Watery Songs Aviary
Waterslager Canary
        My First Season
Now that Iíve waited six months and driven 1000 miles each way to get my first trio, now Iím home and excited for the breeding season.  The breeding season starts in about the middle of February so I get the birds settled in.  Soon the hens start to build their nests so I put an excited cock in and wow, I donít know who is more excited the cock or me!  Then the frustration begins.  The first hen only lays one egg.  The second hen lays her eggs and then decided not to sit on them.  A week later the second hen lays more eggs she refuses to sit on, and the first one finally hatches its one egg.  Next the first hen lays more eggs and starts to sit as does the second hen.  The first hatches two eggs, and the second one hatches two eggs but only feeds one of them.  Then for some unknown reason the first hen died.  I was ready to pull my hair out!!!
My color bred canaries each produced about 9-10 babies apiece in just 2 rounds, the waterslagers after three rounds I had seven babies between them, three of which were males. You need four males for a team.  I would have to show them as singles this year. 
       What Happened
I read an article by Tom Trujillo, the president of the American Water Society, that indicated that Waterslagers have trouble settling down if there are other types of canaries in the same bird room.  I had intended to get rid of my color bred canaries because I didnít want them affecting the song of the waterslagers but I hadnít done it yet.  That may have been one problem and so I quickly sold all my color bred canaries.  I have since heard from other breeders and found myself that Waterslagers are in general a little harder to breed than normal canaries.  It is a little trickier getting them to settle down and sit on eggs and feed the babies.  A good art to learn is that of supplemental feeding the first few days after a chick is born.  It also helps to hold a hen back just a little as she is coming into breeding condition.  You can do this by leaving her in a large flight with no males and no nesting materials.  This way when she is aloud to nest she will be a little more enthusiastic and sit a little harder.
Most of us line breed our canaries which is the process of breeding mother to son, or father to daughter, or half brothers to half sisters in order to bring out the best qualities of song.  This inbreeding may also be part of the reason Waterslagers have trouble settling down and caring for their young.  It is the goal of most of us breeders to find the proper balance to get the most healthy birds and the most quality singers.
        My First Show
So with my first breeding season over and a total of three males I needed to decide what to do next.  I have show quality singers and I wanted to improve my stock.  I had already decided I would try my best to go to a show if for no other reason than to watch and learn.  I decided to go through the training process as I understood it and just see if my birds would sing.  If I felt confident they might sing I would take them to a show, if not I would leave them home.  So I got myself some show cabinets and show cages and caged the birds up.  I followed a schedule written by a fellow club member that starts 30 days prior to the show.  It is a process of slowly darkening them down to where the last week to week and a half they are in total darkness 24 hours a day except to let them sing for 10 minute a day and to feed, water, and clean their cages.
Well, the birds got to where they sang really good(or I should say a lot).  I felt pretty confident they would sing in front of the judge so I took them.  I was very nervous joining a group of people I didnít know.  I felt very insecure as to the ability of my birds and myself.  I didnít know the various song tours.   I didnít have any idea if the birds sang good ďwater notesĒ at all.  I was basically afraid of looking and feeling stupid.  To the credit of the Western Waterslager club and the people in it, I felt very much at home.  They are the most helpful and classy people I have ever met.  The show is also done in a way that nobody knows whose birds are being shown, so you donít have to feel stupid.  This was good because as it turned out, my birds were not good at all.  Although they sang for the whole 20 minutes in front of the judge, two birds didnít sing enough tours to get a score and the other bird scored a 54.  You need to score 90 points to be considered a good bird.  None of my birds sang ďklokkendeĒ the water tour that waterslager breeders live and die by.  So I had a frusterating show season to follow a frusterating breeding season.
What I learned from my show experience
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