By TOMIE LUNSFORD
Telegram Staff Writer
Here a 'chirp,' there a 'squeak' and everywhere a 'tweet, tweet.'
Yesterday's feathered guests at the Frank Mayborn Civic and Convention Center were part of a bird fair organized by the Texas Bird Breeders and Fanciers Association.
Their owners had traveled from all parts of Texas with the hope of making a few bucks. All the birds were on sale, ranging in price from $8 to $2,000.
'Some of our vendors are professional bird breeders,' said Director Carla Crowe. 'But for most of them, birds are their hobby.' At about 2 p.m. yesterday, halfway through the daylong event, the ticket taker said almost 250 people had been in to peruse the perched inventory. Proceeds from the $2 admission price will benefit the Texas Bird Breeders club.
A young couple from Angleton, Misty and Donnie Yarbrough, drove more than five hours to attend the bird fair.
'We asked around and did some reading,' Mr. Yarbrough said. 'And everybody told us this is the place to be if you want to find the best of the best in birds.'
In their late 20s, the two childless shoppers said they were in the market for something to love - a new parrot.
'Our Quaker parrot passed away,' Mrs. Yarbrough said. 'This one is going to be our new baby.'
They purchased a 4-month-old parrot from the Solomon Island electus species for $1,100. Its feathers were as green as a palm tree, and its beak looked like a miniature banana.
Its breeder, Kim Munn of Lampasas, said 'her baby' would have the ability to learn and repeat short phrases once it got to be about a year old.
'The one I have under the table - the one that's bald - says, 'Where's my ball?' all the time. Just like a boy,' Ms. Munn said with a grin, pointing to the sickly bird she brought to the fair. 'I found a lady here who wants to adopt him. I'm glad he's going to get a home.'
Male birds from the Solomon Island electus species are green, while the females are red and blue. The females have a ring of blue feathers that circle the eyes. On its Web site, Aves International, a bird breeding business, quotes the average price for a single bird six months or younger as $875 per bird.
The bird Ms. Munn sold to the Yarbroughs was her second sale of the day. The first one caught the eye of a woman from Abilene, Ms. Munn said.
'It didn't take her long to decide she wanted to take her home,' Ms. Munn added.
Another vendor at the bird show was selling a bunch of American Singer canaries. Dressed in a pair of jean overalls, the bearded gentleman went by the name of Bob Bond of Crawford.
American Singer canaries are the birds that go 'tweet tweet,' Bond explained.
'People want to buy them because of their sweet song,' Bond said. 'The color of them isn't all that important.'
The pairing process, while breeding them, is tricky, Bond said.
'There's only one person in the world I know who can put a pair of these together and know what color the offspring will be,' Bond said. 'It sure isn't me. It's a lady who lives in Alabama.'
Bond said he sells American Singer canaries at fairs to support his love affair for their cousins, the Red Factors that 'are judged for the way the look instead of the way they sound.'
'I love the color of the Red Factor. I love the sound it makes,' Bond said. 'You don't have to listen with both ears to hear them, but if you do listen with both ears, they don't knock you out of the house.'
His fascination with birds started four years ago. As soon as he learned about the Red Factor canary, the elderly gentleman said 'he was hooked.'
'It's a whole lot of fun if you like it,' Bond said. 'I just love those red birds.'
Joe and Ann Kring of Gatesville were two other vendors at yesterday's fair selling finches.
Male finches are bright red while female finches are brown and striped. Their bills are short and thick with a rounded top edge, and their wings are white. They stand about five inches high and look no thicker than a hot dog.
Enjoyment is what attracted Mr. Kring to bird breeding.
'If it's got feathers, I enjoy it,' Mr. Kring said. 'I've been working with birds for 53 years.'
Mr. Kring is a poultry specialist, retired from a lifelong career at Pilgrim's Pride.
'I fell in love with birds, all sorts of birds when I was 7,' he said.
His wife rolled her eyes a bit.
'I guess I should be glad,' she said. 'He doesn't make me wear a feather boa.'
The Texas Bird Breeders will come to Temple again in November for a bird show and fair. Judgings will take place at the fall show in addition to bird sales. For information about the club, visit www.texasbirdbreeders.org or call Ms. Crowe at (940) firstname.lastname@example.org