Gary has bred budgerigars all his life
but it wasnt until the early 1980s that he decided
to breed show budgerigars. Gary and Marion are very welcoming
and generous hosts, both with their time and sharing their
knowledge. As a number of overseas and interstate fanciers
have found, to visit Gary and Marion Watsons aviary
in Leeton NSW is a pure treat not only for their extraordinary
birds (they have numerous Grand Champions to their credit)
but also for their amazing aviary. The aviary is the size
of a small house and has some innovative features. It is
in absolutely pristine conditionthere is not a skerrick
of dust or stray birdseed to be found. Gary very kindly
agreed to the following interview.
1. Gary, how long have you been breeding budgerigars and
how did you get involved in budgerigar breeding?
I have bred budgerigars all my life and in the early eighties
I decided to breed show budgerigars. We met Shirley and
Noel Johnson from Griffith and Noel was the first one to
show me a Budgerigar World magazine. From then on I was
well and truly hooked. Albert Humphries from Wagga Wagga
was a very successful breeder and friend who became my main
mentor. Others who helped me were the late great Neville
Seage from Bathurst and, from Victoria, John Tanner, Anthony
Borg and Rod Skivington. It was from these Victorian breeders
that in 1999 we got our pure Mannes lines.
I will always treasure the memories and trips to Bathurst
staying with Myra and Neville Seage. It was with great sadness
that we travelled to Myras funeral this year. They
were fantastic people.
2. What have been your major achievements and highlights
in showing and breeding budgerigars?
Without a doubt it would be winning the Grand Champion at
the BSNSW's 50th Golden Anniversary Jubilee Show in 2004.
It was the young cinnamon grey cock birds first and
only show. Having to travel so many hours and the overnight
stay going to the show, and beating so many national winning
birds, was a huge effort.
We have also won the Diploma and Grand Champion at Border
Districts Annual Show for the past five years plus
our own local show over 20 times. We probably have won over
70 individual Grand Champions.
3. What have been some of your major challenges?
Unfortunately my major challenge is my health after 14 operations
in the past few years. As a result we havent bred
the numbers of birds we would have liked to have bred and
we have let many super birds leave the stud over the past
4. I notice from the photographs on display that you have
had a number of visitors to your aviary, including some
from overseas. Are there any visits that you would particularly
like to highlight?
Yes. Doug Sadler and Colin Callaway first came in October
2003 and then they came again and stayed in May this year.
Doug Sadler at 85 years of age never ceases to amaze me
with his dedication to his birds. He is up in his aviary
which is at Emsworth UK at 5 a.m every morning even when
the temperature is minus 10 degrees Celsius! Hes just
unbelievable. We have also had the pleasure of Gary Gazzard
and Jack Tanner staying with us, just to name a few, and
many more interstate fanciers.
5. Your aviary is amazingboth the set up and its immaculate
condition. For the benefit of our readers can you describe
your aviarys set up and main features?
We believe our aviary is a world firstwe have glass
windows instead of wire so you can look directly onto the
birds. The aviary is made from cool room paneling and is
tiled throughout. It has an outside suspended box on the
front of the main flight and the other flight is totally
enclosed for babies. Sterilized wood shavings are used on
the floors of the flights and in the nest boxes. We also
have a separate seed room. The aviarys accessories
include auto dimming lights, a sink with hot and cold running
water, skylights, extractor fans, fridge, microwave, and
a vacuum system.
Note the all glass windows and numerous BCV diplomas
that adorn the walls.
enjoying himself at the Watson aviary
pied grey/green cock
Gary says he was unlucky not to win the 2005 BSNSW annual.
He won the Diploma, Champion Young Bird and Grand Champion,
at Border Districts 2005 Annual Show.
He has never been shown since.
to Gary, the water buffalo look theyre all
GOLDEN JUBILEE GRAND CHAMPION WINNER
Cinnamon Grey Young Cock
Shown only once.
A world class bird."
room and main flight
6. How many birds and breeding cabinets
do you have, and on average how many pairs do you have breeding
at any one time?
There are 56 breeding cages which are all wire which makes
for easy cleaning. We used to have 20 cabinets and 20 wire
cages but decided to go all wire for uniformity plus they
keep down moths and mites etc. We normally keep about 150
birds but during the breeding season when chicks arrive
the numbers swell to over 500.
7. Can you describe the feeding and nutrition regime you
have for your birds?
We use seed from Max Douglas (a local producer) and have
done so for over twenty years. He does a mix now called
Wattos! The birds just love it. Hulled oats and grey
striped sunflower seed are fed all year round plus Barry
Ryans tonic seed and millet sprays. The birds are
also fed boiled eggs which I have persuaded many of our
top national wining breeders to use. And also egg biscuit
from Gary Hyslop in Sydney. I put Ornithon, B12 and Probac
in the water all year round except when the birds get treated
for worms and canker prevention.
8. How do you select your pairs for breeding and what do
you look for?
As controversial as it may sound, I pair straight out of
the flight. I have done it this way all my lifeI have
never once put birds in show cases and let them settle.
When pairing I look for the bird first. Variety and colour
do not concern me much but I do like to see face and lateral
feathering on my birds. We have been trying to put European
faces on our birds for the past 10 yearssomething
Aussie fanciers have started chasing since the 2004 BSNSW
Show when our birds were benched. Our birds have had a dramatic
effect on a number of fanciers studs since then.
9. What advice do you have for beginners about building
up their stocks or any other tips you would like to pass
My advice to beginners would be to be patient and talk to
as many fanciers as possible. You can always learn something
from someone whether they are novices or champion breeders.
Visit as many aviaries and shows as you can. I have always
gauged a breeder not on what they have won but on the quality
of the birds they have let go out of their stud! Buy the
best visual birds you can afford. A good tip is to look
at the Mannes and Lutolf birds and try and buy pieces
of the jigsaw puzzle as close to them as you can afford.
10. Is there anything important that you would like to add?
Yes. A big thank you to my best friend and aviary managermy
wifewho works six days a week and also finds time
to clean the bird room, ring the chicks, cook for our visitors,
and still smile at the end of the day!
The most moving advice was given to me at the great Jo Mannes
home when I visited in 2005. Jo told me, You breed
that bird you see Gary for you have got my eye. I
will take those words to my grave!
My final tip is you only get out what you put in!