Bird’s eye view: the best laid schemes o’ maestros an’ men

Not all editions of Cage & Aviary Birds have produced interesting articles on canaries, but this week’s issue (1) contains a bumper bundle.  Here are some of the highlights:

The Scots/Scotch Fancy breeders are reinstating the old custom of awarding winning birds grandiose titles such as Scotland’s Pride and Highland Laddie.  Their owners will be allowed to choose their own moniker.  Now I’m all for reviving tradition, but this could backfire.  The bar to qualify for this honour has not been set very high: just three Best Scots awards ‘in competition’ (presumably two Scots Fancies entered at a show will count as ‘competition’).  In my experience, the grandness of a name is often inversely proportional to the quality of the item.  Anyone remember the Miracle Maestro (2)?   I rest my case.

Speaking of maestros, there is an article by Phil Warne entitled Maestro in the Making.  As far as Border canaries are concerned, the epithet is deserved.  No miracles here, but huge dedication, knowledge, skill and no doubt a little gamesmanship.  An interesting man, but I have long held the opinion that he is one of those people who has mastered the art of appearing to tell you a lot while telling you very little.  So it proved.  It’s a good read, with lots about his early days in the hobby and the story gathered pace as his show results improved. I looked forward to the key phase when he transformed the quality of his stud from being competitive to being unbeatable, but predictably, when it came to the climax, he skimmed over the vital details in a single sentence.  Perhaps it was to keep us on the hook for part 2, but we’ll have to wait until the April 26 issue to find out.  Did I mention gamesmanship?

It was good to see Brian Keenan back on form.  At one point he described how he works with line breeding.  It summed up in one paragraph what whole articles have failed to do.  Brian may not be a maestro if you compare his show wins with Phil Warne’s, but when it comes to imparting useful information, there are few to match him.


My apologies to fans of Robert Burns for the title.

  1. Cage & Aviary Birds, April 17, 2017.
  2. One of the most lamentable cars ever produced by British Leyland.


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