By Mick Jensen
Birds and their owners may have flown the coop, but over its 50-year history the Ashburton Bird Club has enjoyed a consistent membership of around 40.
The club celebrates its jubilee next weekend with another annual show and a celebratory dinner.
Founding member Barry Ackroyd said the club had enjoyed many good years, as well as bust ups and rivalries, but it had come through them all.
Just himself and Colin McIntosh remained of the original members, but club numbers had been steady over five decades.
Mr Ackroyd said the first meeting to look at forming the club had taken place in the Railway Hall on West Street in 1963.
Around 20 people had talked about separating from the established poultry club and the new club had been born.
In the early days, a small contingent from Christchurch had ruled the roost, but they had been forced to fly the coop.
Annual shows had been held upstairs in the former RSA building on West Street for many years, which wasn’t an ideal venue with its awkward stairs.
The club had enjoyed its heyday in the early 1980s when bird show number were between 700-800 birds.
Budgies formed around 300 of the bird total and budgie breeders to this day remained the most competitive, Mr Ackroyd said.
Another remembering fond years in the club is life member Gerald Dolan, who was a seed grower and seller before getting into bird breeding and showing himself.
The former Dorie farmer grew canary seed from the late 1960s, and was involved with the club from 1979.
“I’ve made some good friendships and have some good memories.
“I’ve been to shows around the South Island, sometimes with other club members, and canaries are still my bird of choice.”
Barry Ackroyd, who with his wife Margaret has bred national border canary and lovebird champions, said a passion for his birds still got him out of bed every morning.
“We are a mostly older crowd in the club these days. We don’t have anyone under the age of 60, but I think we still have what it takes to put on a good show.”
Three judges from the North Island will judge this year’s show (July 15-16) in the Tinwald Memorial Hall.
The show is open to the public on Saturday from 1pm until 4pm and on Sunday from 9am until noon.