1st April - a day that all border canary fanciers were waiting for another breeding season about to start, and all the hope of achieving the best show bird ever.
This year the excitement in me was compounded because I'd purchased a breeding pair from the most esteemed master of show birds for a bargain price of £400. He was also a judge and I hoped he would recognise my entries at the shows and allow me a bit of preference.
Placed the new pair together in a brand new breeding cage (best in the bird-room) the cock bird immediately started to sing, dance and chase the hen; attempting to vigorously mate with her. She would have none of it and counter attacked with such ferocity that his feather loss was almost severe.
A temporary separation by a mesh partition was urgently required . Nothing could be done until they had become friends and he was feeding her through the mesh. This took some days!
My prize pair were now performing well. Back together she was now earnestly building her nest. Every year I marvelled at how a young hen could build such a cosy construction without any prior knowledge.
She produced five valuable eggs and covetously sat on them. The male tried to help brood the clutch but was very clumsy and pierced an egg which had to be repaired with clear nail varnish.
Separation again was needed until the chicks had hatched and then he could help her feed and rear the them.
All five eggs hatched to my sheer delight. The cage floor was crammed with chickweed; and other canary rearing foods were in abundant supply (these were going to be the healthiest chicks ever). Both the parents were doing a superb job of jointly feeding the young. Surely nothing could go wrong but it did!
The last chick to hatch was fast becoming a runt. It needed my help and got it. Three times a day I hand fed it as a top up after several days it was well on its way to competing with its siblings.
In general, all was well with all my breeding pairs.
My prize chicks were feathering up nicely and were looking a fine bevy of potential winners. Eventually, the fledglings were flitting from nest to perches and back. They were the cutest bunch of yellow chicks I'd ever seen in my bird-shed.
Oh, no! One had slipped a claw and would need prompt treatment if it was ever going to make it to the show benches. Why should it always be the best that get damaged? With claw firmly tied back to its leg it would take several weeks for it to be rectified.
The elite young were finally removed from mum and dad. Show training was now in full swing. Not much training for these naturals already.
The first show venue I chose was purposely one that my vendor Judge Brown was deliberating at. I thought, He will be impressed by my super show stock. I was fully expecting to not only be in the cards and rosettes but also be a contender for the supreme award of Best Border Canary in Show and winner of the Silver Cup.
I was disappointed! I had done better than before but not up to my anticipated expectations. Just a few second and third class cards.
Later, when viewing the bird that had won the supreme award a fellow contestant whispered in my ear, That's Judge Jones' bird a bit of a mate of today's judge and its said he paid him a £1000 for the parents of this winner.
Never mind, I'll try another show another judge.
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