Friday, September 30, 2011

Coming True

A lot of the Finch enthusiasts that I have been talking to have been very supportive to people like myself that want to learn but  I noticed from my following correspondances with both Bruce, Tim and James that they were particularly encouraging and forthcoming and almost Patriotic in the ways of the Bengo. Between them I have been gradually growing in my understanding of the Whys and Hows of the Australian Belgalese Mannikin.
A few months passed and Tim informed me that he was going on hollidays soon and would be visiting  Bruce in his travels through NSW. He also told me that although he is not currently breeding them he has a few pairs of Selfs that were originally from James and if I was interested he would bring them down to Bruce's for me. So after a split second of decision making I accepted the offer!!!
So there it was, if everything worked out I might just get hold of some Self Bengos for my own soon and as the few weeks have passed I am meeting up with Tim at Bruce's place this weekend ....Yeah!
Very Excited...Stay tuned...

Thursday, September 29, 2011

Another Victory

Tim had said that James is the only person that he is in touch with these days that actively keeps Self Bengos and he lives in the Gold Coast and after he gave me James' number I gave him a call.  Once again I was happy to discover another keen advocate for the Self Bengalese Mannikin. Later James sent through a few images of some of his Selfs that he has kept and it was here that I got a clearer picture of what a show quality Bengalese looks like

 I noticed the more solid colour on these birds whereas on my "Pet Shop" Bengos from Sydney they had very fine variations and flecks in colour. As with Bruces Bengos the head and build of the bird was also thicker through the neck

These were indeed a beautiful finch and seemed almost like a different species. As you can see from the pictures the underbelly markings of these Self Bengos were more defined also. The Bengos here are Chocolates and Chestnuts

The Chestnut above shows that in Australia we do have Self Bengalese that have good V shaped underbody markings and show something that leans towards the Euro Self but this has not been achieved through Hybridization but selective breeding.

Saturday, September 24, 2011

True to the Cause

So through my months of searching I had managed to find 1 person in NSW that kept the Self Bengo named Bruce, which was disappointing to say the least. I had another look over the bird club listings that I had and started to scan over some of the clubs in other states. I was pleased to find that in Queensland there was a listing for The Bengalese Breeders Society.

When I got onto the club contact Tim he told me that the Club has since retired and there is not much of a following for the Self Bengo in Queensland these days in comparison to 10 years ago or so when there was a lot of interest. This again was a bit disappointing,  however in speaking with Tim I discovered him to be a man that was notably passionate about the Self Bengalese Mannikin and I instantly found myself learning much on the topic just from our first conversation. It became clear that it was the fanciers in Queensland that had been responsible for much of the show Selfs that were getting around because they were quite popular through this state at the time. Tim told me that the only person that he is aware of still breeding the Self Bengo these days is a past member of the Bengalese Breeders Society named James.

This introduction with Tim flicked a switch with me and my existing interest in the Self Bengo became more solidified. I have always leaned towards keeping birds that are somewhat rare and although the Bengalese by nature would not be classed as "Rare" this strain of Bengo the Self was surely not a common bird at all and I quickly decided that as well as investing more energy into learning about this Finch (when I hadn't realised there was more to learn at all). I felt a drawing to help preserve the rare Self because I was learning how much work was put into establishing the bird in Australia only a few years ago.

Friday, September 23, 2011

A Pleasant Suprise

So I decided to look into the Finch Club option. I first inquired with Rob Jakovljevic, the owner of an excellent bird dealership Ace Colony Aviaries in Wentworthville Sydney ((02) 96350598). I had been visiting there many times and he always has an excellent variety of finches and of course Bengos.  He has continually proven himself to be a wealth of knowledge and always happy to help and convey his passion for birds. Even Rob despite his high turnover of finches rarely sees any Self Bengos come through his aviaries, he said to me that it had been a few years since he has had one there. Rob put me onto a newspaper that had a listing for all of the registered bird clubs in Australia so with this in my hot little hands I looked through to find something relevant for me here in Sydney. Let me say right now, that no matter who I called from that list of contacts every person I spoke to was very friendly and extremely forthcoming and also anyone that I was referred to call and speak with were also very accommodating. This in itself was totally refreshing in the rat race of Sydney where it is by nature a "survival of the fittest" city, it was nice to find a natural ease with people to chat Finches.
I have to admit I rang a lot of people...."a lot of people" to try and find the Self Bengalese with not much success. Generally, people that are in the exotic finch breeding  clubs like the Finch Society of Australia (which I have since joined) do not have a particular interest in Bengalese other than for fostering other finches so their appearance is not particularly important and from ringing around within this club and its associates there was not anyone who kept the Self Bengos. I had exhausted my avenues locally on the phone with much disappointment and I would have to wait to visit the Finch Society of Australia at my first meeting. I had been made a suggestion by a few of the people that I spoke with, and that was "if you are interested in good quality Bengos then you should approach the show guys" and with this I was told that people within the finch showing scene concentrate more on breeds like the Bengalese for breeding colour and quality.
Following this I rang the Finch Exhibitors Club in Sydney, not really knowing who they were I was told that the club exhibits Australian Finches, Foreign Finches, Hybrid Finches and Bengalese Finches. Through Gordon the club contact I was told that the key person that concentrates on Bengalese is a particular man named Les but he only breeds pied Bengos. Through all of my inquiries over recent times I have been told time and time again by numerous different people that Les is the leader in breeding the "best" show quality Bengalese and dominates the show scene with his pied Bengos here in Sydney and arguably throughout Australia. This was sounding promising!!! I rang him and he told me that he doesn't keep Selfs.....BOOOO! the only person that he knows who keeps the self Bengalese is a man named Bruce who lives near Newcastle,

I rang Bruce and he was very helpful. Bruce said to me that he had some Self Chocolates and Gingers (Fawns)....Whooo Whooo!!! And there it was, a win! I found someone!!!


Bruce sent me a couple of pics of his Self Bengos seen here. You can notice straight away the stockier form of the bird and the larger size than the common "Pet Shop" Bengo. The show term for the general form or shape of a Bengalese is called the "Type". Both of these aspects of Size and Type are very important for showing the Bengalese Manikin competitively and from my recent experience makes for a very attractive Bengo.

Bruce told me that he would not have any spare birds until the new year of 2012 so at that stage any immediate ideas of getting my Selfs was still on hold.

Thursday, September 22, 2011

My First Sydney Bengos

The first Bengos that I got in Sydney, as previously mentioned were Chocolate Pied (Variegated). I bought them from the very friendly Harry at Enfield Produce, there are often a good variety of Australian and Foreign finches there and Harry's family look after their customers very well.
When I bought these Bengos Harry had a few that had very little white on them and often when I have called in over the years he will usually have some Bengos (he calls them Mannikin Finches) that are getting close to the Self with very small amount of white on them.
To the left is the Cockbird, he has a resonable amount of white on him although he has fair markings

Click here to view Harry's Enfield Produce site

This is the Henbird on the right and she only has a tiny bib of white under the Beak and a spot of white under the rump. Her underbelly markings are not particularly pronounced and the scolloping under the bib is not as defined as the cock bird (See an example of the birds natural scolloping in the wild here look at the top green picture) but she is a good example of an "Almost Self" as I have called them before :-)

To the left is a nice image of the pair and in this pic you can see the light penciling marks on the back of the Henbird on the left.

So it was with these birds that my appetite was wet and after months of looking at these little guys I quickly grew fond of the shape, colours/markings and manner of this lovely finch the Bengo.

Should I join a Finch Club?

I had been completely enjoying my aviary and watching my finches and I quickly discovered that I was now more interested in fiches than I could remember for a while, I guess absence makes the heart grow fonder and after 6 years or so of not being able to keep them I was making the most of this simple pleasure of mine.
After my months of searching and inquiring about Self Bengalese I had almost given up and after some consideration I decided to look into visiting a finch club to meet some like minded people that shared my interest in Finches and possibly the Self Bengalese Mannikin.

In my experience of finches, growing up in my home town Strathalbyn S.A. I had been quite spoilt because during my youth I befriended a couple of men that kept finches and had quite considerable aviaries. I would visit regularly and this would fuel my boyish interest in finches and also expose me to what being a fincho is like.
I visited one of my friends Peter more recently and I've included some images to see. When I first met Peter his aviaries consisted of those pictured in the top image, a long corridor that begins with a bird room that has his seed, hospital cage and some holding flights and then moves off to have multiple aviaries on either side. It was in these aviaries I discovered many of the wonderful finch species that I love today and I would savoir the moments that I would visit and this would help me enjoy my humble Zebras and Bengos that I had in my first Aviary.  

In more recent years Peter had extended his set up to include a very large flight which now has fruit trees vegetables and natural brush. 
I have found myself many times there and enjoying the wonderful and peaceful environment that it creates just watching the finches and blue wrens that he keeps.

It was with confidence that there were other people like Peter here in Sydney that I was considering checking out a Finch or Avicultural Club to find my Self Bengos.

Sunday, September 11, 2011

New Ideas

Following building my enclosure I had to carefully consider what kind of finches I would put in and together with a pair of Zebras, a Gouldian Finch (fondly named Gouldo by my Wife), a Cordon Bleu, and an Emblema I selected a pair of Chocolate Bengalese Mannikins because I knew they were free breeders.
As you may already know Bengalese Mannikins (well, in Australia anyway) commonly are a Pied finch or are marked with white feathers quite heavily and when I went to this particular Bird Store I was quite attracted to the Bengos that had very little white on them and showed off more of the natural markings of the finch. Little did I know that this was the beginning of a new interest in my known world of the Bengalese Mannikin.
It did not take long for me to realise that although the Bengalese were by no means the most colourful of the finches that I was keeping I found myself quite drawn to them, more so than any of my other finches. I found the shape, lines and form of the Bengalese quite attractive and the gentle nature of these finches was proving a real asset in my small enclosure where on the other end of the scale my Zebra Finch pair were nesting and dominating the group.

After some time had passed I was becoming more and more interested in the idea of keeping a Bengalese finch that had no white markings on them and over a period of months of searching and inquiring with various stores and breeders, I was becoming painfully aware that a non-pied or Self Bengalese (as they are called) are extremely rare to the point of non existent in some opinions. This was disappointing to me because I had started looking around on the net and had discovered the beautifully marked Self Bengalese that is in Europe called the Euro Self and I was becoming more and more interested in the various mutations that are available around the world.  Things were not looking good in finding the finch I was looking for..........

Blackbrown Euro Self

Thursday, September 8, 2011

Getting Started

Just to be clear, this Blog is not written with any "significant" experience in the world of Bengalese as some authors on the subject have dedicated many, many years to the study and breeding of these lovely finches (often the Lonchura family in general) and have the earned authority to speak on the subject and be respected for their views following.

My primary drive for attempting to share my opinion about the Bengo is because of my recent investigation into the keeping of these birds.

I have not been keeping finches for the last 6 years or so and prior to that point and they have been a fundamental element of my world since the age of 9 years old. After staring a new life with my lovely wife I had decided that I had been missing having finches around and after a discussion with my wife we both agreed that we would attempt to keep some finches on the balcony of our unit (apartment) in Sydney Australia.

We agreed to set up a medium sized enclosure on the balcony and I quickly engrossed myself with building an aviary that would suit our place.

Below are some images of the enclosure in the build and finished phases. You could almost say that it ended up looking like an antique cabinet.

Monday, September 5, 2011

Hello World

Hello World.

This is the first entry to my Blog that will document my ponderings on the humble Bengalese Mannikin and this will be coming specifically from an Australian Perspective.

The Bengalese Mannikin or the "Bengo" as it is fondly called amongst some Australian Avriculturalists is also called the Society Finch in other parts of the world.

In my aviary that I had as a young boy of 9 years old, the Bengo was one of the very first finches that I kept and have continued to have a soft spot for these guys as my love of keeping finches has progressed through the years.

It would be safe to say that most finch enthusiasts have kept the Bengo at one time or another for various reasons.

I hope that in my posts to come that you may find some interesting bits and pieces of information that help to encourage interest in this often unappreciated finch.