1985 - Volume #9, Issue #6, Page #19[ Sample Stories From This Issue | List of All Stories In This Issue | Print this story | Read this issue]
Canary Enthusiasts Train Birds to SingTeaching canaries to sing may sound like a cuckoo idea ù until you meet the people who do just that!
One such group of dedicated singing teachers is the Roller Canary Society of Australia, which recently celebrated its fifth birthday.
The aim of the society's 70-plus members, who are from various parts of Australia, is to breed the best feathered "opera stars" and then train them to sing the right songs on cue. And that's a job which demands patience and skill ù and more than just a little bit of luck.
Roller canaries do not chirp like ordinary canaries, but have a trilling song which can cover a natural range of up to 18 tours, as the separate sounds are called. The secret is to find a male bird which can master as many tours as possible. Hens do not sing but genetically they influence the musical "knowledge" of their offspring, which makes breeding something of a gamble.
"Once a suitable male has been found, training begins when it is three to six months old," explains Gail Robinson, the society's secretary, who has been breeding and training her own rollers for more than 10 years.
How do you teach a bird to sing?" The trainee roller canary is put in a small, portable cage with two doors at the front. The doors are gradually closed, one after the other, finally leaving the bird in total darkness for an hour or more.
"I sometimes play tape recordings of other singing roller canaries to my birds when the doors are closed," says Gail. "That gives them something to think about in the dark and also stimulates their own singing."
The next step is to teach the birds to burst into song when the doors are opened. "You open the doors three times a day over a period of several weeks. Each time the roller sings, you reward it with a piece of apple or other delicacy, much as you would do with a dog which is being trained."
For more information, contact: FARM SHOW Followup, Roller Canary Society, Lorna Zerbe, 7 Salisbury Ave., Valley View, South Australia 5081 Australia.
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