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Frilled canaries are bred, and best known for, their very ornamental appearance.
The different varieties of frilled canaries originate from a mutation that occurred in the old Dutch breed of canary in the 1800s. This mutation affected the formation and unusual disposition of the feathers.
Formerly, they were known only as Dutch Canaries; however, over the years varieties developed with sufficiently different characteristics to warrant different names.
Frilled canaries have never been widely kept in the United States and are little known to the majority of fanciers.
Frilled Canary Species
Most common in the US are:
- Parisian Frill Canary aka Parisian Canary - measures between 7.75 to 8.25 inches (19.7 to 21 cm) - including the tail. This is one of the largest of all known canary varieties. This breed was first reported in 1850.
Focus of this breed is the physical appearance rather than song. However, they also produce a pleasant song, similar to that of the common canary.
- Northern Dutch Frill / Southern Dutch Frill Canary - measures up to 6.75 inches / 17 cm
Originated in Belgium apparently from crossing a Belgian Canary with a Frilled Canary.
This is both a FRILLED breed as well as a bird of POSITION. It has two positions, one when at rest and the other, the typical show posture, when it draws itself up erect on stiffly braced legs with the head thrust forward, giving the bird the form of a figure seven.
Once a popular, readily available variety, this canary has now become rather scarce, and weakened by inbreeding.
Less common are:
- Colored Frill
- Colored (Milanese) Frill
- Giboso Espanol
- Gibber Italicus
- Fiorina Frill
- French Frill
- Hunchback Frill
- Italian Giant Frill Canary / Arricciato Gigante Italiano (A.G.I.)
- Japanese Frill
- Melado Tinerfeno
- Munich Frill
- North / South Frill
- Padovan / Florin Frills - occur in both crested and plainhead forms
- Roebekian Frill
- Scotch Fancy Frill
- Swiss Frill
All frilled canaries have swirled feathers on their back, chest and flanks that curl into distinctive, uniform patterns:
- The "mantle" is formed by feathers on the back being separated by a central parting and curling over each shoulder
- The "jabot" (or "craw") is formed by the feathers on the chest that curl inwards towards the center
- The "fins" or "Flanks" are formed by feathers just above the thighs curling outwards and upwards in a sweeping fashion around the wings.
The breeds differ in the volume and dense of their feathers; additional frilling, or lack of it; quality of feathering (*soft, semi-soft or hard); stand and posture; and size. They may also come in different color variations, such as clear / yellow, buff, green, ticked or variegated and dominant whites.
Frill canaries are generally challenging to breed to the exact exhibition standards, as they must have a certain amount and placement of frilled feathers in order to show them.
In addition to which, frilled hens are generally not good parents and the chicks often have to be pulled within hours of hatching and need to be hand-raised, which is challenging. Hatchlings are very small with tiny crops. So only drops of food will go in and they need to be fed throughout the day (every 30 minutes or so) - and several times during the night. If you are lucky, you have on hand an eager foster mom (another broody canary or finch) who will take over.
Species Research by Sibylle Johnson
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