Lisa A. Bono
One thing you might find at a bird show? Bird swag.
While the Internet serves as an outlet for learning about your pet bird, there is nothing more valuable than going to a show, conference or lecture. Many of these events are held around the country and even the world, bringing aviculturists together to share knowledge and learn from each other.
In August 2013, I attended the American Federation of Aviculture’s (AFA) annual conference in Raleigh, N.C. It was a three-day event with topics ranging from conservation to behavior, nutrition and health. People from all over the world flew in to be there and offer their experience. It was my first convention with the AFA and on our way home I could not help to think what an amazing opportunity it was for bird lovers.
Not all shows are as big or fancy as what the AFA puts together. Many of these shows are sponsored by local bird clubs, rescues or sanctuaries that work hard, often planning a year in advance, to bring this experience to a town near you.
Be it a large or small show there are many reasons for pet bird enthusiasts to attend. I have listed my top 10 with the hopes you will consider taking advantage of the wonderful and amazing opportunity attending a bird show can offer.
Hands-on education and experience brought to you.
Bird shows of any degree are where the experts in the field of aviculture flock. Some of the topics offered may be behavior, health or nutrition. There may be live demonstrations, power-point presentations, hands-on experience shared along with question and answer sessions.
Meet others who share your passion.
Attending a show is a chance to meet new people and gives you a chance to rekindle old friendships. Everyone at the show shares the same passion for birds. Due to the fact that companion parrots are mainly kept indoors, unless you happen to hear one or are at the local store, you would never know how many birds are kept in your community. A show brings everyone to one location.
Learn what is available to you in your area.
Meeting people also introduces you to what may benefit you in your area, such as recommended stores, vets and pet-sitting services. It gives you the opportunity to become active in your area with bird clubs or outreach programs. It exposes you to ideas and resources you may never know existed. For professionals in the field, it gives us the face-to-face opportunity to find out what the public wants and needs, and a chance to problem solve with colleagues.
Meet experts from around the world.
Many speakers travel great distances to be at the show, share knowledge and even learn from each other. There is nowhere else you can go to find such dedicated individuals with lifelong experiences they are willing to share.
Meet local and national toy manufacturers and distributors.
If your bird has a favorite toy or if you have a favorite store, there may be a chance you get to meet a representative of the toy maker or the store owner in person at a show as well. Usually if a store is local the employees or owners will try to attend and support the show. Small mom-and-pop stores along with some of the bigger manufacturers come out to meet their customers. Everything from a solo artist to well-established companies may be there.
Bird products debuted and old favorites all in one spot!
Due to having more than one store or vendor in the same spot, prices on items may be discounted. You may be able to find deeply discounted clearance items as well as a few that you have only had a chance to see in a sales flier.
Learn what judges are looking for when granting awards, such as "Best in Show.”
While we all love our birds and think they are perfect, a show may offer the opportunity to come out and see just what the judges are looking for when picking the perfect show bird. From wing placement to coloration with various species and size, it is a fun opportunity to learn winning attributes for each species. Some of the birds chosen will go on to have winning careers and sought-after offspring. It is also a great opportunity for young parrot fanciers to see if their first-place choice actually wins!
See whom you mesh with prior to your vet visit.
One of the most important relationships you will have if you are a bird owner is with your avian veterinarian. I urge people not to wait until an emergency arises to forge this relationship. With this in mind, many veterinarians love to attend shows. It gives them an opportunity to meet the public and network with colleagues. If a veterinarian is scheduled to speak on a certain topic, is it your chance to learn updates on disease and disease prevention, as well as new thoughts on avian patient care.
Support the clubs and organizations that work hard to organize these events.
By attending a show you are supporting aviculture and the best the bird world has to offer. Very often you will see other organizations that also came out to spend the day making their cause known. Rescues and sanctuaries may have booths, and birds that are in need of homes could be waiting to meet you. Your attendance, contributions to the raffle or silent auction table, and monetary donations have made the year-long planning process, volunteer hours and hard work a success. This in return makes it worthwhile and feasible for the organization to hold future events.
Enrichment For Both You And Your Parrot
Attending a show/conference/lecture gives you a chance to learn all aspects of companion parrot care.
It will enlighten and engage you in ways you never expected. At the day’s end, it will be a positive and enriching experience to help keep your relationship with your parrot going strong.
So remember to participate, enjoy and have fun. Once you have had the experience of all a show has to offer, I can almost guarantee you will be waiting for the next one with great anticipation.
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