I suppose this could be classed as the start of the season. 
 
The Aviary has been given its usual priority cleaning (this happens twice a year on top of the usual daily and weekly routines). By priority cleaning I mean the flights have been emptied and pressure washed, Steam cleaned if you like. Then disinfected with Vircon S.  All the breeding cages get the same treatment. everything is stripped and cleaned (though we do use our own special mixture for these) the nestboxes were cleaned singularly when they were taken down and stored. We have a system where everything can be, and is, properly cleaned. Disinfected and bug sprayed. (Red mite being the enemy you cant ignore) Michael is a firm believer in Prevention rather than cure. its either clean, or medicate. (medication can be very expensive.)

Usually around now, just after this cleaning programme, The Doncaster birds are paired up and put into these clean boxes, with the intention of giving them that little bit extra care and attention.
This point in the year is where the "time" comes in to play. For example, yesterday, Sunday 21st Aug Michael and Richard spent most of the day in the Aviary sorting out their breeding pairs, its not unusual for them to be in there 10 hrs or so only taking short breaks in between.
Its an amazing thing to watch Richard with the birds. There must be close to 400 budgerigars in there and he knows each and every one by sight, not only each bird but that birds parents, and its parents parents. 
In the middle of the breeding season I can phone Richard and just give him a Nestbox number and he knows which birds are in there.
 
They (Richard and Michael) are doing things a little differently this year. (which they tend to do every year really!). Richard has paired all his first round birds up either in his head or on paper. The thinking behind this is to save time. He intends to put all the birds up at once instead of over a period of time (usually something like 3 weeks).
  

Another thing they intend to do is pair up 9 feeder/foster pairs. This will be the first time this has been done intentionally at the start of the season.  It's normal to end up with foster parents mid season, (a subject I will cover a bit later on). The foster pairs selected are the very worst of the surplus stock produced in the 2011 breeding season. The theory is that lesser quality birds make better feeders of chicks. The foster parents will have their eggs replaced with plastic "dummy" eggs and fertile eggs or chicks will be moved from the main breeding pairs. None of the main pairs will be left with more than 4 fertile eggs because Richard's theory is that in the majority of cases, any more than this usually become addled by the time the first 4 or so eggs have hatched. 
 
I need to check with Richard and Michael as to what I can write about the Doncaster preparations. and will be posting the results as and when things happen.