Have you even been to a bird fair? Some people also call them marts or expos. Whichever name you prefer is fine. Bird fairs are a large gathering of breeders, suppliers, and buyers all in one location for a daylong event. Sometimes these fairs will last two days. If you have never been to one, I recommend you find out when one is being held in your area and go.
I've been attending bird fairs for many years now, even longer than I have been showing birds. The first few fairs I attended I was simply part of the viewing public. The next few I was a vendor, and I have been a vendor ever since. I still only attend 3-4 fairs and 1-2 shows each year. They are a lot of work.
Bird fairs are probably the best place to meet the breeders and learn about the birdís history and home environment. Pet store employees and owners don't know where most of the birds come from unless they know the breeders personally, and if they do know the breeders they aren't going to tell the customer. Its bad business to tell the customer where they can buy these birds wholesale after all.
I have been attending the Mid-America Cage Bird Society fairs for so long now I actually have regular customers. Some are people looking for pets, others are pet shop owners. Many will even call or e-mail me a few weeks to a month before each show and pre-order birds. It looks little odd setting up my table with several cages marked SOLD long before the fair even starts, but the buyers always show up to claim their birds by mid day.
Most fair goers know that if you are looking for something in particular you must arrive as soon as the doors open. Birds sell off very quickly in the first two hours and I personally have been sold out by noon on a few occasions. The best deals in the fair come about an hour before the fair ends. Breeders who still have many of a few species left will often make better deals at the end of the day. There is a risk that the bird you are looking for is gone by this time. This is also with the majority of the pet store owners come in and buy up everything they can get a good deal on.
You can find more that just birds at these fairs. You can pretty much by everything your bird will need at the fairs. This includes cages, food, toys, supplements, dishes, and more. Many vendors, myself included, will also offer jewelry, paintings, posters, clothing, and other human items for you to enjoy.
You must also know that it is the breeder or dealer's decision to sell a bird to you. Very few accept credit cards and many wonít accept checks. Arrive with cash and be as polite and articulate as possible. There are frequently five or more people trying to talk to the breeder at once and he or she can not be every place at every moment. It's also polite not take an extremely long time asking questions unless you really need to. There are many people who also have questions and only so many hours in the day.
A day at the fair, for me, involves catching & sorting finches the night before. I pack all non-live supplies into the van the night before, and then take a quick inventory. This takes about 6 hours because I also clean every cage while I'm working in the aviary. The following day I get up at 5am or earlier, pack the birds into the van and hit the road. Hours later I arrive and unpack at my table.
Selling birds, haggling, buying, and talking with customers is what I do all day long from this point on. If I'm lucky I'll have time for a quick lunch. By the end of the day it's time to re-pack the van and drive home, only to get all the unsold birds (if there are some) back into their flight cages and clean the display cages. By the end of this day I finally get some rest and wait for the next fair with eager anticipation.
Even though these fairs are a lot of work; they are also a lot of fun. I enjoy seeing all the familiar faces and meeting the new people who show up. Everyone is so friendly. I can spend a whole day talking about finches and no one thinks that's odd. :)