BIRD TALK sat down with veteran bird show judge Gary Morgan to find out what it takes to be take home a top prize at a bird show, and he had lots of advice to offer. Morgan has 20-plus years experience as a judge and is currently a panel judge for the African Lovebird Society, North American Parrot Society and the National Cockatiel Society. We last saw him at the National Cage Bird Show where he’s been a judge four times.
He also raises and – when time allows it – shows his birds. Morgan keeps lovebirds, Eclectus, Amazons, macaws, caiques, Meyer’s parrots, and Alexandrine, moustached, plum-headed and Indian ring-necked parakeets.
1. What are the top three things that a person should do to prepare their birds for a show?
Number 1 – The Standards. “The first, and what I believe is the most important thing, about showing is you have to understand what the judge is looking for. If you don’t know that you can’t pick the appropriate birds to take All of the societies have a Standard of Perfection. The bulk of the points are typically Size and Conformation. It is always about 60 points out of 100. This is the basic size and shape of the bird.
Number 2 – Know the rules. “Every show is different. Specialty societies have certain rules, local clubs have their own rules, and you must be prepared. Contact the show contact person. Get your paperwork ahead. When you show up organized it will make your check-in smooth.”
Number 3 – Show preparation. “There are a number of things that you as the exhibitor have control over … Once you select your first show, back up about 8 weeks. This is the date you need to begin show prep. The reason why is that you will often have tail feathers and flight feathers that are damaged so much that normal bathing will not help. [Talk to a professional groomer on how to handle this situation. -Ed.]
“Between now and the show mist your birds twice daily with water. I recommend keeping your mister in the refrigerator. The cold water helps make the feathers tight. When you mist just do so enough to lightly cover the bird and inhibit grooming on their part … You will see noticeable improvement on the condition in just a few weeks.”
2. What are the top three mistakes that first-time participants make?
Number 1: “Out of condition birds … Groom your birds, train them in their show cages so they are calm and relaxed.”
Number 2: “Show presentation. Things like colored seed should not be used. The birds get on the cage bottom and then the seed coloring can stain their feathers and feet. Use plain seed.
“Use approved waterers and place them between the second and third wire from the right. Many birds get their feathers wet from sitting on the waterers … Clean or paint your show cages … A clean cage shows off a good bird.”
Number 3: “Enter your birds correctly. Find the classifier and discuss it. If a bird is entered in the wrong class it may not do well.
3. What should a person do with their birds the week before the show? The day before? The hour before?
“Start show cage training your birds 8 weeks out. Let them get accustomed to the cage. I have two sets of cages. Ones that are freshly painted or plastic, I save until the day before the show. I used older beat up cages for training. As each week passes, let the birds stay in the cages longer.
“The day before the show, I transfer the birds into the clean show cages. I place the band numbers on some masking tape on the top of the cage so that it will make it easier to attach the tags at the show.
“Show up early. Be organized and ready.”