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Going Green

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 birds.

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 birds.

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.

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Last modified: 06/30/15