Bird’s eye view: the Scales of the Lizard (Part 1)

Life is full of surprises.  In the Lizard canary fancy most of the surprises are of a modest and pleasant nature: the number of unexpected winners of major Lizard shows in 2016 being a good example.  The news I heard at the weekend is on a different scale.  ‘Scale’ is the key word because, out of the blue, the OMJ (1) has decided to change the Scale of Points for the Lizard canary; it will apply to all COM (2) shows.  Now that is a surprise.

The change happened in September 2016, when the OMJ technical committee held one of its two annual meetings (3).  The minutes have just been made available.  The proposed scale was submitted by COM-Portugal without prior consultation with COM-UK, the representative of the ‘mother nation’.  That is a surprising omission for a nation renowned for its courtesy; was it a tactical one?

The minutes also reveal other changes that could affect the Lizard canary: separate classes will be provided for clear caps, broken caps and non caps; a proposal to recognise the ‘cinnamon Lizard’ was deferred for two years; ring sizes are to be standardised across all COM member countries (4).  Compared to the new Scale of Points, these are minor details.

The existing COM show scale is based on the LCA scale.  The two are identical.  It will be familiar to everyone reading this blog: it has been in force for over 70 years; unique amongst canary varieties.  I am in regular contact with Lizard breeders in Europe and none of them has expressed a desire for change.  I have even heard rumours that many Portuguese Lizard breeders are unhappy with the proposal!  Nevertheless, it has the blessing of the OMJ – under contentious circumstances – which I will discuss in Part 2.

Let’s look at the changes.  They are significant.


The number of features that attract points has been reduced from 10 to 8.  There are no separate points for the eyelash or the lacings in the new scale.  These features are now amalgamated with the tail and wings, and allocated a grand total of 5 points.  This has released 15 points that are transferred to spangles (up from 25 points to 30), rowings (up from 10 points to 15), and the legs, beak and nails (up from 5 points to 10).

There are other changes: the cap starts ‘above the upper mandible’ and be ‘above the eye’ without mentioning the eyelash.  The requirement that spangles should start at the back of the cap has been dropped.  Ground colour has changed from ‘deep and even’ to ‘even and uniform’, so birds with dull, flat colour could do well.  The ideal length (currently 13,5 cm, or 5 1/4”) is now between 12,5 and 13,5 cm and suggests that smaller birds will be in favour.  Broken caps are now considered the equal of clear caps and non caps, but the limits of a broken cap are not stated.  There is no mention of faulty caps, or of disqualification for ‘bald-face’.  The 5 points for condition are now awarded to ‘type’ (‘barrel shape’), and ‘stance’, which should be 45 degrees (even though a good Lizard can display its spangles well at almost any angle).


In other words, the changes to the Scale of Points constitute a major overhaul of the Show Standard in all but name.  The existing show scale is a balance of all the Lizard’s features; the new scale is biased towards a few of them.   The outcome will inevitably be a reduction in the overall quality of the breed.

The Portuguese vision of the new Lizard canary does not inspire confidence.  You can see their official drawing at the head of this article.  It gives the rowings greater prominence than the spangles.  Is this the way they want the breed to go?

Helpfully, the proposal document also gives reasons for the changes, most of which are a matter of opinion.  It is the justification for downgrading the eyelash, lacings, wings and tail from a combined total of 20 points to just 5 that betrays the superficial basis of the new scale.   According to the proposal document it is “because we think these features are less important to judges”.

Which judges?  Where’s the evidence?  This is a serious allegation if it is true.  It is not for judges to decide which features are important and which are not; that is the responsibility of the national body for the breed (in this case the LCA).  Surely the OMJ’s priority is to maintain standards, not dumb them down because some judges are (allegedly) not doing their job properly?

The new Scale of Points applies only to COM shows.  The LCA and other national Lizard clubs are not bound by it.  I cannot see the LCA abandoning its traditional values, so we will have two standards in operation at the same time.  There are bound to be conflicts and the Lizard canary fancy will be split, to the detriment of the breed.   I’m sure that this not the outcome OMJ would wish for.  Shouldn’t it think again?

In Part 2, I will investigate how we got into such a mess.


  1. OMJ = Ordre Mondial des Juges, COM’s organisation for bird judges.
  2. COM = Confédération Ornithologique Mondiale, the world-wide organisation devoted to the cultivation of birds.
  3. The venues change each year.  This meeting was held in Cervia, Italy; the second meeting is held at the World Show.
  4. The IOA and LCA rings are likely to become smaller.  The current IOA ring diameter for Lizard canaries is 3.3mm.   The proposed diameter is 2.9 – 3.0mm.

10 thoughts on “Bird’s eye view: the Scales of the Lizard (Part 1)

  1. Why would they want to do this ?

    Can’t people just leave things alone, hundreds of years tradition blown out the park by stupidity
    Surely no lizard man or woman would agree to this

  2. The Lizard Canary standard remains intact in what concerns its race features, the only modifications that took place were only the points to be awarded in the following items: Spangles 30 – Rowings 15 – Beak, Legs 10, eyelashes, lacings, wings and tail 5.
    This meeting took place in Serbia-Italy, where this proposal was voted by unanimity by the following countries: Germany, France, Holland, Austria, Belgium, Brazil, Spain, Italy, Portugal and Turkey; the UK representant abstained. We think that, in democracy, the choice of the majority must be respected.

    1. That’s strange. Here is an extract from the British delegate’s report of the meeting:
      “UK objected to the changes and proposed that Portugal should send these to OMJ UK
      for consultation”
      Can you explain the anomaly?

      1. I have now received confirmation from Simon Tammam (the COM-UK delegate) about the vote. He tells me:

        I definitely voted against, not abstained, as I stood up and said clearly to the meeting that on behalf of OMJ UK “I am voting against this proposal as it should not have been tabled in the first place”. (My exact words)

    2. Carlos, get it right please, you know very well that I voted against the proposal. Had I abstained there would have been no need to overturn my veto.
      Simon Tammam OMJ UK Delegate.

  3. I read here that Belgium has voted for the change off the lizard scale? At a normal meeting somebody does a proposal and each country has to take this proposal to consult their members and to discuss it. Afther consulting their members, they take a dicision . In this case nobody has asked the opinion off the members, the lizard breeders.

  4. As the country of origin for the Lizard Canary, The Lizard Canary Association of Great Britain has sole ownership of The Standard for the Lizard Canary and it is accepted throughout the World The only way that the Standard can be changed or amended is by a ballot of the membership of the Association at a properly convened AGM for such changes to be ratified ,clearly what happened at the OMJ Conference was unconstitutional,and did not comply with the rules of the Association . I can confirm that at no time has the Portuguese Lizard Breeders who wish to impose this change to the Standard, sought to establish a dialogue , engage in debate or consult with the LCA on this issue, they have instead pushed ahead with these changes .That is not my idea of democracy,it is extremely disrespectful and fails entirely to recognise the position of authority and respect that the LCA has within the world wide Lizard Canary fraternity .I would remind those who campaign for change in Portugal that without the actions taken by the LCA to safeguard the breed after the Second World war there would be no Lizards left for them to mess about with . The LCA standard has stood the test of time and there is no reason for it to be revised or changed

    Clearly,upon closer examination the New Standard has significant differences from the LCA Standard ,to say that the Standard “Remains intact ” is pushing credibility to the extreme . Certain points are being promoted at the expense of others .Lacings ,Eyebrow ,covert feathers all contribute to a balanced view of an exhibit by a judge. They are now being downgraded because of an over emphasis on breast work or rowings, yet I can see no retention in the wording that correctly describes what is required in that show point .Regularity ,clear ,distinct, and lineable are what are called for in the standard ,NOT the haphazard random markings of a Thrush . Reductions in size are also an issue .

    The new Standard has in my opinion, major technical deficiencies in its construction,and I have no doubt these points will be put to COM/OMJ in the near future !!

    With regard to the decision of the President of COM ,at the meeting to over-ride any home nations power of veto on any changes to its standards, is a truly worrying development because it could be used by delegates from other countries to alter standards for existing well known British breeds. If you think I am worrying unduly ,then read the report on the proceedings at that meeting .As Huw Evans correctly mentions The Turkish delegation want alterations to the Yorkshire standard that will be reviewed in two yeas time The standard for the Lancashire is also up for review in two years time ,We can be sure other changes are on the way. This is clearly a decision that has to be contested on the grounds of lack of consultation ,and failure to comply with the principles of the COM constitution .

    As for the question over whether the U K delegate voted again or abstained at the meeting ,I can confirm ,having seen the Official OMJ report that our representative voted against the proposals .I would also say that I spoke to Simon Tamman the UK representative at South bucks Show on November 20th where he confirmed to me that he did indeed vote against the Portugal proposal .

    Although the new Standard only applies to COM sponsored shows in Europe, The criticism and anger voiced in U K and Europe needs to have a voice, the LCA will be contesting the change in the Standard for the Lizard.

  5. As I understand it the LCCP, through their national body, first “formally” put forward this revision of the scale of points at Almeria in 2012 (2011 show season) to COM. Minutes should reflect whether that was the case and if so what the attitude of those considering the matter may have been regarding the requirement to refer the issue to the LCA.
    I do know there was a subsequent circulation on-line of a re-annotated version ( in Portuguese ) of Huw’s pictorial model reflecting the LCCP’s view of the principal points of the breed as a training aide to judges which was substantially different in it’s interpretation and critique of the breed to the LCA standard. An allowance has to be made for ‘language’ and interpretation, but the revision of points now approved would suggest not too much of one. I also have a recollection – and correspondence to support it – of an LCA Committee member being in possession of an OMJ judges training package which I believe he brought to the attention of the LCA Council, as long ago as May 2014 in which this new, revised scale of points was apparently attached to the written standard. Comment was particularly raised as to the increased points to be scored by the three principal areas being mentioned now, ie spangles, rowing and beak/legs. It was noted later that season that the COM / OMJ judges cards did not yet reflect any change, which probably caused the matter to be ignored or forgotten.


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