Selecting Fife Canaries to Keep
Last time I emphasised the importance of type and size ( and I also mean breadth when I say size ) in an exhibition Fife fancy canary. Without these two qualities, particularly type, a Fife will have no chance of doing well on the show bench under good judges. It's these two qualities I look at first when sorting out the Fifes I will retain.
As most top Fifes now do possess these qualities we need to look further during this process. In my last article I said there were six areas I examine when I sort out my Fifes. The remaining four in addition to type and size are:
Poor wings ruin a good bird
whatever the breed.
Similarly a poor tail ruins
a good Fife.
Occasionally a bird will pop up with one bad wing, and I had such a case a couple of years ago. The wing was dropped but it was otherwise a first class Fife bred from good parents. Its siblings showed no such fault. As a consequence I retained it, as without this fault it would have been a good show bird. All its youngsters had perfect wings. As with all faults, if they are minor they can be bred out. So always look at the breeding potential of any bird before making a decision, particularly if the bird’s siblings don't have the fault.
By this I mean the depth and
quality of colour, particularly in the clear line.
One way of spotting a clear
yellow hen in a cock class is the ring of light frosting at the back of
the neck, just before the back starts to arch.
My other main line is my
green/heavily variegated stud. Here, as well as type, I insist on a
grass green colour.
I have always maintained that I can tell the difference between my variegated birds from my clear line and my variegated birds from my dark line at a hundred yards! Somewhat of an exaggeration, but makes the point that the basic yellow background colour is different in the two lines i.e. it's either buttercup or it's lemon.
I once read in an old canary book, when describing the colour required in a variegated bird, that the green needed to be “grass green” and the yellow part needed to be “buttercup yellow” – impossible! The author did not understand colour and, like many canary books I have read, was not based on personal experience.
Whilst on the subject of my greens. I can also sex these quite easily, as the cocks are slightly longer and less round. Also the lacings on the flanks of the cock birds aren't well defined, whereas the lacings on my hens are regimented, like the hen of a Siskin. One of the talking points on my self-green yellow hen, which was best green at the Bird Show UK, was the superb lacings she showed as well as her overall roundness.
This can still be a problem
In my experience the larger breeds of canaries, and the ones with more feather, appear steadier when placed in a show cage. I found that my Border canaries were far steadier than my Fifes, when placed in my training cages, and took less time to show train. The active nature of the Fife is one reason why a good show bird needs some extra roundness on the back as the back will soon go if worked by a judge.
Some Fifes have a calmer
temperament and I find the hens to be that little bit steadier.
A few Fifes don't take to a show cage, but these are getting fewer, so treat any wildness as a fault when considering which Fifes to retain.
Some Fifes, or other breed of canary, have an overall quality which goes beyond the other strengths I've listed. It could be the feather quality, the sheen on the plumage, the movement, or more likely the position of the legs when on the perch. Whatever it is, it's obvious in some canaries and should be considered when making your final selection of birds, particularly if it’s siblings have the same strengths.
Once I've assessed all my young Fifes using this criteria I'm able to decide which ones I will retain. Some, more likely to be cocks, will have been retained with breeding the following year in mind, others for including in my show team. The latter are now placed in single cages where I can begin the process of show training. The remainder can be returned to flight cages.