With little or no fresh stock coming into the country, and very stringent controls on the taking of wild birds, it is imperative that we maintain the quality of our finches. It is on the Show bench that any falling off of quality would be first noticed. When selecting a finch for a Show it is important to check the finch thoroughly.
Richness in colour, clarity and evenness of markings, type and size, feather texture, cleanliness, eyes, beak, legs and toe-nails are all essential in a good show bird. Firstly, if you aim to win, then it is obvious you must start with a finch of suitable quality to be a winner. You should take into account colour, shape, size and condition (health). When considering colour, one should not only choose the bird with the brightest colours, but also the bird with the best pattern and proportion of colours and markings.
For example, the flash above a Red Browed Finch’s eye should not only be bright but also it should be the same shape and length on both sides. When comparing your finches for shape, look for the one with a smooth flowing profile from beak to tail. Eliminate birds with a pinch behind the neck, a dropped tail, crossed wings or a flat area on the head, etc. Good health and vitality are essential in a good Show finch.
At a Show, it is up to your finch to “show’ itself. It should be clear and alert. The bird should be clean and neat in feathering, beak, legs and vent. The eyes should be clear and alert. The Finch should stand proudly on the perch at all times. The size of the finch should be that of the true type a too small bird should be penalised just as much as a too large bird, though if equal in all other respects a larger bird will have the advantage. Access to a regular bath is essential, and in some cases it may be necessary to regularly spray the finches with warm water as this helps to open out the pin feathers.
Oily foods such as canary, linseed and niger seeds give gloss to the feathers. Other oily additives such as suet and cod liver oil can be messy. Don’t feed green food immediately prior to a Show, this may stain the vent and beak areas. A clean moist or oily cloth will help clean up the beak and the leg scaling. It is best not to give the finch water whilst travelling to the Show, this could splash over the finch and the cage’s interior.
Overall cleanliness of the whole presentation is often the key to success, so maintain the show cage in tip top condition. You can train your show finches from an early age to present themselves well at a Show. The best way to train a bird to sit up is to cut a piece of cardboard or similar material to the width of the cage and approximately 4 cm’s above the height of the perches, so when the bird is on the perch it has to stretch up in order to peer over the top of the card. By showing your finches you are maintaining a high standard for your own birds as well having a good time with other aviculturists.