THE FIFE CANARY
Pictures of Canaries
The Fife is the ideal canary for anyone starting up in the canary fancy. It is free breeding and easy to care for. Like any other type of bird, you can still have setbacks, but you must not let this deter you. Within a decade you could see the Fife becoming one of the leading birds on the show-bench. When you purchase your initial stock you should look for type, quality and size. Any Fife without type and quality is not good for the show bench. As for size, you must aim to obtain birds as near to four and a quarter inches as possible. To maintain this size, you can try the following method. Every third year, pair yellow x yellow, the remaining two years I revert to yellow x buff. For the novice, this method can be a little tricky because unless you select the right pair you can end up with snaky looking birds, that is, very long and thin with pinched heads. I would advise the novice to seek the advice of an established champion if he intends to try this method. If you pair yellow x yellow, you must select a pair with plenty of type. These birds should have good round bodies, good heads and not be thick in the neck. On a Fife you should be looking for a small, pear-shaped bird with good shoulders, a slight rise on the back from the neck running in an almost straight line to the tail, the chest to be nice and round but not too heavy, wings to be close together meeting at the tips just below the root of the tail, and the tail to be tightly packed and short. The birdroom should face Southwest. In this position it gets the best of the afternoon sun (that is, when we see it in England). My Fifes are kept in three foot double breeding cages. During the winter months, after the show season has finished, I put my hens in pairs; one pair to each three foot cage, with one perch either end. This gives them plenty of room to exercise their wings. My cock birds are kept singly in one half of a double breeding cage. The cocks do not require as much room as the hens. Some fanciers keep their hens in indoor flights during the winter. I have tried this method and found it made my birds very flighty and a little wild. But you must do what you feel is best for your own birds. For floor covering in my cages I use soft wood shavings. I find these keep the bird's feathers clean during the show season. Some fanciers use sawdust, but I find it can get into the bird's eyes when they fly around the cage. I feed my Fifes on a good mixed canary seed all year round. Some fanciers say you should only use plain canary seed and once a week give the birds a little condition seed. This would be like us living on dry bread all week and only getting a good meal on Sundays. One of the major aspects in keeping healthy birds is cleanliness. You must clean your cages and utensils at least once a week. Keep all the perches clean, as the birds will wipe their faces against them. If the perches are dirty, it can cause infections. You must have good daylight and good ventilation in your room. My bird room has three roof lights. There are two ventilation grills, one at each end of the bird room. One grill is placed one foot from the floor and the other at six feet. I have also installed an extractor fan. This is only used if the weather gets very hot in the summer. Canaries do not require heat. This is for our comfort, not the birds. As long as there are no drafts, the birds will be perfectly all right. After the show season is finished I give my Fifes soft food. I Start by giving it to the birds once a week and increase this amount as the breeding season draws closer. This helps to bring the birds into breeding condition and also the birds are use to it when they start to feed their young. For the novice and champion alike, there are many brands on the market these days. I use CEDE, this comes from the continent. Once you start to feed your birds on one particular brand, you should not change halfway through the breeding season as your birds may not take to your second choice. Not so long ago I, like many others, use to mix my own soft food. For this I used the following ingredients:
Two lbs. of butchers rusk. One lb. of Arrowroot Biscuits. One small packet of baby rusks. One tbsp. of glucose powder. One sieved yoke of a hard-boiled egg.This mixture is then dampened with a little water until it is crumbly soft. Once I have chicks in the nest, I feed my birds on soaked seed and soft food daily. For the newcomer to the fancy, soaked seed is a selection of seed which has been chosen for their ability to germinate quickly. You can purchase soaked seed mix from most seed merchants and pet shops. I make up my own in the following way:
2 lbs. of Hemp seed 1/2 lb. of Teasel seed 2 lbs. of Black Rape seed 1/2 lb. Niger seed.To get this seed to germinate I use three large jars in the following way: I number the jars one, two and three. Taking Monday as day one, I quarter fill the jar with seed and than fill the jar to within three inches of the top with cold water. This is then placed in an airing cupboard or some warm place for 72 hours. In this time the seed will start to germinate and is ready for use. I must stress that before you feed the soaked seed to the birds it must be rinsed under cold running water for at least three minutes. To do this, I use a kitchen sieve. 0n Wednesday, I carry out the same operation with jar number two, followed by jar number three on Friday, and so on. Using this method I have a good supply of soaked seed all the time. I have had some birds that will only raise their young on soaked seed and will not touch soft food at all. I find these birds a delight to work with and they in turn supply their owner with hours of pleasure. For the beginner and the established breeder alike, the Fife is the ideal Canary.
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Hamilton & District Budgerigar Society Inc.