Sunday, February 27, 2011

Living A Dream

Living a dream!!! (well for a few weeks)
        by Steve Holland of the "Holland Stud"
                   used by permission

Brian Sweeting Spangle

If we are totally truthful our hobby is about living dreams! When we start in the hobby our dreams are to be able to breed the birds we so like and depend on the path we choose our dream will continue. If we select the exhibition route of our hobby our dream will then be to win our first class, after that our first section win and maybe our first Challenge certificate. Eventually our dream of winning our first Best in show may be realized and for those chosen very few the ultimate dream of winning Best in show at the Budgerigar Society show. Thankfully for us most of those dreams have been for fill, only missing out on the Best in show at the club show on a split vote to Tom Deacon, so we continue to strive to match that dream.

Alan Adams Aviary- England

Other will take different routes, some enjoying the hobby for pure pleasure and other striving and dreaming of coming up with that one bird, that is that little bit different from anything anyone else has ever managed to breed. For these people we have been lucky to have such artists as Eric Peake and Roy Aplin who have been able to turn their visions into pictorial representations of their dreams. Although we have never considered ourselves to be specialist breeders due to the number of varieties we keep and the average number of birds we have bred over the 55 year life of the stud (our average would be around the 250/260 mark I would guess averaged over the years) It has always been a thought that something may just pop up. In truth things have already popped up when we introduced the spangles into the stud I bred a perfect bulls eye spotted normal chick, but on it first molt the bulls eyed spot grew back as normal spots and I had bred a normal with spangle flights, later to be told when Jeff Attwood and Maurice Roberts visited us that it was a melanistic spangle. So things have happened but we had never been able to make them stick!

See Jeff Attwoods article on the Melanistic Spangle at this link:

Now to tell you of our latest but ultimately failed adventure into something new!

Les Martins BIS 2010 World Show

In mid breeding season of 2009 I bred a very good grey green cock, his only fault is that he did not grow two outside flights on one wing, but he is a bird we had to use, so it was no surprise when I visited the main aviary one weekend to see the young cock eventually in the breeding cage. Due to Dads failing health I now go over to the main aviary every other weekend to help Michael with cleaning etc so over the coming weeks I could keep an eye on the progress of the pair. After a few weeks Michael announced that we had a few fertile eggs, then we had a couple of chicks. Due to circumstances I could not visit for about three weeks so on my next visit, as I was cleaning out the breeding cages I questioned Michael “How are those chicks off the Grey Green cock”. 

Michael holding a promising Grey Green baby

Michael disappeared to the far end of the breeding room, returning with a nest box in his hand. For those who don’t know Michael, there are two extremes in his assessment of chicks, he either likes them or he doesn’t like them, there is rarely a middle ground. He whet on to remove the first chick and announced, “now I do like this one” after replacing it in the nest box he produced the second chick and then pronounced “but I don’t like this one”. 

I have to say there was something about it that was very different but as it was at the pinfeather stage it was difficult to make out exactly what it was. But at least the young cock had produced, a good first step in my book.

I guess to explain the next bit of the story I should explain that Michael rarely phones me; he will if he is passing mom when she is on the phone to have a few words but for him to phone it normally means there is something wrong or he wants me to do something, as he says, "After all you are retired and have the time to make phone calls or search the internet". So when I picked up the phone just after a week from my last visit I was surprised to hear his voice. The next set of words and the conversation that took place will surprise a few. Michael announced “I think you better get over here with your camera……. You know that chick off the Grey Green that I did not like…. 

Steve Holland displays birds of "The Holland Stud"

Well it’s a White face grey wing grey green……” I would guess that for most the next question would have to be “are you sure it’s a white face” but typical of us my question was “are you sure it’s a grey wing”. We have kept grey wings for a good number of years but they have been increasingly difficult to produce so my thoughts were, great an out cross to use into the grey wings. To what is now my surprise the conversation about it being a grey wing went on for a few minutes but then I had to ask “ but are you sure it’s a white face”. The reply was pure Michael “Yes I have spent time checking. At first I thought it was feather dust but after spending a time trying to remove the dust and then checking where in the nest box it could have come from, I’m sure it’s a white face!!! So get the camera on charge and get over here”. In truth I could have gone over at any time and I wish I had but to tie into our normal routing I said I would visit on the following Saturday. The camera went on charge and I started to wonder where and how the white face could have cropped up. The only new variety we had introduced into the stud over the last few years had been the golden faces………….. What was the grey green paired to and was it out of the golden faces !!! Had the Golden faces flipped and turned into the white face. All sorts of possible combination went through my head.

Alan Adams Goldenface Sky

On the Friday prior to my planned visit on the Saturday I received another phone call from Michael…. Two in one week, but this time not with such good news. “No need to bring your camera when you come over………. The white faced mother has turned it into a red face” was the news I was to hear “and she’s had a go at that good cinnamon!” I was so down hearted, missing out on showing the world a new variety by just one day!

On the Saturday I still visited and during the conversations we had I posed the question to Michael, “the hen the grey green is paired to what is it out of!!” With one of his broad grins the reply came back ….. “I’ve already been there and she is not out of the Golden face line, in fact she goes back to the old pied line!!”  So that squashed one of the possible theories.

Michael went on to explain that he had been part hand feeding the cinnamon and had had to move it to three nest boxes to try and get a hen to feed it, thankfully he eventually managed to get the chick away.

On my next visit Michael announced that the pair had seven fertile eggs, who knows we may get one out of the seven to be another white face, but in truth I would have been happy with seven cinnamon's of similar quality to the one we already had. As we spoke I can remember saying to Michael “you know what she is like now just make sure she doesn’t do it again”. Michael assured me he already had the nest sorted out where he was going to foster the chick to, “she does such a good job of feeding them as chick but I will have to move them before they are likely to go on the cage floor” was his reply!!!

Steve Holland in breeding section to their aviary

 Again two weeks later I was over at the main aviary and noticed the grey green cock in a different cage all by himself!!!. When Michael appeared I questioned, “ what’s happened with the Grey Green!!”
The sheepish reply came back” Well we had five chicks but she didn’t wait until they went on the cage floor this time!! She killed three and if I had not come into the aviary when I did we would have lost the cock too. 

She was taking chunks out of him and I had to physically part them. Needless to say I have split them up”

So that is the end of a pair that did produce, for a few weeks, another dream. The cock is now paired up again and after a few clear eggs with his new hen we now have more fertile eggs!!! We will have to wait and see!!!!!!