The various breeds of the frilled canary have never been widely kept in this country and are little known to the majority of fanciers. This information is intended to give a brief outline of their main characteristics and the official standards of the Confederation Ornithologique Mondiale.
HISTORY All frilled varieties appear to have had a common origin in a mutation that occurred in the old Dutch breed of canary about the year 1800. In the early days they were known simply by the general term "Dutch" canaries but, during the nineteenth century, various developments took place in different parts of the continent which resulted in several distinct breeds. Not all frilled breeds are old varieties, especially some of those developed in recent years in Italy.
CHARACTERISTICS The principal characteristic of all of the frilled breeds is the curling of the feathers into a distinctive pattern which is basically the sane in each case, namely, (a) the "mantle" formed by the feathers of the back being divided by a central parting and curling over each shoulder like a cape; (b) the "jabot" (or "craw", or "waistcoat") formed by the breast feathers curling inwards towards the centre in the form of a frilly shirt-front, or closed shell, and (c) the "fins" formed by bunches of feathers above the thighs curling outwards and upwards around the wings. Differences between the breeds range from the voluminous and dense plumage of the Parisian Frill (the largest of the breeds) to the sparse and crisp feathering of the Gibber Italicus (the smallest). Stance and position in the show cage also varies from breed to breed.
As a secondary characteristic all of the breeds tend to be somewhat nervous and highly strung, often with a tremulous action of the legs. In general, colour is of little importance and they may be clear, ticked, variegated or green. Except in the case of the Gibber Italicus, yellows seem to be rather scarce, most of the stock in this country consisting of buffs. A few dominant whites are also to be obtained.
BREEDING Frilled canaries are not usually difficult to breed, some strains being particularly vigorous and free, although as with all canaries, some indifferent breeders are to be found and often with a tendency towards being poor feeders. Few breeders in this country have had any lengthy experience with these breeds and detailed information on mating, based on practical experience, thus is lacking. The generally accepted principles of livestock breeding should, therefore, be applied by mating together the best birds which conform most closely to the required standard. It should also be remembered that even those which do not quite come up to the standard, if well bred and suitably mated, may still produce good birds.
MOULTING Frilled canaries present no particular problems at moulting tine and do not need to be colour fed for exhibition.
SHOWING In this country, all frilled breeds can be shown in one type of show cage. This is similar in design to that of the Yorkshire but with a flat top instead of a rounded one. Frilled canaries need a certain amount of show training in order that they will be steady and hold themselves up well before the judge.