Saturday, February 6, 2016

Why Doesn't My Canary Sing - Stimulating Canary Singing

I get quite a few e-mail from people with pet canaries who are concerned and wonder "Why my canary doesn't sing"?

Importance of lighting and total hours of light exposure each day

It is critical that when someone gets a canary that they understand that the birds health is dependent on getting regular hours and that the number of hours of light changes with the season and triggers the seasonal changes in the bird from breeding to molting (many do not sing during the annual molt).

Using a simple wall timer with a table lamp can be used and set to get them up and put them to bed and changed to current sunrise and sunset monthly or the bird can be moved to a dark room at sunset and not covered so that light coming through the window will get it up and put it to bed at the right time or the bird can be covered at sunset with a very heavy cloth so that any light after dark will not keep the bird up and then uncovered when they go to bed so that the morning sun will get it up at the right time.

Unfortunately, many cover the bird at night but uncover at different times depending on their work schedule or decision to sleep in on a day off. A few months of this and the bird first stops singing and if continued eventually leads to illness and an early death.

Once a bird is on longer hours than sunrise and sunset, it is important not to decrease the day length as this will precipitate a molt. Advancing the number of daylight hours will encourage coming into breeding song for smaller varieties that can be as little as 12 hours.

Is the bird healthy?

It is important to observe a bird from a distance so that they don't fool you into thinking they are well when they are just trying to look healthy to protect themselves from predators. Are the feathers tight or puffed out. Puffing out the feathers helps keep the bird warm. They open their beaks when they are too hot. Is there any clicking sounds at night, like air sac mites? Are they too thin?

Stimulating singing with sound and foods

Do not feed the bird immediately upon rising or when you are wanting to hear him sing. Singing varieties are either singing or eating most of the day. So I like to wait until after I have finished listening and then feed them. Of course basic food and water is always available but any new food or topping off seed will be stimulating encouraging them to eat instead of sing.

Sound is stimulating even a sweeper. I like to keep classical music playing all day for the bird. Mine especially love cello music. I have not found recorder bird song to be helpful.

Is this the only canary? A hen in the cage or even seeing one can cause some to sing the breeding song and others not to sing at all. The hen should be in a different cage that is below the male cage so he can not see her.

Some foods stimulate singing. It is good to add toasted wheat germ fortified with extra vitamin E like is available at the grocer or health food store and bee pollen pebbles to the regular diet to improve singing frequency.

My first canary did not sing and I did everything I have mentioned and still no song. Then one day it laid an egg! LOL

Friday, February 5, 2016

Sexual Dimorphism in Lizard Canaries

Don't miss checking out

A blog by Huw Evans promoting the Lizard Canary. I especially liked tips on sexing lizard canaries in the post titled "Sexual dimorphism: theory into practice" posted on 1/2/16. It includes helpful tips on how to sex lizard canaries visually and included a practice test. Answers for the practice test and discussion of the answers were published on that blog 4/2/16. Also has many fantastic lizard photos.

I have really enjoyed this informative blog very much and will continue to visit it over and over!

Saturday, January 30, 2016

Breeding Better Looking Birds Part 5 - White Colored Birds

White canaries are either genetically dominant white, carrying a dominant white gene which is expressed and on the other chromosome a recessive yellow color gene, or recessive white which is white colored because it carries two recessive white genes. The dominant white can be differentiated from the recessive white because a dominant white has noticeable yellow coloring on the side of its wing. On some it is a very small area but it is visible to the naked eye. The presence of the yellow coloring on the wing of a dominant white bird is genetically independent from the feather characteristics. The yellow coloring on the side of the wing is only used to determine whether a white bird is a dominant white or a recessive white but not its feather type.

Note the yellow coloring on the side of the wing of this dominant white border
 A dominant white,  yellow feathered bird has yellow coloring bleeding through the white color on the body feathers, especially noticeable around the face and head when you hold it up close.

From a distance looks like variegated white Border. But is it Buff or Yellow Feathering?

Note the Yellow color bleeding through the White color which is typical of Yellow Feathering.
White colored Irish Fancy. But is it Buff or Yellow Feathering?

Looking only at the feathers in the face, it is clear that in the cheek area, yellow color is bleeding through and that makes the bird Yellow Feathered.

Variegated Columbus Fancy, Is it Yellow or Buff Feathering? Note how white colored its white feathers looks even up close and how the dark colored feathers are lighter?

No yellow color bleeding through, it is very white even up close so it is Buff feathering in this Columbus Fancy.

Recessive White Lipochrome  is strikingly white colored. Recessive white canaries do not produce yellow coloring in the wings or body, instead the white color is snow white in the buff feathering but has a gray look in the yellow feathered recessive white. Since the buff is much whiter, it scores higher on the show bench. Buff feathered Recessive White shown.

A darling Columbus Fancy newly feathered chick! Is it Buff or Yellow Feathered? First right answer will be posted.

Friday, January 29, 2016

Breeding Better Looking Birds Part 4 - Feather Texture

The difference in a good bird and a show stopper is often feather texture. Feather texture gives the bird a competitive edge that makes it stand out among good birds!

Feather texture varies from feathers that are fine (thin) to coarse (wide) and greatly effects the way the feathers lay against the body.

Begin by identifying your birds plus and minus characteristics as compare to the show standard.  Male birds typically lose confirmation when they come into breeding condition and instead of its beautiful show shape becomes long and tubular looking. So you need to asses males especially before they come into breeding condition.

First divide them into buff or yellow feathering as a buff feathered bird should be bred to a yellow feathered bird and then consider the other feather variables giving preference next to feather length. If two birds have the same undesirable characteristic do not breed them together!

Breeding two birds that look just like the show standard usually results in lesser quality birds. Instead breeding is somewhat like painting. If you want to make a certain color of paint, you look at what you have and create it by blending opposites. The worst thing a breeder can do is cull birds that have any overly strong in one area and weak in another just because it is not "show quality". This could be just the stock bird you need to produce that show stopper.

For more information check out Learning & Sharing Article by Brian Johansen on this blog post Oct. 29, 2009 and Tony Ruiz and Ian Mesley articles Yorshires Champion, Breeder & Exhibitor Articles

Tuesday, January 26, 2016

Breeding Better Looking Birds Part 3 - Second Set Of Feather Characteristics - Feather Length

Besides having pigment to the tip as in yellow feathering or not having pigment through to the feather tip as in buff feathers, feathers vary considerable in length from very short to very long.  When they are too long the tails are very long and the secondary flights are so long that they are not in line with the other wing feathers and even the body has long look when you judge total length from top of head to end of their tail.

Note the Secondary Flights are too long and not in line with other wing feathers
Look at the wing feathers certainly not in line!
Check out more information on long secondary flights and how to correct, see canary tales blog post  titled Wait Till Next Year September 14, 2009.

This Irish Fancy, a personable bird with an attitude, has short tight feathers so  that it  looks like a painted portrait rather than a photo of a live bird! Great feather texture too!
Very short feathers can give the feathers a very tight hugging the body look almost as tight as seen in some finches.

Monday, January 25, 2016

Breeding Better Looking Birds Part 2 Feather Type - Buff Feathering

Buff ticked Norwich
The  differentiation between the basic two feather type divisions yellow or buff is based on whether the pigmentation extends to the tip as in a yellow type feather or does not extend to the tip partially masking the body feathers ground color as in buff feathering. The effect is a frosting hue that is visible but varies considerable from heavy to very light. A microscope can also be used to see whether the pigment color extended to the tip or whether the tip or not.

Buff (feathering) Cinnamon Variegated Border
Buff (feathering) Green Foul Border

Silver (feathering) Cap Lizard
Buff Clear Irish Fancy (lower line is because she is coming into breeding and has a brood patch)
Red Ground Frost Note fine even frosting starting on head above eye and even throughout including the breast
Crested Red Ground Dark Crest Frost Stafford
Buff Green Variegated Parisian Frill
Buff (Non-Intensive) Green 3/4 Variegated Gloster Corona

Buff Green Variegated Scot Fancy
Buff Variegated Columbus Fancy Smooth Head

Sunday, January 24, 2016

Breeding Better Looking Birds - Part 1 Feather Type - Yellow Feathering

When I fail to win the best prize at a bird show, I spend some time comparing my bird to the best in the show and comparing them both to the standard. I always know when I am trouble because I immediately start planning next years breeding program and sometimes that is even four or five months away!

Honest Stock Assessment - Knowing where to improve and knowing what basic ingredients you have or need is critical and that includes recognizing differences in feather types. Its the type of feather that can influence the overall look of a bird.

There are six basic kinds to feathers and the first two division each has numerous names. Let's begin with identifying the first two feather types one is known as intensive (colorbred) or hard or non-frost (Staffords) or yellow (not the color at all - term used in most type canaries) or gold (lizards) feathering as opposed to the second feather type which is the opposite and is known frost (colorbred and Staffords) or buff (most type canaries) or  non-intensive or silver (lizards) feathering. A third type of colorbred feathering is Mosaic which is shown in other posts on this blog and is not covered in this post. For simplicity, in this post I will use the feather terms of most of the type canaries terms yellow feathering versus buff feathering.

First Yellow Feathering- Is a feather that regardless of its color, has its color right through to the very tip and give the bird a bright, intense, deeper color. Yellow feathering, a mutation from the original buff, is a dominant characteristic and in the typical breeding is heterozygous meaning the bird which has yellow type feathering has one gene for yellow feathering and one for buff feathering. When this bird with yellow feathering is paired with a buff feathered bird,  produces theoretically half yellow feathered canaries and half buff feathered canaries.

Yellow (referring to feather type not color) Cinnamon Variegated Border
Yellow (referring to feather type not color) Green 3/4 Dark Variegated Border

Yellow Intensive or Hard Feathered 3/4 Variegated Blue Gloster Corona
Red Ground (lipochrome color) Intensive (feather type)
Gold Cap Lizard
Yellow (in this case refers to feathering and color) Clear Irish Fancy
Clear Red Ground Grizzle Crested Non-Frost (feather type) Stafford

Yellow (feather type) Green Variegated Gibber Italicus Frill
Yellow (feather type) Green self Border