Kees who? Not well known outside Holland, he is often overlooked when I hear people discussing the top Lizard breeders, yet in my opinion Kees Everaers is one of them (1).
I have known Kees for over 25 years and regard him as a good friend and a very generous and talented Lizard breeder. I have helped him and he has helped me, but on balance I have gained the more. He is one of those survivors from the nineties that has stayed true to the British ideal: birds with large spangles and profuse rowings, deep ground colour, and a bold cobby shape to display those features to their best advantage. He is a rare example of a Dutch breeder who can see the Lizard canary through British eyes (2).
He founded his stud on birds from two breeders whose own birds were descended from the Knighton strain. One was Norman Reeve who went on to dominate the Lizard show scene for the rest of the nineties. In other words, the best. Better still, Kees has effectively kept a closed stud, and remains one of only three breeders I know whose birds can claim to be directly descended from that glorious Knighton/Reeve bloodline (3). No wonder his birds ‘click’ with mine.
Kees lives in Renesse, a small but popular seaside town in Zeeland. It’s a nice part of the world, but remote from other Lizard breeders and Lizard shows, which may help to explain why Kees is not better known. His birdhouse is located in an immaculate garden populated with Cochin bantams. A neat timber structure, it is modest in both size and facilities. He uses traditional box cages and his management methods are simple but effective. Any British visitor will feel at home.
For many years Kees also kept Norwich canaries obtained from Bill Gee in Birmingham, whom Kees would visit whenever he needed an outcross. Kees is a good breeder and the result was overcrowded cages after the breeding season with inevitable problems of feather plucking, which offers another explanation why Kees failed to win as many prizes as the quality of his birds merited. Unfortunately Bill’s birds were stolen and Kees was unable to find an alternative line that was compatible with his own. Since then he has concentrated on his Lizards but he still runs out of cage space!
My most recent visit was on my return from the Lizarddag. Kees had not taken his birds to Keijenborg, so this was an opportunity for me to assess his current crop. On this occasion he had cage space to spare, having sold many of his youngsters. You can see two of the birds that caught my eye: a broken cap gold hen and a clear cap silver hen. Unfortunately the photos I took of a broken cap silver hen that Kees considered his best bird were failures, unlike the bird herself which went on to win a bronze medal at the World Show in Zwolle.
No doubt some visitors to the show will be looking at his birds, checking their catalogue, and wondering why they have never heard of C.C.J. Everaers before. Kees may not be as well known as he deserves to be, but I hope this article will assure them his success has been years in the making; it was well deserved.
- For the benefit of British readers, Kees is pronounced ‘case’.
- Unlike top breeders in Belgium and Italy that have a good understanding of the classic Lizard canary.
- This statement needs to be qualified on two accounts. Firstly, credit must be given to Stan Bolton and Albert Durrell, the two top Lizard men of the 1980s, whose birds provided the foundation for the Knighton strain. Secondly, this line is now being developed with considerable success by a number of British novices, thereby taking it into its fifth decade.