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Show Preparation

by Dick Wyatt

 You should start selecting your show team about three months before your first show. Start looking in your flights for the good show prospects. If you see one you think you might want to show, catch it up and put it into one of your smaller stock cages or in an empty breeding cage.

This will help the birds get used to a smaller cage so they won't be so wild when you put them into a show cage. I put several birds into each cage. Make sure you don't crowd them, though.

After the birds have been in your smaller cages for a few days, you can start putting them into the show cages for an hour or so at a time. Each time you put a bird into the show cage, leave it a little longer each time. This will let the bird gradually get used to staying in the show cage so they will feel comfortable being in a show cage when you go to your first show.

About the last week or two before the show, I will leave the bird in the show cage for about 24 hours. I put them in the cage one evening and take them out the next evening. Make sure you always have plenty of food and water in the show cage when you do this.

After the birds have been in the show cage a few times and have settled down, start training them with a stick. Most judges use chop sticks so that is what I use. I usually start training the birds by racking the stick across the bars occasionally until the birds get used to this and will stay steady when you do it. To train them to stay on the perch, gently push the stick against their legs. They will usually step onto the stick, and you can lift them up onto the perch. After a while they usually will jump up onto the perch when you put the stick through the bars or just barely touch their legs.

If you have a bird that leans over the perch, or won't stand up, you can try tapping on the front rail. Many times this will make them straighten up and stand up. After a while they will get the idea.

If tapping doesn't work, you can try gently nudging them on the chest, many times this will work. Remember always be gentle and patient. If you feel yourself losing patience, put the birds away and try another time.

Two months before the first show, I pull the two main long tail feathers on each bird. At the same time check the primary wing flight feathers. If any are broken or frayed, pull them also. The best way to pull feathers is to firmly grasp each one and pull steadily until they come out.

Two months before the show I also start spraying my birds three times a week. If the weather is warm enough, 70 degrees or higher, I take the birds outside and spray them with the garden hose. A nozzle that is used for watering flowers is good for spraying the birds. I soak the birds thoroughly and let them dry sitting outside before taking them inside. If it is too cold to take the birds outside, spray them in a sink but spray them lighter.

One month before the show I increase the spraying to a daily basis. After the show season starts, I spray three days a week until two weeks before the next show. I then spray daily. I stop spraying three days before the show starts.

One of the hardest things for some people to learn is how to remove the excess spots from the mask. The way I learned was to look at pictures of show birds to see how the spots were supposed to look. I then practiced on the birds that I wasn't going to show. I made a lot of mistakes, but I finally learned to spot my birds.

It is difficult to describe on paper how to spot a budgie. You leave one spot under each cheek patch and four on the mask. The four on the mask should be about the same size with a symmetrical look. Try to find someone in your area to help you learn.

Another good idea during the training is to put the birds into the show cage, load them into the car, and take them for a ride. This will get them used to driving and they will stay calmer on the way to the shows.

The second most important thing next to your birds is your show cages. During the winter or during the time you are selecting your show team, give your show cages some attention. Look them over good. If they need repair, then do it now. Give them a good cleaning. After you get them clean, check to see if they need repainting. Remember a budgie will look much better in a clean bright show cage.

After you have your cage good and clean, put two cups of your normal seed mix in the bottom of the cage. Put a small treat cup between the bars for water. I also put a piece of spray millet in each cage too.

When you go to the show, take a well conditioned and prepared budgie in a clean bright show cage. Then if your bird is a good bird, and shows well, your bird will have the best chance of taking an award. If your bird doesn't do well don't let it be your fault!

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