made a great choice in considering a Belgian Waterslager,
One of the oldest Established Breeds
The Waterslager is a specialty canary bred for their song. It is also one of the oldest established breeds of canaries in existence today with references to it dating back to 1713. Their melodious song that includes sounds of water is captivating.
my Background in Breeding Canaries
I fell in love with the song of canaries while living in Europe. When I returned to the United States in the early 90's I started to breed canaries and specialized in the variety of canary more typically found in a pet store that have a generalized song, primarily that of the American Singer. I bred many of the different colors and some different types, including red factors, greens, whites, yellows, crested and Borders.
why I prefer the Waterslager over other varieties
In the Fall of 2001 I decided to breed a more specialized song canary that had a more refined song absent of the more intrusive louder and shriller notes. I considered both the German Roller or Hartz Roller (another canary bred for it's song) and the Belgium Waterslager. Among the reasons I chose the Waterslager over the Roller is I found the Roller's song to be too soft and difficult to hear unless near the cage and the Waterslager has a more varied song. Included in their repertoire are the sounds of water, bells and flutes and the sounds heard in the song of the European Nightingale.
I don't personally show my birds, but have been fortunate to acquire excellent foundation birds that have competed and fared very well in national song competition. My birds can be traced back to birds imported from Belgium. The Belgium Waterslager is relatively new to America. The Western Waterslager Club began in 1999. The American Waterslager Society began in the early 1990's. For more information on the Belgium Waterslager visit "The Waterslager Canary" by Thomas B. Trujillo
Don't be fooled; learn what the waterslager song sounds like and Ask for a pedigree
Some will say they have Waterslagers for sale, but actually have a Waterslager mix - a bird born out of a Waterslager bred to something other than a Waterslager. You will not find a consistently pleasing song among mixed breeds. Be aware there are people that may attempt to mislead you. Familiarizing yourself with the Waterslager song by listening to sound bites and attending shows is the best way to ensure you are getting a Waterslager and what you are paying for. You can hear a sample of their song at: Western Waterslager Club. Be assured the Waterslager song live is much better than on a sound file heard on a computer. However it will help you get some idea of what they sound like. The Western Waterslager Club has made a quality recording of the Waterslager song that is available on CD and you can purchase it through their site.
Ask for a pedigree. If it's a Waterslager you're looking for, buy from a member of the Western Waterslager Club or another reputable Waterslager Club. This will be the best way to help ensure you're getting what you're paying for. As a member of the Western Waterslager Club, I've committed to keeping the breed pure and will only breed excellent quality Waterslagers to the same.
Look for a Closed-Band
Each of my birds comes with a hard copy pedigree and are closed-banded with bands from the Western Waterslager Club engraved with the year they were born and my identification. With a "closed- band" you must band the bird no later than 7 days after they hatch or their foot joint will be too big for the band to slip over. Make sure any birds you purchase have a closed band (a solid band with no seam). This will help to ensure the age and origin of your bird. Keep in mind though, if someone wants to be dishonest and inappropriately band a bird that is not a full Waterslager with a Waterslager club band, they can. Learn what the Waterslager song sounds like so you are less likely to be deceived. Please note that the yellow bird I have pictured below without a band is a bird that was banded but suffered from a severely swollen leg which required the band to be surgically removed.
If you've been shopping for a canary in a pet store you've discovered one will pay anywhere from $125 and up for just a basic pet store canary. Canary males are the singers and are generally the canaries sold in pet stores. You won't typically find Waterslagers, males or females in a pet store environment. The males song can be affected by the songs of other birds; not to mention most pet stores don't want to deal with keeping track of the pedigrees. Several years ago someone told me they saw a Roller Canary at a pet store for $199! You will pay more for the specialty canaries in a pet store; if you can find them. In the Waterslager variety the hens are equally valuable and are usually sold at the same price as the males. The cost of my birds is $80 - $125. Occasionally I have a proven hen available. Contact me for availability and pricing.
What about Waterslagers? Colors, Size?
Waterslagers are commonly yellow, ranging from bright lemon yellow to a more pastel yellow. They can also be found in white and variegated coloring though they are not as common. I have all three colors, yellows, whites and variegated. The yellow and white birds pictured on this page are of a couple of my males. They've produced beautiful babies that have equally beautiful songs. You'll notice several of the white and yellow birds pictured here are clear in color, however it’s not unusual for the Waterslager to have little tick marks (small patches of dark/black feathers). This not a flaw. Some are even more dramatically colored with darker feathering and referred to as variegated and or 'green' in color. A couple of my variegated hens are pictured above. Waterslagers are a pretty canary, of nice size and form. Even to the experienced eye it's virtually impossible to tell them apart from other yellow or white pet store variety birds, unless you hear them sing.
When to buy your bird
I am just starting the breeding season so contact me as soon as possible if you want to reserve a bird from this breeding season. I don't expect to have many so don't delay if you're interested. Breeding season starts anywhere from January - April and goes until June - August. In the summer the birds go through the molt and often stop singing until late Summer/early Fall. Generally, the best time to buy your male bird, whether it be from a breeder or a pet shop, is the Fall. That is when you will find the greatest selection of males. Often, but not always the canaries available earlier are not the 'best' in quality, or someone would be using them for breeding. If you are planning to breed canaries you may need to wait until December or even January or so for hens born that year. Typically we breeders are quite certain that our remaining non-singing 'babies' in December are hens.
Hand Taming Canaries
In 2004 I had a customer who purchased a very young bird for her daughter to hand tame. I have a great article on hand taming canaries. Click here to read the article. Canaries can make wonderful hand tame pets; as you'll discover in the article. The challenge in buying a very young bird is we breeders don't know with absolute certainty if it's a male or a female. Sometimes that certainty doesn't come until an egg is laid! The males are the singers; however the hens can be singers also in the Waterslager breed. The hen's song is not usually as complete as the males so pet owners typically prefer a male. The above challenge can be overcome in one of two ways. First you can buy a singing bird once it's started to sing and be patient as you follow the recommendations in the article. The article recommends how to select a hand tamable bird when selecting from adult birds. Or you can purchase a pair. Purchase the first bird shortly after it has fledged and begin working with it right away. Once we can determine whether it is a male or a female we can pair it with it's counterpart from my remaining babies.
I have birds available
I won't be breeding this 2012 season. However I do have a number of birds available from last season and several proven birds. Please contact me to find out what I have available. Feel free to contact me at my email address listed below if you have further questions or are interested in purchasing a bird.
Mary Cox – Issaquah, Washington
More Canary Information
Western Waterslager Club www.westernwaterslager.com
Great resource on Canaries: "A Collection of Canary Tales" by Linda Hogan www.geocities.com/canarytales_lindahogan/
Helpful Articles: www.westernwaterslager.com/text/Articles.htm
The American Waterslager Society
"The Waterslager Canary" by Thomas B. Trujillo
last updated October 31, 2012