While Canaries aren't really "hands on" birds like budgies or cockatiels, they can be the perfect pet for someone who would like a smaller feathered friend for a companion. While the Canary's small stature may make them seem like good pets for kids, please be cautioned -- these birds are very fragile and easily frightened, and may not do well in a home with very young children.
- Canaries are native to the Canary Islands and are actually a member of the Finch family.
- The wild canary is greenish-yellow over most of its body with yellow underparts. The domestic canary comes in an array of bright colors.
- Canaries are very small in size, between 4-5 inches and can live up to 10 years.
- Male canaries sing better than females, although the canary may not sing as much during a molt.
- Canaries do not require a great deal of attention and are suitable for beginning pet bird owners.
- Canaries are not social birds so a single pet canary will be happy being alone.
- Canaries are either bred for color, conformation, or song. Each variety has its obvious strong points, but prospective owners should do research into the species to determine which type is right for their household
Most Canaries are somewhat timid and shy little birds. Unlike larger bird species, they don't usually do well with being handled, although there may be the occasional exception. Canaries are charming birds, and many enjoy watching and interacting with their owners from the comfort of a large flight cage. These birds can be very territorial, so use caution if keeping more than one canary per cage, as dominant behavior can be hard to control and can lead to an unfortunate situation for the more submissive bird.
If you decide that a Canary is the right bird for you, make sure to buy the largest cage possible for your new pet. Canaries must be allowed to fly to maintain their health and happiness, and a large flight cage provides the space and security that they need. Never clip a Canary's wings!
“Flight” type cages are the best (home built or commercial) since they are designed to provide room for your bird to move about freely, both to maintain its health and to exercise. When choosing which cage, remember that a long cage is better than a tall narrow one. In fact, height in not that important; length is best to allow more natural flight. Try to get a cage at least 24 inches long, with spacing between the bars no more than 1/2 inch. Wire cages are best, as wood and bamboo cages are too difficult to keep clean.
The temperature near the cage should be kept at room temperature. Canaries are pretty hardy, so will be comfortable if you are comfortable. However, keep the cage away from drafts, air conditioners and windows that receive direct sunlight, as temperature extremes can be harmful to your bird.
Canaries, like most birds, need their rest and will do best if given a light/dark (which simulates day and night) cycle that approximates natural changes. Keeping them up late with artificial light is not healthy for them. It’s best to cover the canary’s cage at night, at the time the sun goes down.
Perches are an important addition to your canary’s cage. Choose perches that are smooth, but slightly irregular, so it is more comfortable for your bird and easier to grip. Do not use sandpaper perch covers if housing a canary. When providing toys for your bird, remember to place them in the cage in such a way that they do not obstruct flight space. Your canary might enjoy swings, mirrors, bells and hanging wooden or acrylic toys.
A good quality seed mixture suitable for canaries can be the mainstay of their diet. You may also offer a pelleted diet from time-to-time, although these are not as palatable as seeds. You might try keeping a small dish of the pelleted mixture along side the seed mixture to give your bird some variety.
It’s also a good idea to offer fresh foods and greens. Here are some good choices:
- green peppers
- canned corn
- fresh corn-on-the-cob
- cooked broccoli
- raw spinach
- raw dandelions
- raw collard greens
- raw Swiss chard
- bits of hard-boiled egg
As a special goodie, “just sprouted seeds” are an excellent treat. As seeds are eaten the hulls may be left in the dish, so at a quick glance the seed dish may look full when in fact it is just hulls. Blow the hulls off the seed dish at least daily and replenish the seeds as necessary.