In the early 1980’s and as a result of what had already happened in the British Section of the Fancy and what was beginning to take place in the Foreign Section, a number of forward thinking Fanciers from Clubs and Societies around the country had, for some time, realised that, if the hobby was to continue in anything like its present form, it was essential that a strong and unified Foreign Bird Section be established as quickly as possible. With no recognised formal body or overall leadership, any individual specialist society could be vulnerable to the various organisations opposed to aviculture.

In addition, none of the existing societies were strong enough to seek and obtain representation in discussions or negotiations with government departments, such as DoE or MAFF. The ‘final straw’ in effect, was the new legislation regarding foreign birds to be classed as vagrants (and therefore added to the British list), e.g. Scarlet Tanagers (North American species). Coupled with the need for a 'link' between the Foreign Bird Section and the proposed restructured NCA, it was therefore clear that an attempt had to be made to achieve a strong, unified section. For these reasons, Charlie Stevens, purely as an individual aviculturist, took it upon himself to call an open meeting at Benson, Oxon, on Sunday, 5th February, 1984, to which all known national and area specialist Societies, catering for foreign birds, were invited.

At that meeting, attended by representatives of 24 independent societies and chaired by Ron Bissell of the Budgerigar Society, there was general agreement that a concerted effort should be made to establish an effective governing body. The general consensus of opinion, however, was that the new body should not be ‘Just another Society’ in the normal sense but, in effect, a council or federation comprised of representatives from the existing specialist societies. The meeting decided upon the appointment of a working party of thirteen well-known Foreign Bird enthusiasts, under the chairmanship of Ron Oxley and with the allotted task of drawing up a suitable constitution reflecting the general views and ideas which had been expressed.

The working party met three weeks later and worked upon the proposed constitution, which was presented to representatives at a second open meeting in April. At that meeting, which was attended by all the major national specialist societies, with one regrettable exception, various modifications were agreed. This was then endorsed on behalf of the various societies represented.

The new body was then formally established by the election of a council comprising:

  • Chairman - R. Oxley
  • Vice Chairman - M. Wrenn
  • Secretary and Treasurer - C. W. Stevens
  • Council Members - D, Bardgett, D. Coles, J. P. Faulkner, E. Gallimore, R. Green, J. Holder, G. Illsley, D. Manning, M. Plose, S. Pyper, B. Rawson and G. Tulk.


One of the earliest decisions was to seek representation at any subsequent meetings with the Ministry of Agriculture on the subject of bird importations. Such representation was granted and, when confirming this in a letter to the Federation's Secretary, the officer in charge of the animal health division also advised that, in its discussions regarding the importation of birds, the Ministry had always endeavoured to seek the view of all interested parties, including those not directly involved with the trade. Fanciers will realise that the Ministry's genuine endeavours in this respect were not helped by the 'fragmentation' of the Foreign Bird section. Many fanciers may not have been aware that consultation with interested non-trade parties had occurred in the past, as unfortunately the non-trade sources consulted did not apparently communicate with the Foreign Bird Fancy as a whole.

That problem is resolved by the establishment of the Federation as, for the first time, there is now a 'channel' through which the views and ideas of 'grass roots' Foreign Bird keepers can be expressed. It follows, of course, that the Council needs to know what those views or ideas are. Ideally, it is the Council's hope that, if more Foreign Bird Fanciers put forward their views through their affiliated societies the essential feeling of involvement can only be enhanced.

During the late 1980’s and 90’s when there was a significant increase in the amount and variety of bird species available to fanciers in the UK, the Federation became less supported and except for the dedication of a few individuals would have closed down completely. However, the “Register of birds bred in the UK under controlled conditions” continued to be published, mainly through the efforts of Reuben Girling who is the FBF Breeding Register Registrar, the Avicultural Society, Richard Cockerill - Arlon Printers, Ron James, and Daniel Shearing for their time and generosity and without whom the Register would most certainly have fallen by the wayside.

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