10 de janeiro de 2015

Jan. 8, 1948: When judge chirps, birds begin to sing



EDMONTON - Canaries rarely make headlines these days, although they’re still referenced in popular speech, as in “a canary in a coal mine” (an early warning) or “sing like a canary,” (providing information about a crime to the police).
Sixty-seven years ago, members of the Edmonton Roller Canary and Type Bird Society were preparing to show off their fine feathered songbirds at the 11th-annual canary show.
More than 100 canaries were judged in several categories for colour, type and singing.
Frank Lajoy, a railroader and canary fancier from Portland, Ore., was brought in to judge the event held at the I.O.O.F. Hall on 103rd Street.
“As Mr. Lajoy, with report sheet and pencil in hand, cocked his ear to the bass rolls, glucke rolls, and flutes of four of the 147 canaries entered in the show, he commented there was a possibility of finding an Enrico Caruso or maybe a Bing Crosby in the group,” the Journal story said.
“Usually, birds which sing baritone are preferred,” the judge said. “Their notes are truer and have a musical value that is a requisite of a good singer, but many good birds do sing in other ranges.”
For a perfect performance, which was rare, the story noted, a canary must go through 10 tours, meaning it must sing 10 different little “ditties” without a break. It could repeat any of the 10 as it went through general song, but each of the group had to be included.
If a bird is judged a bad singer, that doesn’t mean it lacks talent. The onus usually falls on the trainer, who lacks the required ability to develop the canary’s voice.
Before getting its curtain call in a show, a canary is kept in the dark. “Then when it’s time to perform, it gets the idea that it is sunrise, and consequently his time to sing,” the story said.
“Mr. Lajoy prefers to judge the birds in fours. He lets them build up a chorus or sing individual solos, but always seems to be able to tell which bird is doing what and credits them individually.
He was having trouble getting one quartet into a singing mood, and he finally had to do a little chirping and whistling of his own. The birds caught on in a hurry and, not wishing to be outdone by any human, soon had the judge’s room resounding with their own singing.”
The average quartet was given about 30 minutes to do its bit before the judge.
Birds could score a possible 56 marks and Lajoy said one bird entered in the show had reached that mark.
An exceptionally good singer could be sold for as much as $300, but the average for this type of bird was $50-$150.

czdeb@edmontonjournal.com