A New Judge's Thoughts on Conformation and Condition
by Gary Tom
First published in the Pacific American Singer newsletter, volume 4, number 4, October 1997.
As a member of the judges "Class of '96", I was saddened to read in the last newsletter that many judges arbitrarily score all birds being judged evenly in terms of conformation and condition. Hopefully, it was because the shows being judged were too large and that in future shows maximum limits for show entries will be voluntarily imposed. I believe that judging American Singer Canaries should be taken seriously. Even as a student judge, I took my assignments seriously and literally. I am duty bound to judge both conformation and condition and deduct the appropriate number of points for each fault that I perceive.
It would be a travesty to the American Singer fancy to disregard conformation. It comprises only 20 percent of the total score of a bird being judged yet it visually serves to distinguish our breed. Elimination of the conformation category would further our fancy into the realm of what our opponents and detractors would refer to as "a bunch of mongrels". Mongrels without any physical continuity at that!
Condition also deserves to be recognized and evaluated. A bird in poor health cannot be expected to perform well. If this category is eliminated, birds which do not belong on the show bench may appear in large numbers. Is it fair to allow out-of-condition birds on the show bench at the expense of those who do belong? What about the risk of disease? We American Singer fanciers love our birds and none of us would like to have anything happen to our beloved show birds.
In addition to the condition of the bird I think that presentation is important. As an exhibitor, we are told to be very careful in our presentation of our birds and not to risk losing points for an ill-prepared show cage. An awful lot of hard work goes into the preparation of show cages. Hours of scrubbing, painting, cutting of paper and cleaning perches go into our final preparations before a show. I expect this care and detail to be noticed and to make a difference when our birds are judged.
Conformation and condition are two very important parts of the American Singer Fancy. Without it, we would lose much of what the American Singer Canary is and will continue to be. I would be very interested in what the rest of my classmates (and others) have to say.
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