Hi, my name is Blake Ma, and I’m a breeder and exhibitor of lovebirds in Illinois. I love birds in general, but my true passion is showing lovebirds. I will be sharing my exhibiting and breeding experiences, as well as the training that my birds go through to become a good show bird. I find the many lovebird mutations fascinating — there are many color variations and combinations that can be produced, some of which the world has yet to see.
I’m currently hand-feeding 10 babies. These birds come from very good stock and show quality lines, so a few will be kept and trained for exhibiting as well as for future breeding. I wish I could keep all of them, but then I would have no place to live! It’s always a struggle deciding which birds to keep and which birds to sell, as they are all vibrant little bundles of joy!
I’m an exhibitor first, a breeder second, which means I breed to produce birds that I think will do well on the show bench. Some of the things I look for are color, size, conformation, or a specific combination of mutations that may give a bird an advantage while on the show bench. As an exhibitor, you hope that the pair you put together will create that very special lovebird – one that will awe the judge and exceed the show standards and end up on the top bench of a show. At that moment, you realize that indeed all the hard work has paid off, and that you are a contributing factor to a wonderful hobby that is always looking for new friends to join.
In general, hand-fed birds make the best show birds. One reason is because they’re much calmer and not as intimidated by humans. They can easily learn to sit nicely on the perch with a little show box training. So the first step in training my lovebirds begins at 2 weeks old, when they’re pulled for hand-feeding. In general, hand-fed birds are a little bit larger in size as most of the hand-feeding foods are all-inclusive diets and give the baby all the nutrients it needs. This is not to say that a parent-raised bird can’t be a good show bird or won’t be a nice-sized bird.
A show cage is different than the regular cage that the birds are kept in at home. It’s smaller, and is used only during exhibiting at shows. A show cage has walls on 3 sides and only 1 side where you can view the bird. For new exhibitors, any type of cage can be used to show your bird in. (The exception is at the National level show.) So don’t worry about not having a show cage if you’re interesting in showing your birds.
Also the taming of the bird at this age will give it that “You’re my buddy” mentality, and, if not that then the, “I’m not scared of you look!” — which is something you don’t see in non-socialized lovebirds. When the judge comes up to your bird, you don’t want your bird to be scared and flap around in the show cage, because then it will get its feathers messed up and not be perching elegantly for everyone to see. The goal here is to make sure that your birds are well-fed, healthy and socialized.