Above: One thing you can’t really do in the budgie fancy is buy your way straight to the winner’s podium. It takes a lot of skills on top of spending


In FRED WRIGHT’s second of three articles about buying budgies, he warns against splashing the cash on impulse


THE first rule must be to know what you want. If you don’t want it or don’t need it, don’t buy it. Be careful of impulse buying! If you are starting, you have to buy pairs for breeding but later, once you are established, try to buy cocks rather than hens. You will always get more from a cock than a hen. Only buy hens with great care.

It’s difficult at the start, but once you have progressed in the hobby, think about not only what you want but think about a budget. Know what you can afford to spend and do your best to keep to it.

Deciding who you want to buy birds from is always difficult. Don’t fall into the trap of thinking you should only buy from a champion. There are lots of breeders in all sections who will have what you want, especially with the specialist colours and varieties, while intermediates and champions are more likely to have better quality birds to sell. The advantage with a champion is that they usually breed more birds and are likely to have more, better-quality birds to sell, but beginners will also have birds to sell.

Selecting where to buy is sometimes more about the person who is selling than the birds they have to sell. You need to buy from someone you can trust. Talk to other fanciers and the good people to buy from will always get a mention – as will those who should be avoided. Specialist breeders will have the specific colours and varieties, so a lutino specialist is likely to have lutinos to sell. 

It’s worth visiting shows to see who is showing the quality birds you like. Try to identify those who are showing and probably winning with young birds that you like and consider them as potential sellers for you. You might have to rely on adverts to select who to visit but try to check them out with fellow fanciers before you jump in at the deep end.

It’s always worth trying to buy young birds against buying over-year birds. Young hens are likely to perform better for you than over-year birds. However, if a top-quality cock is offered at a sensible price and it’s what you want, maybe it is worth taking a chance, even if it’s an over-year bird.

Many breeders will only sell cocks and pairs. But if you can buy an extra young hen or two, buy them if they are offered at the right price. Once the breeding season begins, hens are always in demand and you will certainly be able to use them! Try not to leave good hens behind if they are on offer.

Sellers want to sell the birds they don’t want. You as the buyer will probably want to buy the birds they want to keep. It’s an old trick but it frequently works: identify what you want and make the approach to see if it’s for sale. Try to get it into a show cage to have a look, and then try to buy it. Sometimes getting it into the show cage moves the advantage to the buyer and takes it away from the seller.

You must look at fitness and health in whatever you are buying. Unless it is fit and well, leave it behind. Don’t fall for the bird that’s in a bit of a moult, unless it’s in its baby-moult. A bird that’s in a moult is putting all its energy into growing new feathers and is at a low ebb. It’s not in the right condition to be moved to a new birdroom. Unless a bird looks fit, bright-eyed and well, leave it behind. It’s stressful for a bird to be moved to a new birdroom so it needs to be on top form before it is moved.

If you are out buying birds, take a decent travel box, with food and water for your new birds on the way home. It’s a good idea to take some of the seed that is currently being fed to your bird before you buy it and also to offer some soaked millet spray. When you get your new purchases home, don’t forget to keep them separated from your own birds for a while. House them in cages and take care of them. Do not don’t them into large flights and mix them with your other birds too quickly. Quarantine them!

Part Three follows in two weeks (March 27 issue).

Fred Wright maintains a champion stud in Wallington, Surrey.

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