DTI001 19_07_17

Bengalese Finches
British Birds
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How clean is your birdroom?

RICHARD MILLER looks at aviary hygiene and discusses how to find the perfect balance to keep your birds in top condition

Richard’s father and exhibition partner Michael sweeping their shared birdroom

THE environment in which we keep our birds is fundamental both in terms of their health and our own. There are opposing ideals, where we want to sustain an aviary that incorporates as many features as possible from the birds’ natural habitat, but at the same time maintain basic hygiene and deal with common problems such as feather dust.

Fanciers who do not properly consider how to combat the onset of disease and create a healthy vibrant environment for themselves and their birds are missing out on a key element to successful budgerigar breeding.

Polar opposites
In my time in the hobby, I have visited aviaries that have enabled me to observe the two extremes in terms of aviary hygiene. On the one hand, I have come across people whose aviaries looked like they had not seen a hoover or a brush for years. The other end of the spectrum is a birdroom that when you step into it feels like you are entering a laboratory with not a speck of dust or dirt in sight.

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French moult – why me?!

That’s the first reaction to this dreaded condition – but then you’ve got to think and act quickly, says RICHARD MILLER

What a mess: a bad case of French moult

THE breeding season is under way. All of those key pairs you spent weeks putting together have clicked. The chicks have hatched and matured, and there are some dazzlers among them.

And then, one day, when you open a nest-box or look into a breeding cage, you spot a few feathers lying around where the chicks are. You think nothing of it, but over the course of the next few days you see more and more young birds dropping flights, tail feathers and (in some cases) body feathers, either in the nest-box or after they have left their parents.

All of a sudden the well-known sinking feeling hits home and you realise that your birds have got French moult.

When you come into the hobby, French moult is one of those things that you hear people talking about, but you never pay much attention because it will probably never happen to your birds. Indeed, there are some people who are lucky enough to never experience the condition in their birds. Unfortunately, one year my father and I were not that lucky!

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A chance attraction

VAL COTTON’s love of budgerigars wasn’t part of her life-plan, but it’s certainly here to stay, she explains to Nick West

Val Cotton: ‘I love them although they bring heartbreak’

VAL Cotton fell into budgerigar keeping, like so many fanciers do. However, Val’s approach is altogether different.

When her normal consignment of wild bird food failed to arrive via the post one week Val headed into town to the petshop next to Marks & Spencers, where she did her food shopping. She says she had absolutely no intention of buying a budgerigar. “I feed wild birds in the garden,” she explains. “I get 42 species of bird in my back garden and I usually order the food online, but this time it hadn’t arrived. So I went to Pets at Home, next door to M&S.”

Retired music teacher Val, who lives just outside Leeds in Yorkshire, says she used to go into petshops to check the birds were being well cared for.

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A winning way with light greens

How do you breed show-stopping light greens? RAY STEELE’s answer might surprise you...

Skyblues can work wonders with your light green results

TODAY there is a wonderful range of budgerigar colours available to breeders, but for many the original budgerigar colour – light green – is very special. For 30 or 40 years after their introduction into Europe in 1840 there was no choice. You either bred light greens or nothing, because no new colour mutation had yet appeared.

Most of the new colours that mutated were less robust than the wild-type and so they were cross bred with light greens to strengthen them. Even in the 1930s “dipping into the green” was being advocated to preserve the original wild-type vitality. But the light green itself paid a large price. Colour faults were introduced into light green strains – such as unwanted opalescent wing markings.

I believe that the best and soundest coloured light greens are those that are most free of a mixture of other colour forms. By careful stock selection it is possible to achieve deep, bright, even colouration. I have produced light greens that were mistaken by some people for dark greens. When such a bird has been crossed with a skyblue, the light greens produced have been excellent.

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