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La Cage aux Follies

By Sarah Truckey

Thanks to cable and the Westminster Kennel Club, we all know how a dog show works. The canines are poked, prodded and intimately inspected by the judges in search of the prize pup. But what if, instead of dogs, the contestants were canaries?

This month, Fenton’s Stratford Inn and St. Louis Canaries Limited Canary Club host just such a competition, where our fine feathered friends will duke it out for the title of “Best in Show.”

So what does it take for a bird to win? The categories vary by show, but whether they’re judged on type or color or song, they must meet the standard for their breed. Judges look at everything from head shape to wing position to the frill of the feathers to the color of their toenails and beaks. Aggressive canary breeders at national competitions have even been known to fake the latter by whipping out nail polish to correct the color of their marred canary’s bill.

But don’t expect to find any drama like that at the local level. “Some of these people have been coming for 25, 30 years,” says club member Dennis Karius. “It’s like one big family reunion.”

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