Your research before buying a bird. Make sure you know what breed you are interested in, what you should look for in a canary in general and in one of your preferred breed, the typical price range of the breed and what the general care requirements will be.
Buy from breeders who also exhibit if possible. An exhibitor keeps his stock so that they will be in good condition to show and he also tends to have better quality stock than the ordinary breeder of common canaries. Additionally, a breeder who exhibits is more likely to be knowledgeable about the breeds he owns.
Make sure you are buying real American Singer canaries. Many breeders use the term American Singer for any kind of canary that sings and is born in America, but unless it has a closed leg band registered to a member of the national American Singer Club, the bird could be anything.
Be patient. Most breeders are happy to place you on a waiting list and contact you when the birds are ready for new homes. Often this is one of the best ways to get a quality bird from a serious breeder. It is preferable to wait a few months for a good bird than to impulsively buy a canary simply because it’s available immediately.
Join a local American Singer chapter and work at the shows. Fellow club members are more likely to sell better stock to hard-working novices who look like they will stick around for some time. Working at the shows also helps a novice gain invaluable experience and make contacts.
Buy young breeding stock, if possible. Be sure to ask about the parent’s backgrounds and whether or not they come from good feeding lines. If possible, ask to listen to a hen’s father to get an idea of what sound she carries.
Be respectful of the breeder’s time. Most breeders don’t mind taking extra time with a novice who is eager to learn more about the birds, but they do have lives. Be sure to ask if the breeder will have time to speak with you when you come to pick up your bird and if not, if there would be a better time to arrange to meet with him. Be on time if at all possible, but call if you will be late or need to cancel an appointment.
Realize that breeders will not sell their best breeding stock. Top quality stock represents an enormous investment of time, money and knowledge. For a large majority of breeders who exhibit, there are certain birds which will not be sold for any amount of money as they represent the culmination of many years of hard work. It is sometimes possible, however, to purchase a related bird which is not needed for the breeder’s program.
Offer to pay cash. Most breeders are leery of accepting checks from people they don’t know well.
Buy birds until after the baby molt. There are always breeders willing to sell young, unsexed birds cheaply. Most of the time these “unsexed” birds have in fact been sexed- as hens! By selling these birds as unsexed, the breeder tacks on an extra $10 or so because it might be a male and leaves the buyer believing he got a bargain.
Additionally, the molt is a very stressful time in a bird’s life and some babies do not survive it- why take the chance? If a breeder who claims to be an exhibitor is selling birds this young, one needs to ask oneself why. No serious exhibitor will sell stock before having a good idea about what the bird is and what kind of song he has. Generally, this would not be until fall
Buy a bird based on color. American Singers are bred for song and color should not be a consideration. I have seen many buyers walk away from wonderful birds because they wanted a yellow canary. If you are breeding with the intention of showing, it is best to be blind to color and buy stock for song and conformation because judges will not be moved by the color of the birds, only their songs.
Need to locate an American Singer breeder in your area? Check out the breeder referral list at the American Singers Club website