I went to my first bird show four years ago. Little did I know how that one show would spark something inside of me that would change into a full-blown hobby, and would dominate a significant portion of my life. I only had two pet lovebirds at the time, and they had a clutch of babies. Little did I know that a couple of years down the road that a big factor in selecting a house would be space in the basement for an aviary.
I brought one bird to that 1st show. His name was Sunny. He was a splitcinnamonino male, a very vibrant yellow bird. It was the first time I had seen so many lovebirds together and so many different colors. I was hooked! Sunny didn’t win any awards that day nor did he win even a small class ribbon, but that was OK, because that first show began the learning process for me and I knew I had to go back for more. With each show I went to I made more exhibitor friends, and soon I learned who had the best stock for certain mutations and which people were winning the most in certain regions. I also learned other important things such as what sections there was a deficiency of birds. For example, in the Midwest shows it seemed that not a lot of people were exhibiting the rare and eye-ring lovebirds like Fischer’s, masked, Abyssinians and black cheeks. Showing in this area would definitely give me an advantage.
At each show now I bring about 30 to 50 birds. Who I bring depends on multiple things. I usually bring some just weaned babies. Birds banded with the current year’s band are eligible for the “Best Unflighted Award,” a beautiful violet rosette award. This is basically the best baby bird award. For a couple of the babies I’m hand-feeding now, the March 17, 2007, show will be their first show. I don’t expect them to place on the bench (top 10 or more depending on the total number of birds at the show) at this age, as their adult colors have not yet come in and, therefore, they will be faulted for this.
In general, a lovebird will molt twice in the first year, and then its adult coloring will then emerge. When a lovebird is closer to 10 to 12 months, it will have a better chance of competing with other adult birds, because the bird’s size and coloring will have matured by then. This is why a lot of exhibitors set up birds for breeding right after the National Cage Bird Show in November so that eggs will be laid in December and babies hatch in January. This way, when Nationals rolls around again, many of the babies will have matured into adults. This is what I did this year as well, which is why I’m hand-feeding babies right now.
My purpose of bringing young birds to a show is not for them to place or win, but for them to gain the experience of being at a show. They will hear a lot of noises and voices that they’re not accustomed to. Also, when they’re being judged, they will be under bright, full-spectrum lighting. The more shows these young birds go to, the more comfortable they will be in the show environment, and they will learn to be calm and regal in the show box.