This blog is dedicated to the history, conservation and advancement of the fine spangled sort: the historical name that encompassed both the London Fancy and Lizard canary, the oldest cultivated varieties of Serinus canaria.
Our story begins more than three hundred years ago during the reign of Louis XIV, the Sun King; a time of religious conflict and international rivalry between catholic France and its protestant neighbours. It involves mysterious birds with markings like stars; patronage by the French aristocracy; refugees fleeing with their birds across the English Channel; and the skills of English breeders who transformed them into the fine spangled sort. There were two sorts: the London Fancy, which shone briefly, but brilliantly, before burning out like a shooting star; and the Lizard canary which emerged from the shadow of its celebrated cousin to claim the title of the World’s oldest variety of canary.
The London Fancy was in terminal decline by the end of the nineteenth century and probably became extinct between the First and Second World Wars. Attempts to recreate the variety are under way, and will be publicised in this blog. Meanwhile the Lizard canary has survived two world wars, and been saved from potential extinction, thanks to the formation of the Lizard Canary Association in 1945. It has flourished in the post war years, but now faces a more insidious threat: tainted blood from cross breeding with other varieties, which could undermine the integrity of the breed.
A heritage spanning more than three centuries should be celebrated, not squandered. I hope you will join me in exploring the history of the London Fancy and Lizard canary; understand what made the two varieties so special; and build a secure future for the fine spangled sort.