Showing Your Pet Bird
By Pam Thompson
Calling all Pet Cockatiel Owners! The fall shows are underway. Have you thought about showing your pet cockatiel? If so, I guarantee you will have lots of fun, learn something new about cockatiels, and make a new friend or two that can outlast you in a conversation about birds.
In this month's column, I'd like to share with you some of the reasons I heard why pet owners don't show.
My bird's wings are clipped: For a bird to be a top competitor at an A.C.S. show, it is best that your bird's wings are intact. However, many bird clubs hosting a show also sponsor a Pet Division. This division is open to pet birds with clipped wings, missing toenails, etc. What the judge is mainly looking for in this division is a Happy and Healthy bird. You can also show your bird with the Society of Parrot Breeders & Exhibitors, as this society allows novice exhibitors to enter birds with clipped wings.
My bird may pick up a disease: Transmission from an airborne disease occurs when droppings from a diseased bird dries, is disturbed, and particles become airborne. At a show, the likelihood of this is rare. The amount of time the birds are in their show cages doesn't really allow enough time for the droppings to dry enough to become brittle or powdery. The rooms that shows are held in are large enough that air isn't concentrated around the birds. Sick birds do not show well and any bird that appears ill is dismissed from the show hall immediately by the Superintendents of each division.
Quote from Dr. Al Decoteau: "It seems the disease aspect has been a very poor excuse for not showing. We have hypochondriacs in the bird world as we do in humanity; there are those that are afraid to move their birds anywhere yet they are the ones who wander through pet shops which can be more dangerous than any bird show. Bird show people take great care of their birds. In the 40 years I have exhibited and judged bird shows I have never seen a disease problem either at a show or after a show".
The judge's stick scares my bird: A simple answer to this issue is to show your bird in a cage with small bar spaces. The drumstick that the judge uses cannot fit through the small bar spaces. There is no rule against using such a cage (except in the advance division) and the judges don't mind.
Showing is too stressful on birds: Showing is a stressor on birds. But for the happy, healthy bird these are good stressors that enrich their life. Socialization around other birds and people is very enriching -- an enriching change of pace from the same old routine at home. I challenge you to go to a show and see for yourself all the happy, singing birds calling to each other and flirting with the judges. Since the birds also have to travel to/from the show, this helps to make them a much calmer bird when it's time for a trip to the vet. Yes, some birds do not handle shows very well at all, and they simply should not be taken to a show, no matter how good they look, period!
My bird isn't good enough: I can't tell you how many times I thought this myself; however, to my surprise the bird I thought was less likely to win, won top novice (I wouldn't have realize that this bird was really top-notch if I didn't attend the show). Many pet owners on sitting on a gold mine and they don't know it. Of course the judges are looking for conformation, however, 98% of the cockatiels out there have the right conformation. All you need to do is add little health and happiness and you just might come home a winner!
Showing is too much work: It's really not that much work to show one or two pet birds. You don't need to do anything more with your birds than you should be doing on a daily basis anyway. You should always be providing them with a healthy diet, daily spraying, appropriate size cage, and proper socialization. If this is your daily practice, then your pet bird is ready for the show.
Showing is too expensive: The cost to enter a single bird is usually between one to two dollars. The expense lies in the hotel and traveling fees. Many exhibitors have found ways to cut these cost by sharing rooms, traveling together and bringing our own food and soda. The bird clubs hosting the shows are aware of the expense factor and they do their best to obtain a low room rate at the hotels. If you plan to attend a local show, your out-of-pocket expenses would include the entry fee, a meal, and gas for the car. Attending a local show would be a perfect choice for those concerned about the expense.
I don't have time to show: Poor reason in my opinion. Once a year, one show, 8 hours out of your day.