The charm of the English Cinnamon
Cage & Aviary Birds|December 24, 2019
Despite its long and complicated history, the true Cinnamon canary is still with us – in the hands of a tiny group of breeders. DONALD SKINNER-REID reckons it deserves wider appreciation
DONALD SKINNER-REID

WHEN I was in my 40s, my friend Maria directed me to a poem by Robert Frost, “The Road Not Taken”, and it chimed so well it sticks in my head. Many years ago, at a show, an elderly former keeper of Scots fancies asked why I liked them and I said their elegance appealed to me. Now I think I’d answer differently. It’s in my nature to seek the road less travelled.

So, down a new path – “knowing how way leads on to way,” as Frost put it – I have stumbled into the most fascinating and perhaps one of the rarest of the old varieties which a group of devotees still keep and exhibit, though I confess I have yet to see one in the flesh: the English Cinnamon.

I was led to this path by Jamie Taylor and Kevin Monsey, two of the breed’s tiny band of devotees. Jamie told me: “They are a beautiful bird to look at. They are free breeders that rear their own young.” Jamie has kept them for three years and Kevin for longer.

Kevin very kindly put me in touch with Derek Dix of Great Yarmouth. Now nearly 90 years old, Mr Dix has kept the Cinnamon for 70 years, having acquired his first stock in 1948. Mr Dix thought them a jaunty bird, halfway between the Border of those days and the Norwich. His father, a Norwich breeder, said it was a breed “trapped in time”.

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