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Yorkshire Canaries in the Windy City
By Tony Ruiz
passion for breeding Yorkshires started back in 1984. I got my first couple of
pairs and bred 9 youngsters that year. It was during the molt that I noticed
that I was in for a challenge to color feed them and have that pure and level
color the standard talks about. It wasn’t until 1991 that I would begin
showing at a National level, Champion status. This National would be the one
that changed my life with my Yorkshires. After winning the National, winning the
Kellogg and best Type Canary in show, and having placed most of the winning
Yorkshires on the bench that day, I was hooked for life on breeding, showing and
competing with these magnificent birds. My
passion for the Yorkshire and desire to improve my stock would take me to
England, where I had the honor of meeting breeders like Norman Hallsworth and
Percy James. I
would also later have the honor of meeting Ian Mesley of
These are the
men that have Influence
of Yorkshires, the mentoring, knowledge and skill they shared will never be
Tony and Norman Hallsworth at the 1990 YCC Show
Tony And Percy James
In 2009 Birds were brought in from Australia from the Ian Mesley stud, Ian’s line has won more awards than most studs combined, A line based strictly on shape, position and on the Golding Model. These are the bloodlines that make up my stud of Yorkshires still today, Norman Hallsworth, based his stud on great feather, finish and position very much like the Golding Model. Always taking pride in the quality of his birds and the feather and finish, he was able to but on his birds. Percy James based his stud on the qualities of size, position and top end. Ian Mesley, on shape, position and the Golding model. The combination of the two studs produced Yorkshires closer to the standard than any other in North America, Winning many Nationals since 1991.
Best National Champion, Best Type Canary 2013
Tony accepting the Higgins Trophy for Best Type Canary at 2013 National
My Bird room is 25’x 12’ wide; the cages are English box cages with 18’’ fronts. I can house 130 birds individually but never keep more than around 100 birds at the end of the breeding season. Once the chicks reach 10 to 12 weeks of age, they start getting color food and are housed alone in individual cages. The show cage is hooked on the front of the stock cage for them to run in and out to get them familiar with the show cage. Treats are made available to encourage them to put their heads through the drinker hole so they will learn to drink from the drinker. Taking the show cage off the stock cage and handling the youngsters will help their training for the upcoming shows. Every youngster is trained and given the same attention to insure that after the molt the young Yorkshires are ready to be evaluated and the show team can be selected.
At this time the breeding stock and the show birds are selected for the season, the rest become surplus birds. Only 10 percent of the chicks are held to replace older stock or birds no longer needed for the breeding program. Selection of the breeding stock is done with paying very close attention to every detail and fault, strength and weaknesses to insure that the next generation of Yorkshires is of higher quality than the last.
Tony with the Higgins Award for Best Type Canary
Tony Evaluating Youngsters
The chicks are fed a very simple mix of seed to keep their condition from peaking to early. This simple method helps the show team maintains good health, but not breeding condition and also keeps them from behaving badly in the show cage. The breeding season starts with preparing my Yorkshires from January onward. At the end of January, I start feeding my breeding cock birds a richer diet. The food increases from once a week to five times a week by March with the Hens about 3 weeks behind the cocks. This has helped the fertility and insures that the cocks come in condition a head of the Hens. By the time the Hens come into condition, the cocks are feeding their feet, singing and pounding the perches. At the end of March the Hens are checked for signs of breeding condition, if so they are given a nest pan and materials to build a nest. Once she start digging in the nest and starts building I introduce her to the cock bird picked out for her, The cock will be ran with her in the morning and again in the afternoon repeating this until she lays her second egg. At this time the cock will get a day or two of rest before servicing the next Hen. I use my Cock birds as studs and run them with up to 5 hens. This allows me to breed from only my very best cocks spreading their genes with as many hens as possible. Only replacing breeding cocks with sons that are of a higher quality or when the occasional outcross is needed. This method insures a stud that is closely related bred to be uniform with a family likeness and as close to the S. R. Golding model.
Producing Yorkshires like the Golding Model is what our goal should be, keeping in mind that the standard calls for a bird that is 6 ¾ inches long with position, feather and head making up 70% of the points on the bird. In my views, shape is the most important feature of the Yorkshire. The model tapers like a large carrot, it goes from wide, to narrow. With long legs that lift the bird off the perch, which gives the Yorkshire that erect attitude and fearless look, that’s why it’s called the guardsman!
‘’The Gentleman of the Fancy’’
Below is my Annual Yorkshire Canaries of Chicago Feeding Chart.
Simply click on it to open and either save the PDF document on your hard drive or print it out:
Breeding and Exhibiting Champion
By Tony Ruiz
and Photograph Copyrighted©2006-13 Tony Ruiz Productions™
All rights reserved.
Obtaining the finest
stock available at this time should be your number one priority.
The stock must be
consistently as close to the Yorkshire standard of perfection as possible. In
most cases the best way of going about this is, attending bird shows and talking
to as many breeders of Yorkshires as possible. One should then get on the list,
of the breeders that are winning and that have proven to be quality breeders.
Once this has been
established you are now on your way to develop and improve your foundation
stock. Be aware, that you will have many set backs and you must have
determination if you are going to succeed.
The goals from this day onward will be to improve your stock according to
the Yorkshire standard.
Keeping close records of
your breeding stock to insure you are not inbreeding or breeding birds that are
too closely related at this time. Line
breeding will be something you can get into once you have gained more experience
with your stud of Yorkshires. Making
sure you cull out any youngsters with undesirable faults. This will be very
important in the beginning, to establish a strong and healthy stud.
One of the top priorities
must be to learn about feather texture.
Over one third of the points are given to the Yorkshire Canary for its
feather quality. Birds that must be culled out are birds with serious feather
faults such as coarse, long feathers, cuts, and frills. Brownness, and washed up
color in birds are also a fault that needs to be culled.
Washed up color or birds that have such poor color they look white, are
usually a result of breeding clear birds as a line or family for a long period
In many cases this can be
fixed by breeding a really rich color green bird, throwing in some variegation. The variegation can be culled out through selective breeding,
leaving your clear birds with the feather quality and rich color they should
One of the biggest mistakes made by many fanciers every where, is sacrificing
type, feather quality, and shape for size. Using a bird just because of its size can prove to be very costly.
The goal is to breed Yorkshires with feathers that are short, tight compact, and
silky in texture, like the standard of perfection calls for. As
a rule of thumb, always remember shape, and feather before size...
To maintain and improve feather, you must breed these birds with correct
mating of yellow to buff. Some
fanciers will tell you that breeding buff to buff can increase the size;
however, this is the fastest way of getting in trouble and ending up with birds
that look big because of long thick feather. Therefore,
setting you back a season and leaving you with birds that never win. Many fanciers breed Yorkshires to the 6 ¾”that is called
for in the standard of perfection. I
personally lean towards a bird that is about 7 to 7 ½” that can be dual
purpose, show and stock bird at the same time. By this I think the stock can be
more useful during the breeding season, also allowing you to maintain less
If your goal is to breed
birds that are about 7 to 7 ½ “you never have the problem of having show
birds that are too small to use for breeding, but always keeping in mind, shape,
and quality before size.
Breeders which have goals
of breeding, showing and consistently producing Champion Yorkshires, must put
training their show birds at the top of the priority list.
This is as important as
management and good nutrition. Many
times you attend a show and see great specimens let the owners down do to the
lack of training.
The importance of training is to get the youngsters familiar with the surroundings as well as the show cage, placing them under lights similar to the ones used at the shows. This will help the youngsters get familiar with the judges stand. However, keeping in mind that position and style must be bred into your stock or all the training will not help if the youngsters are not well bred. I personally like to start training my youngsters at 5 weeks of age. I first start by hanging a show cage with no perches onto the stock cage. Once the youngsters are familiar with the show cage I then add bottom perches. Shortly, after the youngster start molting, I move them in the show cage to different areas of the bird room. allowing them to spend a little time in the show cage. Once, the birds are well into the molt training stops, till the birds are almost done molting. Once the chicks look like they have molted up to the shoulders, training starts again with all the perches in the show cage and the cages are then handled as often as possible.
One very important factor in breeding Champion Yorkshires is making sure the legs are correct. Legs that are to short or set to far back will spoil the over all look of the Yorkshire. This fault can be very difficult to breed out of your strain. Yorkshires with these leg faults can never stand at about 65° to70° or on a clock, 20 to25 minutes to 1 o’clock.
Yorkshires of poor position that lay across the perch should never be used for breeding.
Keeping in mind that 25
points of the 100 points go for position. 20
points for feather and 25 points for shape, that’s 70 % of the 100 points
given, leaving 30 points for condition, color and size.
Most breeders don’t realize that size is only 10 points. This is the very reason you will see many times smaller Yorkshires of good feather and shape beat out bigger birds on the show bench. Qualified judges know that shape, feather, and quality always prevail over size.
Yorkshire Canary is Back!
By Tony Ruiz
and Photograph Copyrighted©2005-13 Tony Ruiz Productions™
All rights reserved.
The Yorkshire canary is considered to be one of the largest and oldest of all the breed of canaries, dating as far back as 1894. In England, where the Yorkshire breed originates, it is still one of the top breeds shown at many specialty shows with numbers recording up to as many as 1,000 birds per show. The Yorkshire canary is finally starting to make a comeback in the United States, where at one time the numbers were at their lowest for Yorkshires. The Yorkshire canary is known as the “Gentleman of the Bird Fancy”. If you have the honor of setting eyes on a Yorkshire of excellent standard you will then know why the Yorkshire is called the “Gentleman of the Bird Fancy”. Mr. S.R. Golding of Middlesex, England, has drawn the model of the Yorkshire that is shown today. The following is a description of the Yorkshire features so that you will know what an excellent specimen will look like. These descriptions are a quote from the “Standard of Excellence”.
Must be full, round, clean and very defined. The back skull should be deep and carried back in line with the rise of the shoulders.
Should be as near to the center of the head as possible, not too near the top of the head. This will give a rather bold expression.
Should be proportionately broad, rounded and carried well up and gradually merging into the head.
Should be full and deep, corresponding with the width and rise of the shoulders, and carried up to the base of the beak. The beak should be neat and fine not to mention trimmed.
Should be of the utmost importance in a Yorkshire canary. Being a bird of position, its outline or shape should be as close to the “Standard of Excellence” as possible. The body should be well rounded and gradually tapering throughout the tail. The neck must be very short and well filled in giving the bird a solid appearance. This appearance gives the impression of erectness and fearlessness, which earned the bird the nickname of “Guard man”. This is why it is also known as the “Gentleman of the Bird Fancy”.
Must be long yet not stilty. This helps the Yorkshire form a position of attention. It must not squat or lean over the perch but stand at attention. Some people believe this can be trained, but I believe it must be bred into them. The position of the Yorkshire helps tie in the head, shoulders, and back held high and tapering to the tail to form a nice wedge.
Must be close, short and tight to the body. There should not be any frilliness found on the bird anywhere. The Yorkshire canary must have feather of the highest quality in order for it to be considered top quality.
Should be not too long but proportionately and evenly
carried down the center of the back, firmly set on a compact folded tail.
Meeting together nicely.
Should be held together very tight and not fanned. The size should be 6 ¾” with corresponding proportion. It should compliment its length.
Cleanliness, and feather quality is of the utmost importance in order for the bird to look its best. The Yorkshire canary must be color fed. The color must be pure, even, and consistent, throughout the entire bird. Contrary to some reports of the Yorkshire being hard to breed or that it does not feed the young, it’s easier to blame the breed when in fact it’s due to their own failure of conditioning the birds.
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Buying Yorkshires from an unknown breeder, regardless of price, can become a very painful experience. Cheap is never a bargain. Remember if it’s too good to be true it never is. Always try buying from a respectable Yorkshire breeder that is successful as a breeder and, as a top exhibitor, wins on a regular basis. This will ensure that the birds you purchase will be of the utmost quality and are from a good line. Only then will you produce Yorkshires closer to the “Standard of Excellence” than any other. I’m very pleased to say that the quality of the Yorkshires here in the U.S. has improved in the past 7 to 8 years tremendously, thanks to a handful of Yorkshire breeders. In my view the quality of Yorkshires here is very compatible to those in England. We need more breeders to get involved with this wonderful breed. Condition and training are very important. I start training my youngsters when they are a month old. I hang a show cage on the front of the stock cage so they can enter as they wish. After about a month I place the youngster in their show cages on a bench. This helps them get use to being handled. Make sure you handle the cage form the bottom, not from the top. Give them some greens in their show drinkers and they will soon learn how to drink from their show cages. I stop handling the birds during the molt and restart after they finish. At this time I handle the birds as much as my time will allow me to. Keep in mind that temperament and position has to be bred. If the young are not well bred, all the training in the world will not help. Keeping your birds in good condition is the key to success. The room and cages in which your Yorkshires are kept must be kept clean all the time along with good diet and clean water daily. Anyone that is interested in breeding Yorkshire for showing and improving the breed or just to improve their existing stock will find that the opportunity to purchase a better class Yorkshire canary in America is far better today than ever before. Keep in mind that the investment in the Yorkshires canary of today’s standard will be well represented in the very near future, a future as bright as its past.
There have been many articles written about how to raise birds of all breeds. These are some of the methods that work for me and how to feed my Yorkshires. First of all, never let anyone tell you what the best formula of nestling food or seed is, or how to feed your birds. The best formula is the one that works best for you. There’s an old saying that goes something like, “if it ain’t broke, don’t fix it.” This means that if you are having any kind of result with the methods or foods you are currently using now don’t change it. There are too many types of foods on the market today and they are basically all good. Just find one that fits the needs of your birds and if it works, stick to it. I started raising Yorkshires in 1984. Believe it or not I got my first pair from a pet store. Before that, I raised pigeons as a kid. I later sold everything and just had canaries as pets. One day when buying food for my birds I saw my first Yorkshire. I knew then that if I even started raising birds that was what I was going to raise. I went back to that store the next day and bought a pair. To my surprise it cost the same to feed these big birds and they eat the same food as the common canaries. It wasn’t till 1987 that I started showing, but only locally. The rest is history.
I like feeding my birds a diet of seed that is mixed, 80%canary seed and 20% rapeseed. I find that this mixture works best for me. I give this to them all year round, in addition to treats 3 times a week, depending on the season. For example, during the show season I only give them treats just once a week and alternate with greens. The reason for this is that the birds become too fit during this time. The lights at most show halls are left on a lot longer than in the bird room for that time of the year, and if you over feed the birds, they will start to come in condition for breeding too early. In Yorkshires, diet is one of the biggest problems. Improper diet is the cause for poor breeding condition, keeping weight on them, and of course the main problem of poor feeding hens. You seldom see a fat Yorkshire. Usually they are too thin. I am not adverse to trying something new, if it sounds reasonable, but for the most part I stay with what works for me. If your birds are doing well your fertility is good and your hens are good feeders, certainly there is no reason to upset what is apparently a good system. When it comes to breeding I like to bring the birds in condition slowly, similar to the birds in the wild. Once the birds are in condition I only breed the best to the best. But I don’t pair the birds off. I like to run my best males to as many hens that they can handle. The hens then have the job of feeding the young alone. I find that this works better because if you leave the male with the hens she sometimes gets lazy and will not get off the nest to feed the young, especially if she is in with a cock that likes to feed her. This is bad for the babies because out of three to four feedings from the cock she will only feed the babies once. This also will able you to produce more chicks from your best cocks. Once the young are a month old I start show training them. These birds are not hard to breed. It’s what we make of it, keeping in mind that what works for one breed may not just work for another. It’s up to you the breeder to find what works for your birds needs. The markets are full of everything you can possibly think of, every mixer of seed, nestling foods of all types, and variety vitamins for everything. My advice to all the novices is to read articles and books, and ask known breeders how they care for their Yorkshires. Take everything you think that sounds reasonable advice and put together a management program for your Yorkshires that will work for you. I for one will remain the keeper of the Yorkshire.
Tony Ruiz selecting his show team
The Art of Photographing Show Birds
By Tony Ruiz
Photographing birds can be challenging but rewarding at the same time.
I have seen many photographs of birds in books, some of which have been of very high quality.
Over the years breeders and bird watchers alike have developed skills for photographing
Birds, either in the wild or domestic birds in show cages. Over the years I’ve tried my hand at photographing my own birds with some degree of success. By no means do I consider myself a photographer. The pictures I have taken for my web site as well for the bird fancy have received many compliments over the years. I use two different methods that both seem to work as long as you are willing to spend the time and have the patients needed, to be successful in photographing birds.
Here is a small list of the things you will need to photograph your show
birds for your own pleasure. You will need a camera, a show cage with a plastic
front or a photographing box.
Here is a small list of the things you will need to photograph your show birds for your own pleasure. You will need a camera, a show cage with a plastic front or a photographing box.
I found that a Sony digital camera with a memory stick works best for what I do with my photos.
The digital camera allows me to take many pictures of the birds I’m working with and not worry about film or spending money to develop the film then only to see that none of your pictures turn out useable. If you are not happy with the pictures you have taken, you can just delete them and start over again. I normally take about 30 to 40 photos of each bird just to pick several good pictures.
Now that you have picked the camera that you will be working with, you will need a show cage of the same kind and style you use to exhibit your show birds with.
In my case that would be a Yorkshire Canary show cage shown here. You will need to cut the front part of the show cage off. Once you have completed this task, you will need to attach a peace the same size of clear Plexiglas for the front part of the show cage. You can use a hair dryer to heat the plisse glass and once in place you can shape it the same form of the show cage. Once in place you can glue it but don’t forget to place the perch in the same fashion of your regular show cage so your birds feel like they are in a show cage. .Keep in mind that with this cage, you will still see the cage wires in the background of the picture but not in front of your birds which still makes for excellent pictures.
Like many breeders that show birds on a regular bases, birds must be show trained. In order to compete and win at the shows. Training is the key to great photographs as well. You must start training the youngsters in the same fashion you train for competition. My birds are shown in a wire show cage that I hang on my stock cages when the chicks are finally weaned from the parents. I do the same thing with the special show cage. I allow them to spend time in the show cage with the plastic front until they are show trained or look relaxed and do not get stressed out. I pick up the cage, just like show training, I start by moving the cage with the youngsters around the room and by the time they finish the molting season we are ready to start taking pictures.
You may use a color back ground of your choice that will contrast with the color of your birds.
This will only make your photographs, and your birds look better. Keep in mind that the birds being photograph should be of good quality to start with, if you want good results. Taking good pictures of poor quality birds will not help you or the birds. If you are naturally good at taking pictures, it will not be difficult to start taking pictures that look good. If you are anything like me and take more pictures of my thumbs or of the sky, then you will need plenty of patients and practice, practice and more practice.
The Photograph box works in the same fashion. The birds will need to be trained in order for your pictures to look good and for the birds not to become stressed. By cutting a hole in one side of the box the same height of the door on the show cage, this will allow you to place the show cage and the box side by side, so that your birds can then run in and out. Set up both the box and show cage with food and water so the birds feel as if they are in their stock cage.
With time they will become use to standing on the perch in front of the clear plastic and not get stressed out. Once, you get them to relax you start taking pictures with no cage wires showing in the background or the in front of the birds. It will take much time and patient to get birds in the correct position, and timing is very important in order for your pictures to be useable and look good...
Make sure you always keep the birds health in mind and when they become stressed you give them a rest of a couple of days before attempting to photograph them again.
I’m sure other creative people have developed an easier way of photographing birds.
This is the method that works best for me and it’s very inexpensive and effective.
Giant Yorkshire Canaries
Fact or Fiction?
By Tony Ruiz
In the past few months, I have had several requests for what have been referred to as Giant Yorkshire Canaries. "You know, like we bred back in the old country!!"
Birds that are
at least 12 to 14 inches long. In
over 20 plus years of breeding this wonderful breed I have never had the
pleasure of seeing a
Fact is: This is only a
Fact is: One of the
biggest problems we have with this still is that modern day
Fact is: The birds that were winning 20 years ago were a little bigger then today’s winning birds. The birds that are winning today’s shows are Yorkshires bred closer to the model than ever before. And in a few cases a bit better then the model.
Fact is: Today’s
winning birds have to be well proportion with a balance of shoulders, neck, and
head with a good tapering through the legs.
This is what gives the
Fact is: Breeders today continue to concentrate and spend more time on size than any other feature on today’s Yorkshires, which also explains how little many breeders know about feather quality.
Fact is: Feather quality
and position make up 50 % of the Yorkshires points on the show bench, receiving
25 points for each. Further studying
of the model, will show you that the feather on a
Fact is: When compared to a bird of long coarse feather, this gives the bird with correct feather a smaller appearance. In many cases, birds of good feather quality that look smaller, than birds of bad feather, are actually bigger and have more body mass and muscle than birds of poor feather, when making comparisons and the birds are put on a scaled and weighed. In many cases the smaller looking bird weighs as much or more than the bigger looking bird with poor feather.
Fact is: If you look at the two photos you will see two buff green cocks.
Both are Buff birds but one of them looks to be a much bigger bird then the other. That’s because the one on the left has superior feather quality and the one on the right has long coarse wide feather and that makes him look bigger. Which of these two birds would you keep for breeding? In building a stud of top quality birds this type of bad feather should be avoided and eliminated in breeding birds. In rare cases, a bird of coarse, wide, long feather can be used by the experienced breeder if you have a mate that would compliment with the correct feather.
Fact is: Many experienced breeders will suggest to the novice breeder to breed two buff birds of long wide feather to increase size. This will only lead to disappointment on the show bench. . Birds from double buff breeding! Almost never turn out of very good quality and will only get the novice breeder in trouble with his stock.
the novices on what major faults to avoid when breeding top quality Yorkshires. Studying
the standard and the model of the modern
Fact is: Today’s Yorkshire breeders should be focusing more on breeding Yorkshires with better feather quality and balance, or what the standard refers to as Corresponding symmetrical proportions, with the bird being approximately 6 ¾ inches long and reducing major faults including bad feather. Top quality Yorkshires with good feather and good position that are well balanced will win over bigger birds with coarse feather on the show bench every time.
Keep in mind that stories and
myths are for children’s bedtime stories.
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