USA Canaryculture in the ’80s

Canary culture, though not very common through out the country, is pursued by true fanciers. For the truly obsessed enthusiast, his life is molded to fit the needs of his singing charges. For a very rough estimate of the number of canary breeders in the United States we may take the circulation of The American Cage Bird Magazine: 15,000.

Most keep about 100 birds though larger studs are not unusual. Some keep 1000 adult breeders. Feeding and watering is done using individual dishes that are cleaned daily. Breeding hens and adult males are kept in individual cages. Other birds are maintained in flights.

Color Bred canaries, the new mutations, are raised to a high standard in the United States. U.S. color bred birds are equal to any in the world. Clear red birds are the most popular followed by the other red series birds. Recessive white birds are also much sought after. Yellow series melanin birds are the least popular.

The red series birds are fed a mix of Canthaxanthin and Beta-Carotene to maximize color. An equal blend of the two chemicals is most often used. One teaspoon of the dry mix is added to one half gallon of water.

Type canaries were long raised by a very small group of “old timers.” About two years ago that began to change. The large contingent of color bred canary enthusiasts took up the type birds in a big way. Yorkshires and Glosters are very well represented here both in quantity and quality. Norwich Canaries are very popular, but the quality lags far behind England. Borders are the most popular type
canaries. Even the smallest local show will be well represented with this breed. Breeders here, as in England, are constantly arguing about size. Also as in England, some have mistakenly introduced Norwich blood in an attempt to increase head size.

Very few keep the Fife Fancy, the miniature Border.

Frills have made great strides in the last few years. Before that only mongrel frills were seen. Now most exhibited are of one of the recognized Frill breeds The most popular are the Parisian Frill and the Dutch Frills.

Posture canaries, with the exception of the Gibber Italicus, are in a sorry state. I have never seen a pure Belgian. The Scotch Fancy is only bred by one fancier to my knowledge. The Gibber Italicus is in the hands of a small but very knowledgeable set of breeders.

Rollers are not shown with the other varieties. Though high quality rollers are being bred in the United States, the total number is very small. These fanciers have little or no contact with other canary breeders.

The most popular single breed of canary in the United States is the American Singer, Canary. This variety was developed by a group of Boston fanciers in the mid 1930s. They wished to combine the pleasing song of the Roller with the more free and vigorous performance of the Border.

They also hoped to improve upon the Roller type. The overall intention was to create a Canary that would appeal to the average American pet buyer.

The American Singer is the only breed that any fancier can produce from scratch. These birds are a blend of 68% Roller and 32% Border. The novice may obtain initial American Singer stock from an established fancier or he may breed his own unique strain. The American Singer club has a standard four year plan of pairings to yield this variety.

American Singers may not be over 5 3/4 inches in length. The type is a modified version of the Border. The same Basic form and stance is required but the head is not as large.

The song is also 68% Roller and 32% Border. More than six chops in a row disqualifies a bird from competition. In a search for variety many American Singer exhibitors have used Belgian Waterslagers as tutors.

American Singers are seen in Green, Blue Cinnamon, Silver Fawn, Yellow, White, and Variegated versions, There is also a separate grouping of Red Factor American Singers. These birds can not be color fed.

The self and variegated forms at one time outnumbered the clears. At the inception of the breed most Rollers were Green selfs. With the rather recent importation of clear Rollers, the clear form of the American Singer has become very popular. This is in keeping with the history of the breed, for the American pet market prefers clear birds.

Though many American Singers are sold as pets, the primary interest of the enthusiast is exhibition.

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