Above: Ray Howells of Birds & Things (www.birdsandthings.com) presents his donated rosebowl to the National’s best-in-show winner John Harris, a member of the Australian Finch Society who returned to the hobby four years ago

A HECK’S GRASSFINCH has won the National Exhibition’s ultimate trophy for best exhibit in show, making it two wins out of two for a foreign bird with the prestigious title.

The award was introduced last year by the Parrot Society (PS), and the debut winner was Eric Michie’s adult white Java sparrow cock.

This year’s winning exhibit, a normal cock bred by John Harris from Bedfordshire, took best Australian finch in show, before going up against three other exhibits in the BIS contest organised by the National Council for Aviculture (NCA).

Its opponents were a redpoll x bullfinch cock from Lawson & Wells; Keith Ferry’s unflighted clear yellow Norwich canary cock; and a late-bred 2016 cinnamon grey budgerigar cock from father-and-son partnership T. & A. Luke.

Three of the four judges put the current-year-bred Heck’s forward for the title; second was the Norwich canary followed by the British exhibit and the budgerigar.

Foreign finch judge Lisa Barnsdale commented: “The Heck’s was in immaculate condition and was very steady. It showed itself to perfection.”

A delighted Mr Harris told Cage & Aviary Birds: “I have always dreamed about winning the National – it has only taken 43 years! Buying quality stock to build a stud over many years is a key factor to having successful results.”

Placings in the Canary Council’s (CC) best canary in show were: first place Keith Ferry’s Norwich (40 points); second Clarke & Gillott’s self blue Fife hen (36 points); and third place went to a current-year bred gold broken cap Lizard by Tony Horton (34 points).

Best flighted canary was awarded to Ian Wright’s superb crest canary.

CC treasurer Chris Smith said: “Ten canary breeds were lined up for the judges for best canary in show, and as the points were tallied up, it reminded us of 2015, when a Norwich just saw off a Fife for top spot.”

It was a unanimous decision by judges for the best junior canary exhibit: a clear yellow Fife cock benched by 11-year-old Kaitlyn Ramsay – from Fife, appropriately!

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