The Roller Canary - Its History, Breeding, Training and Management
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Don't have a Kindle? Hesperides Press 4 Sept. By its means can faults or imperfections connected with the strain be quickly remedied. But one must keep the in-breeding within bounds, and the greatest care has to be taken in the choice of breeding material. Indeed, it is possible by such to create a strain of Rollers which for song and dominant form will repeat season after season with surprising and pleasing regularity, until the breeder can claim, within the space of several seasons, a super strain of Rollers. Let us consider these factors.
Take vigour, this is most important, and in every description of breeding vigour is the first selection. Breed vigour into your stock in an intensive form and sickness will seldom worry you. It is my opinion that wild birds are so intensively bred that vigour has prevailed for centuries and the weaklings have long since passed away. Select your breeding stock from sound healthy birds. Never breed with weak or sickly birds, and you can in-breed for ever. It is in-breeding in families or flocks which has caused our native songsters to breed so absolutely true to vigour, size, shape, colour and marking that the young repeated their inherited factors with regularity.
Think of the regularity of marking seen in the Goldfinch, the Chaffinch, Bullfinch, Siskin and other British birds. It is all the result of in-breeding. If such purity of colour and marking was accomplished by wild birds consanguineously mating, just imagine what can be accomplished by man with scientific selection and mating. We have not to grope in the dark, for the most difficult problems of breeding have long since been proved by our forefathers, though unfortunately few have followed the wise and clever breeders of old. The more intensively one breeds the more does one stamp upon the strain the qualities it possesses, and the greater these qualities the greater the success of the strain.
If we take song it is easy to produce by careful selective in-breeding a race, or strain, that will be all-conquering in the contests. In the same way the outward form of the Roller may be improved, and quite a number of good breeders are now seeking to make the Roller more beautiful so far as outward appearance goes.
They desire better shape, size, feather, and colour, and they realise that in-breeding will give it to them. How is one to follow the advice given by all the great masters of the past: Immediately strange blood is introduced into a stud away goes all the distinctive characters of the strain. He who would succeed with the Roller Canary must in-breed.
By strict selective breeding, and keeping a careful record of all stock bred and the performances of the best birds, it is possible to achieve success of the highest degree. WHEN the breeding season is at its final stage, we must see to the most important part of our hobby — the training of the young cocks.
About the middle of August I put some of them in single cages, and give them as their regular food canary and rape mixed, egg food once a week, and one day mixed seed consisting of hemp, linseed, groats, millet, inga and maw seed, also now and then a little chickweed or lettuce. The cages I leave open, so that the birds can see each other for at least a week, as I find that they settle down better than if they are darkened down at once. It is a great mistake to shut them up at once, you must let them find the way to their seed and water ; the mixed seed may be placed on the sand tray.
After a week or two, according to their progress, put a partition between the cages, but should they be too resdess take the partition away again for a few days. If not, leave them and watch and listen to their song, or rather twittering. Take all the ring numbers and have them on the cages, also make a list with the ring numbers on, and have it always handy when you listen to your birds.
Those which sing twitter with closed beak mark " good " or " deep " on your list, others which sing with open beak mark " noisy " or " high. In a deep bird you can see the throat move and only a roll comes out of it, but if you hear a lot of " S — sis," you can put him down as high. Put the deep ones together and also the high ones, but do not take them away altogether, as you must listen for another week or two before you send them away to another tutor.
After a few weeks you begin to distinguish the different Rolls or Glucks, and you must mark the tones on another list. Just mark it H. As your birds begin to shape into the different tours you will have to examine them and your list closely together. If you have several tutors, so much the better for you. Place those young cocks which follow the particular old bird's song with him, the remainder with another, and put them in the places you have to train them in.
If you have only one good old cock, put your deeper-singing birds quite close to him and the higher ones you have to darken down or let them take their chance by themselves. The higher ones I put on the bottom or side row and place a piece of paper in front for extra darkening. I do not myself take the higher ones away together, but keep them so that they can hear the tutor bird, and darken them down.
In this way you have a higher percentage of good birds than if you discard them.
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It does not happen so easily if you breed only one class of birds ; you have then a better percentage of good birds because they harmonise better together ; you can hear more of the strain in them. Further, it takes longer to separate the good from the bad, and in the end he will only have high ones left after all his trouble. If a breeder is possessed of plenty of room, I advise him to separate his young cocks into different rooms, according to their quality.
For this purpose you must have several tutors at your disposal, and you must place the young cocks with the old bird which they follow the nearest in song. This applies only to a man with plenty of young cocks, but it is worth trying, and, if you are lucky to get only one good young cock, it pays you for your extra trouble. As your birds progress in song, you must begin hand- ling them, which means you have to take several of them into another room and put an old one among them.
He will start the concert, and by this you will get them to sing anywhere and in strange surroundings, which will be to your good when they are judged later on. It is wise to take a couple of young cocks into another room, quite away from the others. When they sing, you will think you have another bird to listen to; it makes such a lot of difference to sit in a quiet room and have the birds before you. The sound has a quite different effect; also you can hear them better, and it is another big step towards making them free songsters. First leave the door open, and, after a day or two, shut it.
Treat them just the same as explained before, the only difference is now to handle them more in playing about in other rooms or, better still, take one or two to a friend's house and entice them to sing in the shortest possible time, because the quick singing bird will, nine times out of ten, be the winner in a contest.
Still make notes on your list as to which bird sings his song throughout or in sections, or which one always sings first. With this one, let him sing his song and no more, as you are likely to spoil him in having too much song out of him, for then he will get excited, and will bring all his faults. As long as a bird sings his tours nicely, let him do so, and no more ; he will get his reward before the judge ; never mind what he sings after judging. This applies only to birds you intend to show. Birds trained like this will get into the money time after time. A few birds just ready for the show bench, singing their song in a nice quiet way, and only slightly faulty, will be the winners ; they are just ready at the right time, and win, even if they do not do much at later shows.
They start when they are six weeks old, and, in some cases, even earlier.
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In the elementary stage only a gentle twittering is noticeable, but, day by day, it becomes louder and stronger. The young bird's first moult does not hinder him in this. He practises daily with diligence, and makes progress, and, even in these early days, while the birds are still in the moult, one can already distinguish plainly in some of the more forward birds certain tours in their song.
The conclusion is, therefore, obvious that the moult hinders development of the song. It is a question of duration, that is, whether the bird renews his feathers slowly or quickly, and it will be found that those which have made the most progress in the moult will show the greatest advance in their song. With an even moult all round, the older birds naturally are the best developed in body as well as song.
As it is mostly the custom to keep the birds in the freedom of the flight cages during the moult, and to cage them off only after completion, it follows that the song develops while they are already in the flights. So long as loud and distinct notes or passages are not distinguished above the twitterings of the beginner, the birds may be left quietly alone. Quite early we may hear sharp flutes, for these are the first to break in upon the soft warbling. After this we get a lengthy bell, which gradually becomes longer in delivery and harder, if not finally quite sharp.
A short soft bell from which the bird descends to another tour is no fault, and does not jar, but if a young bird brings his bell frequently and at length, the tour almost always develops into a fault, sometimes even a downright bad one, and such a songster may spoil the whole school. This long, loud bell tour may well be reckoned as the worst of all faults, for such a bird thinks he can never do enough of it, and, in many cases, he will keep it up for pretty well a minute.
Following on the above-mentioned two bad faults, sharp flutes and sharp bell, we very quickly hear the rasping sound of the Aufzug. This is a fault for which most breeders do not isolate if it is not too lengthy, the reason being that with deep-voiced songsters this tour of breath-recovery will gradually dwindle away. It, nevertheless, has always a jarring effect upon the ear. If this fault be confined to a few of the birds, they are taken away from the school, but if nearly all have the fault, the breeder cannot isolate them, and must leave the whole lot together, for it is often the case that when the nasal is first detected he will scarcely be able to find one clear- voiced bird.
For this reason the opinion rules among breeders that the nasal is as catching as the plague. The last faults, and most difficult to handle, are known as Schnetter and Zitzit. Then there is soft Schnetter, which the novice mistakes for soft Aufzug, but which the expert knows is Schnetter pure and simple. If he is inclined to let it drop he will have to do so in the company of the other banished ones. Let them sing their good and bad tours together to their hearts' content, and take the first opportunity to dispose of them. One is often advised to darken these birds deeply, so as to suppress or stifle the fault, but this will not answer any good purpose, for the breeder who adopts the plan is thereby induced to keep the faulty birds in the same room as the others, thinking that by this means the faults will be less audible.
One must bear in mind, however, that the birds cannot be kept in the dark during the whole day; they must, at least for one hour every day have light and freedom, even if it only be at feeding times, for then they should have quite an hour of broad daylight accorded to them, so that they may satisfy their needs in a proper manner. When they have filled their needs the little ne'er-do-wells begin with joy to warble forth their thanksgiving; the signal is given, the band starts and away they go in full strength, sharp flutes, sharp bell, Aufzug, Schnetter, and all the rest, and the performance is so loud and penetrating that the breeder hears it at the other end of his dwelling, and hurries off to darken them down again, so that his good birds may no longer hear this questionable music.
The breeder, then, has his pleasure in his better songsters far less hindered than when his room contained the blunderers, whose faults even darkening down would not completely silence. Having dealt with the development of bad faults, we turn our thoughts to those tours which bring joy to the trainer.
One day he hears the hollow roll, queen of tours, the tour that gives the song its intrinsic value, and without which there can be no talk of good song. The tour we hear first, therefore, is this, the finest. At first it is short, then quick, and gradually lengthening out, of medium pitch, rising and falling soft and clear ; very soon afterwards we hear the first beats of the deep Hollow Roll rrrou. When the " hollow," as we call it, comes out well in this stage, the breeder knows he has won his object ; " hollow " songsters are ever sought after. Only one care now remains, namely, as to whether he is going to discover a good strong Knorre Bass , but he must wait patiently, for although Bass is not the latest arrival, yet it does not make its appearance in the young birds until September.
Very soon we shall hear Bell Roll with a clear roll on " rrree," and a nice short soft bell " lllee," also tender flute notes, " tee, tee, tee," and the deeper " dou, dou, dou.
Full text of "The roller canary : its breeding, rearing, and training"
To the well-attuned ear of the musical breeder there is no greater delight than listening to a number of good birds with a pure song heightened by deep tender flute notes which shine 42 THE ROLLER CANARY out in soft relief, now here, now there, like costly jewels, while the bent Hollow Roll long drawn out, is rising and falling.
In the course of time the curving and heaving of the song becomes longer and more powerful, the Hollow Roll, Hollow Bell, Bell Roll, Bell, and Flutes all getting daily more perfect. However, in spite of all this it strikes one sometimes as though the song were not making progress, because there are still wanting certain valuable tours which the breeder for song wishes to have in his birds.
These are Gluck and the Water Roll tours, and they may both seriously degenerate in the course of the year. To many minds Gluck as an embellishment is a superfluity, for even if it be perfect, clear in tone, slow and quiet, " gluck, gluck, gluck " better written " glook " , it is no greater ornament than deep flutes ; it heaves up in the song in a similar manner, but in it there is lacking the melancholy, plaintive appeal of flutes on "dou.
From parents singing good Gluck there arise in the youngsters such things as kleck, kleck, klack, klack, and the fearsome chop and chap. He must get rid of all his cocks, the choppers for what they will fetch; the hens also he cannot keep, and thus all his trouble and expense for one whole year have been wasted, and he must put his hand deep down in his pocket to start again with birds of a good strain.
No tour degenerates so much as Gluck. Water Roll also is as likely to go worse as to become better, and is as little to be recommended as a tour to breed for. If the breeding cocks are very good stock birds, and they are paired up with fair, or even very good, hens, we shall nevertheless hear the youngsters giving voice to things that will certainly not be pleasant hearing. Their tours were a good bass, flutes, deep hollow, and also a deep lulling, clear on " ou," no weak watery effect.
This deep kuller, which is really beautiful and quite arrests attention, carries its danger with it, for even with suitable hens the youngsters bring out all sorts of weak watery stuff, for which no name can be given. This combination, in the hands of inexperienced breeders, may resolve itself, again, into Hollow Roll and Water Roll separately. Further, the Water Roll may lose its good qualities and retrograde into weak water and broad wish-washy stuff, and as the song of the youngster develops this watery stuff becomes more and more apparent, and he must be taken away from the school.
Rippling tours on " o " and " ou " are good. Birds of this category should be placed close to one another, and they should have a fair songster as tutor with a fully- developed kullering tour, so that they may have good instruction and support, and, in their turn, become first- rate songsters. The bass tones knorr and knourrr are good, and birds possessing them may be used for further breeding purposes or for sale. We get also a soft deep bass, but not on v o " or " ou," as above, but more of an " a," as in " arr," a variety which is still good, and, although a sensitive breeder may perhaps talk disparagingly of this so-called knarre, many would be pleased if they had such bass in their song.
This tour may be dormant in the bird for a twelvemonth without making its appearance, and, finally, under the leadership of a tutor, he will suddenly bring it out. True Schockel is in the same musical pitch as deep flutes, and only birds who have deep flutes bring it out; in its manner of delivery it is practically deep flutes in faster time. In order to cultivate Schockel you have to select birds who repeat their deep flutes at least six to eight times consecutively, and if you give them a tutor with true Schockel, not Hollow Bell, and leave them for a long period under his tuition, they will build up the Schockel out of their deep flutes through the fashion of the delivery, but without a tutor you can never attain to this.
He writes as follows: However, a well-delivered Gluck or Gluck-roll is not less beautiful, and no one having these tours in his strain would ever wish them to disappear. The beauty of the song cannot be denied. Neither have I found that a change of diet, for instance, a course of stimulating food, has had any lasting influence on the delivery of the Gluck tours. To be sure, the tours were not so soft at breeding time, but this is so with all the tours, especially as regards bass. When breeding time is over, or after the moult, the tours, with very few exceptions, will resume their former softness and fullness.
It is certainly advisable not to over- look bringing in well-selected fresh blood after a certain time, both in Gluck and Water strains, otherwise ugly variations will creep in. One will cage off" early from the flights, while another will delay the operation; or it may be that the birds are backward either by nature or by reason of the lack of continual, steady tuition through the available schoolmaster going off song in the moult, and no substitutes being forthcoming for some time.
It goes without saying that the longer a young bird can be kept in the flight the better chances he has of coming safely through his first moult; of expanding his frame, and becoming a robust youngster. The tutor is kept near the flight in a cage and song- box by himself. If a youngster becomes quarrelsome, or if he develops sharp or harsh notes or frequent high calls, he should be taken away. To minimize these troubles, or to prevent them, it will be found effective if the flight is shaded, either by a curtain or by darkening the room.
Some cage off the cocks almost as soon as the sexes are discovered; others cage them off as soon as they show livelier attempts at song. The birds are put into small wire cages, and the cages are placed in boxes or cabinets provided with doors. These cabinets almost exclude the light, some entirely so, and the birds are ranged so that the tutor is in the centre.
When you have your young birds through the moult, place the cocks in the cages, being careful to place the ring numbers on the cabinets, for this will enable you to find any particular bird by referring to your stock book. On the third day close one door, the following day pardy close the next door, and the succeeding day close all up.
Be sure you have plenty of fresh air in the room in which you are going to keep them. Open the cabinets, and give fresh food and water the first thing every morn- ing, and leave the cabinets open for an hour. Open the doors again at noon for half an hour, and then close until evening. When you hear one or more of your young birds singing in the darkness open the doors immediately and let them sing their song. Listen very critically for any bad faults, and when they are finished close the doors.
With this and the apertures at the back the bird is never in total darkness. Another design of cage is the shutter cage, combining cage and box in one, being a box cage with two wooden doors to close in front after the pattern of the official show-cage. As I do not use song boxes except for special pur- poses, as for a bird in a sitting room when he is generally open, or for a sick one, I describe what I consider to be a simpler system. The birds in their small wire cages are ranged in racks, bookshelf fashion, with two curtains of green casement material suspended in front, one about three inches in front of the other to regulate the depth of shade.
The Roller Canary - Its History, Breeding, Training and Management
If the room has Venetian blinds one curtain is sufficient as a rule. The partition between the cages should be of stout cardboard, thin planed wood, or metal ; wood possibly is the best, as the metal is rather cold. These partitions should come well to the tops and the backs of the cages, and in front they should come out flush with the outside level of the feeding glasses, so that the birds cannot get a view of one another. If the cages rest on rods instead of shelves it may be well to lay sheets of brown paper thereon, to overhang an inch or so in front, and hang down the full depth at back.
Have the upper and lower ranges as close as possible, say, half an inch to an inch. Place the tutor so that he has two on each side, three above and three below, in all ten birds. Several more can be placed round him, but if you do this it is wise to change the birds about occasionally. If you place your tutor in a song box on a pedestal outside the curtain, regulating his light also properly, you will be able to train a great many more.
As you cage the birds of! When you open up your birds in the morning draw out the loose partitions; by this you make them active, and they will not sing, or only a little, if at all. Let them have as much of this as possible, as it keeps them healthy and happy. Now replace the partitions, and they will start song; close the curtain. Repeat at dinner time. In the evening, half-an-hour before roosting-time, you may draw the partitions and let them alone until you draw the curtain for the night, leaving the partitions out, or if the days are short you may light up at night, and after they have had half-an-hour 's play, replace the par- titions, draw the curtain, and gradually lower the light.
Of course, they will not sing ceaselessly, but you will hear the choir practising more or less during the day. Now, these are not meant for hard and fast rules, but just merely as guiding principles; the idea is to give the birds as much light and exercise as you can, and to use every means, trick, or stratagem you can think of to keep them from singing in open school, especially during the first few weeks of their training.
A daily rehearsal of ten minutes is good practice, and accustoms them to it; some breeders rehearse three times; methods differ; use your own judgment. You will need to study your birds, you will have them rehearse much longer at times, and this will do them no harm, especially in the cold weather, rather the reverse. If really bad, he must come away altogether, as the faulty tour will vitiate the song of all the others in a day or two; they pick it up in no time, as faulty tours, especially high bell and, in fact, all high notes are easier for them to imitate than the good deep ones.
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Sometimes a bird may not be satisfactory for other reasons; as time goes on his style of delivery may not suit, or he many sing a good tour, but repeat it too often, and so cause it to predominate in the others. Sometimes you may have taken a bird away, and may find later on he may go back, but when once he has high bell there is litde hope of him being any good in the school.
Keep the best songsters nearest the tutor until they are well advanced. Should your tutor fail you by moulting late, or start early with a long moult, you may find one or two of these youngsters very useful until he comes round again. When the song has fully developed, study your pedigree, find out the lines of your deepest and purest birds, and mark your hens, so preparing for next season's breeding.
Choose your show birds, transfer them to the standard show cages about three weeks before the show, and train them to sing readily to the judge; shift them about the rooms, move them into all sorts of positions, carry them about with you to a friend's house, open them out on the table with a sheet of paper before you as if you were judging.
A bird with faulty high tour or other faults is often good to breed with, coming of good stock and pedigree, but as a tutor he is no good. The tutor should be the best your purse can afford; many fine birds can be bought at their proper value from well-known breeders, but if you limit them to a low figure you cannot expect to get the quality required.
The very finest are priceless; they are very rare, and the owners keep them. They may sometimes be picked up at shows, but many breeders will not risk sending out their very best for exhibition. High-class birds, however, may be had from fair- dealing British breeders, which, if not of the very highest category, are of close blood relationship to these supreme songsters, and will therefore not only train well, but will breed you first-class birds, and so put you on the right road to excellence. Perseverance, patience, good judgment, and an attentive musical ear; these are the attributes necessary to a Roller breeder.
One final word as a plea. If you use the song box, take the cage out at least once a day for an hour, and so give the bird an airing and encourage him to hop about and preen his feathers; make his little life a happy one, give him all the liberty and enjoyment you can. There can consequently be very little reason why the older birds should not be permitted to enjoy more light and liberty, and live to a good old age.
What are the qualities to seek in a Schoolmaster? Upon this hangs the result of our breeding. After careful, judicious pairing of our birds we may by inattention to this vital question spoil our labour by damaging the song through faulty selection of a tutor. It is immaterial how a tutor commences his song, so long as it starts with a good tone. Some think that a start on the Bell tours may damage the young cocks by encouraging them to sing only light stuff. This, how- ever, will not occur so readily as in the case of a tutor starting on deep tours, and finishing up with Bell tours, which linger on as if they never wished to finish.
Under either such tutor you will always get birds who will start with Bell tours. The cocks under the first kind of tutor will almost all start with Bell or Hollow Bell, but they will not make their song with Bell a yard long. Such a bird gives also a more pleasing effect than the one which starts deep and finishes up with Bell; the effect of the deep tour is spoilt thereby. On the other hand, those birds who start somewhere on the higher tours will bring their strength and beauty to bear on the succeeding tours, and so bring the song to a good finish.
Beware, however, that your tutor does not start with too long a Bell, nor must he repeat it. Such a tutor must sing correctly, and without a break or interruption, other- wise the youngsters lose the connecting links, and this, when there are many in school, brings desperate confusion. It is always best when Bell comes in the middle of the song; it makes a pleasing change when followed by Bass or H.
To understand the effect one needs to listen to a songster who drops into a full round Bass or H. To a trained ear this is a delight, and such a bird, moreover, is a good one to make use of even if his Bell stands out a little too conspicuously in his song.
Preferably none, of course. Under this heading I do not refer to such things as Zitt or Chop, which are not tours at all but rather jerked out noises, and which happily only a few birds bring out; such faults, of course, no bird should possess, nor any of a similar nature. There are certain faults which we are ready to excuse in our pets, but they must be sung in the right place, so that they escape being classed among the faulty tours.
A bird with an Aufzug at the start is hardly one to be selected; anyhow, it must be very soft, and he must only bring it once, otherwise the whole school will be spoilt, and there will be no end to sorting the birds out. The young birds must not be subjected to sharp Aufzug, for after a little while they take up this oft-repeated fault, and the effect is bad, like tearing calico.
It is impossible to define Aufzug properly in writing, and it is best to listen to an example. Birds with very lengthy bell, and which only bring deep tours now and again, should not be used as tutors, neither should those with a lot of sharp, piercing, or nasal flutes, as these birds mar the song to such an extent that it becomes valueless.
Weak flutes will not do much damage, and may be permitted; on the other hand, nasal flutes are dangerous. There are some birds that have not a clear delivery with certain tours, half hoarse, half nasal, one might say indistinct. A short, indistinct phrase of this character will do no damage; on the other hand, lengthy Bell and Hollow Bell of this description are very harm- ful.
If one is compelled to use these half-hoarse tours they must be short ones; they will always be imitated and worse. Really hoarse birds should be doctored up in the kitchen, or where they can get warmth and moisture, which are the best means for curing them. Birds in full breeding condition should not be used as tutors, and the old birds should be taken away during their moult, as they may teach the youngsters many a bad lesson which they otherwise would not have got into their song.
These ideas arise from the fact that, in the first place, the bird possesses certain inherited tendencies, and, secondly, he will sing his inherited song without ever having had a cock to guide him; for instance, if in his earliest youth he passes out of the breeder's hands into those of a person who keeps him in absolute solitariness, leaves him entirely to himself, and so permits him to develop his song.
One can take up an attitude on both standpoints, and correctly so; namely, " breeders need no schoolmaster for song development," and, contrariwise, " breeders are bound to have schoolmasters if they wish to develop their song. If this were so, it would be needless to concern ourselves about pedigree and inherited qualities, and all we need trouble about would be to look out for a good tutor.
It is well known that the father is the best tutor, a fact in favour of my point, for the birds in time will bring out their song, an inherited one. The hen transmits, in part or in entirety, the new style of song, but she cannot teach the cocks to sing, so the breeder puts them under a good tutor, maybe their own father.
It will then be found that they have not only learnt what their tutor has taught them, but also the pedigree tours of the mother, although they have never heard them. If the mother be of very fine strain, and the young cocks develop the fine tours inherent in her, in the absence of any performance thereof on the part of the tutor, it will be evident to the breeder that the birds need no special tutor. These facts have also been further verified in the case of a breeder giving to another breeder eggs from a nest in exchange for a nest of his own, the respective strains being foreign to each other.
Now, if the youngsters hatched in the strange room come from a good Bass or Schockel strain, tours not in the repertoire of the birds in this new home, they will nevertheless, when autumn comes, bring out their Bass and Schockel, even though they have had no tutor to help them. Mark well, absence of faults, or faulty delivery, does not indicate value, but what does is method and style of delivery. These special attributes are learnt from the tutor if the young birds are fortunate enough to be brought into contact with one such.
It is through the scarcity of tutors on the one hand, and the excessive number of scholars on the other, that so few birds turn out first-class songsters. When a large number of young birds are on the racks, and the tutor is leading, it is not possible to give them a proper hearing, so much does their warbling drown the song of the old birds. It cannot therefore be expected that one single youngster is capable of taking up the song of his tutor when these tours of a quality so neces- sary for him to study are overborne by the efforts of the large number around him. The result is that, though the tutor plods on, his efforts are lost, as not one single cock hears him properly.
As the tutors do not sing the same tour at the same time, but change about, one singing this tour and another that, the result is that the youngster is at the same disadvantage, as the individual tours are lost to him by reason of the strong volume of sound with, to him, the confused interchanges.
In the smaller breeding rooms there is often a surprisingly large percentage of cocks which develop into first-class songsters in cases where they are placed under a really good tutor. These youngsters have been fortunate enough to have a first-class bird to listen to, and also to benefit by, for although they are with others on the training rack the school is such a small one that their united efforts do not drown the effect of the song of the leader, and thus at all times of the day he is able to lend them direction and support.
Now, if a breeder has a large number of young cocks to train he should not allow more than ten to fifteen for one tutor, and each batch of this number must be kept entirely separate; that is to say, staged in separate rooms, for if these batches are kept in the same room the cross- ing of the tours, both in old and young, will damage the song. This system of separation into isolated rooms brings the small fancier up against difficulties; he may be able to manage in different rooms so long as the warmer 64 THE ROLLER CANARY weather lasts, but when winter approaches there is the question of temperature, and for the sake of the birds, which compared to his hens, are inactive, confined to small cages, he may be compelled to bring them all into one comfortably warmed abode.
The result will be that the advantage he has gained will be lost, for the birds, although well ahead in tours, are not yet fixed in song, and will consequently vacillate and change about. In some experiments of my own some moulting cocks in a flight were set apart in a quiet room, and here, a small company, undisturbed, they entirely forgot their own song and acquired that of the bird placed in their hearing. In these cases it was a question each time of a beautifully bent rich song which seems to have been especially attractive to the musical sensibility of the moulting cocks.
If a breeder wishes to obtain the greatest number of good birds and lacks a sufficient number of separate rooms, and perhaps of tutors also, let him take the youngsters bred from his best cock and put them with him in a room apart, or, failing the parent cock, then some other first-class tutor.
He may thus reckon on obtaining a small output of good birds. If a special room is necessary for the throw- outs, how much more important is it that the young birds of high promise should have one. The natural gifts of the bird have been so successfully worked upon that the song to-day is a veritable triumph of art.
To satisfy artistic requirements it may be laid down as a general axiom that as the song progresses higher and lower it should ring out harmoniously, and that during its course no disagreeable tones or phrases should appear. The main problem is that very common factor — variation.
The Roller Canary is no different in its inheritance to man. One man sings deep bass, another light-bass, another deep baritone, another light-baritone, another tenor, and so on. This voice problem is a matter of register and confounding to the novice who does not know whether a " tenor " bird is singing Schockel because his deep-voiced bird is singing his hollow bell in a very similar key. Some Canaries are more intelligent than others, they vary in temperament and are consequently different in disposi- tion. You have the vigorous bird who sings in a different style to his weak-chested neighbour.
Strains of different delivery help to swell the problems of mis- understanding. Is it any wonder then that there are so many people who are not well versed in the tours of that wonderful bird the Roller Canary? It is our desire that the information given in " The Roller Canary " should increase the knowledge regarding the song of our birds, so that every lover of Rollers should understand the subject thoroughly.
The cult of the Roller is not old in England, we have taken it from the Germans, therefore, the language used in describing the song naturally follows that which has been associated with the bird for hundreds of years on the Continent. In the present-day songs we have the high, the medium, and the deep passages, called Tours. In the higher tours the music is inferior to the medium, in the deeper tours it is best, so far as purity of tone is concerned.
Its Breeding, Rearing, and Training
For this reason the widest range of varia- tions is to be found in the deep tours and the narrowest in the high. Also, for the same reason, the middle or medium and the deeper tours are much more valuable than the high ones. We may therefore classify the melody into three divisions, as follows: Each single note represents the various degrees of the musical scale on which the tour named can be per- formed, but it will be well here to remark that birds are not limited to our musical notation, which consists of tones and semitones. Their song has no fixed gradations, but shades into quarter and even eighth-tones, and this, of course, enriches the modulation.
The outside limit for the high tours is given as G sharp above the stave, but if the bird does not sing tenderly and softly, the performance may be faulty, even though it may only reach F sharp. The complete compass of the song is practically three octaves; the soft rustling tour of former days, known as Schwirre, stretched the compass higher.