Annual show keeps a balanced ‘budgie’

Area residents enjoy raising, breeding exhibition parakeets

BY JANE MEGGITT Staff Writer

Parakeet enthusiasts came to the borough from as far away as New England and Virginia to attend the 19th annual Tri-State Budgerigar Society (TSBS) show July 18.

PHOTOS BY CHRIS KELLY staff Pauline Domenge of Virginia and Diane Ziegman of Pennsylvania talk parakeets during the Tri-State Budgerigar Society's 19th annual Budgerigar and Parakeet Show July 18 at the Knights of Columbus hall in Jamesburg. PHOTOS BY CHRIS KELLY staff Pauline Domenge of Virginia and Diane Ziegman of Pennsylvania talk parakeets during the Tri-State Budgerigar Society’s 19th annual Budgerigar and Parakeet Show July 18 at the Knights of Columbus hall in Jamesburg. While the parakeet and the budgerigar are the same bird, the exhibition budgie is bred for size, color and deportment, while the pet budgie’s main emphasis is on color and quantity for the pet market.

For the Halbert family of Spotswood, budgies are a family affair.

In fact, Marcia Halbert met her husband Jim when she was working at his family’s business, Apple’s Aviary and Supply Co. in South River. Their children, or “chicks,” as Halbert refers to them, 10-year-old Vickie and 8-year-old Pammie, are now the third generation involved in the bird fancy.

The family shows its birds all over the East Coast, although there are not as many shows as there used to be, Marcia said. She recalled that her stepfather-in-law, George Applegate, a champion breeder, asked her if she was interested in American or English budgies. She described the English birds as “parakeets on steroids,” since they are much larger than the American birds found in pet stores. Her daughters help care for the birds and are junior members of the national TSBS organization.

The events are run in a fashion similar to dog shows, according to Chuck Romano of Aberdeen, secretary and show manager for the TSBS. He said the birds are shown in three divisions: novice, intermediate and champion. Within those divisions, the birds are divided into sections, such as adult male and adult female, young male and young female, as well as dividing them by color.

For the July 18 show at the Knights of Columbus

hall in Jamesburg, 35 colors were represented. Some 156 birds were entered, including 60 in the novice division shown by 13 exhibitors; 47 in the intermediate division shown by eight exhibitors; and 49 in the champion division shown by seven exhibitors.

The Best in Show award is given to the top competitor, as well as a Best Opposite Sex award. For example, if a female wins Best in Show, the top-scoring male would be Best Opposite Sex.

Romano himself has about 150 budgies at his home, and has converted part of his garage into an aviary. He got started as a teenager when his grandmother bought him a pair of budgies. He went from raising American parakeets to racing pigeons when he lived in Bayonne. After moving to Aberdeen, he began breeding the English budgies.

“We breed for the ideal,” he said. Romano is on the board of directors of the Budgerigar Association of America, which is affiliated with the TSBS. His son Michael, an Aberdeen firefighter, has about 50 birds of his own. Working with the birds became a father-and-son hobby for the two.

Joyce D’Accardi of Marlboro runs the Birds of Joy registered aviary and serves as treasurer of the TSBS. She has had budgies since she was 7 years old.

She said they are easy to care for and a good pet for a child.

“They make nice pets,” she said. “If you have one, they will respond more to the person as an individual, and will talk more. The more birds you have, the less likely one will be a pet.”

D’Accardi breeds two lines of budgies, an English line for size and a pet store quality with

varied colors that sells well in pet shops. According

to D’Accardi, the best-selling pet-store birds are white, bright yellow and dominant pied, which is a metallic color on some birds.

“It’s a wonderful hobby, and can be profitable to some extent,” she said, adding that she has gotten to know a lot of nice people through the TSBS.

Monthly meetings of the TSBS are held on Sundays at 2 p.m. There is at least one planned topic each month, with a speaker and presentation. The club encourages, but does not require, competitive breeding and showing of birds. For more information, visit the website at www.tri-statebudgie.org or email tristatebudgie@aol.com.