Above: show-offs: no less than budgies or canaries, zebbies benefit from show training

Never skimp on space for your birds to undertake show-cage training – it’s as important as breeding, says DAVE BROWN.

Regardless of how good a show bird looks, it may fare badly if it fails to perform correctly in front of the judge.

Winning individuals are steady, confident and hold the correct position on the perch. Most will require training sessions to ensure they are show ready and your birdroom design should include space for this.

Most training will focus around getting potential show team members used to the show cage, so an area of the birdroom should be designated for training cages. These can be either older show cages no longer used for show outings or, as commonly seen in budgerigar set-ups, units of purpose-built training cages.

Many purpose-built units have removable slides to allow the cage size to be altered. Having these cages available at all times means birds can be run into them ad hoc. If cages have to be retrieved from storage each time, the number of training sessions and chances to assess individuals will inevitably be less.

Dedicating some wall space to hang shelves that accommodate training cages is worthwhile. If space is at a premium, fanciers can also consider placing a shelf across the window to hold cages. This is a good option if all-wire show cages are used, because light will not be restricted and the birds can be assessed in the maximum amount of natural light.

I’ve also seen wire show cages hung from hooks in the ceilings, and even an ingenious bit of staging that could be set up in the centre of the birdroom when a couple of supports were lowered from the ceiling.

Of course, any item in the birdroom is likely to get a coating of dust, particularly training cages that have sat for a while. Foreign finch fancier Laurence Edgar recently came up with the sensible idea of placing his training cages in a glass-fronted cabinet, meaning only the cabinet needs a quick dust.

As well as a training area, the birdroom can include other items to help get birds into show mode. Getting birds accustomed to the short perches of a show cage can start by including a row of short perches the same size as those in the show cage in the flights. This will get birds used to sitting close to a cage wall and also provide the opportunity to judge quality without having to catch up the birds.

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