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 inthe last newsletter that many judges arbitrarily score all birds beingjudged evenly in terms of conformation and condition. Hopefully, itwas because the shows being judged were too large and that in futureshows maximum limits for show entries will be voluntarily imposed. Ibelieve that judging American Singer Canaries should be takenseriously. Even as a student judge, I took my assignments seriouslyand literally. I am duty bound to judge both conformation andcondition and deduct the appropriate number of points for each faultthat I perceive.

It would be a travesty to the American Singer fancy to disregardconformation. It comprises only 20 percent of the total score of abird being judged yet it visually serves to distinguish ourbreed. Elimination of the conformation category would further ourfancy into the realm of what our opponents and detractors would referto as "a bunch of mongrels". Mongrels without any physical continuityat that!

Condition also deserves to be recognized and evaluated. A bird in poorhealth cannot be expected to perform well. If this category iseliminated, birds which do not belong on the show bench may appear inlarge numbers. Is it fair to allow out-of-condition birds on the showbench at the expense of those who do belong? What about the risk ofdisease? We American Singer fanciers love our birds and none of uswould like to have anything happen to our beloved show birds.

In addition to the condition of the bird I think that presentation isimportant. As an exhibitor, we are told to be very careful in ourpresentation of our birds and not to risk losing points for anill-prepared show cage. An awful lot of hard work goes into thepreparation of show cages. Hours of scrubbing, painting, cutting ofpaper and cleaning perches go into our final preparations before ashow. I expect this care and detail to be noticed and to make adifference when our birds are judged.

Conformation and condition are two very important parts of theAmerican Singer Fancy. Without it, we would lose much of what theAmerican Singer Canary is and will continue to be. I would be veryinterested in what the rest of my classmates (and others) have to say.

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