Not one, but three items of interest to Lizard canary fanciers this week.
We’ll start with the notice of LCA patronage. Normally this is little more than a brief reminder to show secretaries, but on this occasion it was both extensive and prescriptive.
For all its detail, the notice said nothing about the most common problem with the patronage scheme (getting the results back), but it did include a statement of the obvious: ‘it is requested that societies . . . provide a classification for traditional Lizard canaries’. You might think that was self-evident, but it was a carefully worded statement, designed to camouflage as much as it revealed. Its real purpose is to prevent a repeat of an incident last year when a LCA rosette was awarded to a bird that was clearly ineligible: a blue. It’s amazing what gets posted on Facebook.
An embarrassing error of judgement, but at least the notice makes it clear that due diligence will be applied in future. It may be no coincidence that the LCA has a new patronage secretary, Nigel Hastead.
The letters page provided another example of careful wording by the LCA. This was chairman John Martin’s letter welcoming the announcement that the BLCC has introduced its own closed rings for breeders of blue lizards.
Again the letter is notable for what it didn’t say. It only mentions the ringing of white-ground birds (blues); not a word about blue-breds, the yellow-ground offspring of blue lizards, even though they are highly contentious. Shunned as cross-breds by classic Lizard breeders; of little value for breeding blues; they are the rejects of a blues-breeding programme. Few people want them, and therein lies the problem.
By fitting BLCC rings to blue-breds, breeders would be drawing attention to the very attribute that makes them undesirable to many buyers. The scheme is effectively asking blues breeders to put their private interests aside for the public good. It may be worthy, but is it realistic?
I am not raising my hopes. For me, the real significance of the announcement is that the BLCC has implicitly acknowledged the concerns of breeders of classic Lizard canaries. That is quite a turn around from its position less than a year ago. The value of the ring scheme may prove to be more symbolic than practical, but it is a welcome development.
The final item makes me despair. It is Rob Innes’ editorial, in which he mourns the loss of Italian birds travelling to the World Show. Rob is understandably guarded in his comments because there has been no official statement about what went wrong. As readers of Fine Spangled Sort will be aware, those deaths were not confined to the Italian exhibits; German birds died in transit too. Lizard canaries were among the casualties from both nations.
The national federations who organised the transport of the birds have reacted not as we would hope, but as we’ve come to expect of institutions: far from keeping the exhibitors informed, they have imposed a news blackout. Andreas Stamm had heard nothing from the German federation on 30 January; Angelo Citro nothing from the Italian federation as of 5 February, even though the tragedies occurred in mid January. They hadn’t even received confirmation that their birds had died.
If it looks bad from the outside, it probably looks worse for those on the inside. Despite their institutional nature, the federations are not run by faceless bureaucrats but mostly by volunteers, all of them bird lovers. They will be beleaguered by recriminations, claims for compensation and likely investigation by the authorities. Aviculture overwhelmed by blame culture.
There is a lot at stake and they will have been advised to say nothing. The inevitable outcome is that exhibitors are being kept in the dark, just like the poor birds that perished.
- The above observations are my personal views.
- The photo at the head of this article shows the return of the surviving Italian birds from the World Show. My thanks to Angelo Citro for this.