Jill & George Lewsey
The keeping and breeding of Zebra Finches is in itself an enjoyable hobby but many fanciers find interest and pleasure in going on to exhibit them at the many cage bird shows held in the United Kingdom. There is at least one show within reach of most fanciers and they vary from a local show which has classes for all species of birds to a 'specialist show' which caters purely for Zebra Finches.
The first thing you will need to obtain is a show schedule which you can obtain by writing to the Show Secretary. His/Her address can be found either in the show advertisements in 'Cage & Aviary Birds' or from your society Year Book. It is sufficient to write to the Show Secretary on a sheet of note paper with your name and address, stating 'schedule please' and please remember to include a self stamped addressed envelope . If you are having difficulty in locating a suitable show, the Patronage Secretary of the Zebra Finch Society may be able to assist. When your schedule arrives, study it and decide which are the appropriate classes for the birds you wont to exhibit. Remember Zebra Finches are mostly shown in matched pairs. (a cock and hen of the same colour mutation). Fill in your entry form giving the numbers of the classes for your birds. As a novice you will put your birds in the classes for fanciers like yourself who are fairly new to exhibiting. After the class numbers state the colour of your birds as this will enable the Show Secretaries to check you have selected the correct classes, although in the event of error the onus is on you. The column on the form marked '' For Secretarys Use'' is to be left blank. If you have bred any of the pairs you are exhibiting and have close rung them with your own current year ZFS rings you can nominate them as a 'breeder entry'. To do this put ''BBE'' in the nomination column for each breeder pair entered. This means the birds are bred by yourself and become eligible to win any awards given for 'current year owner bred birds'. It is important to note that both the birds in a single pair must be current year bred and wearing your current year ZFS rings, otherwise the pair can only be entered in the ''Adult'' classes. You should also nominate in the nominations column of the entry form any specialist societies of which you are a member, and who are offering their special awards at the show. If successful, your birds may win one of the rosettes or trophies offered by the specialist societies and clubs which grant their patronage. Should you want to sell your birds you could state the selling price in the column of the entry form marked ''sale price''. If you do not wish to sell your birds simply leave this column blank or mark it 'NFS'. If the club does sell any birds which you have marked for sale, they will usually deduct 10% commission for this service. The price does not include the cage.
Post your entry form with the appropriate money to cover your entry fees and a self stamped addressed envelope. The latest date for accepting entries will be stated in the show schedule. Within a few days, you will receive from the Show Secretary, your cage labels and a lifting card (some societies do not use a lifting card), so do not worry if you do not receive one !!
Prepare your show cages for the show, making sure they are clean and a credit to you. Remember too that your Zebra Finches can only be exhibited in the approved standard show cage. These can either be purchased ready made and painted through the ZFS or through the trade suppliers, many of whom advertise their products in ''Cage And Aviary Birds'' weekly publication, or you can make them your self to the specification approved by the Zebra Finch Society. (plans and dimensions are available as a free down load from this site). In which event great care must be taken to comply with all specifications. Your cage label should be stuck on the middle of the bottom front rail and ample seed should be scattered in the bottom of the cage. Nothing else should be placed on the bottom of the cage. Use a seed mixture of the type your birds eat regularly, and remember before leaving for the show to place an empty 'D-cup' drinker in the correct position in the cage. Run your birds into the correct show cages, if you have to catch your birds by hand, do so for the minimum handling period necessary and with the minimum of excitement and try to avoid damaging any feathers.
Now it only remains to take your birds to the show. Use a carrying case or strong cardboard box to convey your exhibits into the show hall. At the show your birds will be checked in by an official of the show, and the water pot will be filled with sufficient water to allow the birds to drink.
During the morning of the show whilst the judging of the exhibits takes place. The show will not be open to the public or to anyone other than the show officials and stewards. At patronage shows all Zebra Finch exhibits are judged by a panel judge of the Zebra Finch Societies to show and colour standards which are set out in the Zebra Finch Societys Year Book and also on this Site, and to which you should refer to when assessing your stock. For the future, as you progress, you may be able to offer your services as a show steward, so that you can assist the judge and see at first hand the assessment of the exhibits by him/her.
Later in the day you can attend the show and you will be able to see if your birds have won any awards . You can also discuss with fellow fanciers and the judge, the merits of the various exhibits. From this you will be able to gain experience of the show and colour standards, how your own stock compares and how it can be, and / or needs to be, improved. When the show closes you can collect your birds and they will be checked out by a show steward.
Exhibiting birds is a great social occasion and gives many hours of pleasure and competitive excitement. GOOD LUCK!!