Birds and poultry – Jeff Rankin, of Gore, loves them both.
He has just been awarded a life membership at the Southland Bird Club, after being a member for 30-plus years.
Mr Rankin said he had been interested in poultry and animals since he was a young lad, but it was the poultry in particular that he preferred.
“I had canaries as a young lad but never showed them until later years.
“My first show experience was showing ducks at a poultry show in Gore.”
While visiting a work colleague and good friend John Conlon, Mr Rankin saw red (rose) canaries and he was hooked.
“That was the beginning.”
From there, Mr Conlon took him to Invercargill, to a number of breeders, and he began setting up his own aviary, Mr Rankin said.
“What I love about the canary is it is a smaller bird, with nice fine feathers, and they are kind little birds to work with.”
He has been showing the birds since 1988, and began judging in about 1990.
“I got to travel all over New Zealand judging and could not have done it without the support and encouragement from my wife and family.”
Now retired, Mr Rankin said his aim was to breed the rose canary.
“Early on I could buy the rose-coloured bird, but not now, so I am wanting to see how I go.”
In his heyday Mr Rankin said he would breed up to 150 birds a year.
“Now I am breeding 25-30 a year – it is a hobby that I love.”
It is a hobby that has lasted many years, and one that Mr Rankin feels is sadly dying.
“We would encourage anyone with a love of birds to become a member of the Southland Bird Club.
“I have met wonderful people over the years, making life-long friendships.
“As bird breeders say: ‘You like to achieve these things before you fall off the perch yourself’.”