There are no waiting lists or endless rungs of elitist bureaucracy for newcomers to budgie shows (although there is usually a bit of paperwork). As a beginner you will be able to enter your birds in the Novice sections, against other novices. With five or less birds to show, you’ll get away with minimal paperwork; more than that, and you’ll be up to your ears in it.
On the day of the show you’ll be able to pick up show tags from the event secretary. You will be told how to fill them in. The cage will only display a number, to ensure owner anonymity and eliminate any unconscious bias in the judges.
At your first show it’s best to stand quietly and watch. There is an etiquette to be learned – the silence as the judges prowl between the dozens of cages, and the general politeness that masks the competitiveness.
There will be various levels, from novice upwards, with judges looking for the top three birds in each class (i.e. sections of the show at each level, focusing on a specific budgie variety), along with best hen and best cock bird. The various winners then go head to head for the title of overall champion.
There are different levels and sections in a budgie show, including best cock and best hen
Preparing Budgies for Show/p>
Your budgie needs to be ready for all the noise and fuss of the show environment. Check with your local Budgerigar Society to find out what the judges are looking for, and use your own discretion if bombarded with advice about what chemicals and manhandling your birds should be subjected to prior to showing. If you are told the budgies need ‘spotting’, you will have to pluck some of their chin spots. Ask around, and you will find someone who can do this for you, and you’ll have to accept that it’s standard show practice. Your budgie certainly won’t enjoy it, but in expert hands it can be carried out quickly and efficiently.
Some exhibitors spray their budgie with feather-shining agents, shampoo its fluffy heads and rummage through its feathers plucking out any damaged ones, heat-straightening bent ones and bleaching blood-stained pin feathers with a bird-friendly compound. However, some oil seeds such as flax, and an optimum diet in general will make the feathers shine and eyes twinkle, and ideally you should keep your physical interference to a minimum. The real preparation is all in the breeding, keeping and feeding – getting the right type of bird weaned, tamed and in the prime of health.
The budgie will need to get used to his show cage, so let him spend several hours a day in there for at least a month before the exhibition. Move around in front of the cage, and when the bird is suitably calm in his environment, wave your arms around and run your hands along the cage bars. Lift the cage and move it around a little too. This simulates the show environment.
Your bird will also need to be trained to hop on and off a thin, hand-held perch (a chop-stick will do) – this, again, simulates the treatment he will receive at the hands of those unrelenting judges. He will be expected to perch on this thin stick for visual examination and then transferred back to his perch. If a young bird resists the thin perch, rub him gently above the legs to encourage him to step up.
Winning birds tend to be the ones that sit calmly on their perches. A flapper, no matter how perfect looking, has less chance.
Many countries have Budgie Societies, around which local groups and shows orbit. In the UK there is a national Budgerigar Society, along with regional hubs. Depending on where you live, or which birds you want to specialise in, you might want to tap one of these into a search engine (each with the suffix "Budgerigar Society"): London and Southern Counties, Scottish, Welsh, Northern, Lancashire Cheshire & North Wales, Midland, South Midlands, Lincolnshire and East Anglia, and Western Counties.
There are also many specialist societies, including the following in the UK: The Rare Variety and Colour Budgerigar Society, The Lutino and Albino Society, The Spangled Budgerigar Breeders Association, The Variegated Budgerigar Club, The Crested Budgerigar Club, and The Clearwing Budgerigar Breeders Association.
Budgerigar Society World Championship Show
This takes place in the UK each year, attracting over 2000 avian entrants. It is the world’s premier budgie fancier show, and draws breeders from across the world. Most of the birds on show have the fluffy, thick-feathered look associated with show budgies. Judges are comparing the exhibits to an idealised über-budgie. The perfect bird - that elusive Helen of Troy or Adonis among budgies – will never be found, but the winners are the ones that come closest each year in each category and class.