World Show 2020: Lizard canaries

This year’s World Show returned to Matosinhos (1) in Portugal.  My primary purpose was to make the second presentation of the London Fancy, which I will report in a separate post, but I stayed on to visit the show on the opening Friday.  As so often happens, I spent more time talking to people than looking at the birds, so all I can offer you are general observations.

My visit didn’t get off to a good start.  There were long queues of people trying to gain admission to the show.  Fortunately the concourse was spacious, people were patient, and we had none of the dangerous overcrowding that I experienced at Hasselt.

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The long queues in the concourse

The show used different halls from the previous show at Matosinhos, and for the better.  There were separate halls for the show birds, the sales section, and the stands for sponsors and national federations.  Friday is invariably the quietest day, but there seemed to be plenty of space, which led to a relaxed atmosphere.  My frustration with the tedious queueing soon faded, but there was still one test that the show hall needed to pass: lighting.

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The exhibition hall. Note the rooflight.

I don’t suppose any hall will match Cesena for natural lighting, but a long line of rooflights provided good conditions in the morning, even if the light deteriorated in the afternoon.  I would rate Matosinhos as better than average, and much better than Zwolle and Hasselt for viewing the Lizard canaries.

That brings me to the birds themselves.  There were 224 Lizards, plus 63 blues, on show.  That is remarkably similar to the number of birds at Almeria in 2017 as far as the golds and silvers are concerned, but a drop of about 30% in the number of blues.  Almeria was the last show before the classification was expanded to cater for the different types of cap.  At the time it was hoped that entries would increase because breeders would have an incentive to enter their broken caps.  That hasn’t happened.  Indeed, there were more clear caps than broken caps in both the gold and silver sections at Matosinhos.

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Broken cap silver hen by Jules Etienne. 91 points.

Another consequence of the expanded classification is that the stams are far less competitive than before.  I realise that entering a stam of four birds says a lot about the strength of a breeder’s stud, but the biggest classes featured only 5 teams, and one class had only two.  It’s not the exhibitors’ fault that these classes lacked support, but it does devalue the competition when medals are almost guaranteed.  Even so, the stams contained some outstanding Lizards with Jules Etienne and Giorgio Massarruto achieving 94 points with their best birds.

Should we revert to the old system of all the caps being combined in a single, very large, class?  I think not.  The old system had the advantage of producing a winner that could truly claim to being a World Champion, whereas nowadays we have three champions, or more accurately, three gold medal winners for each colour.  Yes, that diminishes the achievement because the classes are smaller, but just look at the quality of the medal winners.  They deserve recognition; they earned their medals.

Where did those medals go?  Here is the medal table, presented Olympics-style:

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The Lizard medals table

It comes as no surprise that the Belgians and Italians are well clear at the top; both nations are blessed with some outstanding Lizard breeders. It is Spain’s performance in third place that I think is noteworthy.  In years gone by you would have expected the Netherlands, Germany or France to have been in the top three; Spain would have been lucky to win a medal.  Was this year’s performance a fluke, or a sign of things to come?  I think the latter.

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Broken cap silver hen by Miguel Recacha Gonzalez, awarded only 90 points.

There was a time when I had low expectations of the Spanish Lizards I saw at the World Show. It has become apparent that the more savvy Spanish breeders have realised that the only way to improve their Lizards is to segregate their classic bloodlines from any other.  They are in the minority at present, but their commitment is beginning to pay dividends.  Knowing the enthusiasm of the Spanish breeders for the Lizard, they have the potential to become a major force on the world scene.

A common complaint in recent years is that the Lizard has been the poor relation when it comes to judging resources.  We have seen up to six different judges being used because time was running out and they happened to be available.  This year was an improvement, if not perfect.  Carlos Lima judged the majority of classes while three other judges assessed five classes between them.  There will always be the occasional glitch, but overall the standard of judging was consistently good.  A good example of confident judging was the award of a gold medal to Domenico Mungiguerra’s non cap silver cock.  Well done to all the judges.

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Non cap silver cock by Domenico Muniguerra. Gold medal.

What did I think of the birds?  In my opinion the golds were of a very high standard, and the best were outstanding.  The silvers were not as good as I have seen in some years, although it’s quite possible that they were past their best by the time I saw them.  If I was judging the Lizards under the old classification (relax, it will never happen), the title of World Champion would have between Jules Etienne’s clear cap gold hen and Bart Decker’s broken cap gold hen.  Both were very impressive Lizards.

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Clear cap gold hen by Jules Etienne, a gold medal winner.

My Man of the Match award would go to Fernand Moes.  He entered just three birds and came away with one gold and two silver medals.  He endorsed my view that the three most important features of the Lizard canary are quality, quality, quality.

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Broken cap gold hen by Fernand Moes, a silver medal winner at Matosinhos.

I present a gallery of birds that caught my eye.  It is heavily biased towards golds because I photographed them in the morning when light conditions were at their best.  Unfortunately the photos of some attractive Lizards were not good enough for publication, so my apologies to Vincent Coquet, Albert de Smet, Paolo Amoral Alegria and Jean Marie Vandeweghe that their birds are not included here.


Strictly speaking, the show hall is located in Leça da Palmeira on the northern side of the river, a modest, but very likeable, part of the world.  Unlike Porto, it is still an active shipping port and provided a busy seafaring backdrop to our stay.  We loved it.  At the opposite end of the spectrum, the Capela De Santana and the Quinta Da Conceicao are both architectural gems.

4 thoughts on “World Show 2020: Lizard canaries

  1. Well done to all, Etiennes birds are stunning

    Delighted also for Tony Horton, well deserved and his birds are also stunning, very well done to him
    I’m sure that’s the broken cap bird I was talking about at the Classic that he won with, only 89 points awarded. Mmmmmmmmmmm

    Great report again Huw, well put together as always, well done to you too

  2. Muitos parabéns pela descrição.
    O juiz Carlos Lima é um apaixonado pelos Lizard, por tal quando ele julga é raro haver quem discorde.
    Pena não ter a fotografia do Lizard do Giorgio Massarruto, uma fêmea azul que ganha com 92 pontos impressionante, e teve essa pontuação pois não tinha as patas oxidadas, mas era fantástica… e ao que apurei foi-lhe retirado 3 pontos por tal motivo.

  3. Congratulations to the winners and all who entered their best birds for judgment in what seems to be an excellent show.

  4. Great article as always Huw, a point of interest is that if we factor in the medals won in the category of Blue Lizards (after all this is a COM show, and the Blue is recognized by COM) then Spain ends up with 5 gold medals in total. This really makes a statement about the level Spanish Lizard breeders.


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