About Joe Lastella
I actually started breeding what we fondly refer to as the Pet Parakeet at about 12 years of age. As a youngster, it was a great means of making some extra money. Approximately one hundred birds were kept in my mother's basement, or as my father called it, (his wine cellar). Once I reached 17 years of age my mind started to wonder from the birds to other interests, which will remain undisclosed. I then sold all the birds because of my new interests. I just didn't have the time anymore.
There was a long lapse between keeping birds. Work, marriage, and children filled the days. Then in 1974 (age 30) my place of business decided to implement a 3-day workweek (13 hour work days). After fixing up the house, it seems that I was constantly in my wife's way, to put it mildly. She asked if I had any hobbies that would interest me, rather than driving her crazy. I told her about the birds, and she agreed that I should give it a try. Although I was aware of the Exhibition Budgie, I decided to go with the pet bird again. In 1975 I found out about a Budgie Club on Long Island (New York State Budgerigar Society). I promptly joined the club and then ABS (American Budgerigar Society).
After visiting several aviaries, I was hooked, and had to have some of these fantastic birds. My bird room, at the time was slightly larger than 6 feet by 8 feet and was in the basement. My first house did not have a lot of space so breeding and keeping both the pet and exhibition budgie was impossible. So the pet budgies were sent off in order to concentrate on the Exhibition stock.
Most of the stock I acquired was from the late Alf Omerod background, one of the premiere breeders in the U.K., at the time. There were three top breeders here in the states, close to my area, that acquired stock directly from Mr. Omerod. These individuals seemed to be winning at all the shows. I developed my line/lines from those original birds. One of those gentlemen, Jim Brown who lived in Long Island, New York, was very instrumental in teaching me the ins and outs of breeding the birds. Unfortunately our friendship only lasted for two years as he passed on in 1977. But I feel I learned more in those two years than any other time in the hobby. Jim also took care of me with some great birds from his Omerod line. Jim was very generous to the Novice Breeders.
In 1979 my family moved to Long Island, NY. Here I still kept the birds in the basement, however maintained a much larger area (17 Feet x 28 Feet) and was able to keep many more birds. However, I did maintain my methods of furiously culling my birds. This kept me from being tempted to breed birds that would not help improve my family lines. Window fans blowing out kept the dust from accumulating and Vita Lights were used through out the aviary.
By 1981 Champion status was attained. I went on to enjoy many years of learning, success, and frustrations. I call all of it enjoyment because I simply love the hobby and the people that I have met through the years. In 1990 I became an ABS Judge and also served as a District Director for several years. I love to judge the birds. It is a wonderful opportunity to meet the various breeders throughout the country and get a look at the quality of the birds elsewhere. Aside from the people, the part of the hobby that I enjoy the most is the breeding season. I really get a thrill out of watching the parents raise the Chicks and seeing if my expectations are met with the various pairings.
In 1994 my family (which includes the birds) moved to North Edison NJ, where I had my first out door shed, which became my Aviary. It is 12 feet deep by 21 feet wide. I know to many that this is small in size, however it worked fine for me. I utilized all the space to its limit. Inside the shed I maintained 24 breeding cages with front hanging nest boxes, two large flights (11 feet long x 3 ft wide x seven ft high. Side by side), two small flights (7 ft long x 2 ft deep x 3 ft high. stacked), two baby flights (3ft wide x 1½ ft deep by 1½ ft high also stacked), and two large cabinets, for supplies. There was also an area for seed containers/bags and rolls of paper. The paper is used at the bottom of the cages.
Approximately 150 to 200 chicks are raised each breeding season. I then try to get down to 150 birds in the aviary prior to the next breeding season. The majority are normal greens and grey greens with some blues and greys. The rest consists of Pieds, Opalines, Cinnamons and Spangles.
In 1997 I needed an outcross for my birds, as the line was becoming too close. I did introduce some birds, over the years, from several top breeders here in the States. However, I decided that it was time to go further out. The birds I acquired were from Chris and Mary Snell of the U.K. These birds clicked very nicely with my own and produced some outstanding birds. Several of my birds were pulled and bred to the Snell birds to produce another line within my aviary. After several generations this line will now be crossed to another line in the aviary.
In 1999 a new organization was started here in the U.S. Budgerigar Association of America was formed. I decided to join the new organization. Of course this meant retiring from the ABS Judges Panel and resigning from the ABS Board of Directors. This was something I needed to do as I felt that things were becoming too stagnant and that a change was needed. I still maintain my friendships with the ABS membership and also attend the shows. I have many close friends in the ABS organization and will continue to. Currently I am on the Board of Directors and Administrator of the Judges Association for BAA.
I have won many shows, however my most memorable wins have to be at two All Americans. As an intermediate breeder my birds were placed on the top bench two years running. Both wins were fourth best in show. This was in 1979 and 1980. Another fantastic win was in the Grand National, 2002. A Grey Green Cock of mine won the show. In the same show,I also had seventh best and best young with a Light Green Cock.
Rose and I have moved into our new home in Florida.