A Pentlow couple who house more than 400 budgies at their home have celebrated 50 years of success as award-winning breeders and exhibitors.
Ghalib Al-Nasser, 71, and his wife Janice, 73, spend almost £2,000 a year feeding and housing their huge bird collection.
Iraq-born Ghalib started collecting them when he moved to the UK in 1955 as a student and his hobby took off in 1971 when he started breeding them.
Ten years later, he met Janice and found they were birds of a feather, as she shared his hobby and is as keen on them as he is.
The couple keep their budgies in their garage in Pinkuah Lane, which has been converted into an aviary.
Ghalib, a retired British Gas worker, said: “It’s not a hobby anymore, it’s a way of life.
“I would say I can’t imagine my life without them.
“It’s like any hobby — you start with it and you get heavily involved, and you keep them for the pleasure part of it.
“Part of it is seeing how you create life, showing the birds you see how they perform when you go to the show, and the friendship you make with people all over the country and world.”
He added: “I came to this country and every household had a pet budgie.
“I bought four of them, in different colours, and I just kept replacing them as they died.
“Then I started breeding them in 1971 and it went from there.”
Over the last half century, Ghalib and Janice have become successful champion budgerigar breeders and exhibitors.
Their home near Sudbury is filled with plaques and rosettes heralding their budgerigar success, with more than 800 challenge certificates won in total.
The couple, who have been married 16 years, also sit on a number of judging panels, including the World Budgerigar Organisation International Judges Panel, and they lecture at home and abroad on a variety of budgie related subjects.
The favorite bird is on rotation, depending which is the most successful at the time.
The Al-Nassers – who also have a dog and cat – only give names to those, always beginning with ‘Evenstar’.
Ghalib said: “Janice does what we call the morning shift, I’m a night bird and she’s a morning bird, so she spends two hours with them in the morning.
“Then I tend to do what they call the evening shift, doing the waters, checking the boxes and so forth.
“We met through the hobby and it’s very romantic really.”
The pair currently keep species such as opalines, cinnamons, spangles, dominant pieds, crests, yellow-faces and a number of rare varieties.
Altogether, they have 64 champion birds registered.
For further information about the Al-Nassers and their budgerigar breeding and exhibiting, you can go online to the website at www.al-nasser.co.uk.