Nearly all fanciers are aware of the existence of the frilled canaries, but few realize that there are many distinct breeds of these birds. This ignorance is due partly to lack of information and partly because of a great deal of unfortunate mixing of the various types. This haphazard interbreeding has resulted in the production of frilled mongrels, not representing any breed.
The most impressive purebred is the Parisian Frill. The viewers first impression is of a bird too enormous to possibly be a canary. The average size is seventeen centimeters, about the same as a Yorkshire canary, though exceptional specimens might achieve twenty-two centimeters. The profuse frilling leads to the illusion of an even larger bird.
On the Parisian, all the feathers, the only exceptions being the flight and tail feathers, are frilled. The head is adorned with modified plumage referred to as the helmet. The forehead frilling is called the cap. This is not to be confused with the crest or corona of other canary breeds. The sideburns fall about the cheeks and the side of the head while a collar of feathers surrounds the neck. The upper chest sports the craw. The thighs are clothed in breeches and the lower chest and belly have the side fins. The mantle covers the back. All of these frilled feather regions are symmetrical as they are in pairs on either side of the bird. The best examples of the Parisian Frill have corkscrew toenails.
The Parisian Frill is the aristocrat of the frills. Unfortunately, this variety is often difficult to breed, requiring the eggs to be fostered out to pumpers. Pumpers are vigorous canaries, not of show type. These birds are used to hatch and rear the young of more delicate and fragile breeds,
The Padovan Frill is very similar to the Parisian, except for the head. The Padovan lacks the helmet, cap, and sideburns. Instead this bird carries a daisy cap, similar to that of the Gloster. Of course consorts, birds of the same breed lacking the cap, are kept. The Padovan occurs only in clear colors. The cap may be grizzled.
Another bird similar to the Parisian is the Milanais. These canaries are red factor frills. The corkscrew toenails are not allowed at the shows. A white frilled canary is also raised in Milan.
The North Dutch Frill is a medium size breed, slightly smaller than a Border canary. These birds have only the mantle, craw, and side fins. This means that the frilling is present in a band around the middle of the bird. The feathering of the head, neck, belly, and thighs is, ideally, the same as a regular canary. The head is neat and very much like an American Singer’s. The North Dutch Frill maintains a normal canary posture.
The South Dutch Frill is something else entirely. The frilling is the only similarity between this bird and its northern brother. Again, the head, neck, belly, and thighs are bare.
This breed is a bird of position, owing much to the Belgian canary. Birds of position are canaries that keep their necks bent so that they look hunch-backed. The South Dutch Frill is more slightly built than the North Dutch Frill. So much so that, to the uninitiated, these southern birds appears emaciated. When maintaining a normal stance this type is much taller than the North Dutch Frill but not as tall as the Parisian.
A good South Dutch Frill does not maintain an ordinary stance for long. When Displaying, the legs and body are held perpendicular to the perch. The head and neck are held straight out, parallel to the ground, forming a right angle with the line of the legs and the body. The beak is long and thin and the head is narrow. An overall appearance of “snakiness” is desirable.
The Gibber Italicus is in many ways the most unusual canary. Again we are dealing with a bird of position. The stance and feathering is very similar to the South Dutch Frill. An even more bizarre starved appearance is here the norm. The Gibber Italicus is the only canary breed raised only in the “hard” feathered form. There are no “frosted” Gibber Italici.
Our knowledge of the genetic nature of the frilled breeds is confused Tony Bucci, celebrated canary culturist, states that a single out cross to a bird of normal feathering will yield all normal feathered young. Mating the resulting birds together does not produce any frilled birds. Mr. Bucci claims that the frilling can only be regained by a regimen of line breeding. This would imply that frilling is inherited in a manner similar to size.
G.J. Plumb, old varieties expert, says that crossing a frilled canary with any other breed yields frilled young, but of a low quality. This suggests the possibility that frilling is dominant, but affected by modifiers. If this is true, the inheritance of the frilled feather structure is very similar to the inheritance of the crest.
This uncertainty stems from a lack of experimentation. The frilled breeds are so rare and so highly prized by their owners that few wish to waste them in the production of mongrels. Only the most scientifically oriented fanciers have so far investigated these remarkable birds.
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Does the Cock Canary sit on the eggs when the hen is feeding herself.