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|AFA National Show Award:
Excellence in Exhibition
Capturing one of the most elite show wins in aviculture:
The American Federation of Aviculture’s
“Best Bred-by-Exhibitor” National Show Award!
©2006 Linda S. Rubin
First published in the June 2006 issue of BIRD TIMES magazine
|For bird show exhibitors, winning top achievement awards at a bird show is a great thrill, and there is no
greater accolade than to win a national show with a bird of your own breeding. That special honor is
exemplified through a distinguished award bestowed each year by the American Federation of Aviculture
(AFA), for the “Best Bird Bred & Banded by an AFA Member” placing highest at the national shows. AFA Life
Member Sally Huntington of San Diego, California was the recipient of this year’s prestigious AFA award at
the 57th National Cage Bird Show (NCBS) held November 18-19, 2005 in Dallas, Texas.
The winning bird, a superb black gray society finch, Lonchura domestica, first won the best finch or softbill
in division - the top award presented by the National Finch and Softbill Society (NFSS), an affiliate
organization of AFA. Huntington’s outstanding society finch went on to win the AFA Show Award because it
ranked highest overall in the show as a bird bred and closed banded by the exhibitor.
The prestige of winning the AFA Best Bird Bred by Exhibitor Award at the NCBS is highly respected by
exhibitors, because it reflects the combined tally of votes from 18 certified show judges representing all 18
divisions of the show. The award reflects well upon the division judge who places the entry as first choice
for their division, because it expresses the shared opinion of the 17 other judges who collectively voted for
the same bird.
NFSS Panel Judge Dale Laird, who placed the black grey society finch in first place in the NFSS division of
the show commented, “I have judged hundreds of society finches over the years and this was the very best
society finch I have ever seen. I knew this finch was the benchmark the rest had to beat. It met every point
in the show standard; there was not a feather out of place and the bird was very comfortable in its
surroundings. I could not have asked for a better representative of the finch and softbill division that day.”
The presentation at the NCBS Saturday evening banquet took place before hundreds of exhibitors. The
event marked a decade of recognition from the American Federation of Aviculture in acknowledging the
accomplishments of its members who breed and exhibit their birds by national show standards.
Because exhibitors are more likely to return home to breed the birds placing highest in the shows, national
show standards serve to reinforce the breeding of exceptional bloodlines by rewarding superior genes on
the show bench. In addition to inherited characteristics, exhibitors must keep their show stock in peak
condition, which is a reflection of good husbandry practices, top nutritional programs, frequent grooming
and consistent show training.
This was not the first time Sally Huntington captured the AFA “Best Bird Bred & Banded by Exhibitor”
award, she also took the honor at the 2002 NCBS in Santa Clara, California. After two Higgins Awards for
the best finch or softbill in the NFSS division at the 2000 and 2005 NCBS, a NCBS Scannell trophy, and two
AFA National Show Awards to her credit, Huntington still said of her recent win: “I was tickled to death!”
Adding to its recent distinction, this winning black grey society finch took “best finch” in the NFSS division
at the Finch Society of San Diego County show earlier in 2005, and has a sister that also excelled in the
shows. Furthermore, because it hatched in November of 2004, Huntington’s winning finch still has a bright
future ahead on the show bench and as a potential breeder of future generations of offspring.
When asked why she chose to exhibit this particular society finch, Huntington replied that the finch was a
hand-raised pet that was very calm and traveled well. “It also sings like a canary,” Huntington stated,
explaining how as a young bird, newly fledged, the society finch lived next to another finch that dwelled
with an American singer canary and had learned the canary’s song from the finch. “It is most unusual,”
Huntington added, “It is now becoming better known that finches have a small ‘ability window’ to learn to
mimic while they are young.”
Society finches are normally valued for their excellence as dependable foster parents that are willing to
raise orphan chicks, chicks of other species, or chicks of rarer species that are more difficult to work
with. Its worth as a reliable breeder, raising quality show stock is just the added “icing on the cake.”
Huntington, an NFSS panel judge, is completing her third, two-year term as president of the NFSS. She has
been raising finches and softbills for more than 20 years and highly recommends society finches as
outstanding pet and aviary birds.
“Society finches can live an average of five to 10 years and make an excellent pet bird,” states Huntington,
“They’re very responsive, connect well with people, don’t chew or bite, and once tamed, remain so.”
The first AFA National Show Award was presented at the 1992 Great American Bird Show (GABS) in
Metairie, Louisiana, in tribute to AFA members who exhibit their birds. In 1996, the AFA voted to reinstate
the award. It has been presented nearly each year since at the GABS and the NCBS in recognition of the
two largest national shows in the country. Plans are to present the AFA show award at these shows this
In order to qualify for the AFA National Show Award at the NCBS, exhibitors must submit a separate AFA
show registration form for each division entered on the morning of the show. Exhibitors must supply the
name of the species entered in the division, with the exhibitor’s personal band code - engraved on their
entries’ closed, traceable leg bands - and their signature indicating they are a current member of the AFA.
At the end of the show, the AFA show awards chair meets with the NCBS Scannell tally committee to
determine the highest-ranking bred by exhibitor bird in the show. The potential winner’s name is then
verified in the AFA database to be certain the membership is current.
It is not an uncommon event for local bird clubs and local bird shows to serve as a popular gateway into
the world of aviculture for many bird owners. Bird shows are excellent educational venues and provide
opportunities for the first-time bird owner, or experienced aviculturist, to learn more about their own birds
as well as other species. Shows provide a bridge of awareness to join other national organizations and
learn about them while increasing the bird owner’s knowledge of aviculture. Continued next page ...
AMERICAN FEDERATION OF AVICULTURE, INC.
The American Federation of Aviculture is a 501 (c)(3) nonprofit, tax-exempt, educational organization,
established in 1974, to represent all aspects of aviculture and educate the public about keeping and
breeding birds in captivity.
The mission and purpose of AFA is to promote the advancement of aviculture through educational
programs that enable better husbandry, management, and living conditions for exotic birds; promote
avian research and conservation of exotic birds; keep members aware of legislative issues that affect
aviculture and aviculturists and keep legislators aware of the need for fair and equitable regulations.
The overall goal of AFA is to insure long-term, self-sustaining populations of exotic birds in captivity and
in the wild.
The AFA supports its members’ rights to acquire, keep, breed and sell birds in a responsible manner.
The organization monitors proposed laws and regulations at the state, federal and international level
that effect your future as an aviculturist and the well-being of birds. The U.S. Congress’s Office of
Technology and Assessment have identified AFA as the nation’s grass roots organization of bird
AFA strives to educate and disseminate information related to aviculture among pet owners, hobbyists,
avicultural societies, zoos, veterinarians, research institutions, the pet industry and government officials.
AFA believes that aviculture is a valuable conservation tool and that the care and breeding of birds in
captivity is an exciting and fulfilling endeavor.
The AFA is primarily a volunteer organization. Its efforts to ensure the future growth and development of
aviculture are completely dependent upon members joining and supporting AFA. AFA offers many
services to its members because AFA has so many different types of members.
Some membership benefits include access to traceable AFA logo leg bands, the AFA Exotic Bird
Registry, national conventions, the quarterly Watchbird Journal, and legislative information and updates.
For further information, visit www.afabirds.org.
THE NATIONAL CAGE BIRD SHOW, INC.
The National Cage Bird Show is a nonprofit organization established in 1947, for the purpose of
showing cage birds at the national level. NCBS has 18 divisions for cage birds, representing all
varieties of canaries, finches, softbills, lovebirds, cockatiels, and parrots. NCBS sponsors a
growing and competitive Youth Division that awards grants annually to the winner, while
encouraging and developing future aviculturists. All NCBS divisions utilize highly credentialed,
certified panel judges from affiliated national specialty societies for their breed’s standards. For
further information, visit www.ncbs.org.
THE NATIONAL FINCH AND SOFTBILL SOCIETY, INC.
The NFSS is a nonprofit, hobbyist organization dedicated to the conservation, breeding,
exhibiting, and enjoyment of finches and softbills. Founded in 1984, it has more than 1,000
members, representing all fifty states and in several countries around the world. For further
information, visit www.nfss.org.