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 and the photo gallery on the Stafford Canary Club of America web site:

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.


Unknown said...

I would like to Thank You for taking the time out of your busy share with us canary people your experiences with your birds.I really enjoy your thoughts.---Ed Medrano

Linda Hogan said...

Hi Ed:

Glad to share my thoughts with you and all as I work with my birds. I have no secrets and I hope to keep learning and hope you all will share some of your tips with me.

My goal is that everyone will be more successful in breeding and showing canaries. It makes it so much more challenging when the competition is excellent.

I noticed a few years ago that when I won, no one said even "good job". They just quietly walked away and were probably thinking, oh no, not Hogan again. It is not fun to lose but it is even less fun to win and no one be happy for you! So for a number of years, I have made a point to divide my best stock with my best competitors and others who have been exhibiting and trying to improve their birds. On occasion, I go back to those same people and ask for something back which somehow is missing in what I bred from the same stuff! Winning is really about friendship and learning to be more effective with our birds!

Dian Clark said...

Hi, Linda, with regard to ticks on colorbreds. I was under the impression that ticks would just ensure the bird will have darker color and while you cannot show ticked birds, I have no problem keeping some ticked birds in the aviary. I do not consider it a genetic flaw but it does happen. What is your recommendation if you get some ticked colorbreds. Thanks as always for your insight.

Linda Hogan said...

Hi Dian:

Ticked birds can come from pairing two clear birds because it is not simply one gene that controls whether or not the bird expresses dark (melanin)pigment marks. Rather they all clear birds have the ability to produce melanin pigment. When a clear bird happens, it is because other genes have blocked it. As you mentioned these can be good stock birds as darker ground color often results. They are just not show colorbreds.

Last year I bred a pair of yellow mosaics. The cock was a ticked bird and the hen was clear. I got one really good cock bird from the pair. He has good yellow colored mask etc, good body confirmation, but alas he has the tick in the same spot as dad just more hidden toward the base of the feather. It is visible, so I did not show him but I will breed him. One daughter was very good and had no ticks even on close examination of hidden feathers. I showed her and she scored 91 points. Her confirmation was the downfall as her head unlike her ticked brother is rather flat. So by keeping her brother, I have the basic ingredients to produce that better bird!

My point is that a tick alone is not a reason not to breed a bird if they have one fine exagarated quality that will improve the line!

I have always liked birds with markings whether colorbreds or type birds. I just don't show marked colorbreds. I think that is one of the attractive things about Staffords!

Paul Cruise said...

2009 will be my third year in the Fancy. At the end of my second breeding year, 2008, I put up blackout curtains and got full spectrum lights. When the 2008 breeding season ended in June '08, I dropped my lights overnight from 13.5 to 9.5 hours. Beginning on November 1st, 2008, I began moving my lights up at the rate of 1/2 hour every two weeks.
Beginning on Nov. 1st, I also followed a suggestion you make in CANARY TALES on page 265 and began feeding my birds a mixture of 50% Harrisons High Potency Mash and 50% Petamine. I put this conditioning supplement on soft food along with a 1/4 tsp. of Vionate and 1/4 tsp.
of Avian Trio bee pollen.
My schedule planned to work out that my birds would begin to come into condition on February 14th, 2009.
Not only did my birds come into condition a month earlier but I now have 18 pair on eggs and every clutch is at least 4 eggs and in 2 cases I've got 5 eggs.
In my first two years of breeding I never got four eggs from any one hen and at the end of both seasons, I averaged 2.7 fledglings.
I now call your suggestion my "MAGIC POTION". Interestingly, I've also noticed that ALL 18 hens sit very tight and have to be pushed of the nest for counting and candeling.
I think CANARY TALES is a Novice's best friend. Many thanks.
Paul Cruise, Charleston, South Carolina