It seems advisable to supplement what we have said about the methods of making home attractive with some consideration of other important elements of home interest, the plants and flowers which change our windows into miniature conservatories, and the singing birds and other pet animals to which we give loving care, and whose lively arts and sweet voices help to make the hours pass pleasantly. First among these it will be we'll to speak of the prime favorite among all the feathered tribe, the golden-plumaged and sweet voiced canary.
A glance will show the contrast of life in colonial times and at the beginning of the 20th century domestic birds there are several varieties fully or partly green, but yellow is the most admired tint, there being several shades of this favorite color. The canary, above all other birds, lives and thrives in a cage. It has been bred for so long a series of generations to cage life that its native wildness has vanished, and in the open air it is quite incapable of taking care of itself. In the cage it is bred with greater ease and success than almost any other bird, and the raising of canaries is in some localities, as in the Hartz Mountains of Germany, a distinct and profitable business.
It is as a song-bird that the canary is most valued, and for many generations its powers of song have been developed in Germany until they approach perfection. The young birds are carefully trained, some by skillful older singers, some by the flageolet, until they can execute certain fine trills or passages of melody. Some songsters have the wonderful compass of four octaves, and can sing various "shakes" in marvelous style. Each burst of song should, for the best effect, end in a soft, flute-like, like, falling passage, an effect which it takes six months' training to produce. Many birds of excitable temperament are apt to break into loud, detached notes, which spoils their song to the ear of an adept in canary music.
The song of the canary is evidently a matter of choice and training, and the German song canary has a voice vastly more beautiful than that of the wild bird. Cock birds of fine voice are chosen to breed from and also as tutors, young birds, if possible, being trained in a room where they can hear only the tutor, for they will pick up bad notes as easily as good ones if left where they can hear them. The tutors and pupils are allowed to sing only about three hours each day, being covered up the rest of the time. Birds that have caught up bad notes need to be drafted off, before they can make mischief among the others. If there is no good tutor, a flageolet will serve, with the condition that the same air must always be played in exactly the same way.
The colors of cage birds vary considerably, through green, yellow, white, brown, gray, etc. The yellow and the white have often red eyes, and are the most tender; those most resembling the wild race - dusky green above and yellowish green beneath - are the strongest. The bird now most admired is of yellow or white body, with head, wings, and tail of a lively yellow. The golden yellow bird, with head, wings, and tail black, or dusky gray, comes next in estimation. There are other admired shades of color, those spotted or speckled being of least value.