Above: Flecking is a big problem if it gets out of control, advises Fred. This bird also has a protruding beak, another potential fault

FRED WRIGHT concludes his three-part series on good and bad points in budgies, with a review of some of the common faults that can be controlled, plus some others that you mustn’t take any compromise with in any circumstances.

WHAT makes a good budgie? I’ve previously discussed the features that are desired in the modern bird, including feather quality and spot size (see October 18 issue), and spoken about nine faults that should be avoided, such as poor deportment, opalistic markings and drop tail (see November 29 issue).

Here, I continue to explain which faults you should keep an eye out for in birds within your set-up. (Faults marked *** should be dodged at all costs; ** are serious faults; and * are faults that are less serious but care should still be taken.)

1. No width in the mask and shoulders**

Before anyone shouts out: “Budgies don’t have shoulders” I am referring to the width between the wing butts or the top of the wings. It’s vital on a modern exhibition bird because that width offers room for the spots. Remember, spots should be large, round and evenly spaced. There needs to be plenty of room, so if the bird has no “shoulders”, this is a problem.

2. Small feathers**

This usually means you have a small bird, or at least one that appears to be small. An exhibition bird needs substance; therefore, it instantly becomes a challenge to increase the size of the bird and the feather.

3. Hard feather: usually a pointed feather*

This is not the problem it was many years ago, but it’s unappealing. The biggest issue comes with feather problems, but far more critically is that hard-feathered birds tend to become poor breeders as they get older, especially the hens. 

4. Feathers that are inclined to turn on the chest*

Not a common issue but it frequently appears on a top-quality bird. It seems that an individual becomes stressed in the show cage and it turns those chest feathers as it displays itself. I’m not totally convinced it’s an inherited problem, but it’s best avoided, if possible.

5. Too much feather: far too buff*

Some fanciers and judges would not see this as a problem, but it can bring complications with it. It is difficult to get a bird with style and deportment and too much feather at the same time. Some fanciers will love it, while others are more guarded about using budgies that excel in buff feathering.

6. No flights or several flights missing**

This can be the result of French moult or be one of those birds that fail to grow flights properly after its first and subsequent moults. It is a serious show fault. It’s sometimes possible to pick up a great bird with missing flights at a more sensible price than usual, but be careful if you decide to use it in the breeding cage.

7. No tail**

This issue is on almost the same lines as missing fights, so birds are never worth showing. Everyone talks about not using these budgies for breeding but most use the odd one with extreme caution. Birds with no tail always seem to produce more individuals with no tail!

8. Flecking and opalines**

Flecking is a big problem if it’s allowed to get out of control. It’s a severe fault on the show bench but it’s not as common as it was 20 years ago, so we are getting it under control.

It’s best to think of it as an excess of blackness in the bird. It usually comes out in the spot but if the feather is filled on the mask, it comes out on the feathers in the cap. It first appeared in budgies when the opalines became popular and were used to increase spot size. It is still very much associated with opalines.

Fanciers tend to use a flecked opaline hen if it has lots of other good qualities and try to breed out the flecking. Flecked cocks are more of a problem, because every hen the cock breeds with will be another opaline (usually flecked) and every young cock will, as a minimum, be an opaline carrier or split. Therefore, extra care needs to be taken when using a flecked opaline cock.

In more recent years flecking has crept into normals. When that happens, extreme care needs to be taken. Eliminate flecking and opalines and spot size reduces, so it is probably best to consider flecking as a fault we have to live with but keep under control.

9. Flights and/or tail too long**

In the 1950s a type of bird appeared that was called a “longflight”. This is a budgie with a long tail and flights, which was banned from the show bench. They eventually almost disappeared but over the past 10 years birds have appeared with long tails again. They should be banned on the show bench but the problem is that at a show there is no clear definition as to what constitutes a long tail. It’s something that needs to be avoided.

10. Scaly face*

This is a fault, but temporary. It’s a mite that forms a crust around the face or legs. If spotted by the judge a bird should be removed from the bench. It’s easily treated but highly contagious.

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