Essex-Kent Cage Bird Society Logo  Exhibition Do's & Don'ts
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Do.....remember to check the schedules to see which shows you plan to support.  Get a catalogue or other information so that you can make all your plans ahead of time.

Do.....train your birds so that they perform properly in front of the judge.  Fix old show cages to the end, or front, of stock cages so that birds can hop in and out as they wish and get used to perching inside. Get them, with the help of a judging stick, to go from training cage to show cage without the need to be caught. Use a judging stick to encourage them to move from perch to perch, as judges would like them to do on the judge’s stand.

Do.....ensure that birds being prepared for a show are not kept in over-crowded conditions.  House the birds in roomy flight cages.  The fewer birds in each the better.  Some need to be kept on their own to avoid squabbling.
Remember that just one missing feather may make the difference between winning and being an also-ran.  If blood is drawn, as sometimes happens, there is the additionally tedious task of removing it from the feathers.  

Do.....Make a point of keeping cages, which house your show birds, spotlessly clean. Pay particular attention to the cage floor (remove droppings daily), perches, the inside of cage fronts and food cups.  Use shavings, or sheets of paper on the floor.  Don’t use newspaper for this purpose.  It may be satisfactory during the breeding season, but remember that printing ink easily comes off and will spoil feathers.

Do.....spray the show birds prior to all shows. Initially, use warm water, which will help remove soiled patches.  Use a few drops of baby shampoo to assist in the process.  As the show approaches, change to tepid/cold water
and spray less frequently as the birds plumage comes into condition.  Stop spraying two or three days before shows, so that the birds are able to preen themselves, bringing back a shine on the feathers.  Spray lightly the day prior to the show.

Do.....wash those birds - and particularly lightly-coloured specimens - that appear to be really dirty.  Pay attention to legs, which frequently get overlooked, flight and tail feathers.

Do.....ensure when taking exhibits to shows that they are transported in such a way that they arrive safely.  Use traveling boxes or individual cloth show cage covers.  If these are not available, cover show cages with a light sheet that prevents the birds from being scared by passing traffic or, at night, sudden bright lights.  Drive more slowly that usual, so exhibits are not affected by sudden stops or bumpy roads.  And always provide good ventilation in the car.  Birds can die in hot weather or a heater.

Do.....Check to see that all birds have sufficient food & water to last the duration of all the shows you enter. You may not want drinkers to be placed on cages until after judging (the birds may decide to take a bath, if you do), make sure that drinkers are available so that they can be used once judging is complete.  Check with the show manager to see that stewards have been instructed to carry out this task, or do it yourself.

Do.....remember Canadian birds are not allowed or any crossbred birds, Canadian or any other breed.  Exception only with colourbred canaries, crossbred for colour only. 


Don’ your birds unless they are perfectly fit.  If you exhibit birds that are under the weather, it could make their condition even worse. A minor cold can become serious illness if they are placed under the strain of being away from home, even a few hours, upset by being transported to and from shows, forced to experience the rigours of being kept in a strange environment (the show hall), handled by stewards and asked to perform before the judges.

Don’t.....exhibit birds that are moulting.  This may lead to them catching a chill, especially if left on the floor in the show hall.  Remember, too, that no birds are likely to win unless their plumage is 100 %. Leave them home.  But, have reserves ready to take their place.

Don’t.....exhibit birds unless they have been properly trained (this applies mainly to unshown current-year-bred specimens).  Start the process at an early age when they will quickly learn what is required of them.

Don’t.....bench exhibits in sub-standard show cages.  Like the birds, show cages should be clean and in good condition.  All show cages should be repaired and given a coat of paint before the start of a show season. Give the paint time so that the smell is gone.  The fumes may affect the bird.  Wash the cages and perches thoroughly after every show.

Don’t.....handle any exhibits, unless it is absolutely necessary.  Place them in show cages directly from stock cages.

Don’t.....take birds to events without first checking that each show cage has the appropriate cage tag fixed to the front.  It is not unknown for previous winners to be wrong-classed, and so, out of the reckoning for prizes, because cage tags were put on the wrong cage by mistake.  Cage the exhibits first in the order that they appear in the classification, then fix the cage tag to the show cage, making sure they correspond to the exhibits they contain by checking with the schedule.

Don’t.....transport exhibits to shows without ensuring that show cage doors are properly shut and cannot be opened by accident.

Don’ to judges, or make comments about their decisions within earshot while they are placing awards.  If you get upset when your birds do not do as well as you think they should, walk away from the judging area.  Infringements can result in stewarding exhibitors being moved or asked to leave the hall. In serious cases disciplinary action may be taken.  Stewards should keep behind judges, unless placing cages on the judges’ staging.  Most judges are happy to discuss their awards once they have completed their task.

Don’t.....take birds home at the end of show and not give them the opportunity of eating and drinking before the lights are switched off. Ensure that they first have full crops. 

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Last updated: November 16, 2004