PUBLISHED by the OAKLAND INTERNATIONAL ROLLER CANARY CLUB to improve the advancement, breeding, and exhibition of Roller Canaries.

OIRCC Club Objectives: To advocate the development and advancement of the Roller Canary. To create a better understanding of, and demand for the Roller Canary. To encourage members in scientific breeding. To hold a song contest annually at which birds raised and owned by club members and non-members can be adjudicated upon by an official Judge. The 100 point song standard shall be used. To promote the welfare and prosperity of the club.

Membership REMINDER: Our current Web site address is: http://www.oircc.com and Membership subscription is $25.00 per year.  This price includes your subscription to the HIGH NOTES Newsletter and all other club privileges. We are seeking ideas for fundraisers to increase club revenue. Please provide any ideas at one of the regular club meetings.

Master Breeders Corner

By Linda S. Hogan

Unsure Cupid

Dear Linda:
I am unsure how to breed my rollers? Can you offer some guidelines?
Unsure Cupid

Dear Unsure Cupid:
Breeding quality rollers is a challenging task, but some general principles apply. To get reproducible results, it is best to breed within a strain of related birds. Be very selective. Only breed strong healthy birds who have outstanding basic tours. Within the strain, some birds will excel in hollow roll, others in bass. When choosing the breeding pair, choose a male who excels in hollow roll for a hen whose father excels in bass or vice versa. Birds scoring less than 16 in hollow roll or bass are not good breeding birds because they lack the genes to improve the song in either the direction of hollow roll or bass.
When I was a novice, some well-meaning people suggested that I breed father to daughter and mother to son and then cross them back to each other. At that time, my birds were scoring about 46 points and that included some points in water glucke. The next year, the commented, 'these birds lack tone". I noticed the hollow roll, hollow bell, and flute scores were going down. I also had a new problem known as hard-water. My heart was broken. I thought I was doing the right thing by breeding closely related pairs, but the results were diminished quality. My birds sounded harsh, metallic, and unpleasant. If you breed birds without regard for hollow roll and song direction, song will deteriorate. To find the best breeding birds, do not be blinded by the total score. Instead, look for those with the highest scores in hollow roll and bass.
A good bird results when a large number of interacting genes are balanced. u cannot expect to produce better birds unless you have a clear picture of what your birds have and what needs to be strengthened to improve them. If your birds need tone, put in more hollow roll. If you get too much hollow roll, you will lose tours. If this happens, add more bass. I recently had a call from a novice who noted that I had done well in flute at the roller show and he wanted a bird from my flute line. I don't have a flute line. Outstanding flutes occur in strain related birds when good bass is balanced with good hollow roll.
My plan is to breed only two or three males too many hens. This creates a lot of related birds who are half brother and sister. My favorite pairing is to breed a half brother to his sister. I have studied my lines and I now where I can go to get the good hollow roll and where to go to get good bass. When I see myself going too far in one direction, I can breed a half brother and sister to strengthen the other side. If you started with a good trio from a reputable breeder, in the second year breed the best males (select one with the best hollow roll and one with the best bass) to their half sisters. From these offspring the balancing the song cycle begins.
Don't be tempted to start your strain with high scoring multi-toured birds unless they meet the criteria of scoring 16 or higher in hollow roll or bass. Rather always breed for quality major tours in hollow roll, bass, hollow bell, and flute.
Your Friend in the Fancy,
Linda S. Hogan


Mite Problems

Dear Linda:
Due to a variety of circumstances I was unable to treat my canaries with ivermectin (ivomec) this January. My birds are ready for breeding and I wonder if you think it is a good idea to treat them now.?
Worried about Mites

Dear Worried about Mites:
Ivermectin is a very effective treatment for mites and lice. Unfortunately, it works by being absorbed into the blood stream. It kills the live mites when they bite the bird. It does not kill eggs so it is recommended that a second treatment be given about 4 weeks later. Because it is absorbed into the blood, it is a good idea to complete the two treatments at least one month prior to breeding.
For breeding birds, a better treatment for mites is Frontline dog spray. Frontline contains an active ingredient fipronil which has a unique mode of action that effectively kills mites. Fipronil collects in the oils of the skin and follicles and continues to be released from the follicles onto the skin, resulting in long residual activity. The product is designed for dogs and kills fleas for up to three months and ticks for one month. The fact that one treatment lasts so long and it is not absorbed into the blood stream makes it ideal for treating breeding birds.
Frontline is available over the counter at most veterinary offices. Be sure to buy the spray bottle and not the spot (top spot) kind. Here in Wichita a spray bottle sells for $10.35. Apply one drop to the skin under the wing or on the skin on the side of the neck when you pair the birds. Because of its mode of action on the skin, you need not be concerned with toxicity.
If you want to know more about the Frontline, please visit my Web site.
Your Friend in the Fancy,
Linda S. Hogan


Why and How I Breed Roller Canaries

By Justin Agrella

At least once a year a friend will drop by and notice once again that there is an aviary in my backyard and that birds flutter around in there. They all have one thing in common; they all ask questions.
I've been asked questions that would probably add up to about everything that could be asked about German Roller Canaries. Essentially, almost all of them are a specific question belonging to one of two groups: why do I breed Rollers and how do I breed rollers. I do not suppose I could adequately explain why or how I raise birds no matter hard I might try or how long I might spend trying. I think it will be worth the effort to try to at least summarize the why and the how of the hobby that has taken up so much of my time and maybe encourage or foster further interest in the hobby.

Why I Raise Rollers Canaries

The Roller Canary, for me, is the opera singer of the bird world. The song is both complex and rewarding to the great effort that is devoted making it so special. The Roller has always been similarly regarded by countless others, forever since breeders embarked on selective breeding of our little songbird; the challenge has always been to improve, or at least not degrade the quality of song. There are other varieties of Canary, and you can call me biased, but few can or will every equal the smooth even tone of a good Roller.
The hobby is not a static process either, as there are divisions of each year that capture the breeder's attention for the year round. In the late winter we nurse our birds through inclement weather, condition them for breeding and plan our pairings. In spring we are in the midst of the breeding season with dreams in our heads of December's champions and watching over the careful raising of the young taking place in the Breeding room. In summer, we see our birds through the molt and start to remove the male birds from the school house that prove to be unworthy of going on to song college due to irrevocable song faults. In the fall and early winter, further sorting, training, and later contesting, prove how well our careful planning, selective breeding and training have fared.
Some even care to dabble trying to produce birds of quality song and color. To those who do I must commend you for this is quite an arduous but not impossible tasks. It is always a joy to come across Roller that are both pleasing to the eye and ear. For the people who are inclined to specialize in color and the quality of song, there is no limit as to the degree good songster's can further your interest.
In the foregoing 'brief' paragraphs I have tried to outline the why of our hobby. I have not exhausted the subject, by any means but I hope I've gotten enough on paper to justify our enthusiasm for the breeding and keeping of Rollers.
It is my intention to initiate the similar, if not quite so strong, enthusiasm in at least a fair number of High Notes readers.

How I raise Roller Canaries

Once again I breech this subject with great apprehension, as each breeder has his own methods. For the constraints of this space, I will concentrate on breeding for those with little or no experience. This may seem like a repeat from before but please bear with me, as there are always members (whom I welcome). For those of you just beginning, get in touch with someone who has stock of proven quality. Listen to the stock for yourself, if possible, and listen to the breeder. The breeder has learned much from his pursuit of excellence in song and knows what his stock is capable of. Try to obtain two males and four hens if your funds permit. Do not expect to get the best bird of the breeder's possession. For these birds are saved for the breeders stock and are priceless to him as a breeder or maybe a tutor. Expect to get Rollers related to such a bird or maybe even a show birds if you're lucky. In either case they have the genes necessary for 'foundation' stock if you are sure to get the others that will go will with them. However, even having an established breed does not eliminate all problems. The new breeder will be anxious to get started and naturally so. As I have said before of this point, remember 'More hats, less speed' here. For puffing birds together before they in proper breeding condition and stimulating them into condition too early are the causes of more losses and infertile nests of eggs than all other causes put together.

Light Heat and Food

When Roller are kept under normal conditions and not stimulated by the use of rich oil seed (hemp in particular), Light and/or heat, the birds will not show signs of desiring to go to nest until the middle of March here in the microclimate of the Bay Area. That is why many use light and heat, see attached chart, to fool our breeders into condition early, thus giving their offspring at surviving through the molt. Their song is also given a longer time to develop those dulcet tones that win shows in December. On the other hand, if the birds come into condition too early, you can limit the diet to a staple of roller mix, greens, mineral grit and water.
Then when the birds come into "natural" breeding condition it is better to take the risk of matting them. If the day and night temperatures are fairly equal then all will go well. But the breeder who keeps his birds under different conditions and in unheated and natural light duration must not delude himself into trying to emulate the previous example. Birds being prepared for breeding may be given a more liberal diet. More rape seed may be added a ground mixture of equal parts of wheat, hemp, and buckwheat, or safflower may be given. As always, a spray of greens (kale, Swiss chard, endive, watercress, broccoli, escarole, dandelion leaves and roots) should be given daily.

How is the Beginner to Know when Their Birds are in Breeding Condition

If your birds are in good health the signs are easily distinguishable. When the male is seen frequently near the hen's flight, assuming close proximity, and is calling (singing loudly) toward that flight: he is showing signs of breeding condition. As hens approach breeding condition, they travel around the perches excitedly. She responds quickly to the calls of the male and gathers feathers from herself or other hens in the flight. Due to this feather gathering urge, it may be prudent to add a handful of nesting material, a single large feather or a piece of unravel string may be tied to the wires. It will also make it easier to identify the 'ready condition', as it were.
When the pairs of birds you wish to breed exhibit such behavior, by all means put them together if the weather is agreeable. Try, however, to get all of the first pairing to go to nest about the same time. Work you're breeding schedules along these it lines throughout the season if possible to avoid problems. Then, in case of any misfortune with a pair, the eggs or the young when hatched can be transferred to another hen. It also saves trouble in making nestling food, for it is just as easy to make food for four nests as it is two. If your pairs are put together at the proper time, the hen will be on her first nest of eggs at the end of two weeks from when the male is introduced.

Selecting Breeders

The breeder should use the slack period in winter to carefully go over each birds good and bad points. This will help you make a decision as to which birds will form promising pairs. There are a few general guidelines to keep in mind from the very start of the dabbling in the art of Roller Canary breeding. These are (1) the breeder who wants to raise good-sized birds (of both vitality and heavy in body) cannot expect to do so by mating two puny finches sized birds together. The Roller breeder must have size in one of the parents if not in both to obtain large birds. (2) That tow birds possessing glaring faults, particularly the same fault, or any point it is not desired to pass on to the young ones; should never be mated. (3) In selecting breeding stock the new breeder should mate a yellow (ranging from a pale lemon to rich orange), the color continues right to the edge of the feathers) with a buff. (Essentially a yellow whose color stops just short of the feather edge leaving a narrow margin of the white around the edge of the feathers: the bird looks as if it were dusted with talcum powder), or a variegated. Refrain from "double yellowing" or 'double buffing." In other words, do not breed yellow to yellow or buff to buff until some experience has been gained. Studies show that, yellows give color and feather quality, the buffs tend to give size, weight and a heavy feather covering. Variegated birds usually lend a natural depth of color notwithstanding the fact that greens are the natural color source. These are general guidelines from which the experienced breeders may deviate form. All of these considerations come within the scope of the individual breeder.


Breeding Season Recipes:

Egg Food Mix:

Home made corn bread mix:
Preparation: Pre-Heat oven to 450 degrees. Use a covered casserole dish sprayed with Pam or rubbed with butter. Mix ingredients together and pour mix into dish and bake for 25-30 minutes. Test for done by inserting a toothpick into cornbread. If done then it will come our clean. When done cover and let cool.
Use: Crumble finely and place in small bowl. Add 1 tablespoon of brewer's yeast and 3 tablespoons of wheat germ. If mix is found dry add a little water.
Another popular recipe uses the commercial Jiffy cornbread mix: 2 boxes Jiffy Mix, 5 large eggs, 1/2cup milk (optional)
Mix ingredients and place in microwave for IO min on Medium heat. Test for done with a toothpick for done. Apply as described above.
Feed the hens with young as much cornbread she will use between feeding periods. I also provide my hens with as much kale, or greens as they require (golf ball size).
Soaked Seed Mix: 4 parts rape seed, 2 parts whole wheat, 2 parts Buckwheat, and 2 parts hemp, 2 parts Safflower, 2 part Canary Treat.
Place the seeds in a half-gallon container. Fill with 2 quarts of water and add a Y2teaspoon of bleach to prevent bacteria growth and souring. Let soaked for 24-36 hours then empty seeds into a 4' strainer and rinse thoroughly. Next place on a moist paper towel or cardboard and cover, or leave it in the strainer for the next 24 hours. Moistening with water about every 8 hours. It should be ready for use in about 12 hours. (The seeds begin to sprout) Since the germination period for each type of seed varies, safflower and rape are fast, while the wheat berry will take many days to sprout. Its important not to let the seed soak in the water for more than 36 hours or it will begin sour. The wheat is the indicator for souring. Also if you use oat groats they too will sour. Beware of souring seed. A good rule is that the soaked seed should smell nutty. If in doubt throw it out! This procedure for soaked seed is repeated every day or so depending on how many young birds your hens are feeding.

Breeding Season Tips And techniques

By Steve Billmire

By now most experienced breeders are half way through breeding, while newcomers may be struggling getting the too or pair they've recently purchased. For the novice breeder one must remember to be patient with the birds. It's easy to try and do too much in the breeding room. Let your birds dictate the speed at which you progress. The hens will set the pace. If you have them in a flight cage, separated from other males, put a few nests up and provide nesting material for encouragement. Hens in coming into condition will start building nests quickly. Using this method (Hens in a large flight) it's important to observe daily. Hens will come into condition and can be directly placed into the small breeding cages. A disadvantage is some hens slip by and may lay a few eggs in the flight, thus putting them into a breeding cage results in no nest building, and likely eggs on the cage floor. In this case you missed her cycle and may have to waft another 10-14 days before she's ready again. What works for you is what should be practiced. Some breeders use a more traditional method of putting hens up in individual cages and wafting for them to come into condition naturally. I end up implementing a little of both. Straggler hens that don't come into condition usually identify themselves. Using the large flight method allows quick identification of good and bad hens, but puts more responsibility on the breeder. Observe and inspect your candidate males prior to introduction to the breeding cage with your hen. His vent should be pinkish red and elongated. Let his actions dictate (fighting, singing aggressively, etc.) if he's ready. If he doesn't fertilize a hens clutch in May he may be sterile. To check fertility inspect the eggs after 6-7 days of incubation. Recall most hens will not reach incubation heat until the third or fourth egg is laid. Don't be in a hurry to check fertility. Let her lay hard for at least 5-6 days before checking. I use a very small flashlight, held with the light head a few inches below my thumb and index finger. Put the egg in the cradle created by your index finger and inspect the egg. Since the light is directly below shinning up to your eye, there is no mistake about fertility. If the eggs are dear, discard them and put her back out to the flight for 5-7 days then watch her carefully. She'll tend to come into condition quickly after her first clutch, so have a vacant breeding cage readied. When she's ready again, put her up and she'll start spinning a nest again. Introduce the male then and leave him in until she lays the first few eggs. This technique is best
suited for breeders who have many males to work with. For a quick second clutch put a second nest and material into a hens breeding cage whose babies are > 14 days old. She'll spin a second nest and be ready to go again by about 21 days. When the first clutch babies are old enough put them into a weaning cage with some old hens to help feed them. Use soaked seed, egg food, greens, and lots of fresh water on the cage floor for the young birds to eat. If this method is not preferred then put the mother and babies into the weaning cage, and about 12 days later she'll come into condition again. As you can see the hens cycle is worth noting and understanding. Careful records should be kept for each hen to be able to predict her cycle.

1998 Specifics

This year with the unstable El Nino weather, some of my males did not perform as expected on the first round, and the young first time hens are somewhat hesitate to get busy. Where is that warm spring weather? The traditional good hens have performed well, but on the whole the first round has been full of holes. I've had a few more dear nests of eggs than usual. April is usually a good testing month. Most birds will produce one way or another between now and May. Most birds will come into breeding condition naturally, so work hard with them from now to May l5th. Some males go sterile for a variety of reasons so be prepared for the worse by having a backup readied. It's been said that if you're going to keep a male and not breed him you take a risk of him going sterile the next year. To prevent this breed him with a hen at the end of the season, and discard the eggs after 4-5 days. It's argued that breeding birds in after May is not good practice. The argument is based primarily on the fact our Song Contest is the first full week on December, so a late young male may not have a mature enough song for competition. Further, breeding past June risks a molting mother abandoning a nest and birds born late will not come into breeding condition until later the following year. Lastly breeding season is a lot responsibility, and the breeder generally vacations in June. This last point may be the best reason to not pair birds up past Memorial Day, unless it's very imperative you breed the pair, or don't have enough young birds. I believe breeders need to find out for themselves. One test is worth a thousand theories. I've seen too many novice breeders take advice and try to implement new practices in their programs without careful thought. Stick to what works for you and keep it simple. Good Luck to all. The year is just beginning.


Letters to the Editor: WE NEED MORE JUDGES

The focus of the roller breeder's year is the annual Song Contest. How do my birds stand up in competition?
Experienced judges are no longer is good supply. Canadians have only one active judge now and must resort to imported Judges from Europe or the U.S. How do we train new judges? Now all experienced roller breeders know the song well. Some men and women just enjoy raising the birds. It takes a degree of confidence to judge rollers. How do we find people with a fine ear for song and who may be helped to learn to evaluate the song? The fall and early winter are the best times for concentration on the song of the rollers. What steps should we take to prepare ourselves, our clubs and potential judges for the fall of 98' and beyond?

Question: Is there a current system of accreditation in the U.S. for becoming a Roller Judge? If not should the remaining North American clubs create one and take it on themselves to train some candidate judges for accreditation?

The OIRCC solicits our readers and fellow clubs, and judge's responses.
Email responses to

OIRCC COMMUNICATIONS at this years regular meetings: January through March 1998:

Welcome all 13 new members, and to all members who renewed their membership. Good luck breeding your Rollers in 98'....

OAKLAND INTERNATIONAL ROLLER CANARY CLUB meets at 1 p.m. on the fourth Sunday of the months of February through November at HEMENES Kempo Kung-Fu School, 1572 150th Street, San Leandro CA. Club dues are $25 per year and may be paid to the OIRCC. Closed aluminum club bands may be ordered for $.30 each with a minimum of 25 for $7.50 to members.

ROLLER CANARY HIGHNOTES is Published by the Oakland International Roller Canary Club to improve the advancement, breeding, and exhibition of German Roller Canaries. Hopefully it will encourage the promotion of the fancy and help instruct our members who are not able to attend our regular monthly meetings in San Leandro CA. The opinions of the writers do not necessarily reflect the opinions of the Club nor it's officers. We encourage all members and readers to feel free to send in comments, questions, and any articles they would like to see printed. Judges, Master Breeders, Champion, Amateur, and Novice breeders of Roller Canaries are cordially asked to contribute articles for publication. Subscription price of HIGHNOTES is $8 per year for Non-OIRCC Members. Back issues are $2.00 per copy. Steve Billmire - High Notes Editor.

NEXT MEETING: 26 April 98
Subject: Finishing Breeding Season

Last modified: January 28, 2012

Comments? Please e-mail to: jpagrella@comcast.net

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