by Dave Cottrell
The Crested Budgerigar is a variety that has proved very difficult to breed in large numbers, and due to this, demand always outstrips supply. It is interesting to note that at least one regular advertiser in the wanted column of Cage & Aviary Birds offers a few pounds for close rung budgerigars, but £20 for full or half circular crests, indicating the shortage of this mutation. The Specialist Club catering for the variety, The Crested Budgerigar Club has a very dedicated bunch of supporters, but they still numbers less than 100 members in the UK.
Crests come in three recognised head types, Full Circular, Half Circular and Tufted, with the Full Circular being the most popular on the show circuit, even though the Budgerigar Society scale of points laid down for the Crest allows only 25 points for variety markings including shape and quality of crest, and gives no preference to full circular crests over half circular or tufted crests.
With 60 points out of the possible 100 being awarded for size, shape, balance and deportment, plus size and shape of head including mask and spots where applicable, the principle of big is beautiful would appear to be the norm, with the actual crest being of secondary importance. In reality, the winning birds seen at the largest of our shows such as the Crested Budgerigar Club Show, held in conjunction with the B.S. World Show each November, and the Specialist & Rare Variety Show held each June/July, are inevitably excellent examples of a quality crest as well as being good sized budgerigars. During the last ten years tremendous improvement has been made with the Crested Budgerigar, and the input of some excellent examples of the Normal varieties has shown in the higher quality of the crested birds now being viewed.
The Full Circular Crested Cinnamon Grey Cock that was best Breeder at the Crested Club Show in 1988, and Best Crest the following year at the Rare Varieties Show for Cottrell & Peake was bred from Crested birds paired to some of Eric Lanes Cinnamon’s. The combination of the Crest onto a proven blood line proved a huge success, but as only one visual crest appeared out of some eighteen chicks reared, progress was very slow.
Ghalib Al Nasser dominated the exhibition side for many years, but even a dedicated fancier with his expertise and knowledge has extreme difficulty in producing crests in any numbers, and it is this very low percentage of visual crests actually bred that has creates the problems. His well-known tufted Grey Green Cock of the early 90’s was an excellent Budgerigar, and one of the few Tufted Crests to make any kind of mark on the record books.
Mick Widdowson seems to have managed to find the right formula for producing good size with quality crests during the last five years, with some excellent examples appearing on the show bench under his name, but producing them in any numbers would still appear to be a problem. The Full circular Yellow Face Blue Cock that was Best Crest at the BS Club Show in 1992 was possibly the finest example ever bred. The latest winner from this stud is a different kind of bird, a consistent winning Full Circular Dark Green Cock that has an excellent crest on a fair sized bird. Whilst it might not be quite as big a Budgerigar as the Yellow-face, the tightness of feather and overall appearance draws the judge’s eye.
Kevin Eatwell and father Fred who exhibit as F,K & S Eatwell, seems to be from the other end of the spectrum, in as much as he seems to have managed to produce quite large numbers of visual crests each year, but getting the overall improvement in quality seems to be his problem.
The general feeling at the present time is that the very best non-crested birds should be paired up visual full circular crests to give an overall improvement in the quality of the crest, but as the crested gene is not a true dominant one, very low percentages of visual birds are produced, but when they are, they usually show an improvement in type. I prefer to use full circular crests paired to the best Normal’s or Opaline’s available, with tufted birds being paired up to either other tufts or good quality crest bred birds, youngsters bred from full circular parents that should carry some crested blood and hopefully breed visual crests. The so called recessive birds should not be introduced into the Crests, varieties such as Recessive Pieds, Clearwings and suffused white and yellow have little to offer the crest breeder, and winning examples of these colours are difficult in their own right without the complication of an added crest.
The Crested Budgerigar is a variety that offers true opportunity to all prospective breeders, and the Crested Budgerigar Club has many experienced breeders who are available to offer the benefits of many years’ experience.