A CANARY collector in Westhoughton is singing the praises of his latest champion bird — after winning six tournaments on the trot.

Billy Chadwick, aged 62, breeds, nurtures and trains his collection of canaries into competitive singers, and one has proved remarkably successful.

Affectionately known as No 280, the bird has thrived in the luxurious, air-conditioned garage Billy keeps most of his canaries in.

In the past few weeks, the bird’s dulcet tones have seen off competitors from all over Britain at three competitions in Leeds, two in Wolverhampton and a sixth in Westhoughton.

Mr Chadwick has kept canaries for 35 years and has been entering them into competitions for about eight years without much success — until now.

He insists there is no secret behind his sudden recent spate of victories.

He said: “I’ve been fifth or sixth a few times, but have never won many events until just recently.

“You have good singers and bad ones, but what I’ve found is two good ones don’t always produce another good one.

“It always depends on what noises they are exposed to when they’re young — if they are outside with other birds, it affects their singing. I’ve never had a bird like this.”

Mr Chadwick — a member of Wigan Rover club — currently has 28 canaries in his collection.

His involvement in canary shows started when a friend gave him his first show birds.

He added: “I went to a show and a friend of mine, Terry Cunningham, asked if I was interested in having a couple of show birds.

“I said why not, and not only did he not charge me, he offered me a couple more.”

Confidence is key to a champion singer, according to Mr Chadwick.

He said: “You nurture them and talk to them so they relax and that is when they produce their best singing, not when they’re nervous and jumping about on the perch.”

No. 280 — Mr Chadwick never names his birds as he has so many — is set to compete in a national championships this week.

He added: “It costs a lot of money, in petrol, feed for the birds and everything, but it’s a nice hobby to have.”