The first African Lovebird Society Show of 2007 is this Saturday. I’ve started giving some of my new babies, Serenade, Melody (Serenade’s sister) and Firefly some basic show-cage training. I put them in a show cage for a few hours each day to get them use to the show box. They are already fully weaned and eating on their own.
To encourage them to perch, the front bottom part of the show cage is covered, so that they have to perch in order to see out of the show box. Cardboard or newspaper can be used, but I like the type of material used to line kitchen cabinets because some birds chew through the cardboard or newspaper. You can buy a big roll relatively inexpensively and cut it to fit the front of the show box.. I don’t do this for most of my adult birds anymore – they know now, that when they go into a show box, they’re suppose to perch and not hide in the bottom of the cage.
Serenade, Melody and Firefly are the only 2007 baby birds I’ll be bringing to this Saturday’s show. (My black cheeks, Kahlua and Bailey, and the violet-masked lovebird babies are not yet weaned.) When I’m show-box training the young ones, I put them in the kitchen, where there are a lot of lights and noises. It’s different than the normal sounds of the aviary. People walk back and forth in the kitchen, which is more similar to what they will experience at the show on Saturday.
I also have a chopstick handy to help train them with. When I walk by the show cage and notice that the birds aren’t perching, I will very gently stick the chopstick into one side of the cage, never ever touching the bird. If the bird is on the left side, then I will gently put the chopstick in toward the left side. The bird may either scoot to the right or jump up onto the perch. When you do this a couple of times, the bird learns to jump on the perch when it sees the chopstick or when you come close to it. At the show, the judge may do this for birds that aren’t perching. At a local show, some judges may spend a bit of time training birds to perch, while other believe that the birds should already know how to perch. At a National level show, due to the sheer number of birds, if your bird is not perching, the judge usually will not spend very much time with it.
Also, don’t forget to spray your birds. I fill the bottom of the show cage with seed and have a little mini-drinker clipped onto the right side of the cage – just like it will be Saturday at the show. Be patient when working with your young birds, because they are still young. Some baby birds will get it right away and enjoy perching; others will just like to hide in the corner. As they mature, they will get more experience and learn to perch elegantly and show off their nice conformation and feathering. Wish Serenade, Melody and Firefly good luck! It will be their first show and their first time out of the house and into the world of exhibiting!