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 The Norwich canary is one of the many type canaries which is kept bred and exhibited in the UK and across the world.

 It originated in Norwich in East Anglia and it's forbears go back to the sixteenth century canaries which were kept by weavers and textile workers who came from the Low Countries and northern France. It was kept in cottages and it was developed for colour - presumably it was originally kept for it's song - but colour became an important priority to those who kept Norwich. It seems to have been bred with early Lizard canaries to help with colour.

The canary became socially very prized when Georgian grandees gave it the 'thumbs up' as an establishment accessory. In  the 1800s the birds were fed a variety of things at moulting time to create deeper colour such as nasturtium, beetroot, port wine, cochineal, turmeric, then birds from Sutton in Ashfield started showing wonderful colour which created suspicion for a while among fanciers. Gradually birds of the new colour appeared at big shows as well as at smaller shows and the secret of red cayenne pepper was out! Colour was then added at the moult. But the craze for size was going on also. Men were breeding larger and larger birds using Crest and Lancashire breeds - the fashion caught on and large feathered birds started winning. In 1890 at a conference at the Crystal Palace it was decided that a tidier more compact type of bird should be kept and shown.  This has been the case ever since, although the coarse birds still put in many appearances during the next century.

The Norwich probably came to Scotland during the second half of the nineteenth century.  The Scots Fancy, the Belgian and the Border being the birds mostly kept in Scotland. The Norwich would arrive at the east coast towns via fishermen and then to the main cities in the Lowlands once the railways became all important.

 The model has been altered several times in the twentieth century until today we have a bird that is much rounder, coloured now  with pepper as well as other substances and carries a beautiful coat of short fine feathers - a difficult thing to achieve indeed! It has been outcrossed and used for muling but the pure Norwich is still the main aim of Norwich breeders in the twentieth first century.

References -

Norwich Canaries - C A House

Norwich Canaries - C A House & A W Smith

The Norwich Canary - K W Grigg & James Blake

Canaries, Hybrids & British Birds - Robson &Lewer


This is the current Norwich Canary Standard of the SNPCC and came into force in 1999 - 2000 after lengthy debate and discussion amongst members of the fancy.