Downsizing bittersweet

SAYING GOODBYE: Bird breeder Ray Vincent with one of the 60 birds for sale this Saturday.
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Longtime bird breeder Ray Vincent of Ashburton is having to sell some of his prized possessions – the birds in his aviary.

It’s a bittersweet moment for the 80-year-old, who has been breeding birds since he was six.

His feathered friends have been a great source of contentment over the years, enjoyed for their chirpy company and beauty.

A member of the Ashburton Bird Club for about 12 years, Ray has won numerous bird show trophies and ribbons, including best novice for a Norwich canary at both the Topflite National at Timaru in 2018 and the Southland Bird Club National in 2014.

‘‘We’ve done quite well,’’ he said of the recognition.

But the time has come to send much of his flock off to new homes, due to his health.

He will keep a couple of Gouldian finches and some Bourke’s parakeets to keep his hand in.

‘‘I will have just a handful, it is really downsizing,’’ he said.

Bird breeder Ray Vincent, looking at Red Factor canaries.

Ray said having to deal with birds nesting in lower cages had become more tiresome.

‘‘I have trouble getting down and working in that area now, then have trouble getting up. Everything has got a bit much,’’ he said.

It had become more of an issue in the past two years, especially during breeding season.

He used to have more than 30 pairs of canaries at breeding time.

‘‘They are a nice looking bird, and they’re really good when they’re whistling,’’ he said of the songbird.

However they were not his favourite.

‘‘I like the Bourke’s because they are real quiet. They sing away a bit first thing in the morning and last thing at night. But to do anything with, they are as quiet as,’’ he said.

Ray is holding a bird clearance sale this weekend with about 60 birds up for sale, priced from $5 to $50.

Birds at Ray Vincent’s sale will include Bourkes, Norwich, Turquoisine, Zebra finches and breeding pairs, as well as Chinese quail, buntings and charfinch pairs.

There will also be breeding cages, flights and accessories.

‘‘There are a lot of young Bourke’s, there’s about 20 of them, probably two breeding pair as well,’’ he said.

Leading up to the sale, he has been reminiscing.

‘‘I had my first flight when I was about six; it’s an area where they just fly around instead of having them in little cages.’’

Ray grew up in South Canterbury where his late father Bob had an interest in birds too.

‘‘He had the Norwich and also the Red Factor (birds),’’ Ray said.

KEEPSAKE: Bourke’s parakeets are among the handful of birds Ray Vincent will keep following the sale.

In latter years, Ray and his wife Yvonne spent time in Australia.

The move back to New Zealand, following the Christchurch earthquakes, saw the couple settle in Ashburton to be near their four adult children living in Christchurch and Geraldine.

Among the birds Ray will keep are some of the colourful, and quiet, Gouldian finches.

‘‘It’s the colour, everybody likes the colour. They can be sitting up singing and they’re that quiet you hardly hear them.

“I’ll be selling some, but I can’t sell them right now as they’ve just started their breeding season.’’

The finches breed from now until the end of winter, he said.

However their sex would remain unknown until they moult out later in the year.

It was unlikely Ray would wait until then to offload them.

‘‘I might just sell them as young ones. They’ll be just mixed sex or whatever.’’

■ Ray Vincent’s bird clearance sale at 170 Alford Forest Rd, Ashburton on Saturday from 9am to 1pm.