Goal Setting With An Eye For Detail – Jason Walker, New Zealand

As the breeding season comes to an end, the next phase on the budgie calendar immediately kicks in; a time when great care and attention is given to ‘grow on’ and ‘train’ those young birds to their full potential and to rest and rejuvenate the adult birds.

Progressively during the coming weeks and months you should be monitoring your stud as a whole and setting goals in your mind for the up coming show season, as well as for the next breeding season.  Part of this process is deciding if you need to part with any birds (young or old), or if you need to purchase any new stock to facilitate your set goals. Personally I see little point in retaining birds if you have no use for them.

When setting your goals and making important decisions, always bear in mind the current pictorial standard. The best way to determine just how good (or bad) a budgie is, is by noting how many faults the bird displays; the less faults the better the bird. So line up your birds in single cages and do some systematic comparing by starting with your greens first (as if you were a judge at a show) and you will soon see that the process of elimination becomes easy.

Retain only the best and exhibit and breed only with these.  It is fair to say that some faults are a lot harder to eliminate than others, and often only the more experienced and seasoned members will know what they are. Therefore it is also a good idea to seek the advice and opinions of a trusted member who keeps good quality birds themselves.

The next few weeks is also a good time to wash breeding cages, ready for next season, and to make sure that your show cages are as good as you can get them so not to disadvantage your birds chances of winning on the show bench. However, your immediate task is preparing the young for show.

Show Training – Hints and Techniques

Show training requires little physical effort on your part but may mean the difference between winning and loosing on the show bench. So the choice is yours if you train your birds or not! A good temperament (or nature) can be bred into any stud of budgies but this does take time.

One proven way to train young birds to be steady and relaxed in a show cage starts with frequent handling of the chicks as they are developing in the nest box. This also helps to maintain a calm and trusting adult bird psyche. Having said this, common sense prevails so not to hinder the natural nurturing required of the chicks by their parents.

Spend sufficient time in and around the bird room and aviary in a relaxed manner without making sudden loud sounds or sudden deliberate fast movements. Also, don’t be averse to having visitors to your aviary, as different voices, stature and even attire can help in the training process. A radio playing in the birdroom can also help in getting birds use to different sounds.

When you first introduce your young birds to the show cage, do not put seed in for the first few times. Most young birds will simply play and skid around in it instead of perching. Some birds prefer to climb all over the wire cage front, so simply cut a piece of Perspex (or similar) to fit on the inside of the cage front during training times. In the event of a bird always sitting on the floor, a short term attempt to fix this is to cover the floor of the cage with water. This certainly keeps the birds off the cage bottom but you may also run the risk of such birds not feeding at shows. Consequently they may lose condition and be susceptible to associated health issues at a later stage.

Spraying Birds With Water

I disagree with the technique of spraying birds with water when in a show cage (for feather conditioning). A show cage is an area that the bird is meant to perform in, feel safe in and look its best – not to expect to be drenched with water and end up looking and feeling half drowned.

Ideally, the bird should also sit at the front of the perch. This can be aided by modifying the training cage perches by cutting existing ones in half and mounting them on the wire front with a screw and flat washer.

Never put young birds into a show cage by themselves for the first time. Have a proven well behaved (role model) adult with them for the first few times. The young bird will be more inclined to settle quicker. Also, do not leave young birds in show training cages for too long to start with. Begin with 2 to 4 hours for a couple of days before even considering an ‘overnight experience’. When they do stay in the cage over night for the first time, be sure to let them out first thing the following morning.

Remove The Adult

Gradually build up the time they spend in a show cage and then when you think the time is right, remove the adult and replace with another youngster who is at about the same training stage. Then after a day or two these birds should be equipped to go solo!

Spend time carrying the cage around and repositioning it in different areas and at different levels, but never sit the cage on the floor or in front of another cage with a bird in it. This is very unfair on the birds and they will not perform to their full potential if this is done. Even go to the extent of putting the show cages into carry-bags, then into the car and go for a drive. This will all help when it comes to show time.

Young bird shows are a good way to give your birds the opportunity to get use to travelling and the acoustics of a show hall environment, as well as the other sounds that they may experience. Just remember that it is not the Judges job to train your birds.

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About the Author:

New Zealander Jason had his first taste of the hobby back in the 1970s, when his parents (Judy & Noel) began as novice breeders (they later gained champion status).


Jason's joined the NZ BS and started breeding with a pair of Lutinos and Normal Light Greens from his parents. The birds bred well and he soon had his first bronze medal.


Jason joined his parents in the 1980s to form the N & J & J Walker partnership, and they have won several NZ Grand National titles. In addition, they have now won the most Best in Show and Best Young Bird awards at annual shows in the history of NZ Federation bird shows.


Jason also followed his father into judging, serving on the Senior Panel Judge Committee. He also enjoys sharing his knowledge and experience and is currently bulletin editor for the society.

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  1. Wonderful findings Jason and very helpful for breeders.

    Thank you very much.

    Habib Ur Rehman,Pakistan

  2. RIZWAN ASHRAF says:

    i am really impress with your knowledge
    very helpful..

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