It's all about respect!!
What an odd title for something in a finch magazine you might say, but then again maybe not! Stranger and stranger!!

To try and put all into perspective allow me to take a ramble down memory lane and my first trip outside the Rock on a 'bird related quest'!

Ever tried 2 weeks of Tasmanian jokes? The first time a smirk, the third time the thought "Oh god, here we go again!"
However, by the end of 2 weeks you just want to clock someone - real, real bad!

Some many moons on from that infamous outing I remember being asked to speak at the Hunter Branch of the FSA in the beautiful Hunter Valley of NSW.

My first thought was "why in hell would they be remotely interested in anything I have to say given most members would have bred more birds in a season than I have in 10!"
Why indeed? It became obvious that words like quarantine and worming were not high on most members' agendas there!!  Maybe because finches were freely available and as such if you lost one you simply rang a mate and purchased another - a sad cry from the Tasmanian situation where breeders would wait months in the hope of replacing a lost bird.

So this 'value' that we placed upon even the commonest of finches ensured that we put the effort into that bird like our NSW counterparts might save only for Orange-cheeked waxbills!


Following the meeting I was inundated for names of products and regimes for worming and other parasite control and, guess what, not one Tasmanian joke AFTER the meeting. From this meeting came the realization that finch keepers in Tasmania were up there with the best in the business despite the climate and transport difficulties. This gave rise to a few articles and the rest is history.

I guess I was plain lucky too in working with 2 of the 'best in the business' right here in Tassy who were prepared to experiment, analyze and share their vast knowledge - a thing that we never had when I first started in finches. Even here it was like the "secret society" and newbies like me were simply there to purchase birds and certainly not to be 'inducted into the annals of the high court of breeders' secrets'.
Think I exaggerate even slightly? Well I still remember persuading Malcolm and Sherry Graham to tag along and visit the Hunter Branch of the FSA on our way to the Gunnedah Bird Sale one year.

The incredulous look on Mal's face after the meeting when he was relating how all his problems had been solved by a hundred different members offering advise, birds and everything else imaginable - his only problem was that every one of these people shouted him a cleansing black ale - we should all have such "problems"!!!!
His comments about the help he was offered by people that had only just met him as contrasted to what he hadn't been told back home was very sobering indeed!

"Suchie said try this.....Woz reckons....JB has got a pair of ... JBjnr & Lisa said they can send me this......" on and on it went. A brilliant Club full of brilliant people all concentrating on doing what they do best - breeding birds. No politics, no hidden agendas just doing their bit for propagating finches in captivity.
Sadly, it appears that even here that "things" have become more political but the Hunter Branch of that time is the model that we aspire to for the Tassy Finch Club - people breeding birds and helping others to do the same.

What does this mean for us? Well, I guess it means that in avicultural circles we are no longer considered to be quaint non-entities but have earned the respect of the bird community at large -  from those breeding the endangered Swift parrot to those persevering 'against the odds' down here to breed a plethora of finch species.

The names Rob, Chris, Max, Feeb, Allan & Tony might not mean a lot to many outside the Rock but they represent a wealth of knowledge gleaned in a harsh bird unfriendly environment. Yet the access we have to these and many, many more breeders might never have come about if it wasn't for that word respect - or more accurately a lack of it!
Having been involved in the fight to save finches from inane, ill-conceived legislation in the past it was with mounting dread that we faced the prospect of yet another 'scheme' with the EBRKS. It may please you to know that the wider finch keeping fraternity found out about this scheme from an email sent to me by accident which I then passed onto several finch breeders on the mainland - all of whom were as stunned as I was!
Respect - sadly lacking from the composition of EBAG, no recognized finch breeder, and sadly lacking from those that considered finch people as radicals for not supporting such a scheme despite the ill-effects of both previous schemes on finch numbers.

Then we see the formation of a 'national' finch body which treats Tasmania with a complete lack of respect and settles for expediency over any desire to accurately represent those Tasmanian here that hold finches and certainly none of those that would have had anything to lose from such legislation - we have to wonder why none of these people bothered to ask why none of the big finch breeders here were members of local societies, maybe because they didn't care!!

Respect - handed back to us by the executive of the Finch Society of Australia in asking for our input into submissions designed to fight such legislation. I'm honoured to say that our entire executive contributed in some way to this legislation throughout the "EBAG campaign".

There you have the actual foundation of the TFC as it arose from a complete lack of respect from other bodies in order to allow Tasmanian aviculturists the platform to speak for themselves on topical issues. I, and many others, believed we'd earned that right simply by our dogged perseverance "against the odds" here.

So if you are "umming and arring" about rejoining the TFC in the coming months then put aside the fact that you now have access to more finches then I ever dreamed of as a lad, the fact that you have access through the Finch Flyer to a host of experienced breeders, a president that has already had our very own finch mix produced and just remember that you are a member of a young club that has already represented you with distinction in Canberra on national issues and has the strength to give you a voice on ANY issue that affects your hobby.

Oh, and maybe the "Tassy joke free" zone that exists in most avicultural circles may be worth the $10 by itself!!!
Respect, maybe not such an odd topic in a finch publication after all!!