Lizard canary basics, part 12: head and shoulders

“The spangling is clear and distinct, each individual spangle being clear of another.  It extends from the back of the cap in perfectly straight lines to the wing coverts, each succeeding spangle progressively larger than the one nearer the neck.”

Extract from the LCA Description of the Ideal Lizard Canary

In theory, spangling should start at the back of the cap, run down the neck on to the shoulders, and flow along the back to the rump.  In practice, the spangles often start at the shoulders.  Take this broken cap gold cock as an example:

Notice how the back of the neck is plain, with only the slightest hint of any speckling.  Many Lizard canaries share this failing; it is so common that it is rarely, if ever, penalised.

Why should spangling on the neck be so tricky?  Blakston, as usual, has a good eye for detail. He tells us:

‘Commencing immediately at the back of the cap, it should consist of a series of continuous chains of spangles, gradually increasing in distinctness and size.  At first the spangles are not distinct, but have more of the appearance of black specks, owing to the disposition of the neck feathers and the continuous shifting of their position from the motion of the bird . . .’ (1)

It seems that nothing has changed since Victorian times.  The feathers on the neck are very small, and tend not to lie as neatly as they do on the back of the bird; the slightest movement will disrupt their regularity.  Even the angle of view can make a difference, as you can see with this near-clear cap gold cock.  The first photograph is taken from the side, and while you can see dark markings at the back of the cap, you can’t see much detail.

The second photograph is of the same bird, but from a different angle, so that you can now see ‘continuous chains of spangles’ on the neck.  They may be subtle, but these are the fine details that help to complete the design of the Lizard’s plumage

Here are more examples, this time of hens.  As with the spangled crown, the extra contrast you get from light against dark gives silver Lizards an advantage, but gold Lizards should display them too.  None of them are perfect; those chains of tiny spangles will never lie as neatly as the spangles on the back.  Nevertheless, they are an integral part of the Lizard canary, not an ‘optional extra’, so look out for them.

Footnotes:

You can click on any of the images for an enlarged view.

  1. The Illustrated Book of Canaries and Cage Birds by W. A. Blakston, W, Swaysland and August F. Weiner (1877-80), p.161.

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