Show-goers . . . Eion Fletcher is getting young budgies Harry and Willy ready for this weekend's bird show. PHOTO: SALLY BROOKER

Birds are flocking to Oamaru’s Drill Hall this weekend for the North Otago Bird Fanciers Club’s 56th annual show.

This year it features the Budgerigar Society Patronage Show, which accounts for more than 300 budgie entries.

They make up about half the overall entries – the rest are canaries, British birds and crosses.

Show manager Eion Fletcher said some of the entries were being brought down from Hamilton and Gisborne.

Budgie judge Kathy Maton was coming from even further afield – Australia.

The birds were being placed in their allotted cages in the Drill Hall from 3pm to 9pm today, then judging would start at 8.30am tomorrow.

The show would open to the public from 1pm to 5pm tomorrow and from 10am to noon on Sunday.

Birds are available for sale during the show, and an auction of 30 birds on Sunday will raise funds for staging the next Budgerigar Society show.

Mr Fletcher said he instigated the auction a few years ago, so the cost did not fall on the host bird club.

The Bird Fanciers Club was like many other hobby groups – members were mostly older people. He got his first bird at the age of 7 and had a good array of breeding pairs before having to give it up for family commitments.

He took up bird breeding again in the mid-1990s and now has several aviaries at his home just outside Oamaru. He has 12 breeding pairs of budgies, which was “about the minimum to breed from”.

The Budgerigar Society had a standard that breeders aimed for, but “you never breed the perfect bird”, Mr Fletcher said.

“I enjoy the challenge.”

Once the birds had mated, the eggs took 18 days to hatch.

“You can tell after the first week if you’ve got something pretty special.”

A bird that looked good in the nest would usually develop into a sound prospect.

“You’ve got to feed them well and look after them.

“It’s good for the soul.”

In a shipping container Mr Fletcher has converted into a “bird room”, he is getting some of his feathered friends ready for the show by being placed in smaller cages.

Two of the top contenders are grey-green opaline budgie brothers called Harry and Willy, who were weaned on April 8.

Mr Fletcher said Willy was short for “will he go to the show”.Buy SneakersNike