The Canary

Quick Facts

- Good for novice owners
- Best solo or in pairs or groups
- Small size
- Medium activity level
- Low Trainability
- Medium sociability with people

Canaries are related to finches and originally hail from the Canary Islands, which are located off the coast of Africa. The birds were named after the Islands they were found on. The Canary Islands were actually named by the Romans after dogs that the natives bred there,

Canary is a corruption of "canis", which is Latin for dog. Canaries have been bred in captivity for around 500 years. The Europeans began having canaries for pets in the 1400s. Originally, canaries were a greyish or brownish green and looked more like sparrows than the canaries of today. However, through years of selective breeding, canaries have evolved in to brightly coloured birds that are available in a myriad of beautiful colours, sizes, shapes and patterns.

Today, there are many breeds of canaries available for sale as pets; some of the more common are the German Roller, American Singer, Waterslager, Yorkshire, Fife and the Gloster Coroner.

Canaries are one of the easiest pet birds to keep and are an excellent choice for novice bird owners. They do not require the room or attention that many of the larger pet birds require, and are an excellent choice for those who work all day and have limited time or those that live in a small space.

Canaries are not extremely demanding birds, and unlike budgies or cockatiels, are birds that prefer to be admired from afar. They are usually not “hands on” birds, and most do not take well to being picked up and handled. Unless hand-reared from a baby, canaries are difficult to tame and owners should not expect them to perch on their finger or shoulder the way a budgie or cockatiel will. However, canaries are social friendly birds that will not be happy if completely ignored. They usually enjoy being spoken to, and will often sing in response.

Unlike many of the larger pet birds, canaries do not screech, scream or mimic speech. They do however; have a lovely singing voice that most people find enjoyable. Those who enjoy hearing a bird sing are best with a male canary as they tend to be better singers than females. Canaries can live together with another of their kind or in small groups, but many prefer living solo.

A singular canary requires a cage that is about 24 inches wide with at least two perches. The perches should be set at different levels so the bird can hop from perch to perch and get exercise. The bars on the cage should not be more than 12 mm apart to prevent possible escape. Canaries love to play and enjoy a variety of toys in their cage. The cage should be placed away from drafts and direct sunlight to ensure the bird does not catch a chill or overheat. Canaries are most active during the day and sleep at night; they usually sleep best with a light covering placed over their cage.

Canaries are active birds that need to be able to fly around and get some exercise. If possible, canaries benefit from being able to get out of their cage and fly around. This should only be done once the canary is comfortable with their owner and their environment. When allowing them to fly around free, owners should ensure all windows and doors are shut, water is covered and ceiling fans are off. Pet cats, ferrets, snakes and certain breeds of dog are a serious threat to small pet birds. In addition, care should be taken around small children, canaries are delicate birds that can easily be injured by children and can bite if frightened.

Appearance and Care:
Canaries are small birds that usually measure about 13 cm from head to tail. They come in a variety of beautiful colours ranging from yellow, red, orange, grey, brown, green, white and shades of all the previously stated colours.

Canaries require regular baths to help keep them clean. Some canaries love bathing and are happy to bath themselves if they are supplied with a shallow bowl filled with water; other canaries prefer a gentle shower of warm water.

Health and Diet:
Canaries are generally hardy little birds with an average life span of around 10 years. Like all pet birds, canaries are susceptible to several health problems, a few of them are mites, lice, tapeworm, enteritis, avian tuberculosis, canary pox, cataracts and candidiasis. At the first sign of illness, owners should take their canary to a veterinarian. The most common signs that a canary is sick are inactivity, fluffed up feathers, loss of appetite, weight loss, diarrhea, watery eyes and constipation.

A proper diet is an essential part of maintaining a canary’s good health. A good quality canary seed should make up a large amount of their diet, but fresh fruits and vegetables should also be given daily. Most canaries enjoy oranges, bananas, apples, pears, strawberries, peaches, dandelion greens, green pepper, corn on the cob and squash. Canaries should be given a cuttlefish to chew on to ensure they get enough calcium and grit to help their digestion. All fruits and vegetables should be washed thoroughly before serving to ensure they are washed cleaned of all pesticides. Fruit should always be carefully deseeded before feeding as most fruit seeds contain cyanide and are dangerous. They should be given fresh water daily and their food dish should be cleaned of all waste and topped off with fresh seed.


Located in: Birds