Adapted from Peter Coutteel DVM
monks in monasteries on the
started breeding canaries (Serinus canarius) as far back
as 1402. Today’s
canary fanciers pursue a wide range of activities, including
preserving old and rare breeds as well as breeding new color
important aspect of their hobby is showing and judging their
birds, which fall into 1 of 3 groups:
song canaries, color canaries and form canaries.
are tidy, nondestructive and easy to care for and require a
minimum of space.
Their song, color variations, size, shape characteristics
and feather traits are the basis of their appeal.
Because they don’t like to be handled, canaries may not
be ideal pets for children.
may be appreciated most for their pleasant melodious song.
Male canaries start singing around 3 months of age and will
demonstrate 1 of 2 styles:
“chopper,” with loud trills and distinct component
notes, or “roller,” with a long, rich, recurrent trill in
which the notes are soft and continuous.
are primarily graniverous birds and may consume up to 30% of their
body weight (BW) daily; their basal metabolic rate is 65% higher
than that of nonpasserines. The
recommended diet consists of high-quality, toxin-free,
canary-specific formulated foods (pellets) with alternate feeding
of a variety of fresh pesticide-free seed mixtures.
mixtures for canaries contain canary seed (62%),
(2%), rape seed (22%), hemp seed (3%), peeled oats (8%), and
additives are used to manipulate the color of the plumage.
For example, red color canaries are fed beta-carotene 2
weeks before breeding season until the end of the molt period.
Yellow color canaries are supplemented with lutein for
enhancing he desired yellow color for exhibition.
grit, such as cuttlefish bone (Sepia spp.), oyster shell,
limestone (calcium carbonate), marble (crystalline sulfate), and
gypsum (calcium sulfate), offers a good calcium source and is
usually completely digested by birds.
Small amounts may be offered to egg laying hens. Vitamin/mineral
supplement should be applied to moist food rather than added to
seeds or drinking water, but is not necessary when feeding a
reproduction and molting, a high-protein commercial “egg
food,” consisting of mashed hard-cooked egg and finely-chopped
chicken or insects (fresh or commercially available powdered
insects marketed for finches) should be fed on a daily basis.
fresh, uncontaminated water mush be provided daily for drinking
and bathing. Most
small canaries drink 200-300 mL/kg BW of water daily.
are rarely social birds.
Considered “skittish,” they will fly away when
One bird kept as a single pet will be content and may bond
with it's keeper.
Males must be housed separately from other males to prevent
fighting, but they may be kept within visual or auditory range to
Group housing for mixed ages and both sexes will work only
if the cage has sufficient perches and many feeding stations.
for a single pet canary should be indoors or protected by mosquito
screening if placed outdoors.
The cage should have dimensions of at least 25 x 25 x 46 cm
(10” x 10” x 18”) and be constructed of durable nontoxic
material; it should contain multiple perches.
The cage setup should be clean, secure, safe and easy to
substrates include newspaper, butcher paper and plain brown paper.
Avoid using pressure-treated wood, cedar or redwood cage
substrates as well as synthetic fibrous nesting material or fine
thread in the nest box. Natural
materials are preferred for lining nests:
sisal (from Agave cactus), cotton fiber, moss or
spend a great deal of their time eating and flying from perch to
perch. Fresh food and
water must always be available, and multiple, small-diameter
perches are important accessories.
Because they enjoy taking a bath on a daily basis, a
bathing area should be available away from the feeding area for a
limited time in the morning. During
the breeding season, nest pans made of plastic, stone, wood or
wire with ventilation holes are provided and must be changed after
is a continuous source of stress in the canary’s environment,
such as fear, cage mate competition, infections, major changes in
environmental temperature or daylight length, the bird’s feathers
will not molt properly. Instead
of all the plumage being replaced once a year at the end of the
breeding season, the feathers will be shed over the entire year.