Lancashire Canaries, sometimes also known as the Manchester Fancy or the Manchester Coppy, are a beautiful, large type of canary. They are the biggest of all English canary breeds, measuring up to eight inches in length. This breed is difficult, if not impossible, to come by, and many bird fanciers believe it is all but extinct.
That said, there have been instances of Lancashires showing up in bird shows as recently as 2018. So if you have your heart set on adopting one, you may not be entirely out of luck.
Keep reading to learn more about this old breed.
|Manchester Coppy, Manchester Fancy
|7 to 8 inches long
|Up to 10 years
Origin and History
Lancashire Canaries were developed in England during the Victorian area. They are named after the place they were developed, Lancashire. Lancashire is a historic county in North West England, on the west coast between Scotland and Wales.
It is an old breed, sometimes known as “the giant of the canary world,” thanks to its size. They stand a header taller than any of the other canary breeds.
Developed in the 19th century, the Lancashire Canary is often used to add size to other canary varieties. For example, the Yorkshire Canary was bred by crossing the Lancaster and Belgian breeds.
The Lancashire Canary shares many personality traits with canaries of other breeds. They’re cheerful, sweet, and playful but not very sociable. Instead, they have a timid streak and prefer to be alone, left to their own devices in their cage. But, of course, each canary will be different from the next. One may be outgoing and enjoy being talked to, while the next will be nervous in rooms with too much activity.
Hand-raised canaries can be friendly with their owners and may enjoy being handled, but this isn’t always the case. In fact, it isn’t easy to hand-raise a canary, so these birds are best for bird owners who prefer a more hands-off pet.
Canaries can be very territorial, so keeping more than one in a cage is not advised. Dominant behavior can be challenging, if not impossible, to control, leading to unfortunate situations for the more submissive bird. If you absolutely must keep multiple canaries, an aviary will be your best choice for housing.
Speech & Vocalizations
All canary types will sing, but the ones bred for singing will have the most beautiful musical performance. In addition, males of all canary types will sing much more than their female counterparts.
Lancashire Canaries are not bred for their song but can still produce lovely sounds. If you’re hoping to get a more vocal Lancashire, opt for a male if you can.
Lancashire Canary Colors and Markings
Lancashire Canaries are a type of canary bred for their form, shape, and size rather than their color or song. Furthermore, there are two types of Lancashire Canaries.
The Coppy (or Crested) is named as such after an old English word, coppy, which meant “tuft” or “crest.” The crest of the Coppy isn’t as big as the robust Norwich Canary. Instead, the crest begins just over the eye.
The second type, the Lancashire Plainhead, earned this name honestly as their heads are, well, plain, as they don’t have the crest of the Coppy type. Their heads are broader and longer, with clearly defined eyebrows. The feathers on their heads are soft and in good supply.
Lancashire Canaries of either type are either white or yellow with no variegation like in other canary breeds.
Caring for the Lancashire Canary
Caring for the Lancashire Canary will be similar to caring for any other type of canary.
Single canaries need a cage that is, at minimum, 20″ wide x 24″ long. They like to fly, so the bigger their cage, the better. Cage bars should have spaces no bigger than ½-inch wide to ensure their heads can’t get stuck between them. They don’t have a hooked bill like parrot species to climb about their cage, instead relying on flight to move around.
Though they’re part of the friendly finch family, canaries fare much better as solitary birds. They can become territorial, so housing more than one together isn’t the best idea. Canaries also don’t need to socialize with people as much as other bird species. They can become finger tame with a lot of training and patience, though this should be considered the exception, not the rule. These birds can literally die from fright, so they’re not the best pick for bird owners who want to connect on a deeper level with their pets.
Lancashire Canaries need a variety of wood perches in their cage for resting and exercising their feet. Birds aren’t meant to stand on the same diameter of tree branches in the wild, so your canary’s perches should be of varying diameters.
Common Health Problems
Diet and Nutrition
Canaries need a high-quality pellet diet to ensure they are getting the vitamins and nutrients they need. Many first-time bird owners think seeds are the best food for their feathered friends, but they’re void of many nutrients necessary for optimal health. Seeds can be fed as the occasional snack, but they shouldn’t make up the bulk of your canary’s diet.
A variety of fruits and vegetables should also be available. Great vegetable options include kale, broccoli, spinach, and dandelions. Fruits should be offered in much smaller quantities due to their high sugar content. Great options include grapes, apples, bananas, or melons.
Canaries also need to be provided with the occasional protein source, like pieces of a cooked egg.
Wild canaries spend much time flying, preening, rearing their families, defending their nests, and foraging for food. A companion canary then needs opportunities to practice these natural behaviors. Provide opportunities to meet their inherent needs by ensuring foraging toys and nesting materials are always available. Install plastic plants in their cage so they can hide behind them if they feel threatened.
Canaries need to be able to move around, so try to keep the amount of clutter in their cage to a minimum. They don’t need as many toys as other bird species, so one or two toys should do, but remember to swap them out weekly to prevent boredom.
Where to Adopt or Buy a Lancashire Canary
The Lancashire Canary was popular a hundred years ago as an exhibition breed, but it isn’t easy to find them now. There may still be a handful of breeders, but they don’t make themselves known. As a result, many people believe that this breed is actually extinct.
As you can see in the below video, there have been Lancashire Canaries at recent bird shows, but we could not find any breeders in our online research.
The true status of Lancashire Canaries is not entirely known. According to some bird fanciers, it is extinct. Our research suggests a handful of breeders are still breeding them, but they’re incredibly difficult to find. If you have your heart set on adopting a Lancashire, you might have better luck finding a breed that the Lancashire was used to create, such as the Yorkshire Canary.
Featured Image Credit: Fernando Zamora Vega, Shutterstock