The canary (Serinus canaria) is a very popular pet bird. They are known for their good nature, attractive plumage and remarkable singing ability. Canaries originate from the Canary Islands, Madeira and the Azores. They were introduced to Europe by the Portuguese in the fifteenth century. There are numerous varieties bred in captivity. Some of these birds are bred for their song while others are bred for their conformation, plumage and colour.
The canary is relatively easy to care for. They are also often found as companions in retirement homes and hospitals.
Canaries tend to be nervous birds and are best suited to a quiet, calm household. Males sing well, so they are often kept as solitary pets to encourage them to sing. Canaries are suitable for beginner birdkeepers.
Purchasing a Canary
Canaries may be purchased from a pet shop or, better, a reputable breeder. When selecting a Canary, try to choose a young bird as it may be easier to tame. The female canary does not sing as well as the male. Many people are surprised to find the bird they thought was a male, turns out to be a female with less or often no song. If you want a Canary specifically for its singing ability, make sure you have actually heard it sing before you purchase the bird. Keep in mind that a canary who is under stress, moulting, in ill health or simply in a new environment, may not sing. Hand raised babies often make better pets since they have been completely socialised with humans. Young birds are easier to tame and adapt readily to new environments and situations. Your new bird should be exposed early to different events (young and old people, males and females, other pets, car trips, visits to the veterinary surgeon, etc.) to help promote a calm, well adjusted pet. The lively, alert bird that is not easily frightened is more likely a healthy bird. After purchasing your new bird, have it examined by your veterinarian.
Canaries require regular, routine veterinary health check-ups. Your vet can perform a physical examination, grooming (beak, nail or feather trim) and laboratory tests as needed. During these annual check-ups, health, nutritional and maintenance issues can be identified and addressed. Veterinary check-ups help prevent disease and will aid in the maintenance of a long lasting, healthy relationship between you and your bird.
- the native, wild canary is greenish-yellow
- there are over 50 colour types and combinations
- common domestic colours include yellow, orange, “red factor”, olive, white, brown and black
- same colours as mature birds
- often said to have a plumper “baby” face and less scale on the feet
- both sexes look the same from a distance
- males have a more prominent “nipple” like protrusion of the vent (“anus”) evident more during breeding
- females have a vent that lays flat against the body
- males tend to be better singers
- difficult to sex
Weight - average 20-22 grams (0.7 - 0.8 ounces)
Size - average 12.5-14 cm (5-5.5 ins) in length
Life span - 6-10 years (maximum 20 years)
Diet - consult your veterinarian or see the diet sheet in this series
Breeding - breed readily in captivity
Brood size - 3-6 creamy white eggs will hatch in about 14 days, babies leave the nest in 2 - 3 weeks
Cage - minimum 1 ft x 1 ft x 2 ft (30 cm x 30 cm x 60 cm)
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