by Linda Greeson

Fall and early winter are my favorite times of the year, and not just because of the delightful weather. Most weekends in these months find me driving long distances and flying even longer distances to attend just as many bird shows as I can possibly manage.

There is a great deal of work, time, and expense involved in all these activities. I desert my family and my beloved birds and work incredibly hard at loading and unloading cages of birds, show cages, and all the bird necessities. Packing for myself is a minor consideration. "What to show" is far more important than "What to wear."

I have many reasons for all this activity. Although I have enjoyed a great deal of success, winning those ribbons and plaques is not my primary objective. Experience has proved to me that attending even a small, local show is a good opportunity to add to my knowledge about birds. As a breeder, being completely familiar with the fine points of what constitutes the ideal of the species is important to my breeding program. Developing a knowledgeable and critical eye gives me the ability to pick up minor defects in my own stock and work toward eliminating them in making breeding choices.

At bird shows, almost always the judges make constructive comments, offering their reasons for choosing one bird over another. There is no better opportunity available than that of listening attentively, trying to see what they see in each bird, and thereby adding to your own judgement and knowledge.

I not only learn from judges, but so much from friends I meet at the shows. We freely share little hints, ways of handling problems, and sympathize with each others' frustrations. Just socializing with other bird lovers makes a show weekend a fun experience.

The major bird magazines list bird clubs, bird shows scheduled, and the person to contact for information. Your local bird club will be glad to come to your assistance. You will find the show catalogue a valuable source of information. There is rarely an admission charge and the fee for entry of a bird is never more than a dollar or two.

The most important preparation for a novice entering a bird in a show for the first time is to have the bird in perfect feather condition. Daily baths or misting for weeks before the show will assure beautiful plumage to attract the admiration of the judge. Whatever the requirements for the cage (usually quite lenient in the Novice division) it needs to be immaculately clean and in good condition.

Although you will be entering your bird in the Novice Division, you will not be denied the opportunity to compete with more experienced exhibitors. The Best Novice competes with the Best in all other divisions for the coveted Best In Show award. Many times the first time exhibitor has walked away with this prize. Your pet bird could be an unrecognized champion.

At the smaller, local shows, the entries in many classes are quite limited. Your bird may be competing with only one or two others of the same species, or even be the only entrant in the class. Regardless of the number of birds entered in your classification, and even if yours is the only one, you may have a lovely blue ribbon rosette, appropriately marked in gold lettering, to take home as a souvenir of your first show. There is no need to give details of your winning to your admiring friends.

Even if you are not entering your bird in competition do try attending a show as a spectator. You will find warm, friendly people, anxious to talk and exchange experiences. You will have the opportunity to view collections of lovely birds, often species you have never seen before. Once bitten by "the show bug" you will return again and again.



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Last Updated:  April 26, 2013

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