uninitiated, all canaries sing beautifully. However, given the
opportunity to hear a canary that has been bred strictly for song
quality one quickly realizes that these birds are in an entirely
different league than any other kind of canary.
canaries were developed in the 1930's by a group of women in the Boston,
Massachusetts area who sought to create a canary that would be ideal for
the home. This bird should be both musical and attractive with a song
that was louder than that of the
German Roller canary (which was the only song type canary widely
available in the United States at the time) yet not so loud as to be
American Singer is a cross between the Border type canary and the German
Roller song canary. Ideally, approximately 68% of an American Singer’s
parentage is of Roller heritage and 32% is of Border heritage. If
starting a unique strain of American Singers, five years of breeding is
required before the offspring can be called American Singers.
The American Singer possesses the
best traits of both sides of its genetic inheritance - the musical song
of the Roller and the pleasing looks and steady temperament of the
Border. Its song is louder in volume, freer, and more varied than the
Roller but softer than the Border’s chopper-type song.
the past 70 years, dedicated American Singer canary breeders have made
great strides in the development of the breed. The
resulting improvements in song have produced the Singers of today which
are noteworthy for high quality song. The sometimes loud and brash
American Singers of yesteryear have been replaced with songsters that
display the remarkable variety, melodiousness, and - above all- the
outstanding freedom for which the American Singer canary is prized.
of the American Singer for discussion of how American Singers are
judged at shows.
discussing what makes a song “good”, mention must be made of the
absolute need for freedom in a bird. The simplest definition of freedom
is the willingness of a bird to offer its song.
definition of freedom is a little simplistic as in order to be
successful at the shows a bird needs to also be willing to offer its
entire repertoire – birds often have something I refer to as a “short’
and a “long” song (this is entirely different from birds that have songs
that are simply too short all of the time). Nervous birds will often
sing their “short” song over and over again on the show bench while at
home in familiar surroundings they sing a much longer song. This can
only be discovered, of course, if one actually listens to ones birds
carefully, which some breeders neglect to do. Length of song is a bit
subjective and requires the ability to discern whether or not the bird
is simply singing the same song with no breaks between or actually
singing a song that lasts longer. At an absolute minimum, in my opinion,
a bird should sing a song of 30 seconds – preferably longer.
Freedom is absolutely vital – it will do you no good whatsoever to breed
a bird that sings like Pavarotti if the bird will only sing once in a
while. Such a bird is not even worth much as a pet! And freedom is
genetic- if it is not in the bird’s genes, no amount of show training
will create it. American Singer breeders do well to always bear this in
mind- freedom must come first. One can work with song development by
tutoring, but you must have the freedom first.
differentiates a high quality song from one of lesser quality? There are
a number of factors, some of which are: tone, melodiousness, variety,
range, and volume.
Many judges will
state that tone is the single most important element of a canary’s song.
Tone can be defined as music or sound with reference to its pitch,
quality, and strength. To those who prefer a simple explanation- such as
myself- this refers to the bird’s ability to
sing on key with a beautiful, strong, rich fullness to the song. A bird
without good tone can sing the best song ever produced by a canary, but
it just doesn’t sound good.
refers to the pleasing, harmonic way the bird puts his song together.
The song should flow from one passage to another in a pleasant, coherent
stream of sound rather than bounce from one sound to the next with
little connection. A song
cannot be simply a collection of notes, it needs to be strung together
like pearls – strung together, pearls can make a beautiful necklace or
bracelet but separately they are just a pile of pearls. Unstrung pearls
are still beautiful, but they are much less impressive. Melodiousness
can be viewed as the string upon which the notes are strung together to
create a beautiful piece of music.
simplest terms refers to the collection of distinct notes, tours, or
song passages the bird sings. A bird which repeats the same limited
number of notes and passages over and over again lacks variety. The term
variety could also be used to more broadly describe the way in which a
bird mixes the notes and tours- singing notes one way and then another
and changing the order of passages and tours
Range refers to
the lowest and highest pitches a bird can sing. Rollers sing in the low
range while Borders tend to sing in the high range. An American Singer
should be able to sing both low and high notes.
Volume is a grey
area as the acoustics of the judging room are highly variable from show
to show – basically, a bird must be loud enough to make
himself heard over other birds but not so
loud as to be overpowering. In the home, an American Singer should not
be so loud that one cannot carry on a conversation without having to
speak louder when the bird is singing.
For more information, check out Song Faults and
What Makes A Champion Bird.