Above: Plastic split rings. Photo: Ivan Chapman/BCCC
Colour canary champion exhibitor IVAN CHAPMAN explains his approach to placing split rings on his young birds, and talks us through this process step by step. It doesn‘t need to be fiddly!
BY THIS time of year, you should already have your closed rings. There are different ways we ring our birds, so how do we choose the best option for ourselves? In the UK we don’t have to closed-ring our coloured canaries for showing. The ring is only for breeders to identify the birds. Plastic split rings are normally for identifying which family they are bred from, which is why these rings come in many varieties of colour.
You can put these plastic rings on at any age, with a special tool the ring supplier will issue you. You are also able to purchase numbered coloured plastic rings. Formerly, I used these for many years, until I found that the printed numbers can rub off and become unreadable. This is why I have changed over to split anodised aluminium rings which have year colour and year number stamped on them. You can apply the anodised split rings at any age using a special pair of pliers.
I always put the rings on when I wean the young away from the parent bird. At the same time, I put a coloured family ring on. I opt to do so at this stage since the young are so busy crying for food that they are not very interested in what’s going on with the rings.
At this point, I must emphasise that split anodised aluminium rings do not prove the age of the birds at all, so if you colour-feed your young canaries in the nest you must put closed rings on. I chose split anodised aluminium because I find them much easier than closed rings – most importantly for the welfare of the bird, as I have seen birds’ feet injured and get deformed by people closed-ringing their birds. My personal preference is not to interfere with my young canaries in the nest if possible. Nonetheless, I will still closed-ring on a special occasion for people who want their closed rings on the birds that they buy from me.
I know there are some associations/clubs that put specials on for their members for the best closed-ringed birds only. Furthermore, if you show outside of the UK you might need closed rings on your birds. Closed-ringing birds is supposed to be a way of enabling the birds to be uniquely identified with a year and a code: the year helps you to know the age of the bird and the code is a unique identifier so that you can keep records of each bird. In any event, if you do closed-ring your birds, make sure that you order your rings from your ring steward early, and not when the young are five days old, since by the time you receive your ordered rings it will be too late! It is important to note that closed ringing doesn’t necessarily identify the breeder or owner of a bird, it may merely denote who has bought it.
Developing chicks are ready for closed-ringing at approximately six days old, but the individual growth rate for each bird must be considered foremost. As a general rule of thumb it is always best to check early just to be certain you don’t miss the opportune moment in time. If you are experienced, you can determine from about five days old when to ring the chick. It’s the ankle size that determines if it’s too late or not, since the ankle is the widest part of the foot for the ring to go over. If you try too late you will injure or cripple the chick. Please don’t ever force by pulling or tugging at the rings. It’s far better if the young bird is too small, as this gives you the opportunity to try again the next day.
How to ring your young birds
Hold the youngster in one hand. With the fingers of the same hand, hold the three forward toes together and the rear toe facing in the opposite direction. Then perform these three steps:
1. Using your other hand, slip the ring over the front three toes.
2. Slide the ring across the ankle and over the back toe.
3. Then release the back toe.
Finally, replace the chick in the nest – and the hen will never know. (We hope.)
Ivan Chapman is the secretary of the British Colour Canary Club.
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