Name:         George Booth

Status:        Champion Breeder

Town:         Stourbridge, West Midlands

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Briefly for those of you who do not know me.  I first kept budgies in 1950 at the age of seven, and joined the Budgerigar Society the first time in 1953 and restarted in 1969. I hold various committee positions both on the Midlands Budgerigar Association, The Budgerigar Society General Council, and I am a main panel judge

My real love in budgies is normal greens, and introduced my first Spangle in 1984.  I won the first Challenge Certificate with a Spangle at the Worcestershire BS championship show in 1987 (in the Any Other Colour class) and registered the first champion Spangle in 1989.  I also won best and second best young Spangle at Specialist & Rare Variety Show in 1998 and best Spangle in show in 1999.

Early Spangles

The Spangle was first introduced into this country in the early 1980's.  The first one I saw was a Spangle light green at Jack Freshney's.  It was an average bird but had outstanding colouring.  The contrast between the bright green body colour and the vivid yellow and jet black markings on the wing really caught the eye.

The Spangle was soon in demand by everyone as it soon became general knowledge that the variety seemed to be almost 100% fertile.   Fanciers started to use it with all different varieties in an attempt to increase the fertility in these other varieties.  This is where I feel we as fanciers started to ruin the variety.  Instead of concentrating on the Spangle as a variety in its own right, many fanciers used it to try to improve other varieties.  Then the problems started.  Having had Spangles from their early days in this country, I have always felt that the Spangle markings seem to reduce in their intensity at each moult.  If a Spangle has poor markings as a youngster then I find that the markings get even poorer as the bird gets older.

Variety Markings

I know that The Budgerigar Society (BS) recognises Spangles in both opaline and cinnamon forms, but I am sure that the characteristic Spangle markings show up best on normals and perhaps if they had been bred only as normals we may not be experiencing the problems we have today with poorly marked birds.  Sadly now a lot of the top Spangles we see on the show bench are without doubt very good quality birds in size and type but many are really very poor examples of the Spangle variety.

Perhaps the BS should have listened to our great old friend Harry Bryan quite a few years ago when he was saying that the BS should allocate far more than the 25 points for the variety markings in the BS Scale of Points.   Had the BS awarded more points and judges had the courage to penalise birds that did not have the distinct well defined markings that the Colour Standards calls for then we may well have far more super quality, well marked Spangles on the show bench today.

Breeding Spangles

I have never paired a Spangle to any variety other than a normal except for one instance this year when I paired a Spangle grey green to a double factor Spangle.  I have been friends with Jeff Attwood for more years than I care to remember now.  Talking to him some time ago he suggested that in order to breed Spangles with good distinct markings one should use a Spangle paired to a normal that has been bred from a Spangle.  I have to say that my experience has bom this out as my best marked Spangles has usually been bred from such pairings.

My first Spangle

My first Spangle was a very average quality Spangle opaline light green cock purchased as a young bird in 1984 from Jack Freshney, this was paired to one of my best normal light green hens.  The pair bred reasonably well and produced 8 chicks, 3 of which were Spangle light green cocks (1 of which was a feather duster!) and 1 Spangle opaline light green hen.  Sods law, the best bird was the Spangle opaline green hen.  The normal Spangle green cocks were then paired to good quality normal green hens and so a family of normal Spangle greens began to emerge.   The Spangle opaline hen was paired to my best normal green cock and it was from this pair in 1986 that I bred a Spangle light green that went on to become the first Spangle that I won a CC, (although at this time they were shown as Any Other Colour).   This bird went on to win further CC's and was registered as a champion in 1989.

All was going well then in early 1990 disaster struck.  Within a few days I lost dozens of birds with psittacosis.  In fact at one stage I had about 100 adults and around 50 youngsters rung but by the time I had got the disease under control I was down to about 60 birds in total, (only 5 youngsters surviving) and believe it or not, not one Spangle survived.

Introducing the dark factor

Even in those early days I noticed that the vivid green body colour and the Spangle markings seemed to get paler as a bird matured.   My first attempts at preventing this were to pair a couple of the Spangle light greens into a dark green and also a cobalt.  The result was that in late 1987 I bred my first dark factor Spangle, a dark green.  This was a gorgeous bird with its dark green body colour contrasting against its beautifully marked wings.  This was a bird that I could have sold many times over, such was its beauty.

Progressing with Spangles

Then it was down to the serious business of first of all building back up my normal greens so Spangles took a back seat and it wasn't until 1994 that I got hold of another Spangle.  Unfortunately, the best bird I could get was a Spangle cinnamon green hen, but it did breed just one really good Spangle green hen which I then used to try to build up a family of normal Spangles once again.

More recently my best Spangles were bred from a double factor Spangle hen that I purchased from Jim Hutton.  This hen was 100% Joe Mannes and it bred the birds I won with at the Specialist & Rare Variety Show, and also a bird that won Best in Show on two occasions for Jim.  These birds all displayed good Spangle markings, sadly at the moment though most of the birds bred down from this family have come out as normals.

Well marked Spangles

Another Spangle cock I obtained from George Jenkins bred me some super birds but not one of them was a good Spangle.  I had the quality of the birds, but not the good Spangle markings.  In fact most of the Spangles I bred from this family could well have passed off as opalines, but they were in fact normal Spangles.  Last year though I did manage to get a couple of really well marked Spangles out of this family by pairing a Spangle to a normal bred from a Spangle.   And so the circle is complete, I'm now back to my original comments and the observations made by Jeff Attwood.  The birds displaying the very best Spangle markings in my aviary are the ones that have been bred from a Spangle paired to a normal bred from a Spangle.

Spangle Review

Issue No. 29 ~ Spring 2002


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