Thursday, January 22, 2009
Breeding a Show Stopping Stafford Crest
The Secret of Producing a Good Crest is the Roundness of the Non-crested Bird
2008 was a fantastic year for Staffords as for the first time at the National Cage Bird Show, they had their own division and prestigious Higgins Trophy!! Take a moment and checkout all the NCBS winners at their web site www.ncbs.org and the photo gallery on the Stafford Canary Club of America web site: www.staffords-usa.com.
I enjoy the challenge of breeding Stafford canaries! Like breeding all show birds, several things must be balanced to get a show stopper. In Stafford, you have a type bird with color. That brings the challenge of breeding crests and body type plus adding to that the challenge of producing great color birds. It is all about balance. But alas, the challenge of breeding when the better the crests get the worse the color gets. That makes perfect sense when you remember that the gloster is not a red ground bird and the red factor although red ground in color does not the right head shape for a good crest!
Roundness of the non-crested bird of the pair is the secret to producing offspring with good crests. Just looking down on the crest bird pictured at the top of this blog posting and admire the roundness and quality. That good round crest came from pairing a crest bird with an excellent rounded non-crested bird. In the top picture, if you look closely, you will see the three tail feathers he dropped in my hand while I was trying to take his picture! Oh well, they will grow back in about a month or so.
The pictured non-crested mosaic (white looking) hen has a great frontal rise, rounded head and full neck. To be a showstopper, she needs perfect pencil color marks at her eyes instead of a reddish orange smudge mask on her face. She is extremely valuable, however, as a stock bird! I can expect her to produce offspring with great crests and also cocks with strongly marked masks. In mosaics, some lines produce good cock patterns and others good hens, so her sons might be show winners but her daughters will likely be stock birds like their mother!
A year ago, I showed a variegated crested mosaic cock at a couple of shows. He was very well marked and outside of a little deeper red color on the well defined mask, he would have won the cock mosaic competition. Instead, he would get second even in his class at the national show. After the strong performance at the shows, I had high hopes for breeding him to lots of hens. Somehow his vent just would not develop, but in desperation, I paired him with a nice non-crested mosaic hen. Perhaps the intended hen would slow down and wait for him to come into breeding condition. The first thing I noticed was how he liked to sit with the hen and feed her on the nest and then the eggs began coming till 12 were laid!! As you guessed, he was really a she! All was not lost as she went on to produce eight offspring, one of which is the non-crested mosaic stock hen pictured!
The variegated red ground non-crested bird pictured below is a non-frosted cock and shows the same full neck and roundness clear down to the shoulders as the mosaic hen. When you evaluate roundness be sure and look at the bird from several angles: front view, back view, side view, looking at the roundness of the head at the beak (also small size of beak which makes its head look more round), and looking down on the body for full neck clear to the shoulders. Oh what fun it to work with all these perimeters to try and create the "perfect" bird!
Note: The birds pictured were not not groomed for the pictures. The mosaic stock hen must have been having a bad hair day as she is actually round in the back skull too.