Budgerigar enthusiasts had noted a decline in the numbers of some mutations. At shows, it was not uncommon to see several sections without a single entry. The reason for this was probably due to the size of exhibition birds and the way classes were arranged.
Breeders have developed the exhibition budgerigar into the massive show specimen of today. While many of the standard mainstream mutations and colors of budgerigars have progressed to this level, some mutations have lagged far behind. Typically, these mutations are just smaller in overall size without well defined spots, wide heads, and the intense directional feathering of the standard mutations. When section winners get compared for selection of the division winners, these mutations usually get turned back.
Several mutations were lumped together in the Section AOV / AOC, or Any Other Variety / Any Other Color. Many of these mutations are very different from each other and need to be judged on criteria specific to that variety. This method also pitted multiple varieties shown by the same exhibitor against each other within the same section. Only one Challenge Certificate, or CC, went to the winner of the combined section and not to the best of each variety.
As time went on, exhibitors grew discouraged from breeding the mutations they enjoy and appreciate. Fewer and fewer of these beautiful birds were being bred or entered into shows as it was often considered a waste of time, cage space, and feed. People coming into the hobby were encouraged to breed the standard types if they wanted to do any winning at shows. The advice seemed to be that pretty birds were to be left for the people that wanted to breed pet budgies, not something an exhibitor should work with. Only a handful of breeders were keeping these mutations, now considered rare, and they were in serious danger of being lost forever. Mutations had already disappeared over the years due to neglect and even war.
The Budgerigar Association of America, the national organization our club is affiliated with, decided it was time to do something. To promote more interest in these rare birds, the "Endangered Mutation Division" was introduced in 2009, enabling rares to compete among themselves for division awards.
This new division was very well received all across the country. After input from exhibitors and the review of data from show reports, the division was expanded further by separating some additional mutations into their own sections and classes. It has been renamed the "At Risk Mutation Division" and our club is excited to again offer it this year.
It is hoped that more exhibitors will set aside a couple of cages to try breeding and showing these very special and beautiful rare mutations now that new opportunities exist for them. Breeders of these specialist varieties finally can have their efforts and birds admired, appreciated and more importantly, recognized on the show bench.