Teaching Show Cage Training


Brilliant colors caught the eye of spectators once again, as AF A provided the backdrop for another SPBE affiliated LoryLeague Hookbill Show held during the San Antonio convention. The show - co-sponsored by the Triangle Bird Club and Feathering Crest Aviary - provided the opportunity for convention attendees to take part in a concurrent educational event, while returning live birds and a fabulous festivity of feathers back to the AF A convention. I had the honor of being asked back to judge the show a second time, this year presiding during the afternoon show.

A Chance to Train

Because entries were lighter than last year, I had more time to spend on educating the gallery, which I was asked to do. Usually, there is little opportunity to instruct or inform the audience, but this show provided an occasion to delve into examples of training birds for show. The demonstrations of cage training added a teaching element to the event, to an extent usually found in monthly dub presentations.

Overall conditioning techniques and effective show cage training are the two components that are directly under the exhibitor's control that lead to success when exhibiting parrots. Training birds for show starts weeks, sometimes months in advance, and advice on routine bathing and maintenance spraying were discussed in detail. Tips on finding common conditioning flaws, from pin feathers-to difficult flight and tail feathers-to selecting a last minute entry, were discussed with advice on how to condition parrots to be at their peak for exhibition.

A number of entries new to show cages and the show experience were offered the opportunity to calm down and present themselves in a more opportunistic pose. The type of show cage training we demonstrated here was modeled for exhibitors to use at home. Both exhibitors and the gallery watching were appreciative of this impromptu addition to helping their birds, and it did turn some of the entries into stars! In fact, a number of entries that were trained on the spot, could probably do well now at larger shows, with continued show cage training.

This show was truly unique because it allowed the judge - along with the assistance of the show committee - to demonstrate some traditional show cage training techniques. Thanks to Show Secretary and SPBE Director Janet Brubaker, and Back Steward and SPBE Panel Judge Julia Howard, the three of us formed a team to help even reluctant entries to bench. And bench they did!

Once perched, I was able to further comment on individual species brought to the bench and explain their speciesspecific exhibition habits and strengths, while also suggesting options to improve their chances in future shows.

As a judge, I always emphasize making the cage training process a positive experience for the bird by using positive reinforcement techniques during show training. I added tips on how to entice even stubborn parrots to calmly perch, and discussed methods of training young birds to comfortably cage train before completely fledging the nest.

Preparing to Show

Earlier during the convention week, I presented on two topics, one of which was titled, "The Art and Changing Trends of Exhibiting Parrots in the USA." During the presentation I discussed the science of exhibition by examining show standards that influence the genetics and future of livestock and their genotypes. Practical information was presented on the art of show cage training, conditioning parrots, how to prepare for show, and what it takes to make a champion or grand-champion exhibit. The program helped prepare exhibitors by going over classifications, show mechanics, the judging process, filling out entry forms and cage tags, in order to make exhibiting easier to understand. The talk served to reinforce the show experience, plus I was able to share some of this information again during the Lory League show.

SPBE Show Standard for Exhibited Parrots

Understanding the show standard is paramount to realizing success as an exhibitor. The SPBE Standard for Exhibited Parrots describes five categories that include conformation (40%), condition (30%), deportment (15%), color (10%) and presentation (5%). Although each of these categories is assigned a weighted percentage, the birds are actually judged by a oneto-one direct comparison method. Therefore, rather than assigning actual points, the weighted categories instead serve as a guide. By SPBE rules, rarity is never an issue in judging, which allows the best parrot in the competition to emerge over all.

As required by SPBE shows, the birds are entered in show classifications that are divided into the major geographical regions with subdivisions in the South Pacific, Afro-Asian, and New World distributions, with two additional subdivisions for Open Entries and Novice. Open entries may include birds that are unhanded, or that wear an open (split) leg band. Novice exhibitors may show birds with clipped wings however, these entries are marginally penalized. Without all flight feathers in evidence, it is challenging for a judge to accurately evaluate the back-line, proportions, length and substance when judging the conformation of a bird.