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Crests in profile

WALLACE DEAN explains how canaries became crested

Beatle-bird: a Gloster corona buff shows a classic cap-like, not tufted, crestBeatle-bird: a Gloster corona buff shows a classic cap-like, not tufted, crest

One of the early mutations of the canary was to create an alternative to the feathering on the head, which we know today as the crest.

Reference to this is made in various books from the 16th and 17th centuries. But whether it occurred in captivity or wild stock is not known – either could be true, as is the case with the cinnamon mutation.

The mutation took the form of a cap rather than a tufted crest as seen in some budgerigars. All of today’s crested canaries are of the cap form. The oldest of today’s crested is the Lancashire coppy, which was nearly lost during the mid-20th century. Being the largest of today’s type birds, it was used to create the Yorkshire, so much so that it resulted in the Lancashire’s demise.

Today it is being recreated with the aid of the largest Yorkshires combined with the existing crest.

The most popular of today’s crested canaries is the Gloster, which was first produced in the 1920s by a Mrs Rogerson. Gloster breeders aim to produce a full feathery crest on a reduced body size. Today’s birds may be larger than the originals, but they are still the smallest of today’s type canaries.

During the latter part of the last century, the crest was combined with the red coloured canary to give the Stafford. The best crests are to be found in the non-intensive colours – best of all perhaps in the mosaic (dimorphic) examples.

Colourful: this Stafford frosted unflighted variegated red cock shows a less tidy crest, but is still a stunnerColourful: this Stafford frosted unflighted variegated red cock shows a less tidy crest, but is still a stunnerThe crest has also been paired to the yellow ivory to produce the Warwick canary, a new mutation still in its early stages. With the gene mutation being dominant to normal, it is easy to introduce the crest into any other canary fancy. Crossing a crest to a non-crest will give the expected result of 50 per cent crest and 50 per cent non-crest. Various names are given to the non-crest, including crest-bred and consort, but although they have been bred out of a crested bird they are unable to pass it on to any young.

Pairing together two crested birds will, theoretically, give 25 per cent non-crest, 50 per cent crest and 25 per cent non-valid crest. In its pure form the crest gene is lethal, resulting in young produced dying in the egg or upon hatching.


Colour canary veteran Wallace Dean specialises in red and red ivory ground agate and isabels, and keeps a small stud of recessive white ground selfs.

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