The COM Lizard classification, part 3: the devil is in the detail

COM has finally caught up with the rest of the Lizard world and will provide classes for clear caps, broken caps and non caps next show season.  In the final chapter of this short series, I am going to look at some of the finer points of the cap that will now come to the fore.

Let’s start with extreme forms of clear cap, as shown in examples A & B.  Both are unblemished and have a neat outline.  In many aspects of canary culture ‘big’ is considered ‘better’, and I can imagine that many people will state a preference for B, but that would be unwise.  The shape of the cap may look attractive, but it disguises a significant fault (1).

Short and long  versions of the clear cap

Now look at the same caps annotated with the ‘ideal’ oval outline; this is the same outline that I used in the Part 2.  A is 15% under, and B 15% over, the area of the oval.  Technically A is a broken cap and B is over-capped, a more serious problem.  Neither deserves to be disqualified, but both should have points deducted for deviating from the ideal.

The same caps annotated with the outline of the ideal oval cap

There are limits to how much tolerance a judge should allow.  Have a look at the two examples at the head of this article: one is a short capped silver hen; should she be entered in the clear cap class?  Answer: no; a third of her cap is spangled; she is a broken cap.  The other is an over-capped gold cock; should it be disqualified?  In my opinion, no; the cap extends beyond the normal boundary and should have points deducted.

Now look at examples C and D, both of which display very minor blemishes in an otherwise excellent clear cap. You might think that the deduction of a single point might be in order, but some continental judges would treat them more harshly than that, claiming that they are broken caps.

Minor blemishes in the cap: near clear cap (left), ticked cap (right)

I have already illustrated an example of C, and won’t repeat it here.  D is even more bizarre.  I have seen claims on the internet that no isolated dark feathers are permitted within a clear cap; D would therefore be deemed a broken cap.  This is nonsense; both these birds are clear caps.

A clear cap gold cock Lizard canary with a tick in its cap.

Up to now I have concentrated on clear caps, but non caps can also be tricky.  Look at E & F: how would you judge them?

How would you assess these caps?

Answer: E is technically a non cap, but is on the 10% limit.  In practice, it would probably be safer to enter it in the broken cap class.  F has only a small clear patch, but it is outside the boundary of the cap.  This is a significant fault, and should be penalised more heavily than if it had been within.  For the sake of clarity, I have annotated the same drawings with the outline of the ideal cap so that you can see how bad F is.

The same caps annotated with the outline of the ideal oval cap

The cap hasn’t been a big issue at COM shows up to now because all the caps were grouped together in one class. That is about to change.  The new classification will put the cap in the spotlight and place extra demands on the judges.  The devil is in the detail; will the judges be on the side of the angels?


  1. As a general principle, light feathers outside the normal boundary of the cap are more serious than dark feathers within.  Assuming the two birds were of equal quality in other respects, I would prefer A.

4 thoughts on “The COM Lizard classification, part 3: the devil is in the detail

  1. Great article Huw! In this part you begin by stating that “COM has finally caught up with the Lizard world “, my opinion on this is that if COM GB had a technical commission as other countries in COM have, then information like this could be deseminated to COM in a clear and understandable way.
    COM GB participation at COM technical meetings is minute compared to other European countries, to be fair individual members of COM GB do a lot of good work but this is a fundamental issue that the organisation needs to address!
    If the Lizard is considered a UK bird and the UK has no intention of participating in technical meetings by sending the people who really know the Lizard, how do we expect COM to take the correct decision.
    Wake up COM GB and start doing what you were elected to do and that is represent the country at a world level!

  2. You say ‘Technically A is a broken cap, but should have points deducted for deviating from the ideal’. Is that as judged by the current rules in Europe? I would have assumed that in the UK it would be a broken cap and judged accordingly

    1. I discussed the difficulty of reconciling a strict interpretation of the standard with real life conditions in Part 2.

  3. If the Judges judge to the COM/OMJ standard….and people enter their birds in accordance with the COM/OMJ standard and don’t assume that the COM and LCA standard are the same thing, surely their ‘angel’ status is irreproachable.

    If as John say’s Uk fanciers ( in IOA-GB ) who represent the Lizard Fancy to COM/OMJ do not – and have not – properly represented the breed, for whatever reason, then it is hardly the Judges fault if they do not understand the complex nuances in the Ideal, especially when subjected to multiple translations ‘via’ French which is the ‘first language’ of the OMJ rule book, it appears ?

    But…..who – within the Uk parent bodies – ie. LCA/IOA-GB – has the time, energy, ‘Lizard’ intellect, kudos and expertise to put the issue into words at meetings abroad whilst remaining both persuasive and persistent ?

    Rather than perpetuate the current ‘muddle’ – which seems to be the status quo in the Lizard Fancy, to it’s inevitable detriment – would it not be better at this early stage for FFS ( and IOA-GB ) to establish exactly what the 2017 ( and onwards ) PRECISE wording of the actual ‘Standard’ in Europe says, then publish and promote that ?
    The current ‘implication’ that COM/OMJ should be judging unswervingly to a Uk / LCA “Standard”, Ideal and rule set, which in itself disqualifies all ‘natural’ non colour-fed birds is pretty incredulous ?

    Between them COM/OMJ and the LCA ……and the new ‘liberal’ non LCA affiliated Uk clubs, can not be expected ( or allowed ?) to “cherry pick” which bit’s of ‘cap’, colour, eye-lash, size, legs/feet/beak, body shape, posture etc……etc……they feel suits their case best according to what one or two people think.

    The application of a ‘classification’ arguably does no ‘harm’ to the breed IF an appropriate standard is in place. Diminishing the ‘standard’ and introducing what has been and is being sought to be introduced is what will do the harm.

    The ‘Clear’ cap and ‘Non’ cap classes – with a class for Broken capped birds, if ‘100% clear and 100% non’ is the cap ‘rule’ and is UNDERSTOOD to be the cap rule, is no different to the Colour Section classification.

    The benefit is surely that Broken cap birds will at least be able to be Benched and judged against each other ? unlike marked Lipochromes. Indeed, they will almost certainly be (substantially) the largest class which is probably the best way to prove a point going forwards.

    I think the focus should be on getting the ‘standard’ revised ‘back’ to where it was before the Portuguese had it ‘improved’. If some qualitative ‘prescription’ can be delivered regarding cap %’s IF OMJ can be convinced it is appropriate, given their Colour Canary mind-set, all the better, but as things stand an eye-brow should be of FAR more value than a ‘tick’ in the cap requiring ‘appropriate’ and considered classification.


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