Of all the people I have ever met who keep birds, most if not all were first introduced to birdkeeping by somebody more familiar with the pleasures these small beauties can bring into a human’s life. They took the time and effort to see that our first introduction was a fulfilling one, and they made themselves available for the inevitable spate of questions and learning which follows.
Many of us feel that it is up to us to, in our turn, pass on the legacy we were so freely given – it can be done in any number of ways, but the goal remains the same; to share with others that love of birdkeeping which was first so generously shared with us.
This week you will be sharing one canary breeder’s point of view about, and experiences with…
Mentoring Young Bird Breeders
I have been involved in the breeding of canaries since 1994 when my sister in law Joyce, a longtime canary breeder, decided that I needed a canary in my life.
I steadfastly refused ownership previously to that because I felt I had never been successful with birds, although I admired them and their beautiful song. During a visit to her Chicago home, she led me into her bird room, and I instantly fell in love with the beauty, the song and the gorgeous colors of her canaries.
I knew I was ‘hooked’ because even the smell of the bird seed was intoxicating to me! I could stay in her bird room for hours at a time.
I left Chicago accompanied by my new canary, ‘Pavoratti,’ and brought him home to Missouri. On a subsequent trip, Joyce decided for me that I needed to be a canary breeder since I loved my bird so much. I returned from that trip with three hens.
Over the years I have several times increased or decreased the size of my flock – but I am currently ‘owned’ by about a hundred and forty-five canaries.
I called my mentor (Joyce) countless times with question after question as the years passed, and she never failed to share her full knowledge of the birds with me.
In turn, I put questions that neither of us could answer to other breeders, usually through the various canary e-mail groups I belonged to. We both learned a lot from those answers.
The long and short of it all is that I became a canary breeder because Joyce loved her birds so much that she wanted to share them with others who would love them and nurture them as much as she did. In my turn, I found myself wanting to also became somebody’s mentor – I needed to share my love of the canary, learned from her, with someone else.
Repaying The Kindness
Since she had shared her knowledge and love of canaries with me, I felt that I owed it to someone else to repay the kindness and possibly bring another quality breeder into the Canary Fancy at some time in the future.
When a young neighbor moved in next door and visited my bird room, I saw a light in her eyes and a tenderness in her heart for the birds and realized that at some point in time, she would make an impact in the bird world. We became good friends, and I found that I had a student-in-birds!
She now comes over every Saturday morning for two hours to assist in canary related chores. One year her birthday gift from me was a male canary she had fallen in love with, who she called “Blackie.” He sings and cheeps and provides a lot of fun for their family – and I know he has a wonderful home. Isn’t that what we all want for our carefully nurtured youngsters?
Each week I have a list of chores which needs to be done for the Canaries. Each week the list is different.
Melissa and I check over the list of chores, and then we pick what needs to be done. We have both learned a lot together, and we talk over the more unusual jobs so we can both learn more.
She has taught me as much as I have taught her. She is capable of taking over in my bird room at any given moment because she has chosen to learn and also because I have chosen to share.
I truly enjoy our time spent together. We have discussed pasty vents and fixed what we could; we have dispensed couscous and watch the results on the birds, we have bathed birds, changed papers and done thousands of seed cups together.
I don’t know how many toenails this girl has shorn in her time with me, but I can assure you that she is good. She knows the why’s, the wherefores and the what-evers of any chore done for or to the Canaries. The dexterity of her youth allows her to catch a bird quicker than I can. I think it is wonderful since the bird is usually less traumatized than when my clumsy hands attempt to grab it.
There is a particular joy for me in sharing what I know with a younger person. I hope that someday she will be very involved in the world of animals in whatever capacity she chooses. Yet I know that whatever her choice, she will do it in a kindly and knowledgeable way. I hope to be one of those people who she remembers took some time with her so she can become all she is capable of.
Someday I truly believe that she and I will compete with a canary judge’s bench. It would make me proud to know that she was talented enough to produce good birds and be a competitor, but also to know that she did well and had championship canaries to introduce to the bird world.
Pass The Torch
If you have or know of a young person who shows an interest in your birds, of whatever kind, please take the time to share your knowledge with them. The Canary Fancy will only continue to grow if we share ourselves with upcoming generations.
I have listened to countless stories from seniors who talk of their parents or grandparents who raised canaries to provide extra income for their families. They loved the song, they loved the beauty of the bird, but somehow it got lost of the years of changes in the family structure.
I hope that we can begin to reintroduce these beauties back into our cultures and traditions, where they fit so well.
Whenever we have a question about our birds, we refer back to our books, check the questions and answers in our e-mail lists about canaries, or dicker back and forth, trying out various possibilities and ideas. We experiment for the betterment of our birds, and as we learn, we learn to be successful most of the time.
We learn and grow from each new situation – and isn’t that what life and bird-keeping are supposed to be all about?