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Beginners Guide to Exhibiting Foreign Birds
By Lisa Barnsdale

Once you have made the decision to exhibit your birds a whole new world of jargon and procedures appears in front of you, which can at first appear daunting.  However, with a little help and guidance you will discover another enjoyable aspect of the fancy.

Types of show :          

Open Show
any one can exhibit at this type of show, whether or not you are a member of any societies

Members Show
participation is limited to people that belong to the society promoting the show

Invitation Show
tends to be limited to members of certain societies e.g. a local society may have an invitation show and invite four other local clubs to take part

Club Show
are sometimes limited to members of the society promoting the show, and sometimes open to all exhibitors

Finding out about shows :

Most local and national societies run at least one show a year, and if you are a member of the society running the show you should be automatically sent a schedule by the Show Secretary.

A calendar of shows is published in Cage and Aviary Birds and advertisements appear giving the Show Secretaries name, address and telephone number from whom a schedule can be obtained.   If you visit other shows it is also possible to obtain schedules for forthcoming shows.  They may be left at the entrance to the show or be available from a member of the show promoting society.

Schedules :

Schedules contain all of the information you require to exhibit your birds.  The first item to check is the closing date for entries, because you will not be able to show your birds if you have not got your entries in by that date.

Accompanying the schedule will be an Entry Form, which details the information you need to give to the Show Secretary.  Entries can usually be sent by post or by telephone.  If you intend to phone your entries in, it is a good idea to complete the entry form so that you have all of the information that the Show Secretary will require to hand.

Entry Form :

Once you have decided which birds you want to exhibit you need to complete the Entry Form.  Remember – if you are showing Zebra Finches or Bengalese they need to be shown as a pair.  Foreign birds can be shown singly, or as a pair. 

The first items to enter on the Entry Form are the class numbers that you want to enter your birds in.  To do this you need to find the details of which type or colour of bird is in which class (the classification); this is detailed in the schedule.

If you are showing foreign birds, unless you are a junior (i.e. under 17 years old) everyone exhibits their birds against each other.

If you are showing zebra finches / bengalese the classes are split into two statuses - Novice and Champion.  If you are just starting to show birds you should enter in the Novice Section.

If you are not sure which class your birds go in either ask a local fancier to help or contact the Show Secretary and ask for help.  If you are exhibiting foreign birds any birds that are in the wrong class will be re-classed before judging commences.

The next item to complete is Society nominations.   In the schedule you will find a list of patronages.  This details all of the societies that have given the show awards (usually rosettes) to be won by their members.  You need to look through the list to find any societies that you belong to.  You then enter the initials of the club on your entry form so that you will be eligible to win their awards.  Sometimes codes are used to indicate societies, so read the details carefully and pick out the appropriate code and enter it on your entry form.

The next task is to work out how much it is going to cost you to enter your birds.  In the schedule the entry fee per cage will be stated.  Multiply the cost per cage by the number of cages you have entered and put the total on the entry form.

Finally complete your name and address.

If you are telephoning your entries to the Show Secretary you are now ready to do so.

If you are posting your entries you need to send a cheque / postal order to cover the cost of your entries and enclose a stamped addressed envelope with your entry form.  Remember to allow time for the post to reach the Show Secretary before the closing date.

Cage Labels :

When the Show Secretary has accepted your entries he / she will send you your cage labels.   You should make a note of the numbers so that you can pick out your birds when you get to the show.

The cage label should be placed in the centre of the bottom wooden rail of the show cage.

Taking your birds to the show :

The details of when you can take your birds to the show can be found in the schedule.  You should put your birds in the appropriate cages, with the correct food and take them to the show hall; arriving before the deadline for booking birds in.

The Show Secretary will have your entry form and will check off the cages that you have brought against what you have entered and the birds will be placed in their classes on the staging with the other exhibitors’ birds.  If the birds need water this will be done by a steward (usually an experienced bird keeper) who will look after the birds for the duration of the show.  If you entered your birds by telephone now is the time to pay your entry fees to the Show Secretary.

You can either go home or stay at the show and help to steward.  If you intend to stay at the show it is best to check with the Show Secretary or Show Manager before the day to see if help is required, as some shows pick all of the stewards before the show.

The show :

Once judging has been completed and all of the awards made, the show will be open to the public.   (The time will be detailed in the schedule.)   You can now go and see how your birds have done, and look at the rest of the birds.  This also gives you the opportunity to talk to other fanciers and enjoy the social side of the hobby.  A catalogue detailing all of the entries in each class and an award sheet, which details who has won the specials will be on sale.

If your birds have won any awards these can be collected from the Show Secretary.

A lifting time will also be stated in the schedule; this is the time that you can collect your birds and take them home.  You will be given your entry form or a lifting card detailing your cage numbers, you can then collect your birds and take them to the door for the stewards to check the cage numbers against your entry form / lifting card.  If they match you are free to take your birds home.

Whether your birds have been successful or not, enjoy the social side, and remember, there is always the next time.

Other useful terminology :

Current Year Bred (CYB), Current Year Owner Bred (CYOB), Breeder, BBE - Birds that you have bred yourself in the current year (i.e. 1 January to 31 December 2009)

Adult Owner Bred (AOB), Over Year Owner Bred (OYOB) - Birds that you have bred yourself that are over one year old.

Any Age, Adult - Birds that are either over one year old or birds that are less than one year old but have been bred by someone else.

Specials - Awards that are available at shows for your birds to win. 

Diamond firetail Gouldian Firetail Blue faced parrot finch Red Browed finch Pintailed parrot finch Cherry finch