Canaries are sociable, friendly and attractive birds. They are soft-billed birds that originate from the coast of Africa. They are relatively easy to look after and easy to keep. Canaries can live up to 10 years of age so bear this time commitment in mind before buying any birds.
Canaries are generally yellow, but also come in other markings such as buff, brown variegated and white. Common breeds are Crested, Fife, Gloster Corona and Yorkshire.
In the wild Canaries eat a wide range of grains, seeds and vegetation. A good quality, specialist Canary forms the basis of a good diet for pet birds, although supplements may be required. Small pieces of fruit and vegetable should be offered. Cuttlefish bone can be given to provide calcium and keep beaks in good condition. Grit should be available to aid digestion. Egg food can be offered occasionally to help maintain good colour. Egg food is good for breeding and pregnant birds. Certain foods, such as lettuce, lemon, potatoes and avocado can be harmful to your birds. Sweets and drinks designed for human consumption should not be given to your birds. Fresh drinking water should always be available.
Canaries can be housed outdoors in a purpose built aviary or indoors in a large wire cage. If kept outdoors, the aviary should be large enough to allow your birds to fly around properly. If kept indoors Canaries should be allowed to come out of their cage daily to exercise, be sure to close all windows and doors! Your cage should have horizontal bars set at different levels to allow your canaries to hop from one perch to another and be kept away from direct sunlight and draughts. Bird sand or sand sheets must be placed in the base of the aviary. Canaries need this to help digest food. Covering your aviary at night will help your birds settle down to sleep.
Canaries prefer the company of their own kind and should not be kept alone. They can be kept in pairs (hens with cocks) although if keeping a few birds together, either sex should be fine. In large aviaries it is usually best to keep more hens than cocks, otherwise the cocks may fight over the hens. Canaries can also be mixed with other soft-billed, small birds such as Finches.
Canaries love to play, so provide them with plenty of toys to keep them amused. Indoor Canaries need daily exercise outside of their cage. You should provide a bath for your birds, either fixed to the outside of the cage or in a shallow bowl inside the cage. Some birds enjoyed being gently sprayed with tepid water! Canaries cannot talk, but cocks will sing enthusiastically during the mating season.
Canaries are friendly birds but will rarely become tame enough to perch on your finger. If you have to pick up a Canary, ensure your palm covers its back and wings, while your middle and index finger surround the bird’s neck. Use your other fingers to support its feet and body. Be gentle! Canaries will peck at you if they feel threatened or stressed. Do not attempt to catch a Canary in mid flight, always wait until it is perched safely.
Canaries can be mated from approximately 9 months of age. They usually produce a clutch of 4-6 eggs in 14 days. Ensure that you have good homes for them to go do, or room in your own aviary for any new arrivals, before breeding your Canaries.