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Sunday, February 20, 2011

AWBBudgies Travels : Alan Adams

It was a beautiful if not slightly cool morning the day we drove over to Alan Adams Aviary. The countryside is very lush. We drove down a narrow road with neatly trimmed hedges along both sides of the road. It is unusual for me to be in a car that has a steering wheel on the right hand side and for us to drive on the right side of the road takes getting used to. Here in America we drive on the left side of the road. I couldn't help but be impressed with how much history this country has. There are many old buildings with very old churches and businesses.

When we arrived at Alan Adams home we pulled into a neat stone driveway and parked in front of his home. Very old brick aligned the home and you could see that Alan a construction worker had recently done work on his building. When we asked how old the home was I was very surprised to hear it was 325 years in the original section of the home. That really struck me considering the country I reside in is only just 235 years old. Alan is a hunter and a true animal lover. His home is filled with quaint antiques and pictures of his hunting experiences. We walked through toward the back yard which adorned a circle stone patio.

The aviary is fantastic approximately 100 feet long. Breeding cages to one side are the box type and cover almost the entire length of the building which steps down toward the end. Several very long flights follow the opposite side of the building which are aligned with windows directly to the one side. It was very bright in the aviary and had plenty of ventilation.

I started to peer into the flights but as I looked into the breeding boxes I noticed a Crested Budgerigar. I have seen many pictures of these birds but this was the 1st experience for me to see one in person. I have friends here in New Jersey, USA who have bred these birds and I wanted to get a good quality picture of one. I didn't know it but as I walked down the aviary looking through the birds I noticed that the whole rear flight was filled with more Crests.

 Alan brought out tea and some cookies and we began to stand around and share the experiences from our trip and the aviaries we had visited. When I think about what we had seen to this point it was so overwhelming. Someone said that we may have see 95% of the top birds in the world.  It was clear Alan has a competitive spirit as the comparison to his birds came up. He began to explain why his birds could stand up to the likes of the Huxley and Marchant birds.

 I mentioned that I had never seen a crested budgie before and Alan showed me a bird which he claimed was the best crested in England last year. I was very impressed needless to say.

Again we began to see some super birds as Alan brought them to show cages that he hung along the wire of the flights for us to view at eye level. I was very impressed with the thickness of the birds along with the very good width in the heads. Alan was very keen on his birds however I didn't sense any secrets that he was willing to keep. He was very open and honest about his birds especially when it came to buying.

You could buy a variety of what you could fit into your program which would dictate the price.
When we walked out side you could see that Alan kept other birds in separate buildings opposite to the budgie aviary. Although we did not walk in that direction I noticed some other bright colored parrots some of which I had never seen before. We all lined up outside for another group shot and we were off.

Tuesday, February 8, 2011

AWBBudgies Travels : The Bowker Aviary

 As our conversation progressed at Alan Marchants aviary it was apparent that Alan was committed to his decision to sell to one breeder here in America. Then he started talking about the Bowker brothers. They are a satellite aviary of Alans who carry I believe 100% of the Huxley and Marchant blood line. I'm sure there is another line involved however it wasn't discussed. Our conversation amongst our group turned to flecking and we did notice some in this aviary but the concern was that in the past the Marchant aviary was known for flecking in the breeding stock. Frankly I didn't notice any on our trip not to say that I didn't miss any but looking at my pictures there were none that I saw.

Alan called at the last minuet and already evening it was even later that we arrived at the Bowker aviary. Although I sensed an inconvenience of our visit it was very generous of the brothers to allow us to view their aviary. The Bowker brothers are Intermediate breeders and it was obvious that they were on their way up. The quality was outstanding. On the quiet side as our visit lengthened the boys seemed to open up. Dave Collier who had just judged the Blues at the 2010 world show at Doncaster England was asked what he thought about one of the brothers blues. It was a fabulous bird however away from the other competition was hard to make a fair judgment.

The aviary consists of to separate buildings the breeding area in the 1st room was adjacent to tall flights. The breeding block traveled up to the ceiling and I wondered how difficult it must be to manage such an area. The aviary was clean and well maintained.

Our visit was very short considering the hour, however it was an added bonus for us to be able to view the birds on very short notice. The price of the birds was reasonable and this is an aviary of great interest if you were to consider some Huxley and Marchant birds. It could be said that the depth of a more established aviary might be more appealing however this aviary is full of quality birds which could enhance any aviary.

Saturday, February 5, 2011

AWBBudgies Travels : Alan Marchant Aviary

It was late in the afternoon when we headed over the the Alan Marchant aviary.  Alan greeted us at the door and out came his German shepherd a large beautiful well behaved dog. We sat down for tea while I listened to Dave and Pam catch up on old times in the hobby when they lived in England. It was immediately apparent that Alan had a strong personality with a warm touch. I instantly respected him once the discussion of birds came about. I was cold and the light was beginning to fade.

Alans aviary is in the back of his house that adjoins an incredible brick back patio. The main flight borders the back of the patio and steps down a level to the entrance. It wasn't a large aviary but well managed. As we walked into the aviary it was fairly dark. We settled in and Alan began to bring birds down to show cages he had on the table. It was so dark that I really had a difficult time trying to get some quality pictures. His aviary was typical with the breeding cages adjacent to the flights where the majority of the light shone through.

 Looking at the birds as they were placed in the show cages had a huge impact on me. The style of bird and its size and feather direction were at another level. I have not seen anything like it ever and in some features even at the world show. The width of the head was easily the length of 4 bars on the show cage. The back skull was very thick. His birds seemed to fill the show cages.

I asked if I could continue taking pictures in the indoor flight, which I did. The consistency in the birds was very good, better then I had seen to date. Alan is very passionate and knows where he stands in the hobby. We walked into a 2nd room of his aviary where he housed his younger birds. Alan caught up a bird and held it closely for us to see the iris ring in the eye. The white ring was wide and almost wild. This is a bird that is fierce and ready to breed. It was a reminder of another thing to pay attention to. He has a huge demand from all over the world for his birds.

We discussed the possibility of buying birds from his aviary however he would not do so due to an agreement with a breeder here in America. Frankly the discussion came to a point that he stated he wouldn't even care if his birds were shipped to the states. Alan has not been showing birds that I am aware of which made me think that he is ahead of the game considering the demand which he receives. He told us that he has never sold a bird for more then 300 pounds.

The difficulty of buying birds from such breeders is the high cost that many breeders are selling birds for, plus the high cost of bringing them in to the United States. The quarantine cost, shipping and vet bills and exchange rates are tremendous. That said some importers are now charging exorbitant prices in order for us to buy the quality here. The question we have is can I bring in birds of high and better quality then I can purchase from someone here willing to sell that same quality if it exists?

The risk is very great when you consider the stress a bird goes through, in order to survive let alone breed for you. You can put up 1000s of dollars and not reap the benefits you put forth in the 1st place in order to progress in the hobby. The question that remains is: What am I willing to spend to advance my position in the hobby?

Speaking from my position of income I am limited in this endeavor, however working inside of a small group it might be possible if we have an agreement in writing where we share the offspring thus decreasing the risk involved.

The discussion of an inner circle came up on our trip about top breeders that only share birds inside that circle. Sometimes there are exchanges of offspring or a simple swap of birds. When you look at who is winning at the top shows the majority are the rich. Often its these breeders who do not last. Some do not have the skills to continue to achieve what they set out to or they achieve it and leave. I am not a fan of those who buy their way to the top.

 Maybe you could argue that anyone spending more then $1000 is buying their way. I guess that is determined on your income level. It is however possible to succeed by learning and paitence. These are true stockmen who know every aspect of their birds, they have time and a plan to get there. That is the breeder I want to be, yet I'm always looking for opportunity. I have always felt that when money is taken out of the equation in this hobby it changes everything.

Here in America our hobby is sparse and spread out, so when people have to travel hundreds of miles it limits the numbers of people involved. When we stick together the hobby benefits and it expands. Many leave the hobby or never show and you notice the quality of their birds decrease. What are you doing I ask at your level for this hobby?