The Canaries of Canarsie

Several hundred members of the Colorbred Canary Club met at St. Jude Church in Canarsie on October 1st for the 12th Annual Canary Competition. The mood inside the church gymnasium was quietly somber as a team of four highly trained judges slowly analyzed the entries, inspecting the birds based on a long set of detailed criteria.

The judges must complete a lengthy certification process where they learn a six point criteria for rating the birds and methods for identifying unwanted mutations. The judges are also trained in one of four distinct breed categories. Each category has multiple class divisions based on gender and “melanin” variations. Melanin is a term used for distinguishing solid color birds from birds that contain significant marbling. The judging process is not taken lightly. Many of the judges are professionals that travel throughout the United States to local canary competitions. In many of the categories, there are less than a dozen judges in the entire world who are qualified to participate.

Entrants from all over the tri-state area brought dozens of distinct breeds to participate in the event. Nearly all of the competitors were men from countries in the Caribbean including Guyana, Puerto Rico, and Trinidad, where many of the canaries are native and breeding is fiercely competitive.  The grand prize was given to Abrahim Ogir of Queens for his star zebra finch, a breed for which he is well-known throughout New York City. Ogir placed highly in last year’s event, although this is the first time that he has won the competition.

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