I was indeed fortunate to know Cyril Rogers and following his sad death, to be given a great assortment of his original hand written articles. There is a mountain of information contained in these works, which I have re-edited and published a selection on these Web pages for everyone to learn from and enjoy.

Terry A Tuxford, August 1999

Cyril Rogers
An introduction by Ken Gray gray.jpg (7103 bytes)

Cyril was, in the words of Helen, his dear wife who pre-deceased him, "a unique man" - a man of wide knowledge and interests, but most well known as an avian author and journalist; a man whose enthusiasm for his subject immediately conveyed itself to his a listener or reader. He was described, with justification, as a "walking avian encyclopaedia." He kept and wrote about birds for over 70 years. The number of book titles that bear his name as author or editor may well equal the number of years he lived, which was into his mid-eighties.

Cyril began life, and lived for many years, in the Cambridge area, and resided in East Anglia all his life. He loved the wide open spaces and wild life, especially birds. Most people in the Fancy immediately link his name with Budgerigars, but his knowledge and authorship extended far wider: he was also an authority on Zebra Finches and wrote extensively, sometimes under nom-de-plumes, on Canaries, British Birds and other Foreign Birds. He willingly lectured, or just talked whenever asked, on many avian subjects.

Cyril was a member of many local organisations in Cambridge and Aldeburgh and more widely, in the counties of Cambridgeshire and Suffolk, as well as many national organisations. He also, strange though it might seem to bird lovers, had an interest in cats, especially the Burmese and Siamese varieties.

Founder Member

Cyril’s parents bought him his first Budgerigar in his early teens. He helped found the Cambridge and County CBA and began exhibiting birds at its shows. At the big Crystal Palace Show in 1925, he became a founder member of the Budgerigar Club - as it was then known - and his mementoes show that he was awarded winners’ certificates by the club in 1928. Within a few years he was showing, and judging, all over the country.

By the mid 1930s, Cyril, in addition to developing his literary career, had become secretary of the renamed Budgerigar Society (it was renamed at the request of King George V). He held this post until he joined the Army in 1940 in which he served for five years. In 1939, after the outbreak of war, he had organised a bird show in London, in aid of the British Red Cross Society, of which he was then a member. He was also a qualified Air Raid Precautions instructor.

Cyril worked with Edinburgh University on genetic research before and after the war. On returning to civilian life, he joined the Ministry of Agriculture in the Cambridge area, working on research for a few years, while resuming his bird-keeping activities and literary interests. With Helen helping him in many ways, his name soon became well known internationally. He wrote regularly for various birdkeeping publications in the UK and the English-speaking world, and his works have been translated into many languages.

New Mutations

Cyril was very enthusiastic about the appearance of new mutations, especially in the Budgerigar and Zebra Finch sections of the Fancy. He imported or obtained specimens of many of them and bred and experimented with them to determine their genetic make-up. Cyril’s written works became the recognised authority on the subject, especially his book, "The World of Budgerigars". He was still breeding rare mutant varieties right up to the time he entered hospital. He was very supportive of the creation of the specialist societies, formed to encourage the breeding and well being of various mutant varieties, and had held presidential office in most of them.

For many years Cyril and Helen were joint secretaries of the National Council for Aviculture in the UK, and he was president of that organisation at the time of his death. Cyril was actively engaged in show management on a national scale for many years and had been on the management committee of the National Exhibition of Cage and Aviary Birds for as far back as I can remember.

Cyril’s knowledge of birds was unique. Not only did he have this knowledge but he had the gift of passing it on to others without being patronising or wanting praise. He greeted everyone with a firm handshake and an aura of welcome. It was thanks to Cyril’s efforts that Slates were reintroduced into the UK, a year before his death.

Cyril’s companionship, advice and expertise are still greatly missed by many, although his prolific writings will ensure that his great fund of knowledge is not lost to us and future generations. His friendship was cherished by the many hundreds of people who came into contact with him during his lifetime in aviculture.

Index of Articles

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