impossible for me or anyone else to tell novices how much they ought to spend on Budgerigars of particular colours, as everything depends upon the quality of the birds offered and the quality of the stock which has produced them. I have sufficient faith in my fellow fanciers to say that in the great majority of cases the beginner will be given a square deal, will receive sound advice from the seller as to how to mate the birds bought in the first season, and will not be charged unfair prices.
I shall say to those who have birds for sale that they should be willing to send birds on approval under the usual conditions, so I think it is only right that buyers should usually desire to see that which they are asked to buy before finally making a decision. Having got the birds before them and having formulated ideas, as they ought to have done, as to what are the essential requirements in a good Budgerigar, they can then buy or not buy as they may think fit.
Alternatively, if they have a friend who has more knowledge than they have, they can let him see the birds before deciding. But if the potential purchaser feels that he is as yet himself incapable of selecting birds, and if he has no one else to whom he can refer, then having specimens sent on approval will not serve any useful purpose, and it is better in such a case to place one's trust entirely in the breeder from whom one intends to buy and leave it to him or her to select the birds in accordance with the amount to be expended and the number of pairs which is required. Such trust as this will rarely be abused, although, of course, it is advisable for a purchaser to use normal business sense when selecting the advertiser to whom he is to write.
In ninety-nine cases out of a hundred, when the absolute novice, who admits his ignorance, tells an older fancier that he leaves himself entirely in his hands, he who did not strive to give complete satisfaction would indeed be a crook. True, we hear of cases in which advantage is taken of beginners, but I am sure that such conduct is not common, and, after all, no business or hobby can ever be entirely free from those whose consciences are elastic, to put it mildly. But in the Budgerigar Fancy these are comparatively few, and most of their names are known.
The novice who can only commence with, say, four pairs will be well advised to specialize in a particular colour or group of colors. As to which colors he shall commence with is entirely a matter of personal taste. It is a good plan in the first place to go to a show, see all the different colour varieties on exhibition, decide which attract the most and then follow the dictates of one's fancy. If your particular favorites are Light Greens or Lutinos, and your collection in the first year must be confined to four pairs, then I should advise you to have all your birds of the one variety. If your fancy leans towards Mauves, Cobalts, Violets, and Blues, you can commence with a small stud containing most of these colors, because they can often be inter-mated with considerable advantage.
The above colors, of course, are only used as an example.
BEST TO SPECIALISE
My point is that the man or woman who is only buying a few birds to begin with should definitely specialize. The probability is that later the young fancier will become so enthusiastic over the Budgerigar that he will decide to extend his scope and accommodation, and then it will soon be enough for him to take up additional colour varieties. Of course, if the beginner is able to purchase, say, twenty pairs at the start, there is no reason for him to specialie in the manner I have described, though even such as he should not keep all the colour varieties.
There are patent reasons why the specialization which I advocate is so necessary. To take an extreme case, if the four pairs purchased were composed of, say, one pair of Light Greens, one pair of Greys, one pair of Lutinos, and one pair of Clearwings, it would not really be desirable with an establishment of this size to mate any of the youngsters from one pair with the youngsters of any other pair in the second breeding season, because the colour crosses are unlikely to be suitable. Consequently, quite a number of new purchases would have to be made, whereas if the policy of the owner were to specialize, the young stock of the first year would themselves provide him with a series of matings, in addition, of course, to his being able to use again the birds bought at the outset.
Another good reason why it is unwise to depend solely on one pair of one colour to found a family of that colour is that they may fail to be successful stock birds. Due to the fault of the cock or the hen, or both, they may not "nick" -- as fanciers say -- whereas if one has four pairs of the same colour or group, the chances are that one at least will be successful, and then it is they and their progeny which will lay the foundations of success. It is not always by any means easy to breed winners even with a number of pairs, so how greatly is the breeder handicapped when all his hopes have to be centered in only one pair.
Novices often ask what essential qualities they should look for in the birds which they buy for breeding purposes. My answer is that they must study the Budgerigar's exhibition requirements and the most common faults, and secure in their purchases as many of the former and as few of the latter as possible, always bearing in mind that the better the bird the more expensive it must be; that there is no such thing as a perfect Budgerigar; that the most successful show birds -- even if the owners will sell them -- will be comparatively expensive; that it is possible to breed good youngsters from birds that are themselves not of sufficient merit to win prizes but which are well bred and of that general type which one associates with show Budgerigars as distinct from under-sized, slim, small-headed specimens, such as are kept as pets.
You must expect minor faults, but wasters are dear at any price if the object is to breed from them. All this, I am afraid, is abstract advice, yet how can I be definite without the birds which someone is thinking of buying actually in cages before me? The novice can adopt no better procedure than to formulate his own ideas as to what he should and should not have in a Budgerigar which he buys by visiting shows and studying the winning exhibits, reading assiduously all that he can about the exhibition properties, and interrogating older fanciers whenever the opportunity presents itself. We all learn by experience in Budgerigar culture, as we do in every other walk of life.
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Hamilton & District Budgerigar Society Inc.