All rights reserved by author.
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.
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.
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.
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
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.
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
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.
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!
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!