Life is full of surprises. In the Lizard canary fancy most of the surprises are of a modest and pleasant nature: the number of unexpected winners of major Lizard shows in 2016 being a good example. The news I heard at the weekend is on a different scale. ‘Scale’ is the key word because, out of the blue, the OMJ (1) has decided to change the Scale of Points for the Lizard canary; it will apply to all COM (2) shows. Now that is a surprise.
The change happened in September 2016, when the OMJ technical committee held one of its two annual meetings (3). The minutes have just been made available. The proposed scale was submitted by COM-Portugal without prior consultation with COM-UK, the representative of the ‘mother nation’. That is a surprising omission for a nation renowned for its courtesy; was it a tactical one?
The minutes also reveal other changes that could affect the Lizard canary: separate classes will be provided for clear caps, broken caps and non caps; a proposal to recognise the ‘cinnamon Lizard’ was deferred for two years; ring sizes are to be standardised across all COM member countries (4). Compared to the new Scale of Points, these are minor details.
The existing COM show scale is based on the LCA scale. The two are identical. It will be familiar to everyone reading this blog: it has been in force for over 70 years; unique amongst canary varieties. I am in regular contact with Lizard breeders in Europe and none of them has expressed a desire for change. I have even heard rumours that many Portuguese Lizard breeders are unhappy with the proposal! Nevertheless, it has the blessing of the OMJ – under contentious circumstances – which I will discuss in Part 2.
Let’s look at the changes. They are significant.
The number of features that attract points has been reduced from 10 to 8. There are no separate points for the eyelash or the lacings in the new scale. These features are now amalgamated with the tail and wings, and allocated a grand total of 5 points. This has released 15 points that are transferred to spangles (up from 25 points to 30), rowings (up from 10 points to 15), and the legs, beak and nails (up from 5 points to 10).
There are other changes: the cap starts ‘above the upper mandible’ and be ‘above the eye’ without mentioning the eyelash. The requirement that spangles should start at the back of the cap has been dropped. Ground colour has changed from ‘deep and even’ to ‘even and uniform’, so birds with dull, flat colour could do well. The ideal length (currently 13,5 cm, or 5 1/4”) is now between 12,5 and 13,5 cm and suggests that smaller birds will be in favour. Broken caps are now considered the equal of clear caps and non caps, but the limits of a broken cap are not stated. There is no mention of faulty caps, or of disqualification for ‘bald-face’. The 5 points for condition are now awarded to ‘type’ (‘barrel shape’), and ‘stance’, which should be 45 degrees (even though a good Lizard can display its spangles well at almost any angle).
In other words, the changes to the Scale of Points constitute a major overhaul of the Show Standard in all but name. The existing show scale is a balance of all the Lizard’s features; the new scale is biased towards a few of them. The outcome will inevitably be a reduction in the overall quality of the breed.
The Portuguese vision of the new Lizard canary does not inspire confidence. You can see their official drawing at the head of this article. It gives the rowings greater prominence than the spangles. Is this the way they want the breed to go?
Helpfully, the proposal document also gives reasons for the changes, most of which are a matter of opinion. It is the justification for downgrading the eyelash, lacings, wings and tail from a combined total of 20 points to just 5 that betrays the superficial basis of the new scale. According to the proposal document it is “because we think these features are less important to judges”.
Which judges? Where’s the evidence? This is a serious allegation if it is true. It is not for judges to decide which features are important and which are not; that is the responsibility of the national body for the breed (in this case the LCA). Surely the OMJ’s priority is to maintain standards, not dumb them down because some judges are (allegedly) not doing their job properly?
The new Scale of Points applies only to COM shows. The LCA and other national Lizard clubs are not bound by it. I cannot see the LCA abandoning its traditional values, so we will have two standards in operation at the same time. There are bound to be conflicts and the Lizard canary fancy will be split, to the detriment of the breed. I’m sure that this not the outcome OMJ would wish for. Shouldn’t it think again?
In Part 2, I will investigate how we got into such a mess.
- OMJ = Ordre Mondial des Juges, COM’s organisation for bird judges.
- COM = Confédération Ornithologique Mondiale, the world-wide organisation devoted to the cultivation of birds.
- The venues change each year. This meeting was held in Cervia, Italy; the second meeting is held at the World Show.
- The IOA and LCA rings are likely to become smaller. The current IOA ring diameter for Lizard canaries is 3.3mm. The proposed diameter is 2.9 – 3.0mm.