Budgie breeder, just for Dane

Somebody commented on here the other day that they liked the randomness of my posts since I stopped writing about cycling. Well this one is for you Dane.

I used to breed budgerigars. It was a long time ago now and I have no idea what brought it back to my mind during this morning’s walk. I certainly didn’t see any exotic bird life and I didn’t make it as far as the recently opened pet shop in the village but something brought back the cut and thrust of the budgie breeding world so I thought I would write about it.

I think I was about fourteen at the time that we went to visit my Dad’s brother, Uncle Ted, in Dalton. When you are fourteen visits to relatives aren’t at the top of your bucket list so I was probably being a sulky teenager on the long journey from St. Anne’s all around the expansive Morecambe Bay and without the aid of the M6 to provide any excitement. I suspect I spent the whole journey dreaming of Claire Boon, the most beautiful creature ever to grace the top deck of a number eleven bus but that’s a story for another day.

We already had a budgie in our house. He was called Peter and his party trick was to pick up coins from the mantel piece and drop them onto the hearth because he seemed to like the noise they made. It was an amusing trick but it didn’t require a great deal of intellect and indeed, he didn’t have any. He once spent a good hour transferring about three pounds worth of small change from the dining table to the carpeted floor of the lounge completed baffled by the absence of his favourite jingle. He could barely hold his head up by the end of the exercise but he was nothing if not persistent. And endlessly optimistic. I thought it was cool to own a budgie, well, probably not cool back then, more likely neat or ace. Yes I think it was ace, but when I got to my Uncle’s house he took things to another level.

This is not Peter

This is not Peter

In his back garden he had not one, but dozens, maybe even hundreds of budgerigars in aviaries. They were all the colours of the rainbow (apart from orange, red and purple) and they fascinated me as they flew around their enclosures and jostled with each other on perches, sometimes fighting and sometimes flirting. I was allowed to go into one of the aviaries and even given a bird to hold and shown newly laid eggs and hatchlings. I was hooked.

Over the next few weeks I pestered and pestered to be allowed to become a budgie breeder and in the end, no doubt for the sake of a bit of peace, I was given the green light. My Dad was a joiner and it didn’t take him long to knock up the necessary accommodation for a pair of besotted blues and I was in business. I was genuinely enthusiastic and tended their every need before and after school until one happy day they produced a family. It probably taught me more about biology than Mr. Hodges ever did and I exhausted the local library’s budgie section in my thirst for knowledge. Before long we required an aviary too and what had been my Dad’s sanctuary, his shed, became a feather infested smelly den requiring endless cleaning and constant attention as the breeding program went exponential.

That’s when I lost interest and left it all to my Dad. I think, by then, I had mustered up the courage to actually speak to Clair Boon and really there was just no competition I’m afraid. To be fair to my Dad he really got stuck into it and even won a few prizes at local shows. I have always felt really guilty about the way I got him into breeding budgies at the expense of his beloved shed while I moved on to breeding ambitions of another kind. Not complaining about it was probably as clear a declaration of fatherly love as you could ever imagine.

The whole episode in my life is all terribly vague now. It’s like a kind of Eton Mess of memories involving seeds, feathers, eggs and poo, and, if I’m really honest, probably knickers and bra straps as well. I did learn a few things though and they have stuck with me all my life. I can tell a male and female budgerigar apart without lifting up any skirts or dropping any trousers and I still remember the difference between a Lutino and an Albino. I also learnt what it feels like to get dumped by the most gorgeous girl that ever rode the number eleven bus and then realise that you have lost your budgies into the bargain.

Spot the difference

Spot the difference

 

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4 thoughts on “Budgie breeder, just for Dane

  1. I agree, it’s fascinating to see what you come up with each day!

    By the way, it’s Eton Mess darling. I could just eat a bowlful now!
    It’s all very well banging on about eating less sugar, but I don’t care for salty stuff like crisps, I long for a bag of home made fudge.
    You’re lucky Tone, your body is stuffed tight with thin genes, but I was unlucky enough to be bunged up with fat ones, and there’s little chance I’ll be much thinner until I’m in my late eighties. I’m not ready to go there yet. Keep writing xx

  2. well that was a different post. I remember my parents having budgies – one after the other, never in pairs. they were always blue and the cage door was always left open so the bird came in and out as it wanted too. one used to play with the dog and another used to hang upside down from the washing line strung across the living room. happy days

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