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Harold Sodaman



Notable Facts and Founding Member Biography

The Old Variety Canary Association (OVCA) in the United States began in the

mid‐1970s. The association’s first meeting was held in the back yard of the

Chicago home of one of its founders, William Reichert. Mr. Reichert, along

with cofounder Mr. Harold Sodamann, worked to successfully establish a

canary association similar to the Old Variety Canary club in the UK. Mr.

Sodamann, the first paying member of the Association continues to support

the OVCA’s vision and purpose. The oldest and longest good‐standing

member of the National Cage Bird Show, Mr. Sodamann has made many

contributions to the practice of aviculture and has received much recognition

for his numerous achievements.  

The history of the OVCA cannot be discussed without

notable references to Harold Sodamann, a bird

breeder of 76 years. In 1932, at the age of 10, Harold

raised his first nest of baby canaries. Over the years,

Harold has raised numerous canaries of every variety.

Remarkably, in 1973 he raised 438 birds in one season.

In 1958 he received his judge’s license for both color

and type under the supervision of Judges Kanouse,

Halter and Brooking. A founder of the International

Gloster Breeders Association, along with cofounder Mark Whitaker, Harold

supported the establishment of the National Cage Bird Show (NCBS). Harold

served as the NCBS president and went on to serve in every official capacity in

the organization throughout the years. During his term as NCBS president,

the Stafford Canary and the Third Division for Colorbred Birds were granted

entry. Mr. Sodaman continues to serve as an honorary member of the NCBS

Board of Directors.

In addition to his involvement with the NCBS, Harold Sodamann has written

for several publications that are now out of circulation. He was the coeditor of

articles published by the American Cage Bird magazine and authored

additional articles published in All Pets Magazine. Harold’s collection of

journals includes every catalog ever printed by the NCBS and a collection of

bound copies of the American Cage Bird Magazine. Each set is currently

owned by two private collectors, Dr. Francis Martin and Terry Watson. Harold

has retired from writing publications and is enjoying his retirement in Kansas

with his wife, other family members and a well‐stocked aviary of canaries.  

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In the late 1950s Harold welcomed Margaret Gordon and her Gloster Canary

to the local St. Louis Bird Club. Mrs. Gordon had recently returned with the

bird from the UK where her husband was stationed in the military. In the

early 1960s, Harold imported the first Lizard Canaries from the Lizard

Wizard, Mr. Fred Snelling of the UK.  Much of the Lizard stock in the US

today has ties to Harold’s imports from Mr. Snelling.  

An experienced showman, Harold has won the prized Kellogg Trophy for

both type and color canaries and had the best Gloster several times before

Glosters had their own division in the NCBS. Harold recalls that he won his

first trophy at the National Show in the Hartz Canary category, although the

bird was really a Gloster Canary. At that time, none of the judges could

classify the bird, including a judge from the UK. This type was simply too new

to be recognized.

The Lizard Canary Club was formed by Harold. While the blue Lizards had

been previously bred in the UK by someone other than Harold, he is credited

with breeding the first cinnamon Lizards during the 1960s. Most of the Lizard

Canary breeders participating in the Third Division at the NCBS are familiar

with the Sodamann strain. Breeders who wish to learn more about the Lizard

Canary need only listen to Judge Sodamann while he critiques their birds.

Some cringe when he is finished, but all breeders walk away with a deeper

knowledge of the Lizard Canary.

Harold’s personal career is as distinguished as an aviculture career. He was

raised on a farm in Miami County, Kansas where he attended a rural high

school. After high school, he earned an undergraduate degree and two post‐

graduate degrees. Harold has taught all levels of elementary school including

Kindergarten. His career spanned 45 years in both elementary and post‐

secondary education and included the titles Director of Elementary Education

in Wellington, Kansas and Professor at Hays State University.

During World War II Harold served in the US Army as an Infantry First

Sergeant in the 2nd BN 12th Reg. 32nd Division in the Pacific Islands. His family

and friends cared for his birds during the years Harold was away so that he

would have stock when he returned.  

Harold Sodamann has made major contributions to the hobby of aviculture

and to the success of many breeders. He is a contributor as well as a true

friend of the fancy.

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