Spreading their wings

‘Broko’, a rainbow lorikeet. Photo: John Borren.

The Tauranga Bird Show starts today, May 21, and is open to the public from 1pm-5pm after judging; and Sunday, May 22, from 8.30am-1pm at the Mount Sports Centre.

Tauranga Bird Club president Sheryl Baron says this weekend’s show will feature 570 entries – or birds – across 17 species. “We’ll welcome people from as far away as Whangarei, the Hawke’s Bay, Palmerston North and New Plymouth as well as lots of our local bird club members.

“We want to see as many members of the public as possible; we’ll have spot prizes and a bird sale and also cages and seed available to buy. It’s ideal for families to come.”

Sheryl says both the show and the club’s growth in the last six years has been phenomenal. “This is our fifth show back after the club was in recess for about six years,” says Sheryl.

The club had a handful of members six years ago. “Thanks to organisations like The Weekend Sun and SunLive, which have helped us promote the bird show, it makes an enormous difference.

“We now have more than 80 club members. They’re not all exhibitors but have birds in their gardens. What a transformation it’s been over six years. It’s wonderful!”

Taming the wild 

One new club member is Michelle Cooke, who got interested in birds after she bought a property in Otumoetai and experienced 25 wild ring-neck doves fly in to greet her.

She bought a packet of wild bird seed to feed them, then she met Tauranga Bird Club at a pet expo and joined up 12 months ago.

Michelle’s first ‘tame’ bird was a canary, named ‘Clyde’. Today she has 19 feathered friends in a self-built aviary along with the wild birds that come into ‘chat’.

“It is kind of an addiction,” admits Michelle, who has budgies, bengalese finches, canaries, mulga parrots, rainbow lorikeets, two tame Indian ringneck parakeets and her largest bird is an Alexandrine parrot. New additions are ‘Muff’ – a feathered foot pigeon, and ‘Elvis’ a white homing pigeon.

“I put them in the same aviary together and kept them in there for three months – that way they got homed to my place.”

When she releases the homing pigeons she giggles as messages pop up on community Facebook pages, asking: ‘Does anyone own the pigeons down at the fish and chip shop?’ “They are homing

pigeons and usually come home at 4.30pm at night. Although I have spent many a day out walking around with my net, chasing something that’s got out.”

Michelle says birds are easy to care for and mainly only dietary needs vary between breeds. “The Bengalese are half the size of a sparrow so need smaller food, whereas parrots will eat corn off a cob.”

Aviary rambles 

By sitting in her aviary, Michelle says the birds get tamer. “I can cuddle, and pet some – these tame ones have no problem with me being in the cage. Then there’s one cage I don’t go into because ouch, ouch!”

Michelle hasn’t shown a bird yet “because I haven’t got into bird-breeding yet”. “All things in good time, and I’m learning step-by-step.” But she does have breeding boxes for the upcoming season.

Being part of Tauranga Bird Club has helped Michelle gain knowledge and confidence to keep birds. “They are absolutely fabulous – they cannot do enough to help you out.”

With an avian vet at the club’s disposal and many members breeding all sorts of birds, Michelle feels well-supported. “We do ‘aviary rambles’; it is fabulous to see other people’s set-ups.”

The club’s shows and sales also help her pick birds to buy and keep. “We also find out about breeders in other areas, such as our sister clubs, Piako and Whakatane.”

The Tauranga bird Club’s shows is on tomorrow, May 21, open to the public from 1pm-5pm; and Sunday, May 22, from 8.30am-1pm at the Mount Sports Centre. Entry is $10 per family; adults $4, children $3, and under-5s free entry. Cash only.

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