Bologna 2016: the judge’s report

My guest contributor this week is Joe Coakley who, in his own words, felt ‘very privileged’ to judge the Lizard canary section at the Bologna Show in 2016.  I think it will be obvious from the photographs (which Joe also provided) why he was so enthusiastic about the quality of the birds on display.  Joe is one of those judges who is keen for exhibitors to learn from his assessment, so take your time and make the most of this opportunity.

Joe was not the only person who took photographs on the day.  I will publish Antonio Petraroli’s memories of the show in my next post.

Maschio Wins Bologna (1)

Early in 2016 I was honoured to be invited to Judge the Lizard Canary Section at the 70th Bologna Show in Italy.

When I arrived at Bologna Airport early Friday afternoon in preparation for Saturday’s judging, my first glance at Beauty came whilst leaving the airport in the form of the Lamborghini Aventador, a super sports car in all its purest form. My first thought was this car had been styled by a designer on some sort of stimulant; I could not help but think the designer must have had such fun and enjoyment shaping so much detail in to this vehicle.


I left in awe of the Aventador.

Arriving late at the show early Saturday morning due to a late pick-up there was no time for introductions; it was straight in to the judging.

I was greeted by the stewards and breeders whose birds I was going to be judging on the day; one could sense the tension and anticipation. These guys oozed passion and a deep love for the Lizard.  I instantly knew this was going to be taken very seriously: how would their individual birds fair under my adjudication?  There would be no room for error on my part, not only were the birds being scrutinised but also my ability as a Lizard Judge.

My style of judging, as those who know me will testify, is to give the breeders and their birds the utmost respect and time they deserve.  I was mindful that some had travelled 6 hours and possibly more to provide me with a day of pleasure, there would be no rushing me.  We were in for a long day: 180 Lizards had been benched by 13 of Italy’s top scholars; get it wrong I knew that I would be taken to task (2).

Interior of the show hall

I was asked to judge from 1-4 not the normal 1-7. This is a difficult system when it comes down to the wire and the birds are close: eye lash, feather quality, presentation, colour etc.

My thoughts went back to the Aventador to make sure that I had fun and enjoyment in my capacity as the Lizard Judge; I would be judging for detail.

This is important, in my mind, for the progression of the breeder.  All too often there is continental judging that is not to the standard; the quality goes, and with it the breeder’s understanding of what to accept and what to improve.  I am only too willing to accept constructive criticism of my judging and my birds in my quest for perfection.

Special awards for the top Lizard canaries
Special awards for the top Lizard canaries

The last time I had seen the Italian Lizards was in Bari at the World Show, and I was critical of the caps way beyond the boundaries and the definition of the rowings.  I soon realised from the outset of Class LI1 (Clear Cap Gold Cock) there were massive improvements.  This was the start of things to come.  As I went through the classes, each class contained ‘top drawer’ (3) Lizard canaries.   They were a delight to behold: quality well-defined spangles, caps within the boundaries, dark legs, incredible rowing on both males and females, superb ground colour, fabulous birds throughout.

The pictures will tell the story of some of the best Lizards I have ever seen at one show.  Here are some of the winners:

LI1 C/C/G/C Antonio Petraroli.  A real sharp showman displaying his excellence all day.

Second Best Lizard canary: clear cap gold cock - Antonio Petraroli
Second Best Lizard canary: clear cap gold cock – Antonio Petraroli

LI2 C/C/G/H Antonio Petraroli. A lovely marked bird with excellent ground colour.

LI3 B/C/G/C Gianmarco Orazi. Good spangle and ground colour; lacked in rowing and staging/training.

Broken cap gold cock - Gianmarco Orazi
Broken cap gold cock – Gianmarco Orazi

LI4 B/C/G/H Fabio Macchioni. Good all round Lizard just lacking in ground colour to move it forward.

Broken cap gold hen – Fabio Macchioni

LI5 N/C/G/C Giorgio Massarutto. Good well balanced all round Lizard with good rowing for a cock bird and dark ground colour.

Non cap gold cock - Giorgio Mazzarutto
Non cap gold cock – Giorgio Mazzarutto

LI6 N/C/G/H Antonio Petraroli. A lovely well marked, tight spangled Lizard. Slight frosting around the throat.

Non cap gold hen - Antonio Petraroli
Non cap gold hen – Antonio Petraroli

LI7 C/C/S/C Fabio Macchioni. Lacked depth of ground colour.

LI8 C/C/S/H Giorgio Massarutto.  Good dark melanin.

Clear cap silver hen Lizard canary by Giorgio Massarutto
Clear cap silver hen Lizard canary by Giorgio Massarutto

LI9 B/C/S/C Fabio Macchioni.  Good bold bird with width and excellent spangle, fantastic rowing, superb ground colour a striking bird.

LI10 B/C/S/H Domenico Mungiguerra. Clarity of spangle excellent, but ground colour too light – needed darker melanin in comparison to the winning birds – the Lizard comes from the dark school.

Broken cap silver hen - Domenico Mungiguerra
Broken cap silver hen – Domenico Mungiguerra

LI11 N/C/S/C Furio Coppelli.  If this bird had the benefit of 2 perches it would have shown a great deal better!  Nice tight spangle considering the staging issue.

Non cap silver cock - Furio Cpopelli
Non cap silver cock – Furio Cpopelli

LI12 N/C/S/H Domenico Mungiguerra. Clarity of spangle excellent, but ground colour too light.  Melanin needs to be darker. Lost out in the final judging for detail due to a slight light patch down the neck.

LI13 Gold Stam Giorgio Massarutto.  The best of the 4 on show, some good individual birds but lacked in harmony and all round quality.

LI14 Silver Stam Giorgio Massarutto.   A better stam than the golds.  Good harmony and better individual birds. Best Stam in Show.

Best in Show: broken cap silver cock - Fabio Macchioni
Best in Show: broken cap silver cock – Fabio Macchioni

Best in Show: Fabio Macchioni, Broken Cap Silver Cock, fabulous Maschio!

This was a fabulous bird, I have never seen a male Lizard of better quality of rowing.  This bird had excellent spangles that were tight and dark with strong melanins, continuing up to the cap, and shown off by a bold bird of good size. Fabulous distinct rowing all over the chest that ran through the legs, being very distinct and clearly defined -not a blur of black or tram line- they were all individual rows. The ground colour was sharp, even and deep, no matter what position this bird was in. It looked wonderful, a credit to the breeder.

Best in Show; Broken Cap Silver Cock, Fabio Macchioni
Best in Show; Broken Cap Silver Cock, Fabio Macchioni

This bird also won the Caianiello Memorial Trophy for Best Lizard Ground Colour. Fabio had other birds of note: a nice Broken Cap Gold Hen and Silver Clear Cap Cock, but the Broken Cap was the pick of his team on the day.

Best Gold: Antonio Petraroli, Clear Cap Cock.

Best Gold Lizard canary: Antonio Petraroli
Best Gold Lizard canary: Antonio Petraroli

This was a lovely tight feathered bird with excellent neat dark spangle, good even deep ground colour, excellent Melanin and neat oval cap. Every time I glanced round at this bird during judging it was on its toes; upright with excellent pronounced spangle that never came out of alignment.  It was impossible for me to choose another for best Gold: a showman!  Antonio had some excellent birds on display including a lovely Non Cap Gold hen, Clear cap Gold Hen (Best Opposite Sex) and Clear Cap Silver Hen.


There were four Stams benched in both Silver and Gold from Botrugno, Copello, Mungiguerra, Massurutto.  Giorgio Massurutto came out on top in both classes and won the Best Stam overall.

The winning Stam was a team of Silver Clear Caps with some nice individual birds and fairly good balance of harmony. Overall I thought the Stams were not of the quality one would expect, but there were some very good individual birds amongst the teams.

Other breeders and birds of note came from Gianmarco Orazi whose birds were always in the top three.  He benched two excellent dark Silver Clear Cap Hens and some nice Broken Cap Golds, but they just needed that all-important show cage training to make them steady.  Domenico Mungiguerra benched two bold birds: a Non Cap Silver Hen and Broken Cap Silver Hen, which for me just lacked the darkness of the winning birds.  Some prefer the lighter bird which does emphasise the spangle, but the melanins for me were down; otherwise two top quality birds.

Giorgio Massurutto/Alessandro Gaiazzi/ Furio Copello were always in contention winning a number of classes and placings.

I visited the Lizard Dag a week or so before Bologna and saw the Dutch, Belgium and British birds.  Overall the Italian Lizards are now ahead of their counterparts. The Italian Breeders are very close to each other in their quality and, believe me, there were some outstanding Lizards benched ,making them difficult to separate from 1-4.

Cage training is a ‘must’ for the future. I had to allow time for the birds to settle.  Other problems included loose or dislodged perches, which caused some birds to miss out; and wet paper in the bottom of the cage (due to the drinkers overflowing) which had a detrimental effect on the birds’ tails.

There were other faults which caused birds to be discarded: a white toe nail; slightly long caps; a patch in the neck; some silvers and golds light in ground colour; and the some golds with a light collar round the back of the neck and over the shoulders, which stops the spangle from running true; a bit of  a ‘quiff’ in the throat; a line in the chest.  Nevertheless, these were minimal; a vast improvement on Bari.

My thanks to the organisers for their kind invitation, and all of the breeders and stewards that participated and helped me throughout the day!  I had a wonderful time in Bologna that gave me an intense day’s judging, your hospitality was both welcoming and warm.

I left Bologna in awe of the Italian Lizard Canary.

Joe Coakley


  1. For the benefit of non-Italian speakers, ‘maschio’ means ‘male’.
  2. For the benefit of non-British readers, ‘taken to task’ means ‘criticised’.
  3. For the benefit of non-British readers, ‘top drawer’ means ‘top quality’.


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