Canaries breed during the spring and summer, then undergo their annual moult. It follows therefore, that most breeders will have birds for disposal after the moult is over, from the end of September onwards.
People new to birdkeeping will either already know a bird breeder, or obtain their initial stock from a local pet store.
Having outlined some of the more obvious pitfalls, you are looking for a sprightly bird, alert, youthful, lively and inquisitive. A bird which preens rather than scratches. If buying from a store, make a few trips before buying. You can get an idea of the stock turnover, and at the very least, can check the condition of your intended purchases on a couple of occasions before you buy. Livestock rarely carries more than a few days guarantee – but always ask!
From time to time organised trips abroad to bird dealer establishments enable buyers to import stock under the DEFRA pet licence scheme, which may interest some purchasers.
Those intending to produce exhibition quality stock should seek out established breeders who often advertise their surplus stock either in this magazine, or through show catalogues or club handbooks. Getting to know them at club meetings or shows, then visiting their birdroom is the best way forward, as it offers choice and provides an insight into the care and feeding regime used. Successful exhibitors have often spent years developing their stock and may have an order book awaiting their surplus. Be patient but continue to remind your intended supplier that you are awaiting his help – and be prepared to pay a fair price for stock of sufficient quality to see you on your way.