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History of The League

The Foreign Bird League was formed in 1932. Originally called the Foreign Bird Exhibitor's League, it was re-named and it's aims revised in 1933/34. This was to encompass all keepers and breeders of Foreign Birds, not just exhibitors. The League went from strength to strength becoming a world leader and having members on all the populated continents. From very early on the League published a magazine, which it continues to this day, and is now in it's 81st edition with nearly 400 individual magazines having been produced. Although resources were in short supply, the League continued to publish during WWII (although with many less pages) and arranged shows to raise funds for the Britsh Red Cross. A win at the FBL Open Show is still seen as the pinnacle of success in the exhibition of Foreign Birds.

From day one the League has recognised breeding success and maintains a record of the first breeding of all species bred by it's members. Alongside this a breeding scheme has been run and each year the Council sits to discuss the merits of each participants breeding results and agrees on a level of award. One member each year is especially recognised for their achievements in breeding either a wide range of species, large numbers of birds or a particularly difficult species.

At its height the League had more than 2000 members worldwide and, although membership is now substantially lower than this, it continues to have members distributed in many countries. The League continues to maintain relationships with societies in the USA, Canada, New Zealand and Australia - sharing magazines and information between like-minded bird keepers.

One of it's founder members and the first President was the Marquess of Tavistock - eventually to become the 12th Duke of Bedford. The Marquess was an expert on Parrots and wrote one of the first books dedicated to this fascinating family of birds. The Marquess was successful in breeding a large number of species - many of which were FBL first breedings. For these breedings, like many others, the Marquess was awarded a number of commemorative Silver and Bronze medals. The most notable of these were for the world first breedings of the Tahiti Blue and Ultramarine Lorikeets from the South Pacific islands.

One of the FBL's main objectives is to promote the keeping and breeding of all types of Foreign Birds whilst representing our interests to government, providing a larger voice than individual birdkeepers and societies would have.

Benefits of membership include:-

·         Quarterly magazine (44 pages) with colour plates and articles from many leading aviculturists​

·         Breeders Awards Scheme

·         Outings to leading collections, including those not generally open to the public

·         Annual Exhibition - the most prestigious in the UK

·         Patronage award scheme

·         Affiliation scheme (including 5yr affiliation award)

·         Access to a wealth of experience from its members

·         New member introduction pack

Foreign Bird League - the First 75 Years


The Foreign Bird League has produced a commemorative issue of Foreign Birds which has been sent to existing members. It is entitled 'Foreign Bird League - the First 75 Years' and presents a history of the Foreign Bird League by reproducing archive material along with a history of the FBL represented by noting lists of Founder Members, Officers and Members of Council and finally a comprehensive list of Awards for First Breedings of birds by FBL members.

There had always been a degree of doubt about the genesis of the FBL. It is now accepted that it started life as the Foreign Bird Exhibitors’ League in December 1932, to become the Foreign Bird League shortly after (the first magazine showing the new name was the May 1934 copy). However, the old Foreign Bird Club, which merged with the Avicultural Society around the time of the end of the First World War, had also started life as the Foreign Bird Exhibitors’ League in the latter years of the nineteenth century. So maybe there was the possibility of a case of rebirth rather than birth with the beginnings of the League. That may be reflected with the reproduction of an article detailing the beginnings of the FBL by the late Harry Underwood.There are 20 many colour illustrations, of two types. A number are of paintings by R.A. (Rex) Vowles who painted a number of illustrations for the magazine and also other birdkeeping journals including Cage Birds in the 1950s and 1960s. Very few, if any, of his original illustrations appear to have survived to this day. The others are photographs taken for the magazine by Dennis Avon.The front cover is a representation of the duo-tone covers of the 1960s using a copy of the engraved plates supplied to the League by an Australian member Mr I.G. Miller and incorporating the four printers’ primary colours which were used on an annual basis.  

Copies are available from the Foreign Bird League Secretary,

Bryan Reed, 4 St. Andrews Drive, Tividale, Oldbury, West Midlands, B69 1PR

for GBP 7.00 including P&P.

The medal shown below was recently purchased and if anyone can give us any further information we would be most grateful.The hallmarks on the rear of the medal indicate that it was stamped in Birmingham in 1935 and is made of Sterling Silver. The makers mark is a little indistinct, but it appears to give the initials ACS. This indicates that the silversmith that produced the medal was Alexander Clark Silversmiths of Birmingham. In the March 1937 edition of Foreign Birds there was an advert for this company, who listed themselves as “official silversmiths to the Foreign Bird League”. The centre disc appears to be gold.

In the following year there is a report of 7 silver medals having been awarded to the exhibitors gaining the most points over the 1936/37 season’s Full Patronage Shows. Four of these were awarded to Dr. C.H. Macklin, two to G.E. Whitmore and one to Mrs. H.T. King. The one pictured below may be one of these, but we just are not sure.


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