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| ||DID YOU EVER THINK ABOUT EXHIBITING?|
By Peggy Avila
With a great deal of fear, but at the insistence of an advanced breeder, from who I had bought some birds, I decided to get my feet wet and try my hand at showing some of my birds. I knew that I had some of the most beautiful cockatiels anywhere. After all they were MY pets. I still wondered how they would compare with all those show birds that I had seen at the shows.
My real interest started in cockatiels when I entered a raffle at the Puyallup Washington bird show about 7 years ago. Already having two lutinos, my husband and I tried our luck. As luck had it – we won two beautiful birds, a whiteface cock and a cinnamon pearl pied hen. From there the flock grew.
Cockatiels being cockatiels, we started getting more. And as we became interested in breeding prettier and bigger birds we started shopping for more breeding pairs.
With a little prodding, we decided to enter the Denver show. We had decided early enough to get our birds ready. Our operation is small enough that we have our birds in our living space and so all of them were clipped. We knew that clipped birds could never qualify and so two months before the show we had to pull a few feathers.
Next was to order some show cages. (The Denver show was not too concerned about novices using show cages and would allow us to use small bird cages.) There are wood and plastic show cages. The wooden ones are cheaper and not knowing if this was a one-time deal, we ordered 3 wooden ones. (We later found out that we should have rented some from the people in the area who had spares). To save a few dollars my husband decided he would paint them. We then found out that there are some tight requirements on colors and how they were to be painted. But we got that out of the way, it took over a week to let the paint fully cure and air out. This isn't hard just time consuming.
We were told that we had to train the birds to sit still on the perches in the show cages, but this was futile. Pets that have the run of the house can't sit still. Oh well, we will just hope. We are novices, after all.
Fortunately for us the breeder that had encouraged us to enter had sent us copies of some of the paperwork that we would need for the show. That was a godsend. There were band numbers, Division, Section, and Class numbers. In about an hour we had it all figured out except for one bird with red eyes, a silver body and red cheeks. How were we going to list him?
It is the day of the show and our nerves on edge. The first hard task is to wake my husband at 5 am. We live in the country and have a 75-mile drive with a stop to pick up the rented cages. By 8 o'clock we are at the show hall. Now the fun begins. Everyone is running around. Vendors are hauling in their stuff. Exhibitors are wrestling birds, cages, food, spray bottles, and carriers. It looks like organized pandemonium.
Now comes the paperwork and our first problem. We have the birds we have bred and the ones that we had bought over a year ago. The breeder told us that his birds would have to be entered into the Advanced Division but our birds could be entered in the Novice Division. That question hangs for about an hour but we have our paperwork for Advanced and Novice Divisions. Of course we have done our homework, so this should be a piece of cake. Not quite, where's the pen? Oh, the classes have three instead of two numbers but is there anything else that is different? Who do you ask? We recognize the judge from last year and so ask him about the red-eyed silver. He very politely informs you that he, to remain impartial, should not know which bird is yours and refers you to the steward.
We identify the steward and ask our questions about the paperwork, the classification, of the silver, scribble out the mistakes, hang the tags, take a look at the other entrants, start to worry and then try to relax.
Ten o'clock and the judging begins. The stewards start bringing the birds and there go the nerves. Being a minor show the judge does not have to shuffle a lot of birds and so things move quickly. Here comes one of our birds but why are there so many whitefaces? We don't stand a chance. But wait he's the only charcoal so gets a blue ribbon. Now the best of the Section and the shuffling begins. Our bird sits in the number one position for an agonizing 10 minutes and the judge shifts the lower positions around. Now it looks like he is done…but wait, a second look, and our birds moves to second place and then third. Our hearts sink and to end our agony the judge declares "that's the way they will stand for today."
Finally the rare class, we have two birds in novice. The birds come out but only one of ours makes the bench. A quick run to the steward and we find that the red-eye silver has changed classes and divisions. He is now an advanced bird because of an error on the tag. But our other bird takes first in section.
More birds are judged and then the advanced birds are judged and finally the top ten. Our birds hold the number one (cinnamon pearl pied that we had won in Puyallup), two, seven, and ten spots. Birds come and go but in the end our birds hold their own and you know that it was worthwhile.
The Denver show has two days of judging so the next day it's up at 6 am because the paperwork is done but it's time to clean cages, spray the birds and re-hang tags.
The same process takes place on the second day. The silver changes classes again because the new judge notices the red eye but it doesn't matter because our bird is bored with the whole process, he wants to go home, and refuses to get up on the perch. The judge gives up and announces later that the bird lost all 15 points for deportment. And the bird moves to the back. Today our one and two move to four and five and our yellow-cheek holds on as tenth.
Both the birds and us wander our 75 miles home tired and worn out. We're proud and the birds are happy to see their buddies back home.
We are now addicted and are already planning to attend the closer shows next year.
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