Breeding Gloster Canaries

By Dave Cottrell

    As another Canary breeding season approaches, the selection of pairings is of great importance. These selections will determine whether we make progress or fall by the wayside when the show season comes along.
The aim must be to ensure that each pair is well balanced and always Corona to Consort. When selecting pairings, I always keep in mind what a top Gloster breeder, John Thornton, told me: "Hens for type and cocks for colour". So Gloster hens, whether they are Coronas or Consorts, should be small, nicely rounded in body, have short tails, well formed heads and in general be of good type.
    The quality of any stud rests on the quality of its hens and homebred hens are far more valuable than those that are brought in. You can judge a brought-in hen only from its appearance. No matter how many relatives and pedigrees you are shown, there is no guarantee that a new hen will fit in with your own stock.
Gloster cocks need to be short and cobby and must have excellent colour and feather quality. Tow points need to be remembered; older Glosters will be a slightly larger than unflighted ones and cocks will begin to tighten their feathering and lose their shape as the breeding season approaches.
    As always, when dealing with Glosters it is not just the differences between cocks and hens that need to be considered, we also have to take into account the two different Gloster forms; Coronas and Consorts.
The distinctive feature of the Corona is, in fact, its corona, the crest of feathers on its head. The corona should be rounded and its feathers should be long and have good "droop'. We all breed the odd example with a creased or split corona, but these should be discarded. Otherwise, the fault could be passed on to future generations.
    The Consort can be looked upon as a tool used in the production of Coronas, so the feathering on its head needs to be long enough to permit a corona to be formed by its progeny. This can be checked by pushing a Consort's head feathers forward. Use a two-pence piece to do this (positioning it where the corona would be, and if the tips of feathers can be seen protruding under the front of the coin, you know you are on the right lines.
    Although it is not necessary for a Consort to have a heavy brow, slight browiness with rise and width across the eyes is ideal. However, even some winning Consorts have pinched heads, little top or back skull and eyes protruding, so that they look like frogs when viewed eye level.
It is not good for the Fancy when judges give prizes to such specimens because that is the type they use in their own breeding cages. Even though a judge might keep Consorts that do not resemble the Standard of Excellence, it is the Standard they should have in mind when judging.