American Singers Club

Chapter 6 ~Chicago Area





How to Buy an American Singer Canary

 written by Marie Miley-Russell

from The Practical Canary Handbook- Keeping and Breeding Canaries

All rights reserved by author.




Your research before buying a bird. Make sure you know what breed you are interested in, what you should look for in a canary in general and in one of your preferred breed, the typical price range of the breed, and what the general care requirements will be.


Buy from breeders who also exhibit. An exhibitor keeps his stock so that they will be in good condition to show and he also tends to have better quality stock than the ordinary breeder of common canaries. Additionally, a breeder who exhibits is more likely to be knowledgeable about the breeds he owns.


Buy from reputable breeders. Breeders are not all honest, unfortunately. Some knowingly sell novices inferior quality stock. While this does not tend to be a common problem with American Singer breeders, I have heard many horror stories about other types of canaries. Knowing what you need to look for in a bird can help you avoid many problems.


Make sure you are buying real American Singer canaries. Many breeders use the term American Singer for any kind of canary that sings and is born in America, but unless it has a closed leg band registered to a member of the national American Singer Club, the bird could be anything.


Be patient. Most breeders are happy to place you on a waiting list and contact you when the birds are ready for new homes. Often this is one of the best ways to get a quality bird from a serious breeder. It is preferable to wait a few months for a good bird than to impulsively buy a canary simply because it’s available immediately.


Join a local American Singer chapter and work at the shows. Fellow club members are more likely to sell better stock to hard-working novices who look like they will stick around for some time. Working at the shows also helps a novice gain invaluable experience and make contacts.


Buy young breeding stock, if possible. Be sure to ask about the parent’s backgrounds and whether or not they come from good feeding lines. If possible, ask to listen to a hen’s father to get an idea of what sound she carries.


Be respectful of the breeder’s time. Most breeders don’t mind taking extra time with a novice who is eager to learn more about the birds, but they do have lives. Be sure to ask if the breeder will have time to speak with you when you come to pick up your bird and if not, if there would be a better time to arrange to meet with him. Be on time if at all possible, but call if you will be late or need to cancel an appointment.


Realize that breeders will not sell their best breeding stock. Top quality stock represents an enormous investment of time, money, and knowledge. For a large majority of breeders who exhibit, there are certain birds which will not be sold for any amount of money as they represent the culmination of many years of hard work. It is sometimes possible, however, to purchase a related bird which is not needed for the breeder’s program.


Offer to pay cash. Most breeders are leery of accepting checks from people they don’t know well.




Buy birds until after the baby molt. There are always breeders willing to sell young, unsexed birds cheaply. Most of the time these “unsexed” birds have in fact been sexed- as hens! By selling these birds as unsexed, the breeder tacks on an extra $10 or so because it might be a male and leaves the buyer believing he got a bargain.


Additionally, the molt is a very stressful time in a bird’s life and some babies do not survive it- why take the chance? If a breeder who claims to be an exhibitor is selling birds this young, one needs to ask oneself why. No serious exhibitor will sell stock before having a good idea about what the bird is and what kind of song he has. Generally, this would not be until fall.


Buy molting birds. Molting birds are under a tremendous amount of physical stress. Moving them at this time can kill them- sometimes within hours. One unscrupulous bird dealer who I have seen at a number of bird fairs selling molting birds has dead birds in his cages nearly every time he arrives- yet he sells out his stock more often than not!


Buy nesting birds. One would think this would go without saying, but I’ve seen it happen at a bird fair. The seller stated that the pair of canaries had given her “several nests of babies already this year” and indicated that the eggs were a bonus . . . While loading the cage into her car, the buyer jolted the nest and the eggs were broken. The seller’s response was “don’t worry- they’ll have more!” More than likely the hen would have abandoned the nest even had the eggs survived (and been fertile). No reputable breeder will sell nesting birds. Don’t walk away from these “bargains”- run!


Buy a male canary unless you hear it sing. If you buy a canary without hearing it sing, you should only do so from a breeder you have the utmost trust in because you have purchased the proverbial “pig in a poke.” The bird could be a hen, it could lack freedom and sing rarely, it could be ill or have a terrible song- or it could simply not be show trained. But how to tell? Especially when buying breeding stock, always listen to the bird before buying it!


Purchase birds just because they are from a particular breeder. Even the best breeders produce mediocre birds. Once again, make sure you listen to the male! With hens the issue is more difficult as you cannot tell what song she carries, but you can and should evaluate her conformation. If possible, ask to listen to her father and brothers.


Buy a bird based on color. American Singers are bred for song and color should not be a consideration. I have seen many buyers walk away from wonderful birds because they wanted a yellow canary. If you are breeding with the intention of showing, it is best to be blind to color and buy stock for song and conformation because judges will not be moved by the color of the birds, only their songs.


Be afraid to leave empty-handed. Many buyers seem to think that they must buy a bird- even if they don’t care for it or are bothered by the conditions the birds are kept in. If in any doubt, leave the bird where he is!