The Fife Fancy Story
Frank Parakenings

The first time I saw a collection (means four birds of same type, colour and feather intensity) of four yellow cinnamon Fifes was on a local cage bird show in Berlin (Germany) in the year of 1986. I saw them, I love them, I wanted to breed them. But it takes two years to get two really good couples of Fifes.

At that time I was breeding in a one room flat, because I was a student of the Free University of Berlin (biology and geography). My wife, Astrid, and I lived in that little flat with four Fifes, about ten Borders, six Norwich and a few Zebrafinches.

In 1991, the great year of the German reunity, I took my unflighted Fifes to the great national cage bird show, called AZ-Bundesschau, in Kassel, a town in the center of Germany. My Fifes won a silver medall and you can imagine, that I was really proud of it.

Many fanciers regard the Fife Fancy as a miniatur of the Border canary. Indeed, ecept for its size, wich must not exceed 4 1/4 inches, that means about 11 cm, the two breeds are extremly similar. Fife have been created after World War II. Following World War II, stocks of Border Fancy canaries, like those of so many breeds, had fallen and the Fancy in general had to undergo a rebuilding exercise in order to restore the number of quality stock that had exercised prior to the commencement of hostilities. The number of surviving, vital Borders was decreased. And so some fanciers tried to rebuild their stocks by crossing small Norwichs canaries with Borders. The result was a larger bird with rounder heavier heads. Some of these birds were awarded prizes on the showbench. The new Border Fancy of the present was born. As a matter of this fact, some fanciers thought that this was quite unacceptable. And so a group of breeders applied themselves to the breeding of canaries to the old Border shape and concentrated on the reduction of the overall length to 4 1/2 inches (= 11,5 cm). When this aim was achieved, the birds were exhibited in miniature classes or any other variety classes. The great story of Fife Fancy starts.

As an originator and being a native of the Kingdom of Fife in Scotland, Walter Lumsden, was invited to name that new kind of canary and so it was called "Fife Fancy":

map of scotlandClick above to get more information about Fife county!

                                                map 1: Scotland                                     map 2: Kingdom of Fife


In Germany, Fife Fancy canaries are the most popular type of canary on the show-bench. Visitors can see hundreds of Fifes, exhibited in about fifty classes, at our great national cage bird shows. As a matter of fact, the competition is so strong, that it is very difficult for breeders to win prizes with their Fifes. But back to my own Fifes. Currently, in 2000, I keep about 35 Fifes of various colours, especially cinnamons. My birds are kept in a large aviary, because I notice that they are always healthy and fertile when they are exposed to the rain, wind, warmth, frost and sunshine.

Sadly, Border canaries and Norwich canaries are often infertile these days. I've heard about these issues since the early 1990s. The breeders of these varieties have persistently selected for  bigger and heavier birds, which are increasingly hard to breed. In my opinion, this is the fault, and responsibility, of the judges at our great national cage bird shows, who have favoured such monstrosities by awarding them prizes. I sincerely hope that they might correct that mistake in the near future!

My Fifes live outdoors, throughout the year, in my garden aviary. Our winters in Berlin can be very cold and frosty, with temperatures dropping as low as minus 20 C,  (sometimes without snow); but my Fife canaries thrive in these temperatures and continue to sing like it is summer. I feed them a basic seed mix for canaries, without rape-seed, but with hemp-seed..

During the growing season they get fresh greenfood from my garden every day. For drinking, they are given fresh water containing a teaspoon of apple-vinegar per litre every day. They are provided with a daily bath, but after they have finished bathing I remove the bath from the aviary, which measures 4 m x 2m x 2m.

My Fifes are still healthy and I hope I can continue to enjoy these friendly birds for many years to come. If you have enjoyed this page and would like more information about feeding, breeding and moulting or the various ailments of Fife canaries, please email me. I will try to answer all your questions as quick as I can.

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