Caption: Star bird: two of the first photos taken of the historic hybrid. In addition to the features shown here, it also has well-marked wing bars and (as a result of its siskin parentage) a green underflue. Both photos: Richard Wilson


KEN Grigg, a well-known breeder of Norwich canaries, mules and hybrids, has bred the first ever recorded example of a siskin x bullfinch.

The news, which has stunned the BBM&H fancy, originally broke on Thursday, July 16 (see Cage & Aviary Birds, July 22, page 4). Mr Grigg had asked his Dagenham & District CBS colleague Richard Wilson to send photos of the young bird – which he believed to be a male – for independent verification to Bernard Williams, National British Bird & Mule Club vice-chair.

Mr Williams told C&AB: “It looked exactly like I would anticipate the cross to do, showing both parentages and a fantastic colour at this young age. I would say definitely a cock by its colour and lack of working on the body. But of course we can only guess what this hybrid looks like, because Ken is making history.”

Mr Wilson, Dagenham CBS secretary, said: “Some people may say how lucky this achievement is. But this is no accident or lucky coincidence – Ken has tried this pairing for over 30 years.

“Many of us know Ken at the grassroots level of this hobby,” he continued. “At Dagenham, Ken mucks in with helping at shows and meetings. He always has a kind word of encouragement or advice for members young and old. If ever there was a story of not giving up, this would be it.”

Last year, Mr Grigg was awarded the IOA’s Order of Merit and his latest feat was saluted by IOA committee member Eddie Wells.

He said: “I and my breeding partner Richard Lawson send our congratulations to Ken on a fantastic achievement. We have both known Ken since we were kids. He is well respected, not only for his success with birds but his total dedication to the fancy.”

At the time of writing, the hybrid was still being fed by its foster parents, so the British bird community is now hoping, with fingers crossed, that it is successfully weaned and then goes on to moult into adult plumage.

Mr Grigg has been a breeder for more than 60 years, has served as the general secretary of the Southern Norwich Plainhead club for more than 40 years and has been an OMJ judge since the 1980s. He told C&AB: “I’ll never have another breeding season like this one, never.”

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