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Discovering the Hobby I
“Two From the Show”

by Greer Sucke

This is especially for our new members, beginners, and novices, now that the show season is close at hand. I hope to prove that you can get something from attending shows, even if you are not yet exhibiting. The something is going to be good.

Those of you who are ‘lifers’ like me, I hope you will come along and recall those delicious moments when you were young in the hobby and discovering that it was just what you needed.

We set up our first pairs in the last weeks of 1988. Eggs came quickly, luminous golden globes when candled, beautiful, but empty. At club meetings, someone would always ask about our progress.

“Well ... er ...mmm”, I’d reply, “nothing yet”.

Show season arrived and there was no need for show cages. We decided to attend a few shows anyway, to get a better eye for the birds and to see our new friends.

The New York show , and we were late! As we rushed past the raffle table to take seats, I noticed two show cages, each with a pair of birds. One pair, a Light Green cock and an Opaline Cinnamon Light Green hen, had caught my eye. “Huh”, I thought, “something about them seems familiar.” I should also mention that I felt ‘the click’, when you sense something is going to be iniportant, but you don’t know why.

During a break, I went over to look at the birds. They were for Budgie Bingo. Both pairs had been donated by a Very Important Person in the New York club, Joe Lastella, and they were very good birds. John and I decided to play three squares for ten dollars, which, at the time, seemed a lot to invest in a game of chance.

After the judging, attention moved to the raffle table. The bingo began. The first winner was …Marcia! She selected the other pair and everyone hummed that she had selected the better birds. Well, I still liked the light green and the opaline, and there was one more chance.

Yup, it was a good day for Tri-State and ‘Greer’ won the other pair. As the adrenaline pumped, I noticed puzzled faces looking at me. Uh-oh! I was a stranger to the hobby and I had won some Very Good Birds.

I was such a stranger that I hadn’t even brought a carry cage. There was more raffle left. Maybe...

A few minutes later I was the proud owner of a used but useful metal transport cage, with separate compartments for about eight birds.

As I crossed to find this Joe Lastella and pick up the birds, I was stopped by an exhibitor who probably purchased more than three tickets for these birds. Who was I? Did I know anything about breeding? Did I know how good these birds were? Softly, I admitted my truth: I was trying, really trying to breed budgerigars -- for five months now…but I didn’t have anything yet. This is great, I thought, he thinks these beautiful birds are going to be wasted on someone who doesn’t know what to do with them -- and he may be right.

Joe Lastella didn’t seem disappointed in my beginner status. The birds were related, he said. The hen had bred before and was nicknamed ‘Fertile Myrtle’. Both were descendants of birds from Jim Brown. That’s why the cock was familiar! Several of the birds I had purchased from Sherrill Capi of Florida were Brown Line.

Joe said that if I produced offspring from this pair, they would knock the hell out of novice.

Who was this guy anyway? I don’t know if it was the encounter with the disappointed exhibitor, or Joe’s promise that made me work extra hard with the birds. They became the superstars of our aviary. Fertile Myrtle was renamed Duchess and the Light Green cock became King.

Joe was right. Their descendants got us two of our legs for intermediate, and one towards champion, not to mention places on the novice and intermediate benches at three All Americans. Right now, there are 53 adults and chicks from four generations of offspring from this pair in our birdroom. I counted.

This is a story of spectacular luck coming to a beginner and non-exhibitor at a show. Your luck may happen by winning raffle birds, purchasing sale or exhibition birds, or simply by getting to know exhibitors. You may learn the piece of information that will make a difference, you may get an invitation to visit an aviary.

Like me, you may be driving home from a wonderful day with new birds in the back seat, or a card with a breeder’s name in your pocket. At a red light, you will turn and look at the birds to make sure they are all right, or take the card from your pocket to look at the name.

As you resume your journey, your memories will be as agile and bright as the budgerigars you dream of breeding. And you’ll wonder what will happen next.

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