PAS Newsletter Vol. 11 No. 1
January 2004

Musings From My Perch
by Gary Tom

Next year will mark the 70th anniversary of the American Singer Canary. We have come a long way and still have a distance to go yet. In just the 10 years that they have been out west I have seen big strides made. Let's plan something GRAND for next year's celebration!?

What a difference 3 years makes!

The last time Laura Schwanof was here to judge her primary remarks were that we had an awful lot of cardinal and that our song needed to be a bit sweeter (not so loud). Well the efforts of many have paid off nicely as the overall sound of the American Singer out West has changed dramatically I'd say. Not to mention the look, overall I think many are consciously breeding lighter birds. While stewarding for Danny, I inquired about color. He said on the East Coast, the majority of the birds were light. That led me to believe that many of us received only the darker birds from many breeders. Several bred only dark birds. We are slowly turning things around.

Congratulations Marian!!!!

There was joy and happiness for all in Marian Cochran's recent wins at the Quad. For those who know her, we know that she has been with us from nearly the beginning. Breeding a very small number of birds annually and even suffering a total loss one year. She has always been at all the shows whether she had birds to show or not and always carried her trademark, wild sense of humor to keep us all roaring!!! Last year she had a third place Best in Show and this year that same bird along with his brother and a son did her proud under judge Alicia Baker as she took 2nd,3rd and 4th Best in show. Her birds also managed to place under other judges at the Quad, a third under Danny Iacovone also. I believe she is really onto something with those three boys and we wish her continued success next year. I know I would love to have some of her stock! A well deserved win for a wonderful human being and dedicated fancier!

Impressions from St Louis

This was a small but dedicated group of fanciers who work really hard to keep this show going and I wish them luck, sincerely. Though there were only 50 birds entered, I was happy to take my time judging them. This show was a first in that the first group was nice and I anticipated the quality to only improve. This was to prove false hope. Groups came and went, many were not ready or in full song or they all screamed or all murmured. In the end, my first and second place birds came from my first group of the day. We surmised that the weather played havoc, as it was overcast outside and no amount of natural with artificial light was going to make them feel any differently about singing.

Mutations and Song

This past year I bred a fawn hen to a green/cinnamon male. The offspring in three clutches were 6 cinnamon, (4 cocks and 2 hens) 3 blue males and 4 dark variegated (3 cocks and 1 hen). At age 8 months two blue and white males dropped dead. The remaining one has a very non-integrated, unmelodious song. The cinnamon males are all very reluctant, reclusive singers and all are on the high strung side. The dark variegated males on the other hand are the stars of the bunch. Perfect volume and variety. Two placed in the top 5, one did so twice and the other placed 7th and is really my favourite. I believe he will improve in the second year. This pairing and their 13 offspring very blatantly demonstrated to me the genetic weaknesses in the colored mutations. This is my observation this year. I know there are fine lines of cinnamon and white out there. I would not venture to develop them from this family of birds.

In Appreciation of Other Song Breeds

I recently had the pleasure to hear Ella Galik's two teams of Waterslagers and was very pleasantly surprised to hear a bit more volume. I had always thought they sang a whisper above the Roller Canary. The water notes were extremely lovely and the tours long and harmonious, with a distinct difference between the two teams due to different strains. Ella has an incredible tutor that is a joy and dream to listen to.

Interestingly, Waterslagers are trained to sing for the shows and judging but outside of that whether a bird is free or not does not matter. Ella said that she would only retain and breed birds that are free singing. Something she attributes to her association with American Singers. So I also found out why it was that the Waterslagers I had come across before outside of a show never sang!

I learned about their training and about the steel tours/notes that I recognized as being very strong components of American Singer tours. I can best describe it as the portion of the song that rises in volume drastically and to me, and Ella, breaks up the song, thus changing the tempo and smoothness of a song. She said that these were essential note/tours that were sought in their judging, mandatory requisites.

In my observations I surmise that this is where the same tours originate in American Singers along with the ever-lovely water notes. Yes, face it, we have Waterslager blood in most of our birds from one source or another. As soon as Waterslagers were available in this country they were added.

Thank you Ella for the privilege of hearing your lovely birds and for the educational experience!

When Lightning Strikes
by Rod Lowe
Copyright 2004. All rights reserved.

It has been difficult for me not being able to raise any birds for pleasure or for show these past few years. Due to circumstances beyond my control, I had to give up a very promising line of American Singers in 1999. My birds had originated from Sally Kemerer's line and were all descended from her Grand Champion male A390-93. I really liked the song of those birds and although they did not always perform well, I did manage to get a best in show in 1997 (truly beginner's luck!). I continued breeding this line the next two years, always choosing birds that suited MY ears and not necessarily the judge's ears. I truly believe that breeders need to please their own ears first. As time went on, I was able to keep some distinctive notes and sounds from one generation to the next, but I also began to have some problems with bad feet due to close inbreeding. As they say, when you breed closely, you accentuate both the good AND the bad traits. Since having a few years without birds to think back and digest and analyze what I did those earlier years, I have come to some interesting conclusions.

After winning a best in show with B626-97, I thought that my best course of action was to breed him back to his mother and to a related hen. I also bred his brother thinking that if one brother did well at the shows, the other also had the potential to produce greatness. If B626-97's song came from his mother, then that pairing should produce great babies (one male from that pairing did place second the next year, but he also had foot problems). The pairing with the related hen produced THREE sons in one clutch (unfortunately, I only took one nest from that pairing!). KAZAM! I didn't realize it at the time, but here was my lighting strike! These brothers all were good birds. One sang in a higher range, one medium, and the other in a lower range. All of them had clean songs with the distinctive family sound and no real faults, though they varied in variety. Eventually, I selected E970-98 with the sweetest song to further the line. I bred his father again, surmising that if B626-97 produced such wonderful singers, I should continue breeding him. As the gene pool got smaller because of the close breeding I was doing in order to maintain the song, I began to see more foot problems. I thought I was exercising good judgement in selecting breeders but may have bred too closely. There was definitely a genetic element involved with the foot problem since outcrosses to unrelated birds had no problems.

In hindsight, instead of continuing to breed my earlier show winners, what I really should have done that year when I got those three brothers in the same nest was to use ALL of them to develop my line. Even though they didn't necessarily win at the shows, I liked their song. They definitely had a familial sound as well as some different notes from each other. They should have been the foundation of my line and had I been able to continue with them, I'm sure that they would have produced some great American Singers. They were clearly better than their parents were and I should have concentrated on moving forward by breeding them instead of using older birds that placed well at the shows. The moral of this story: Don't hang onto and breed birds that are inferior to your best, even if they are show winners. If you happen upon better progeny than your breeders, move forward and use them instead. This is surely the way to achieve the song you desire.

I look forward to raising American Singers this year and having birds to show. Remember, don't breed too closely too many years in a row. Evaluate your breeding this past year and don't miss an opportunity to move ahead if it arises. Have you been struck by lightning?

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