My name is Sam Gibbs, I am an English guy who lives in the Netherlands.
My membership number / breeder code is BVA2500.
I am a huge fan of the genus Agapornis, commonly known as Lovebirds. My ultimate passion is currently with the Agapornis personatus.
So where did it all start? ...
How I began with birds
It started a long time ago when I was younger. My grandparents kept Agapornis roseicollis (Peachfaced Lovebirds). Just like many other hobbyists, they started with one tame pair and it progressed from there. As well as numerous tame birds inside, they had a large wooden aviary outside with a night shelter and around 8 pairs of birds. I never forgot these birds and was always fascinated by them.
Many years later I find myself persuading my wife to let me get a lovebird. It all began with a blue personatus called Zippy. She was a lovely bird, and was very tame. A short period later and I got her a friend, a SF violet blue personatus called Ozzy, he was silly tame and stayed tame until he sadly passed away in 2010. He would fly to me when I called him, step onto my finger, give me high-five and allow me to scratch him. I've never known a bird with such a character! Time passed by and they eventually started making their own family. I decided to keep the first youngster and get her a partner ... naturally things progressed from there and I guess the rest is history!
Genetics and mutations
I am fascinated about genetics and mutations. I never thought this would be something that interests me, but it does. I'm gripped and intrigued by the science behind the vast array of colours we see in these little birds. It started when I was expecting my first ever clutch of chicks. I wanted to know what mutations I could expect but then I needed to know how to work it out myself. I spent years trawling through endless articles and discussions on the internet, absorbing every last bit of information I could find. The majority of it I had to translate as it was in Dutch.
I quickly learnt about the BVA (Belgische Vereniging Agaporniden / Belgian Lovebird Society) and it was clear they were at the forefront regarding Agapornis. I didn't hesitate to join. Now I'm not a book reader, in fact I would go as far as saying I hate reading books. However, I read the 'Lovebirds Owners Manual and Reference Guide' by Dirk Van den Abeele from cover-to-cover ... about 20 times! It wasn't easy making sense of everything I read, actually I would say it was a nightmare most of the time, but I was drawn to it. I kept persevering until it finally began to make sense. I attended seminars/talks/events whenever possible and always eagerly awaited for new articles to be published by several sources, especially MUTAVI and Ornitho-Genetics. I genuinely lost count of the hours I spent on the internet fueling my desire to learn, rummaging through the conversations on the Genetics Psittacine discussion group and the BVA discussion group.
The BVA (Belgische Vereniging Agaporniden / Belgian Lovebird Society) is a fantastic club for breeders and keepers of Agapornis. Modern, up-to-date, informative and simply pioneering. I attend all the BVA events, regretfully missing only a handful. Sales days, Aga-days and of course the biggest and best lovebird-only show in the world - The BVA Masters.
Around 2011-2012 I was approached by Arvid de Graeve, who was the chairman at the time. The BVA intended to go international, revamping their bi-monthly magazine to full colour, full size A4 with both Dutch and English text. I was very active on social media and always promoted and spoke highly of the BVA. I was asked to help out with the translations and that is when I became involved in the club. I now finalise all the English translations for the magazine, so I guess I am to blame for any spelling errors and bad grammar! For the past few years I have helped out at the BVA Masters show, normally spending 4 days there. It's a great atmosphere full of great people - it really is a genuine pleasure to be there and an honour to wear the 'BVA CREW' shirt!
In early 2015 I took the 5 day course by Dirk Van den Abeele @ Ornitho-Genetics. The course literally covered everything, over 5 full days. All the mutations were discussed in depth, along with taxonomy, history, international agreements and genetic formulas ... the list goes on.
After the 5 course days you are given the option to take an examination. The exam consisted of various questions and identifying the species/mutation of around 30 birds. Those who pass with over 70% then qualify for the course to become a BVA judge. I managed to pass with 83% and then went on to become a BVA judge. Since then I have judged the BVA Masters in Belgium and several other exhibitions such as the CDE French national 2016 and the 2017 1st edition of the Lovebird Society of Pakistan exhibition. I have plenty more judging appointments ahead of me and you can read more about my experiences in the judging articles.
To hold your title as a BVA judge you must keep up-to-date with all the latest information, and you are regularly tested on this. It's not easy, it's certainly not a case of achieving a title and keeping it for life. You have to work for it if you want to keep it - and rightly so.
In May 2015 and June 2017 I drove to the UK with Dominique Veeckmans (BVA Chairman) and Dirk Van den Abeele (Ornitho-Genetics). I spend a lot (probably too much!) time on Facebook, chatting birds, helping people out, promoting the BVA and sharing my experiences in this wonderful hobby. I met a good number of UK enthusiasts and so we held a couple of events in the UK.
In 2015 Dirk gave a talk for the majority of the day, we had lunch in between and I gave a short presentation about selectively breeding Agapornis personatus in the afternoon. It was dreadful on my behalf, I'm not going to lie! I had missed a night sleep because I was driving, I was exhausted and literally sweating coffee and Redbull! Hopefully I didn't scare too many people though because all in all, the day was a great success. In 2017 it was a similar schedule with Dirk giving a talk, but we also held a mini exhibition to give the UK breeders a taste of what showing birds is like. It was another successful day and I look forward to the next one!
That's pretty much it! Everything about me and my hobby from when it all began to the current day (October 2015).
Check out my Facebook page which I update on a regular basis
I also upload videos to my YouTube channel, check them out
If you ever want to come and visit me and my birds, feel free to get in touch with me. The coffee is already ready!