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The Selection of Breeding Pairs


The selection process begins well before the first egg is laid when the fancier examines the breeding performance of the parents and grand parents. The best fanciers then follow the progress of the chicks in the nest, because the vitality and potential breeding quality of a budgerigar is obvious to the observant fancier from a very young age. Most of this vitality relates directly to the selection of the parents as a breeding pair, but also to the nutrition provided to the growing chicks. The modern day budgerigar takes 6 weeks to fledge (50% longer than the wild bird). The feeding parents must be much stronger and given much more energy rich food to cope with this extended breeding cycle and the chicks require a specialized feeding system to expose their full genetic potential as a show bird.


The breeding pairs are selected on:


  • Breeding Records


  • Observation

  • Vitality

  • Youth

  • Strong Hens


  • Family History (Genetics) & Desirable Physical Show Features


Breeding Records


Look to the records for evidence of lethal show faults (dropped tail and "nipped in the neck"). Good fertility and large clutch sizes are also largely genetically determined and passed on from one generation to the next. This heritable characteristic is a most important selection criterion. Look for the percentage of the chicks that fledge with feather problems. French Moult is a most important disease of the budgerigars. Look for this trend in certain family lines in an effort to identify and cull the original "carrier".




The best fanciers spend many hours observing their birds in the aviary and breeding cabinet. Observant fanciers develop an uncanny understanding of the needs and characteristics of the families they keep. Often they make intuitive decisions regarding the pairing of their birds, but their intuition is an understanding based upon the knowledge gained from years of observation.




The observant fancier easily identifies the most vigorous and fittest birds in the aviary and it is these birds that are chosen above all for breeding. Exercise, play, good quality food and sunlight are essential ingredients for the fitness required for successful budgerigar breeding. The birds are prepared both mentally and physically prior to breeding by feeding and health programmes. The most vital and energetic birds with breeding experience are paired first and a few weeks later the most vital young birds are selected.




The wild budgerigar has prospered because of its ability to breed quickly and in good conditions they start breeding at a very young age. Their ultimate survival as a species depends on it. In the aviary, the young birds are the most vital and most appropriate for breeding quality exhibition budgerigars, but they need experienced older pairs breeding beforehand to get them started.


Strong Hens


Strong quality hens are the backbone of a successful breeding season. Just as the wild budgerigar hen is the most important partner in breeding success in the wild, so too does a strong energetic quality hen form the foundation for a successful budgerigar aviary. In the wild, hen birds have been seen mating with more than six cocks at a time.


Family History (Genetics) & Desirable Physical Show Features


As a general rule it is still best to select a bird close to the pictorial model of perfection. There is a much greater chance of breeding the best show bird from a long dynasty of successful show birds. It is important to select the closest bird to perfection that you can get your hands on. This is the starting point for show success.


Andrew McFarlane's soft food recipe is eagerly consumed by breeding birds.

Information on the significance of Polyomavirus on the overall health and breeding success of exhibition budgerigars.

"The Budgerigar" is an internationally acclaimed definitive text on exhibition budgerigars.

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