During the early years of the 1920s bird breeders in Great Britain were steadily taking up the breeding of budgerigars - mostly in flighted aviaries. The principle source of supply at that time for these attractive little Australian parakeets was the commercial breeding establishments, mainly those of Blanchard and Bastide in the South of France. Periodically consignments of wild caught birds were imported from their native country to increase the supply of aviary bred stock. The bulk of the imports were greens and yellows with a small number of the then known rare colours coming from private European breeders. The keeping, breeding and exhibiting of budgerigars developed so much amongst aviculturists in Great Britain that on Saturday February 6, 1925, a meeting of interested fanciers was held at the Crystal Palace, London, Grand National Challenge Show of Cage Birds. At this gathering, where I was present, it was unanimously agreed to form a club to encourage the breeding, exhibiting and development of definitely pure varieties of budgerigars and so The Budgerigar Club was launched. Herbert Whitely of Paignton was elected President, Allen Silver of Newport, Monmouth, Chairman and Fred Longlands of Chichester, Honorary Secretary and Treasurer, and a supporting committee of 12. Within a very few months the club had well over 100 enthusiast members.
A list of rules was compiled, some colour descriptions and standard of points laid down, a standard show cage, judges nominated and all appeared in the first Year Book 1925. Two interesting points arise from this Year Book, firstly a drawing and dimensions of the standard show cage were first to appear in Cage Birds and then in the 1926 Year Book. This show cage was designed by Allen Silver and is virtually the same in most respects as our present day one. The second point was in the colour description where cinnamons (or fawns) and slates were given. The description of cinnamons (or fawns) was "these birds to exhibit clear Bengalese brown tones in place of green and dark markings. The black throat spots of the wild plumage must be brown in this variety". The originator of this description must have been clairvoyant as it was not until 1931 that the first cinnamon mutation occurred in Great Britain.
In the 1925 Year Book the cinnamon (or fawn) description was omitted and did not appear again until the 1935 issue and firstly under the name of cinnamonwing. Now as to the slate - these birds were in fact mauves and were not recognised as such until a few years later. However a slate mutation did occur in May 1935 in the aviaries of T S Bowman of Carlisle and was soon bred in several different shades including green.
The First Club Show
The first Club Show was held at the February 1926 Crystal Palace Show and full prize money was guaranteed throughout the classes by The Budgerigar Club. At this event 9 classes were scheduled, 100 entries received and were judged by the late R J Watts of Cambridge. In those early days of budgerigar exhibiting they were frequently shown in pairs and at this first Club Show there were 17 light green pairs and 11 light yellow pairs. The largest class of 18 was light blues where the mixture of pairs and single cocks or hens were benched. The best bird at this Club Show was a light green cock, which won a class of 14 and was shown by a Miss D A Crosse of London.
In addition to the Club Show some 10 other Open Shows up and down the country were given patronage of the Budgerigar Club. At the next years Club Show there were 131 exhibits followed by 253 in 1928. To help increase the number of birds exhibited at all Patronage Shows throughout each season the Chairman, Allen Silver, presented gold, silver and bronze medals for the first, second and third most points overall. In 1927 the winners were Allen Silver, C H Rogers and R J Watts. The following year they were Allen Silver, C H Rogers and Mrs D E Wall. In 1929 C H Rogers, Mrs D Wall and R J Watts collected the medals. The competition generated by these medals caused the acceleration of entries at all Patronage Shows and further medals were not offered as the point of their presentation had been achieved.
In June 1927 the first number of The Budgerigar Bulletin was issued with Allen Silver, the then Chairman, as first Editor. He relinquished these posts in 1930 when Andy Wilson took over the Chairmanship and Denys Wilson the Editorship. The club received a severe loss when after only 2 years or so as Hon Secretary Fred Longlands died before the first Bulletin was issued. The Club was very fortunate in finding an adequate successor as Hon Secretary in Harry Humphries, as Allen Silver said in the Editorial of Bulletin No 1. It is interesting to note that in Bulletin No 2 approved budgerigar cages were quoted at 8/6d each (42½p), best budgerigar seed at £2 per cwt and green budgerigars at 17/6 (75p) to 30/- (£1.50) per pair. This was the period of the beginning of the Japanese budgerigar boom when the prices of birds became very high during the next few months. Sky blues were priced at £100-£125 each, cobalts at £150-£175 each, mauves £175 each and whites at £200 each. These prices were based on colour alone, irrespective of type and quality, so selected birds for exhibition costing even more.
Little Known About Inheritance
In these early days of the ever increasing popularity of budgerigar breeding little was known about the inheritance of the different coloured mutations which were starting to appear in rapid succession. There was much discussion between fanciers in the fancy press about the different breeding methods to produce blue series birds. However this problem was clarified when Dr Hans Duncker and Konsul-General C H Cremer published their findings on the Mendelian Principles of Inheritance as applied to budgerigars. The Budgerigar Club published these results in a little booklet "Colour Breeding of Budgerigars", price 1/- (5p) post paid 1/1d. Much detailed information on colour breeding was published in the bulletins over a number of seasons giving club members up-to-date particulars of the inheritance of the different colour mutations as they appeared. One of the first ones being the Greywings which caused great interest and discussion both in Great Britain and Europe. It was quite some time before the Greywings were recognised by The Budgerigar Club as a distinct and true breeding mutation, previously it had been suggested by one group of fanciers that they were nothing more than badly coloured yellows resulting from crossing ordinary green and yellow birds.
During the early period closed rings for budgerigars were adopted by the club after a great deal of heated discussions amongst club members. However, it was finally decided that only birds wearing such rings could compete in young bird classes and this was reluctantly accepted by numerous breeders. One of the arguments put forward at the time was that the parent birds would damage the young birds legs by trying to remove the rings. This argument would seem strange to present day fanciers when thousands upon thousands of closed rings are used all over the world without trouble.
In the summer of 1929 The Budgerigar Club, through the President, Captain H S Stokes, MC, presented His Majesty, King George V with 9 budgerigars of the newer colours for his aviary at Sandringham, these His Majesty accepted and graciously thanked The Budgerigar Club for their gift. Readers may be wondering why I have used the title of Budgerigar Club but it should be remembered this was the name originally given when the organisation was first formed in 1925. However in 1930 His Majesty, King George V, graciously consented to become Patron and it was at his request that the name was changed to The Budgerigar Society.