Taxonomical Considerations of the Finch Breeder.

Based upon 40 years of 'scientific experimentation and observation' I wish to present the learned reader with some dissertations on the life-cycle and habits of the finch breeder.

The conclusions of this 'research' has led us to identify a new race of humans, namely Homo sapiens finchus. Or as we commonly call them 'the Finch Breeder'.

However, in order to set the scene a joke! On an aviary visit how do you pick the finch breeders from the parrot breeders?

Easy, the finch breeder always looks at the floor first while the parrot breeder always checks the perch!!! - don't get it? Then you must be a parrot breeder!!!

Always start a 'weighty scientific treaty' with a moment of mirth - I tried!!
So, the beginning of our classification is becoming clear as H.s.finchus would seem to be the keeper of smaller birds much maligned and misunderstood by much of the avicultural world. In order to enlarge upon this statement I would like to introduce some case studies into the equation.

Shopping/Behavioural Habits:
This will exemplify for you the way the general public views our average Finch Breeder.

Now the 'average' fincho sets off for the supermarket armed with their list to cater for their feathered charges - Lebanese & Continental cucumbers, bunches of Endive & Silverbeet plus an assortment of frozen peas, carrots and corn for their sprouted seed veggie mix.
Just normal fare you say where is he going - spoken like a true fincho!!

Well, as the weeks turn into months and you get to know the friendly supermarket staff one day one will say to you "My you must eat well. You always have a basket full of fresh vegetables."
Without a flicker (or thinking!!) and totally oblivious to the effect this will have on their sanity credentials they will turn around and say "Oh most of these are for my birds!" Then the staff will begin to view them with a strange look reserved for members of the flat earth society.
From then on it is snide comments, odd looks and whispered asides.

Yes, our finch breeder is a marked man/woman yet he/she is sadly oblivious to the effect their behaviour has upon the public at large.

Take for example the pursuit of live food. What person in their right mind spends $$$ on fly spray and other pest control methods for the house yet has a shed full of fly boxes where such products are banned!!!
Surely H.s.finchus must be aware that the increased incidence of flies in the neighbourhood is in direct proportion to his efforts to breed them for his birds!!

"But they're for my birds, don't you understand?" Will not save you from a lynching the day you inadvertently leave the fly box door open!!

Now in the days before the now familiar cricket box (more on that later!) that subspecies of H.s.finchus in H.s.f.insectivorous was perhaps the best candidate for committal ever encountered by the general public.
I shall set the scene for you. It is mid-summer, it's around 25 degrees Celsius, the sun is shining and most people would be off to the beach or out on a picnic somewhere.

Oh no, not our intrepid finch people, they are out on a dried up mudflat armed with butterfly nets collecting flying grasshoppers for their Weavers and Golden song sparrows!

Can you imagine what people make of two grown men racing all over the mudflat armed with nets and collecting bottles like demented grasshoppers themselves!!

They become aware that several cars have stopped and that their occupants are watching their antics. This in a normal person would suggest that maybe it was time to mosey on but not H.s.f.insectivorous for he is one of the most determined of the Finch Breeder fraternity. Onwards they dash until the collecting jars are teeming with grasshoppers; even the approach of the white van is sometimes not enough to curtail their antics!!

However, among the gathered crowd the question is asked "What the hell are they doing?" From one of their number comes the reply that the one on the right out there keeps finches. "Oh, they're finch people then are they?"
So following this enlightenment they drift off shaking their heads in disappointment that they have not encountered a news worthy event - just a few finch people whom everyone knows are slightly touched at the best of times!! Sigh! Poor old H.s.f.insectivorous!

One would think that with the advent of the cricket box that our finch breeder's problems would be reduced. Alas, no as even the pursuit of a suitable Freezer Box to use as a cricket box can lead the unwary finch breeder towards further ostracism amongst the general public.
The phone book is open at the pages dealing with white goods repair and renovations. Our finch breeder dials and asks with a straight face for a non-working freezer unit. Most people would stop here but not H.s.f.insectivorous for he now tells the person in detail what he actually wants it for! This is usually met with either silence, an expletive depletive, the words "For WHAT" or the dial tone!

Can you imagine the person at the other end seriously writing down the details of a nutter who wants a freezer to breed insects in!! Sigh yet again - will he never learn!!

Some H.s.f.insectivorous, following repeated knock-backs and laughter will resort to "phoning a friend" to achieve their dream of owning a Cricket Box!

The day arrives and the ever-reliable mate produces the desired freezer box. A few weeks later they ring to enquire how the freezer is going and our Finch Breeder goes into raptures about its new life adding how easy it was to remove the motor..........stunned silence greets this 'news' and the mate stammers "But it still worked!!" one would think by this point in the conversation they would learn to belt-up or apologise but no, a dissertation on the behaviour of crickets ensues........all your mate can keep repeating is "But it still worked........" Alas poor old H.s.f.insectivorous will they never learn!!

On the Birds and the Bees:
Now, there comes a time in most young boy's lives that the non-feathered birds manage to replace the feathered ones! Logical you say -oh contraire I say for our taxonomic nightmare!

It is spring-time and his young lady has suggested taking him for a drive in the country 'to a secluded spot' near a babbling brook. The picnic basket is unpacked and the rug spread and a glint appears in our young ladies eye when, suddenly, our Finch Breeder leaps to his feet and pelts in the direction of the stream. In a few minutes he reappears heavily laden with an armful of grass clutched tightly to his chest. If looks could kill he should drop the grass and rush to seek forgiveness for breaking the moment. Nope, not a chance, for without a thought (!!) he says "Jeez look at all this Guinea grass, if I chuck a heap in the back of yer car ya won't mind will you?? Where are you going? Oh come on there's a drought on...............honey??
Even on the long walk back to town all he can contemplate is how he hopes he can remember where the grass is for a return visit - sad!!
It is amazing that there even is a second generation of Finch Breeders or could it be a mutation or maybe even evolution at work!!

I still remember in 'ye olde days' when I used to buy and sell a few birdies that I met the peak of 'optimism' in H.s.finchus. After ordering in a particularly expensive pair of finches for a fellow sufferer I was astounded to hear him say "Yeah, I know they are pretty expensive but they are for the wife, it's her birthday, she's worth it mate." Knowing as I did the gents wife and how she viewed her husband's bird fetish like a dose of Bali-belly - I did my diplomatic best and said "Sure I'll buy that statement mate but will she!" With a shrug and a resigned look he said "Worth a try mate, worth a try!"
Old age is a prospect that any H.s.finchus may well never get to enjoy!!

The Home Environment:
Now just because many finch breeders have a backyard that resembles the Serengeti National Park does not mean that they were always prone to such examples of sloth!

Take for example some nameless persons that started turning their back yards into show pieces of flowing flower beds and vegetable gardens the envy of the entire neighbourhood. One day, for some inexplicable reason they are struck by the desire to build a "little" garden aviary to keep a "few" finches in.

I can hear you ducking for cover and beginning to shudder for YES; this is the beginning of the end for any aspirations to grace the pages of Home Beautiful or any such magazines!
The aviary is constructed with minimal interference to the veggie production but, alas, some of the flower beds had to make way for the aviary. However, it is only a small cage and there were a hell of a lot of flowers now wasn't there!!
A few pairs of finches are obtained from another poor finch breeder whom our well "gardened" newbie noted with disgust had such a weed-filled yard. However, this well meaning sole did give him a couple of clods of Ehrharta plants for his birds and well, it did appear that the birds liked them - anyway "how bad can a couple of plants be??" Ring a bell does it?
Thus from small, humble beginnings our ardent home gardener identifies himself to be from the fraternity of H.s.finchus.
Fast forward 12 months and we see the flower beds have succumbed to the need to construct a new aviary (or 4!!) to house the ever increasing number of finches. "Un-natural selection" has seen the vegetables dwindle down to those that are of 'economic importance' (i.e. those that the birds actually eat!!)

So if you happen upon some poor dishevelled person with an arm full of grasses lurking about in your local park don't bother calling the police as it is no doubt one of the members of the finch breeding fraternity seeking greens for his charges!!

Well, I hope I've helped you to partly understand the "taxonomic basis" of the average finch keeper and why they are viewed with something approaching mysticism by other aviculturists!!
Perhaps future works of study will include: "The Blue-capped waxbill or why do we do it!!?" "The Mexican siskin or what's in a name?" or even "Yes I keep finches, wanna make something of it!!?"

That's about it folks but I guess I'll see most of you at the next meeting of Finch keepers Anonymous anyway!'s been 3 weeks since....!!!!!!