Canary-breeding for those who have the necessary time to devote to it is a most fascinating hobby, and a lucrative one, too, for young cock birds, if trained to sing really well, will fetch good prices. If male canaries are bred, or if the young German Roller cock canaries are taught to pipe a little air, they also may fetch large sums.
The Norwich, both the crested and plain breed, costs from 15s. to £2 2s. the pair. The Yorkshire from 15s. to £2 2s. the pair. The Border Fancy from 15s. to £2 2s. the pair. Lizards cost from 40s. a pair upwards. The Scot's Fancy costs from £3 3s. a pair upwards. The Cinnamon from £3 3s. a pair. The Liverpool Green from £3 3s. a pair. The Lancashire Coppy from £4 4s. a pair. The Belgian from £6 6s. a pair. The German Roller cocks cost from 15s. to £2 2s.; hens cost from 3s. 6d. to 5s.
The eight first named are British birds. They are all bred for shape, size, and colour and beauty of plumage, as is also the Belgian, and have not therefore been trained to possess a very attractive song.
The German Roller is the true singing canary, and, if carefully taught, makes a delightful songster, adding to his natural note the music of other sweet-voiced birds, such as the skylark, and even, some say, of the nightingale.
In appearance the German Roller is not prepossessing. A small, miserable, washed-out-looking bird, he must be judged by his voice alone, and should never be purchased until his future owner has had an opportunity of hearing him sing.
Probably the amateur breeder will get more pleasure and success from breeding singing birds than any other variety of canary, for the teaching of the young ones to sing is a most engrossing occupation.
A Bird Schoolmaster
The first thing to be done is to invest in a good schoolmaster for the youngsters. A German Roller schoolmaster bird is one which has a very sweet and well-trained song, and, not having been mated during the present nesting season, is in full song during the summer months instead of being engrossed in parental duties. Such a bird, bought at a reliable dealer's, will cost about two guineas.
His cage must be hung within sound but not sight of the flight cages of youngsters, who will begin to try to sing when between six weeks and two months old. These latter must not be allowed to be within hearing of any other singing bird with a less melodious note, though a sweet-singing linnet and a skylark within hearing of the feathered pupils will probably add much variety and beauty to their song.
The feeding of singing birds must be care-fully studied.
Summer rape should take the place of canary seed as their chief diet, and a little canary seed added for a change once or twice a week. Egg food, a little green food, or boiled carrot may be given on two days in each week to make a variety. Apple should not be given to singing birds. Lettuce seed is a valuable remedy for loss of voice or huskiness in a singing canary, and he should be carefully guarded against draughts or sudden chills and changes of temperature.
A singing canary has to re-learn his song arter the first and second moulting season, so that care must be taken that he hears only good, sweet-voiced singers during this period, which is also an opportunity for teaching him to add to his own song in various ways.
How to Train a Bird to Sing
A canary that can whistle a short air is a delightful acquisition. To teach it to do this it must be separated from its companions as soon as it begins to twitter, and put into a small wire cage by itself. It must first be covered up with a white pocket-handkerchief over the front of the cage, and gradually with darker material. Its instructress must then whistle or play a short air on a flute or bird-organ both morning and evening, and several times during the day, repeating the lesson half a dozen times on each occasion. In a few months it should have learnt to repeat the air perfectly, though some birds take longer to teach than others.
The cost of a bird-organ is prohibitive to the ordinary amateur breeder, for it varies from £5 to £6.
The most striking characteristic of the beautiful crested Norwich canary is the crest, which, falling from the centre of the crown of the head over the eyes and beak, is continued regularly all round the head.
Its plumage should be silky and long in the feather, and the tail rather short.
Its neck should be short, its back broad, and its chest deep and well rounded, and it must be of a good size.
The plain head Norwich is valued greatly for its beauty of colour, which is produced mainly by special feeding during the moulting season. The deep orange tint of some of the prize bred birds has been produced by this means.
For breeding purposes shape is of great importance.
The bird should have a well-rounded skull, with a short, thick neck, deep, well-rounded chest, head, back, and shoulders, short legs and tail, and closely fitting wings with points that just meet evenly. The hen birds, especially, should have a general short, thick-set appearance about the body.
The feathers of the plain head Norwich must be very fine and silky, thick-growing and short.
The Yorkshire canary is a slim, graceful bird of an entirely different type. The whole effect produced by a well-bred Yorkshire is of slimness and length.
Colour is of less importance than quality of feather. The bird's plumage must be exquisitely fine and soft, and must be close to the body; the tail must be long, narrow, and very compact. The neck, shoulders, and back should be long and straight, and the chest narrow, though well-rounded. The legs should be long and straight, and the bird should assume an
The crested Norwich canary (left) and the plain head Norwich canary. Both these varieties are distinguished by beauty of shape and colour, rather than by excellence of song almost perpendicular position on the perch.
The Border Fancy is one of the smallest canaries, measuring about 5 1/2 inches from tip of beak to end of tail.
Its plumage must be very close set, and if evenly marked it adds greatly to the value of the bird.
The head of the Border Fancy must be small, and very round, the wings set in close to the body, with the points just meeting, and the tail fea-thers set very closely together, and both tail and legs of medium length.
The Lizard canary is so called because it is closely spangled on the back and on the sides of the breast in a manner which somewhat resembles a lizard's scales. Its wings and tail should be jet black, and the rest of its body of a rich bronze-green hue, waxing fainter over the breast, and with a light cap which extends from the base of the upper mandible of the beak to the back of the head. The legs and beak should be as dark as possible.
In shape the Lizard is a rather small, somewhat thick bird; the skull should be rather flat, the beak wide, the chest round and deep, the legs rather short, and the tail of medium length.
The Lizard is a show bird during its first season only, for its beautifully marked plumage disappears after the second moult.
A Curious Type
The Scot's Fancy is a bird whose most striking characteristic is the almost semicircular position it assumes when on the perch.
It must be of good size. A small, slim head and great length of neck are above all things essential, though the back should be long and finish with a long, turned-in tail, this helping to complete the semi-circular effect of the bird when posing. Its plumage should be fine, and its legs a good length.
The Cinnamon canary is used greatly by every breeder to cross with other breeds, to improve their plumage and colour.
In appearance it resembles a Norwich canary, with short, thick silky plumage of a rich light brown colour, delicately pencilled all over. The neck should be short, back wide, breast full, wings close set and barely meeting at the tip, and the tail somewhat short.
The Liverpool Green canary is of a pure deep green hue all over, and in shape it may resemble either the Norfolk or the Norwich type.
The Lancashire Coppy is a very large, pale - coloured canary, prize specimens measuring some eight inches or over.
The crest should be round, close-set, and very symmetrical, and should hang evenly all round the head and over the eyes and beak. A good set of the shoulders is important; the neck, back, and legs should be long and straight.
The Lancashire plain head should be mated with the Coppy. Two crested birds, ex-cept in very special instances, must never be paired together, for there is always the chance that their offspring will be bald.
The Belgian canary is a very beautiful, deli-cate, and valuable bird, and is remarkable for its curious shape and carriage.
The head must be small, the neck very long, and gracefully curved, and from the shoulders the back and tail must run in one straight line. The wings should be long, and must not cross at the tip, and the tail must be long and narrow.
The Belgian canary requires much care at all times, and it is better not to breed from it before its second year.
It is in such problems and curiosities of breeding that the enthusiastic fancier finds the greatest delight of his particular hobby. He will exert his utmost ingenuity to achieve the aim he has in view - if possible, of course, with the help of Nature, but if not, at times even despite her rules. He may be baffled again and again, but he will learn from his mistakes what can be realised of his ideal and what cannot, and he will count himself amply repaid when success crowns his efforts.
A Yorkshire canary. A well-bred bird should be extremely slim and graceful, with fine soft plumage and long narrow tail