Photo: Tullio de Biase. The bird is an outstanding example of the beautiful half-moon posture and a much-admired specimen  

In NORMAN WALLACE’s third article about the Scots fancy canary, he assesses the breed’s status in the UK and Europe.

THE Scots fancy has had a checkered history from its routes in the tenements of Glasgow to the large exhibitions held in the 19th century, and its near-extinction post-war. But thanks to its supporters it survived up to the formation of the Old Varieties Canary Association (OVCA) in 1970 when an estimated five fanciers had 13 pairs of Scots fancies in their birdrooms. The founding members of the OVCA – Messrs Plumb, Dodwell and Fagence, Mrs Ayling, Mrs Critchely and president George Lynch – set in place the road to recovery for the Scots.

The formation of the Scots Fancy Canary Specialist Club (SFCSC) with William Peter as the secretary in the mid-1980s gave the Scots fancy a central focus from which to champion the breed. Another boost came in 1989 when the late Bill Sheridan took the award for best OVC at the English National with a buff cock. (It is interesting as there is an engraving of a Scots fancy canary on Bill Sheridan’s head stone in Larkhall Cemetery, which I understand is the bird he won the National with.) It seemed at this time that the Scots would gain momentum, but it was not to be and numbers stagnated with only five members, until 2012 when Ken Laurie (secretary), Sandy Innes (president) and Alan Rundell (treasurer) took over the club.

The breed now has a club show, which was held in conjunction with Linlithgow CBS in 2016 and a membership base of near 30 fanciers from all over the UK – with the central belt in Scotland still providing the majority of members. It is estimated that as few as 600 Scots fancies are in UK birdrooms. Yet the Scots is now in a stronger position than at any time since the Second World War.

Momentum needs to be maintained as the breed is still at risk. The demise of this canary was the result of the growing popularity of the Border in the early 20th century, and its resurgence is due, in part, to the growing popularity of OVCs in general. In the north-east, we have two shows that cater for OVCs: the North of England Gloster Club and the North East Lizard Canary Club. This opportunity to view and access stock is now opening up the Scots fancy canary to potential new supporters.

In certain areas, Scots are very popular; Italian fancier Mirco Meccariello has reported shows with up to 100 Scots on the benches. This may have a link to the many Italians who made their homes in Scotland. The Gouden Ring and World Shows have many Scots on show and it is in Europe where the greater numbers are to be found. Ken Laurie also has contact in the USA where Scots are gaining devotees. The advent of the internet has brought a new dimension to the fancy and the Scots fancy is now a global breed.

It is an engaging canary; a free breeder, lively and easy to manage. The Scots is a canary for the novice and champion alike; it provides a fascinating addition to any birdroom and is an excellent canary for the show bench.

Any fanciers who have Scots in their birdrooms and are not members of the SFCSC are asked to contact Ken Laurie (details right) so that exact numbers of Scots and fanciers can be ascertained.

Norman Wallace is the chairman of the North of England Gloster Club.

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