When most aviculturists hear the words “bird show,” they think of bird expos or marts where birds and associated things are sold. However, in the field of aviculture, they are relatively new advances. Birds have been shown for many years, even decades in certain instances, with the goal of improving birds via selective breeding. While most breeders are content to create healthy offspring, those who display their birds strive to produce the greatest bird of that species possible.
Showing parrotlets also offers additional benefits, such as exposing people to new species and color variations of birds. Showing may also impact the sort of birds a breeder owns, and the most successful exhibitors concentrate in a certain species or genus of birds in order to have complete control over their breeding operation program.
Attending bird exhibitions has taught me more about parrots in general, as well as what makes a perfect specimen. I went to my first show mostly to have fun with my friends and to acquire a “appraisal” on the quality of my breeding stock. Since then, I’ve had quite the education. One that is always evolving and being enhanced. When I’m looking for breeding stock, I look for outstanding bone structure first, tight feathers second, and strong, brilliant color with a calm personality. This way, I have both beautiful exhibition birds and lovely companions. It combines the finest of both worlds.
Exhibiting birds is not just for breeders, but it can also be a lot of pleasure for pet owners. Nothing gets a first-time beginner more thrilled than gnawing their nails out while tiny Kiwi is being graded. It’s similar to seeing your child’s piano recital or school play when they perform well on the show bench. The greatest birds like it as well, and will strut and spin to show off their best qualities.
There are several bird shows around the country that are sponsored by local bird groups. In addition, there are two national/international exhibits in the United States. The Great American Cage Bird Show, or GABS, is a show that was created largely to display hook bills. The National Cage Bird Show, which celebrated its 50th anniversary in Chicago in November 1998, is the granddaddy of all bird exhibits. These displays take place in various sites around the nation and are sponsored by a local bird club.
Joining the Society of Parrot Breeders and Exhibitors is the greatest method to learn about bird shows and how to display birds. SPBE has worked long and hard to set hook bill judging guidelines. Lovebirds, English budgies, and cockatiels are typically assessed under the criteria of their respective Societies, but may also be presented under the SPBE’s. Conformation, condition, deportment, color, and presentation are all rated on a point system.
Because the main goal of showing is to create the best breeders possible, conformation is the most significant criteria, accounting for 40% of the entire point total. The length, weight, size, and proportion of the bird determine its conformation. The second most significant criteria is condition, which accounts for 30% of total points. In contrast to conformation, the exhibitor has some influence on the bird’s condition. It must be fed regularly and housed in a clean, adequately sized cage. All feathers must be intact and well-groomed, with no pin feathers, and kept tightly against the body. Deportment accounts for 15% of the overall points and pertains to the bird’s conduct in the exhibition cage. A bird with good manners perches tall on the perch and displays itself. It should not be huddled on the floor or scrambling up the bars, but should stand straight and safe. Color is worth 10% of the overall points and relates to the depth, homogeneity, and clarity of the color rather than its rarity. Many people are startled to see a typical green Pacific ranked better than a rare yet attractive mutant. If that mutation does not have a better conformation or condition, it should not be considered superior than the green bird just because it is unusual. If such were the case, only the most wealthy collectors would be able to exhibit birds. Finally, presentation is just 5% of the equation but should not be disregarded.
Although SPBE does not have cage regulations, anybody who intends to display birds should invest in high-quality show cages. Parrotlets do well in lovebird cages with smaller perches. Keep them and their perches clean and clear of clutter. After each performance, the seed should be replaced, and the bird should always have fresh, clean water.
As you go through the show circuit, you will establish additional connections and learn even more from old timers eager to share their wisdom. When you begin to place on the top bench, you will begin to be recognized by individuals you have never met who want to buy your birds. People want to purchase the greatest birds they can afford, and if you’re winning on the show bench, you’ve shown you have fantastic birds. You could also discover markets you never imagined existed. For example, now that color mutation Pacific parrotlets are available, I am seeing an increase in business from cockatiel, budgie, and lovebird breeders who like working with color. And these folks have taught me much more about genetics than I ever imagined.
Make it a point to visit a bird show in your neighborhood the next time you hear about one. Go with the purpose of learning something new and having fun. It’s a fantastic experience, and once you’re addicted, watch out!
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