A visit to Piet, 2017

2017 has been an eventful year for Piet Renders (1).  A fall at work resulted in a broken pelvis and a damaged spine amongst other injuries, and whilst he has recovered, he still has pain and limited mobility in his left arm which has prevented him from returning to work.  The fall happened during the breeding season, but fortunately his wife took over the care of the birds and achieved a record result of 250 youngsters.  Every cloud has a silver lining . . .

When I arrived with Marko Dielen the day before the Lizarddag, Piet was busy training his birds.  A stack of 10 show cages contained the birds from which Piet would select his six contestants for the Lizarddag.  Another stack of 16 cages contained the birds sent to the Meijel show.  That’s a total of 26 birds of show-quality London Fancies, a record for Piet, and probably the finest array of London Fancies seen for almost 150 years.

On closer examination, they were a mixture of 2016 and 2017 birds in jonque (intensive yellow), mealy (non-intensive yellow, also known as schimmel on the continent), white, cinnamon (brown) and fawn (white-brown).  They represent a dilemma for the future direction of the London Fancy.

On the following day, all but the jonque and mealy birds would be rejected by the judges.  I wrote about this in my show report and won’t repeat those comments here.  The quality of the over-year birds was excellent, and I had to check the ring colours to tell them apart from the current-year birds.  Piet told me that many birds improve in their second year, with even fewer black marks on their bodies, yet their wings and tails remained dark (2).  This is contrary to what Victorian and Edwardian authors would have you believe, and may be unique to the Dutch strain, but that is by no means certain (3).

The London Fancy is not recognised by COM at present, but is undergoing a three-year trial period.  COM’s standard policy is to permit only first year canaries at the World Show, but in my opinion there is a case for making the new London Fancy an exception to that rule (a similar exemption applies to parrots & lovebirds for example).

Allowing second-year London Fancies to be exhibited would have several benefits:

  • The pool of good show birds would be increased.
  • It would encourage more fanciers to breed and exhibit the variety.
  • COM would be seen to be making a positive contribution to the renaissance of an historic breed of canary.

The revival of the London Fancy is at a critical stage; its future is by no means secure.  Far too much depends on the hard work and dedication of one man.  COM and its judges could make a big difference if the goodwill is there.

Gallery: click on an image to see a larger version.


  1. I assume that most of my readers will be aware that Piet is the founding father of the Dutch strain of London Fancies.  You can read a report of my visit to his home in 2016 here.
  2. An observation confirmed by Marko Dielen and others.
  3. The London Fancy was in decline by the 1850s, and so rare in the last quarter of the nineteenth century that I suspect that much of what was being written was based on hearsay rather than first hand observation.

8 thoughts on “A visit to Piet, 2017

  1. I so enjoy this site since I stumbled upon it while looking for info on European Serins. Every article is interesting and I look forward to being a lurker a long time to come …..
    If possible are there any articles on the European Serin that I would find helpful, I am getting a pair in the coming weeks …. Will be traveling to pick them up and want to do the best for them.
    I am not a novice bird keeper but always am looking for new and informative information on my charges …..
    Thank you,
    Mark Beauchesne

    1. I regret I have no experience of breeding serins, but I would be happy to publish articles and photographs if any of my readers would care to send them to me.

  2. Very interesting thought on the London fancy and overyear birds? I saw his birds at Stafford in 2016 and thought they were really good and so much nearer to what I thought a London fancy should be. The UK breeder’s need to take note. They have done good work but they all need to work together for the London fancy to success. David.

    1. I am willing for you to translate the article for your website provided a) the translated article is entire and accurate, b) it is not used for any commercial or political purpose, and c) I am acknowledged as the author and illustrator of the content.

  3. I guess it would be interesting to analize some results :
    The percentage of LF obtained (around 10over 250) is very low
    What are the percentages of green/cinnamon birds obtained (being carrier or not of some kind ) ?
    What are the percentages of those we can consider as spangled-backs ?