What Message Are We Sending?
January 2000

By: Terry Bishop
Our judges are often under-appreciated, especially in light of the large responsibility taken on by them when they agree to pass judgment on our birds. What many people donít realize is that their selections carry a much farther reaching effect than just the duration of the show. The winning birds are often talked about and dissected for years. I am talking primarily about the larger well attended shows, but these comments apply to all of our shows.

When a judge selects a bird for a top award, he is sending a message, whether he or she realizes it or not. Let me explain. People look at the highest placing birds (i.e. Champion, Reserve, Best Young, and Best of Category) as an example. When new breeders (or old) look at the top selections they often view these birds as what they should be breeding for. After all, they won didnít they? What are we trying to do when we breed and show our birds? Win. So if we want to win we often try to duplicate the birds we see winning the shows. This is where a judgeís opinion turns into a message as well.

As a judge, before you select a bird for a top award you should ask yourself, ďIs this bird a good representative of itís color, markingís, etc. and a good representative of the breed?Ē Letís say for an example that a poor colored bird is picked as champion of the Pageant. Even if the bird excels in the other areas of the standard, you have just sent a message that color is not important in your breeding or showing of Wests. Likewise if a Mottle is selected as best Mottle it should be a well marked bird. What message are you sending if you pick a bird that looks like a mismarked Whiteside, with little color in the wingshield, and plenty of white throughout the body? The message you are sending is that markings are not that important.

If you pick a poor colored or mismarked bird as the Champion of your breed, what are you saying about the rest of the birds that were shown? If a poor colored or marked birds wins, and was perfect (and none are) in all the other areas of the standard, you are still looking at only a 90 point bird max. So that means that all the rest of the birds in the show are less than 90 points, right. You have sent a message to all the other breeders who showed. I realize there are times when a judgeís hands are tied in that he can only select the best of what is placed before him. Sometimes a judge is forced to pick a bird he doesnít really like overall, simply because it was the best of what was in front of him. This is especially true at a smaller show or in a small color class where a judge doesnít have much to pick from. What is important is that this same marginal bird does not go any higher than the color class or minor award it has already won. You do not want a bird with an obvious glaring fault going on to be Best of Category or higher.

I have used color and markings as an example, but the same holds true for a weak head and neck, poor station, lack of body, a bird that is too large, etc. The bottom line is this. When we are called upon and agree to judge a show, it is our responsibility to ensure that the birds selected for the top prizes are good representatives of their category and of the breed. They should be as well balanced as possible, and free from any glaring faults.

We donít want to send out the wrong message do we ??

 Terry Bishop
What Message Are We Sending?
January 2000

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