As I may have mentioned before in these pages my first introduction to the Bengalese was when my thoughts of sacks of money turned towards the production of Gouldian Finches, a project that was if not successful was at least educational. In those days on Sunday a street market was held in London Club Row, there many birds and animals were sold, both by traders and individuals. Cages full of newly imported foreign birds were displayed on stalls, and this is where I obtained my first half a dozen Bengalese for if I recall 9 shillings the lot, which today would equal 45p, but still then a fair price, they were all chocolate and white a colour that held appeal to me, not that it mattered as my aim was to use them as a rearing machine and nothing else. With the aim of discovering if they would breed themselves and thus be suitable as fosters I paired up as best I could and sat back and waited, these birds were very prolific easy to breed a delight to watch and from those few birds my interest and enthusiasm for the Bengalese Finch grew.
Hobbyist Bengalese fanciers are the backbone of the hobby; they far outnumber those whose interest lies in Exhibition, the information on this site is intended for everyone who keeps Bengalese and although many pictures here may be of Exhibition birds the articles and advice apply to all and every Bengalese keeper.
Having decided that the Bengalese is the bird for you, how do you go about acquiring your first birds  There are many places that you can obtain your first birds, ranging from someone who keeps a few in their aviary to a top exhibitor. Probably the best advice is to go to a local exhibitor if there is one in your area, the majority of who will be only too willing to talk about the birds, and assist the newcomer in obtaining birds, if not from themselves, from someone they know who will be able to help.
Making the initial purchase of your stock will be made a lot easier if you join the N.B.F.A. and obtain a member's list, from which you can find the names and addresses of fanciers in your area. Try to avoid obtaining your stock from a pet shop or bird farm, if you are intending to take the breeding of exhibition birds seriously. A lot of fanciers do sell surplus stock to these places, but I have found from experience although the odd useful bird can be obtained this way, these are usually the birds that are left after the fancier has selected the birds he will keep, and then sold to other fanciers the remaining birds of a good standard. The majority of birds disposed of this way are usually cock birds, and Bengalese being hard to sex by just looking at them in a cage or flight, you are likely to bring home a large percentage of cocks. By going to an established fancier, you will have almost no worry about your bird's sex, health or age.
Common sense is all that is needed, any obvious signs of ill health should be looked for, and the conditions under which the birds are kept should be taken into account, if the birds are active and look fit then they usually are. Of course it is always a gamble when buying birds but by being sensible you can cut the odds down to practically zero that any problems will be encountered.
Make certain that in your haste to get your birds home you don’t forget to enquire from the fancier all you can about the feeding and general management the birds are used to, creating the least problems for yourself when you do get them home and settled. Make sure that you have all your cages ready to accept any birds you buy, that they are fully equipped to create the best possible environment to introduce your new birds into. If you have little experience in exhibition type birds you must place your faith in whoever you purchase bird's from, at the same time attending any shows and reading as much as possible to gain this experience.
This may be a little early to give you this advice, but always note your pairings and offspring, it’s never too early to keep records and at some stage you might find yourself wishing you had.
As to what you can expect to pay for your birds, this is really a matter between yourself and the seller. It is almost impossible to state what should constitute a fair price, as so many factors are involved, but if I want a bird I know if it's priced in my range and act accordingly.
Summing up, go to a breeder, exhibitor, it would be a rare occurrence for you not to come away completely satisfied with your purchases.