Red Factor Canary: A Beautiful Bird

Photo Courtesy of Silvia Evans at Sunshine Aviary

With so many different species of birds, there is never a shortage of choices for those who want a feathered pet. Although parrots and parakeets are the most popular choices, pet canaries are delightful too. One of the more unusually colored canaries is the Red Factor Canary. This gentle, friendly bird can become quite attached to their owner, and even be finger trained with early socialization and gentle handling. Adored mostly for their beautifully bright color, and lively personality, rather than their singing ability, this canary is also a favorite among bird lovers. 


The Red Factor Canary was developed during the early 1900s by Dr. Hans Duncker, a German avian breeder, by crossing a male Venezuelan Black-Hooded Red Siskin (now an endangered species) with a yellow canary; although there is some confusion as to whether or the not the female was a German Roller Canary or a Border Canary. Canaries are bred into three main categories: 

  • Color – species bred to specifically create a certain color variety. One of the most well-known is the Red Factor Canary which is the result of breeding a domestic female canary with a wild Venezuelan Red Siskin.
  • Song type – species bred to produce a specific type of song, such as the German Roller Canary which sings a gentle, continuous “rolling” tone. The American Singer Canary sings a sweet, mid-range song while the Spanish Timbrado Canary produces a loud, strong song with a metallic tone.
  • Body shape – species bred to produce a specific body type, such as a broader head like the Yorkshire Canary or the extremely straight, and tall posture of the Parisian Frill Canary with its curly feathers.

Although canaries are most known for their singing and the beautiful sounds they can produce, and some are bred specifically for their vocal capabilities, this particular breed was bred exclusively for its color rather than song or physical appearance. 


The Red Factor Canary has a brilliant plumage that comes in a variety of colors, ranging from a very deep, rich orange (nearly red) to copper, reddish bronze to a bright pink. A sturdy, well-built bird, this breed is approximately 5-1/2 inches to up to 8 inches long and weigh between 12 – 29 grams. With proper care, good nutrition and careful handling, a Red Factor can live up to 25 years. 


As with other canary breeds, the Red Factor is not an interactive bird and does prefer to remain in its cage, content not to be handled. Despite their preference of not being handled, this bird produces a cheerful song (though not known for its singing capabilities at all), and does not mind being viewed at all. Like other canary breeds, only the male produces song, while the female does chirp pleasantly. 


In order to maintain their brilliant red color, the Red Factor Canary requires a special diet rich in beta-carotene to highlight and maintain their beautiful color. Some examples of red factor canary foods rich in beta-carotene that you can feed your bird are carrots, cherries, beets, squash, sweet potatoes, broccoli, paprika, and sweet red peppers.
You can also purchase supplements such as canthaxanthin at your local pet store, which you can add to their food to help enhance their color. Though this may seem like a huge challenge to the average bird owner, avian enthusiasts who show their birds in competitions find this challenge fun. Other than the special dietary needs, the Red Canary requires nothing else unusual. Your avian veterinarian will be able to offer any additional suggestions for feeding your Red Factor Canary that will benefit it nutritionally, while helping to maintain its beautiful red appearance. Be careful about feeding commercially bought color supplements available at pet stores, as some of them may be harmful to your bird’s long-term health. Feeding your bird a more natural diet is equally effective and much healthier than any artificial substances or additives.
As with most avian species, the molting period can cause your Red Factor Canary to stress and experience temporary discomfort, which may result in a decrease in appetite. During this period, your bird will benefit from added protein to their diet. Additional sources of protein can include well done eggs, beans or even ground flax or hemp seeds to help create new strong, beautiful feathers. Other than maintaining color (if desired for shows and competitions), your Red Factor Canary requires no other special care. 


A cage with ample space for roosting and movement should no smaller than 15”W X 15”L X 15”H in order to provide sufficient space for your bird to grow and remain healthy. Of course, the bigger the cage you can provide for your pet bird, the more he will benefit from the added space. A happy bird is a healthy bird, and a cage that is too small can cause your bird to become depressed and unhealthy.
The cage should be cleaned thoroughly once a week, while changing the paper in the bottom of the cage daily to remove fresh food before it spoils and excess bird waste, should keep your bird healthy and minimize any odors. Check water every day to make sure it is free of debris and uneaten food and waste, and also fresh. Dirty water can cause your bird to become sick quickly.Do you have a pet canary? What type? Tell us about it in the comments!

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