HOW REFRESHING TO read, in this week’s Letter of the Week, about a newcomer to the budgerigar fancy who has so swiftly embraced both models, so to speak. Admirers of the “traditional” budgerigar can be swingeingly critical about the modern exhibition bird, and that is their right. Yet I can’t help thinking that those who admire both types are not at all having their cake and eating it; they’re having two cakes that they can eat whenever they please.
Remember Ian Wright, whom we profiled three weeks ago: a champion Gloster canary man who’s now started to excel with crested canaries as a sideline? Budgie and canary fanciers must both excuse me for the comparison, but surely Ian is likewise enjoying the best of two worlds: the correct properties of type and plumage in both the small and the larger breed. And, keeping and appreciating both, I’ll bet he is the less tempted to blur the boundaries: by breeding ever-larger Glosters, for example.
I don’t want to push the comparison, I’m just making a familiar point in another way: that birdkeepers’ minds are and ought to be large enough to embrace more than one type of excellence. Yes, I insist that pet-type budgies can be described as excellent. And even the most obsessive exhibition breeder should bear in mind that the basic excellence resides in the living budgerigar, rather than in the exhibition standard that we have invented ourselves.
■ Ed’s Quote of the Week: “The website has seen some high levels of views from Russia in the last few months.” So we learn in the AGM report of the SW&SC ZFC on page 22. Well, that’s good... I think. Mind you, the Kremlin’s said to have some online form with Western matters recently. US elections one year, the UK’s nest-feather show calendar the next? Oi, Putin – no!
■ Last week’s issue went to press before the Easter break, and my mind’s still on my own bird highlights from those four blissful days off: a flock of Arctic terns dancing over glittering water; the year’s first swift beating through ahead of a cold front; piping gangs of mallard babies hidden in the riverside grass. And, via text and email, news filtering from friends as canary hatchings doubled, then doubled again.
Whether it’s your first spring with birds or your eighty-first: enjoy them this week!
In the April 19, 2017, issue of Cage & Aviary Birds, Bill Naylor reveals how the nuthatch is just as entertaining in aviculture as in the wild - whatever name we use for it.
In news, Northamptonshire Alliance CBS says it will continue to flourish following a modernisation of its structure and an overhaul of its committee; and scientists reveal how zebra finches use two parts of their brain to learn song, and that one part teaches the other.
Deciding when to bring your canaries into breeding condition can be tricky - especially given that the bigger breeds need a bit more time than the more petite birds. Dave Brown hears from expert breeders about how to get the best results from those larger canaries.
Knowing your limits when you consider taking on a parrot is the first step towards a happy partnership - and for many in that position, says Rosemary Low, one of the many delightful smaller species makes a sensible choice.
Continuing his occasional series of reminiscences, Graham Wellstead, enlarges on his early days as a young wildlife 'doctor', and remembers some of the humbler and less spectacular creatures that came his way, as his practical skills with birds continued to evolve.
Plus lots more, including Gail Harland's waterbirds, Bird Notes, Zebra finches, Alderton's Observations and whydahs and widowbirds, plus lots more.