During the early eighties whilst on a business trip to Australia I was fortunate enough to be invited to visit Mr Frank Gardener, a resident of Melbourne, whom my friends told me, was the breeder of the first recorded Spangle. This proved to be an incorrect statement, but nevertheless Frank probably knew more about the origins of this fascinating variety than anybody in Australia did. It was here that I saw Spangle Budgerigars in both the single and doubt factor forms. They were tiny little birds very similar to the wild Budgerigars I had seen there on an earlier visit. However what they lacked in size, they more than made up for in colour and markings. Although new to my eyes, I was struck by the definitive and unusual markings. The double factor birds bred by Frank were wonderful in colour, a true buttercup yellow and a pure snow white devoid of any ghost markings not the dark "necklace" that we see on todays double factors.
My next experience with this variety was at the home of Reinhard Molkentin shortly after he obtained the birds from Rolf Christian. As we all know these were the original small well-marked birds from Australia and I observed with interest the progress he made with the variety by pairing them to his quality non-Spangles.
Some of these birds found their way into the UK and they became all the rage. Fanciers were impressed with the fertility and Spangles soon established a reputation for being very fertile. In fact this had nothing to do with the variety, and everything to do with hybrid vigour. I would suggest that if you brought a load of wild light Greens from Australia, and introduced them to a stud in the UK, the fertility would be equally impressive.
No doubt this fertility factor plus the fact that they seemed to improve some of the other varieties prompted fanciers world wide to pair Spangles to almost anything. Whilst this was successful in many instances, it is an unquestionable fact that the Spangle was the looser. The body colour started to deteriorate and the markings, in many cases disappeared entirely.
I was honoured to be invited to judge the Spangles at The Budgerigar Society 1998 World Championship Show at Doncaster. The results of the show are well known to all and I will not go through that so I will confine my remarks to the way I saw the birds placed in front of me.
Whenever one is asked to judge birds, where variety markings play an important role, as opposed to the so-called Normals, one is faced with a dilemma. Notwithstanding the scale of points, the judge that puts variety markings ahead of size and shape is criticised for "not knowing what a good Budgie is". On the other hand the judge that favours size and shape over variety markings is criticised as "not knowing what a good Spangle or whatever is", you are damned if you do and damned if you dont. I tend to lean toward the size and shape, always trying to achieve a balance with regard to the variety markings.
The Spangles at Doncaster were generally better in size and shape than variety markings. Whether this is good or bad is for the fancier to decide. I personally believe that if we continue with this trend of ignoring the correct Spangle markings we are in danger of these birds beginning to loose their identity.
The Best Spangle on show as well as the Spangle Blue certificate winner benched by L. & D. Stanley was almost perfect in all respect, except that it could have done with a little more shoulder.
The Frank Silva Spangles were wonderful birds excelling in feather texture. His Spangle Green certificate winner was particularly good, but was lacking slightly in spots, on the other hand it was a Cinnamon and this factor tend to dull the spots.
A few general observations: I really believe that The Budgerigar Society should consider having a class for Normal Spangles and another class for AOV Spangles which would accommodate Cinnamons, Opalines etc. As far as the Double Factor birds are concerned it is quite ridiculous to have them compete with the other Spangles and they should have their own Certificates.
Issue No. 23 ~ Spring 1999