December 15, 2021

Questions and Answers #2 --- What color will the chicks be?

Q )  This is a very common question:    If I put this pair of canaries together, what color will the chicks be?

This is a question posted online many times:  what to expect (variegation) from pairing two birds... such as clear, self or variegated.  This is a fairly basic subject.... without definite answers if the birds are not of your own breeding.  The grandparent birds' appearances do influence future generations.  So, these basic guidelines are simply a starting point in guessing what the offspring will look like.

However, these guidelines are a good place to start!  They are quotes from several of the best books there are!  The photos below are from The Practical Canary Handbook:  A Guide To Breeding & Keeping Canaries  by Marie Miley-Russell and Canaries and Related Birds by Horst Bielfeld.  These books also cover other aspects of pairing two birds, such as color, feather type/quality, and other traits.

types of variegation ➞
predicted variegation
in chicks ➞
predicted variegation
and color
in chicks ➟
I cannot stress strongly enough:
Please LEARN all you can about canaries!
Please purchase and read at least one really good canary book.

If you are serious about breeding canaries, these are the best of the best!
All can be found on Amazon or Ebay.
  •  Canaries and Related Birds
    By Horst Bielfeld

    Feeding and housing of canaries in the European tradition, but is good, solid information.
    Good, detailed descriptions and breeding tips of a complete list of breeds, colors, and types!  Includes many helpful photos of good examples of breed/color standards... photos as simple as comparing hard/soft feather birds, and as advanced as comparing subtle differences in breed standards!
  • Coloured, Type and Song Canaries:
    A Complete Guide to Keeping, Breeding and Showing
    by G.B.R. Walker and Dennis Avon

    Descriptions of the various breeds, types and colors of canaries, as well as notes on standards for showing, guidelines for breeding and examples of care/feeding of canaries.  You will find answers to most of your questions in this book. The practical aspects of the genetics of breeding explained. Contains only basic explanations of showing. Some new color mutations are not included.
  •  The Practical Canary Handbook:  A Guide To Breeding & Keeping Canaries
    by Marie Miley-Russell

    Covering many subjects, this book describes the methods and the practices of an experienced breeder. Read this from cover to cover, and you will learn the important principles of successfully breeding canaries! One of the best! 
    NO PHOTOS!! No discussion of color breeding.
A list of all my favorite canary books can be found here:
Good Canary Books.

Questions & Answers #1 --- Letter to an American Singer buyer

Topics in this post:

  • Hens laying few or no eggs.

  • Chicks dying at week of age.

  • Increasing egg laying and fertility.

  • Color Intensity really is Feather Type.

  • American Singer song varies with individual bird.

A customer searching for American Singer canaries had a few questions and I am sharing my thoughts with my blog readers.  I reference articles and show results found on the American Singer Club website.

Dear M---,

Q  #1)  When I asked WHY you wanted American Singers, you said you wanted yellow birds.  And you were disappointed when a breeder sold you dark birds including heavily variegates and a green self.

First, American Singers are not predominately yellow.  The American Singer canary is a cross between a German Roller and an English Border Fancy.  The American Singer canary comes in all colors and melanin, including clears, variegates, and self birds in yellow and white grounds.  There are provisions for red factor colored American Singers and I have seen cinnamon birds on winners lists in the past 20 years.

The point show score system points does not give points for color, and there is to be no preference by judges for color.  If you look over the list of recent show winners, you will see a few clear birds, but many more self or variegated birds.  You may be interested in looking over the current year's list of winners at the ASC song contests in 2021.

Second,  there is the term of 'yellow' being used for hard feather type, or it may be called intensive. 'Buff' is the term for the soft feather type.  Traditionally, most canary breeds and types are bred with a yellow (or hard feather) bird paired with a buff (or soft feather) bird.  

The purpose of breeding 'hard/intensive' to 'soft/buff' is to produce the best possible feather qualities.  A hard feather bird carries color to the very edge of the feather, and produces a tight smooth line.  A soft feather bird will have a paler edge to the feathers, and produces a more fluffy, rounded outline.  Pairing one of each type does keep a very nice feather and carries good bright color in both feather types.

I think this is one important aspect of breeding that is most often ignored by novices and more experienced breeders alike, of all canary breeds!

An article on the American Singer Club website is quoted as "Some breeders claim we have bred the yellow out of our American Singers..." and goes on to describe a buff - rich description of feather.  I agree with this, and have seen the buff - rich effect in my own American Singers.  For a good, short article on this topic, see Yellow Ground Color in Canaries.

Buff/Soft Feather

Intensive/Hard Feather

All breeders have personal preferences for different song notes... AND for birds with certain appearances or color.  Of course , that is as it should be.  But to say:  'American Singers should be yellow' is not a part of the American Singer Club constitution.  At the very beginning in the 1950's, song contests were divided into color classifications, but within a few years, the classes in song contests became Old and Young.

Yellow Variegated Buff