A wild green canary
The Green Canary - An Overlooked Gem
The canary was originally a small, rather nondescript
green bird which was prized for its cheerful song. Hundreds of years of
selective breeding has produced birds which bear very little resemblance
to their wild ancestors and today most people think of canaries as yellow
The vast majority of people who contact me about canaries
are looking for the "typical" yellow bird. Many are surprised that the
birds come in such an array of colors and most who see my green birds are
not even aware that they are canaries! Over the years I have found that
left to their own devices, the uninitiated will choose a pretty yellow
bird that sings poorly over a green bird that sings like Luciano Pavarotti
just about every time!
However, every year there are a few folks who come looking
for a green bird. Inevitably, these are folks who have owned green birds
in the past and believe- not without cause- that green birds sing better
and are hardier and longer-lived. Most of these folks report that their
canaries lived between 13-18 years of age, which is amazing for a bird
with an average 10-year lifespan.
I can tell you that in my years of experience with
American Singers that the majority of winners on the show bench will be
darker birds. Lighter-colored birds do win, but not with the frequency of
the darker birds. And long-time, serious breeders of American Singers
looking to win on the show bench tend to display a preference for darker
I do breed yellow and white birds - sales of these birds
support my show winners, the green birds. If you enter the bird rooms of
the top breeders in the country, you will see quite a few dark birds.
Green birds tend to be better in terms of conformation and song variety.
They tend to be more robust and less susceptible to illness than
light-colored birds. Even breeders who focus on yellow and white birds
keep a green or two in their bird room in the belief that introduction of
green into a yellow line now and again brightens the color in the
feathering of light birds.
There are some who believe that the success of the dark
bird on the American Singer show bench is a myth, but over and over again
I have seen dark birds lined up on the winners table at the end of each
show so there is credence to this belief.
The reason for this is speculation on my part as I have
conducted no research on the subject- and to my knowledge, none has ever
been done- but from my discussions with fellow breeders the general
opinion seems to be that green canaries are hardier and more robust
because they are closer to their wild ancestors. Now, this is not strictly
true- a green American Singer canary does not sound much like its wild
cousin- but as with other breeds of animals, the more highly bred birds
become to a set of human standards (as opposed to the standard of survival
of the fittest found in the wild) the more health problems one will
generally find in a breed.
Regardless of the cause, a dark-colored bird is an
excellent choice for anyone looking for a robust singer that will grace
their home for many years.