Have you previously attended a dog or cat show? Wasn’t it fun to view all of the animals for sale, especially the adorable babies? It was also interesting to see the wide variety of things for sale at the vendors. You may be surprised to know that events like this exist for bird lovers as well. They are generally known as bird fairs, exhibitions, shows, or expos. Often, owners or breeders will enter birds to be judged and, if they are lucky, win prizes, much like a canine or feline show. Breeders may also sell baby birds of all species, varying from pigeon squabs to little finches to parrot chicks. They will also sell adult birds at these events, or they will sell a breeding pair. It is unlikely that someone will be selling a breeding pair of macaws or cockatoos at a bird fair, however- generally, you will only find them selling breeding pairs of parrotlets, parakeets, cockatiels, doves, finches, or canaries. But one of the best parts of a bird fair is the vendors. Here, you can find anything your avian buddy could ever want, need, or dream of- giant stainless steel cages, the newest spill-free birdfeeder (although most parrot owners would firmly argue that such a thing does not, and will not, ever exist), freeze-dried treats, supplements, toys of all shapes, sizes, and colors, free-flight ‘harnesses’, even bird-themed items for people such as artwork or stuffed animals.
Remember, it probably is a very, very bad idea to bring your bird to a bird show. Generally, it is not even allowed, and you will have to go back home with your bird. If it isn’t prohibited, however, it still doesn’t mean you should do it. Your bird could get parasites or a disease from fellow birds at the fair. All of the screeching and tweeting, and all of the people milling around and talking, could frighten your bird. If your bird becomes frightened, you will probably have to head back home, because your bird could hurt itself trying to escape from a small travel cage. And if it isn’t trying to escape, it could upset other birds or their owners if it is loudly screaming or making other unsuitable vocalizations.
Another fun part of bird fairs are the raffles. Although bird fairs don’t always have raffles or auctions, it is fairly common and generally it isn’t a big surprise if your local bird fair has one. A wide variety of items can be raffled off- birdcages of all sizes, coupons for free avian vet checkups, bird toys, bird food and treats, and playstands. You may also see some bird-themed human items, like paintings, photos, t-shirts, and more.
Bird fairs are fun opportunities to socialize with fellow bird lovers, owners, and breeders, to buy your avian friend some interesting toys or treats –or perhaps a new cage, and, to possibly find a parrot or other bird that you would like to add to your feathered family. Look for bird fairs near you- they can be extremely fun events suitable for the whole family.
It seems that it is not only humans who want more than just good looks in a partner, as a recent study revealed that even in the bird kingdom, being handsome does not guarantee the attention of a female companion. Researchers have realized that personality plays a vital role for male birds to catch the attention of a female, so feathers are not the only feature females take into consideration when looking for a mate. The survey was performed by a group of scientists from the Royal Veterinary College, the University of Exeter, Canada and the Carleton University.
Zebra finches were used to conduct the study. Interestingly enough, it was the confident and more adventurous males that drew the attention of the females, regardless of the beak color, size or plumage condition of the males. More than a hundred and fifty birds were used in the program, and the personality of the females was found to play a large role in their selection as well. From the various exercises that were performed, allowing females to show scientists their preferences, it was also obvious that the more out-going females preferred the confident males, while the more shy females were not very particular when it came to choosing a prospective partner. The team leader of the project was Dr Sasha Dall (University of Exeter), who commented that the research proved that personality played a large role in a female’s decision, irrespective of the appearance of the males. It also proved that what would be expected from humans selecting partners, namely the compatibility of personalities, has been overlooked in other species.
To determine the personalities of each bird, the birds were put in a cage to explore. The females were able to view this through a clear window, but unknowingly to them, one male was held back on purpose, and the females therefore viewed him as being less confident as they did not see him exploring the cage. Some birds showed no fear in regard to discovering their new environment, while others were happy remaining in one position watching the others. The more confident birds therefore paired together, while the rest did not show any dominant preferences. Once again it was shown that there is so much about our feathered friends that we don’t know yet, leaving the future open to many possibilities and new discoveries.
While zebra finch females utter single note, low-pitched calls, males have the ability to sing in a variety of frequencies, even producing a whistle that goes beyond a piano keyboard’s high end. Male birds make use of song to attract mates and to protect their territory. It is believed that the varied frequency of songs may be more attractive to females, as well as providing greater and more precise information.
The two variables affecting the pitch of a bird’s song are air pressure and muscle activity. Recent research has revealed that muscle activity plays the larger role in this respect. This study was conducted by Tobias Riede of the National Center for Voice and Speech (under the administration of the University of Utah), as well as Franz Goller, and John H. Fisher. Funding for the research was provided by the National Institutes of Health.
The zebra finch’s vocal organ is called the syrinx, and measures a mere one-eighth of an inch on either side. It was already known, through past studies, that male zebra finches had larger vocal muscles controlling the syrinx than did the females. In this study the cartilage scaffold, which supports the bird’s syrinx, as well as the “labia” (the part that oscillates when air moves through it) in the syrinx, were investigated. This revealed that the male finch’s cartilage scaffold is larger, while the labia are a different shape to that of the female. Riede concluded that this must be so that the labia can be tensioned tightly by the muscles that pull the scaffold, so as to reach the high-frequency notes.
The researchers sought to study whether lung pressure or vocal muscle strength was the more important factor in the control of the male zebra finch’s pitch. They began by recording the sounds of six male finches and six female finches for a period of two weeks. Tubes containing air pressure sensors were implanted into an air sac. Specially designed equipment ensured that the birds could continue to fly and sing freely whilst measurements were taken and their sounds recorded again. The results showed that higher air pressure lead to higher pitch, indicating that lung pressure does affect song frequency.
Following this experiment, the researchers cut the nerves that control the birds’ vocal muscles. They then recorded the birds’ sounds as they sang and flew about. It was noted that the pitch of all birds dropped to approximately the same level and males were unable to produce high frequencies. The fact that they could no longer put sufficient tension on the labia showed that the vocal muscles play a key role in bird song pitch.
There is no better way to decorate your garden than with a collection of wild birds that bring color and song to the trees and landscaped areas. Luring a variety of birds to a garden is not always as easy as it may sound. Most birds know exactly what they like and will travel to an area where they know they can eat their preferred seed or form of food. Fortunately, if you know what birds you want to attract, you can purchase the seeds and items that draw these species into your garden.
It is important to fill a variety of bird feeders and place them in different locations throughout the garden. This way birds will not be fighting to get to the food and a greater number of birds will frequent the feeders. Putting out their favorite foods is the best way to ensure that they will continue to return, and in winter bird feeders assist a great number of birds to survive the cold weather. Wild birds will not usually eat artificial pellets or processed seeds as they are not accustomed to them, so natural seeds are the key.
Sunflower seeds are generally a safe bet, as a wide variety of birds will eat them, such as chickadees, nuthatches, finches, cardinals, grosbeaks, sparrows, blackbirds, jays, woodpeckers and titmice. All these birds, with the exception of the sparrows, blackbirds, jays and woodpeckers, will also eat Safflower seeds. When trying to lure ducks, geese, mourning doves and quails, cracked corn will do the trick; and woodpeckers, titmice and chickadees are also known to eat unsalted peanuts. Nyjer (or Thistle) will attract redpolls, doves and pine siskins; while orioles, thrushes and hummingbirds prefer nectar. Fruit is another option to use in combination with seeds as mockingbirds, bluebirds, thrushes, cedar waxwings and orioles will enjoy the treat. The preferred food for juncos and towhees is millet. Setting out a mixture of seeds, fruits and nectar will have any garden filled with birds in no time, allowing home owners to enjoy the beauty of these winged creatures and relax to the melodies of their cheerful songs.
To marvel at a magnificent range of exotic birds of all shapes and colors, head down to the Atlanta Exotic Bird Fair on the 13th and 14th of March 2010. Here visitors will see birds such as eclectus, finches, cockatiels and canaries, and be able to browse through a variety of exhibitors that offer numerous bird care related products, including nutrition, toys, cages and educational information.
To find out more about this exciting bird show, queries can be directed to the North Atlanta Trade Centre, by email to Rhonda@natcshows.com.
Date: 13 – 14 March 2010
Venue: North Atlanta Trade Center
Country: United States of America