Part 2: the difference between spangles & lacings

How many times have you been to a show, looked at the Lizard canaries, and heard people discussing their show features?  In my experience, the spangles are mentioned every time.  Quite right too, spangling is the single most important feature of the Lizard canary.  Now ask yourself how many times you’ve heard people discuss the lacings?   Perhaps never.

The lacings are ‘only’ worth 5 points on the show scale, so it’s understandable that they don’t get the same attention as spangles, but that doesn’t explain why I have never heard people talk about the lacings (unless I’ve raised the subject).  Breeders in the UK and in mainland Europe are equally negligent. It is even more strange when you consider how attractive they are; complementing the spangled pattern, and in a good specimen, startling in their clarity.

The fundamental difference between spangles and lacings is anatomical: they grow from different parts of the bird’s anatomy. This photograph of a silver hen as it raises its wings shows the difference:

CCSH wings-fssCCSH wings-markup-fss

The spangles spring from the feather tracts that run down the spine (the spinal tract), while the lacings spring from the tracts where the wings adjoin the body (the humeral tract).  You can see those tracts in the photo; these are not Lizard canary chicks by the way, but the feather tracts are the same.

The two groups of feathers overlap along the top of the wings and often obscure each other.  If you can see all the spangles, the chances are some of the lacings will be obscured, and vice versa.

How many chains of feathers should there be?  The spangles have a total of nine: one central chain and four each side.  Chain 4, the outermost, is often hidden because the feathers are small and there aren’t many of them (just six in each chain).  There are also four chains of lacings on each side.  Chain 1, the innermost, tucks under the spangles and is rarely seen; chain 4 only has three feathers, and they are often hidden by the contour feathers.  In practice, you will normally see a total of seven chains of spangles with three of lacings on each side, but counting them on a bird that is in constant motion is easier said than done.

Look at the example shown at the top of this page, a clear cap silver cock.  You can see several differences between the two types of feather: the spangles run down the back, while the lacings run from the shoulders; the spangles have a silver edge but the lacings are golden; the spangles are relatively narrow and each line is well separated, while the lacings are very broad feathers (about as wide as they are long) and are closely packed.

CCSC 2014-markup fss

Please note that the angle of the photograph means that we can’t see the central chain of spangles; and the outermost chain of lacings is hidden by the contour feathers at the wing butts, so you will have to take my word that they are there.

Now take a look at these two birds: both gold hens with nice spangles, but see how the quality of the lacings makes one look much better than the other.  Often this is a temporary fault when the bird moves, but you don’t want it to happen during judging.

CCGH +lacings fssCCGH -lacings fss

People may not talk about the lacings, but that doesn’t mean they should be ignored.  Those five points could make the difference between winning and losing.