There are many species of domestic birds, but the one that can best compete with the parakeet is undoubtedly the canary, one of the best companions to have at home thanks to its cheerful singing and vitality.

What about the canary?

The canary, also known as Serinus canaria, is a species belonging to the Fringillidae family. Although its name suggests that it is native exclusively to the Canary Islands, it can also be found in the Azores and Madeira. The closest relative of this bird is the European greenfinch.

bird canaries

The law of the Canarian government considers this bird to be the natural symbol of its archipelago along with the Canary Island palm tree, in addition to being a species protected by its lands, and it can only be sold by people who have the appropriate permits to do so.

What’s the canary like?

Its trill is unique and if we have to say that it resembles any other bird, we could say that it is similar to the goldfinch’s chirping, but very different at the same time. Their colors are usually brown on the top and yellow-green in the area of the face and underneath. It has greater contrast than other birds of the same family, such as the small greenfinch. It can measure 13 centimeters and weigh about 50 grams.

canary bird

Although they are generally birds with muted tones, from the 17th century onwards they began to cross with other variants, which has given rise to bright colours such as white, orange, copper or yellow, the most common shades in canaries intended for sale. The red canary was the first canary to be created by genetic selection.

And how long does a canary live?

Of course, having a canary means having a partner for a long time. It is normal for a canary to live around 10 years, although there are some who have lived in captivity for up to 10 years.

canary bird in a cage

The hunting of these birds on some islands for study has resulted in some of them not exceeding 7 years of life. In addition, the common ignorance of many caregivers means that these animals, in most cases not exceeding 5 years of life.

How does a male differ from a female?

While with other birds it is almost impossible to distinguish the male from the female, in the case of canaries there are some clues that can help to detect the sex of the bird in the house.

One example is that males are slender, athletic and tend to have a more upright posture. Females, on the other hand, are smaller and have a more rounded head shape. Also, during the mating season you can easily check it out. In the cloaca, females have a smoother abdomen, while males have a bulge, known as a button, right at the outlet of the cloaca.

canaries birds in the nature

During the breeding season, it is another good time to find out the sex of the bird you keep at home. The males sing louder songs to attract the females, try to feed them from the beak and woo them. In the case of females, they will try to prepare the nest, looking for materials they may have in the cage to build it.

When they are young, some breeders have developed some methods to be able to differentiate the sex of the chicks. For example, some say that if the nest is hit, the males lower their heads and raise their tails, while the females do not flinch. Another method is to place the chicks on a towel. The males go out to explore, while the females stay in the towel.

I’m going to the store to get a cage, what do I have to look for?

Unlike other birds, canaries spend most of their lives locked up in cages, so you need to get one that fits your needs and can be happy the time you spend in there.

Size is very important, as canaries love to fly from one side to the other. Thus, a cage for a canary must be 100 cm wide, 60 cm high and 80 cm deep. A perfect size too if you’re going to have two birds. The maximum width of the bars must not exceed 12 mm and the distance between the bars must not exceed 1 cm. In addition, it must have some horizontal bars, as this bird likes to sit very much on the walls to be able to gossip about its surroundings.

When it comes to the shape of the cage, many tend to make a serious mistake buying a cage that is homemade or that is oval (or cylindrical) in shape. This is a serious mistake, since it only stresses the bird and causes it psychological damage. You should always choose a cage that has a square or rectangular shape, because this way the bird can make horizontal flights inside it. Choosing the best material is also important. Many bet on a wooden or plastic cage, although the best thing is a metal cage, stainless steel if you can be, because they are much more durable. Never opt for plastic cages, as they are difficult to clean. If you live in an area with wild birds, and they have long beaks, it is advisable to cover the cage with a bird net to keep the canary safe inside its cage, as these birds will try to attack it to eat it.

canaries in a cage

It is time to decide what the canary will have in its cage. To begin with, the hangers are the fundamental part of the decoration of the canary, avoiding at all costs those that have sandpaper or plastic paper, because they damage the legs of the canary. Always opt for natural wood hangers or put some branches inside the cage, because they are much healthier for them. As for toys, you can always bet on some rope, ladder or something they can bite on.

Canaries are not as escapist as other birds, but they can give you a good scare if you get distracted, so keep the watering trough and feeder out of the cage by a slit or door. They better be the ones that hold on the outside, this will prevent them from trying to escape and could hurt themselves in the process.

In the base of the cage you have to place sand for birds, which helps to keep the cage clean and is much more hygienic than using only paper. However, if you put a base of newspaper and then the sand, this will make cleaning tasks easier.

I have the cage, but where do I put it?

One of the main causes of mortality in canaries is a serious error in the location of the cage. They should be avoided at all costs to place this bird in balconies or kitchen galleries, as they are not very healthy areas for them. Noise on balconies stresses them out and they are unprotected from sudden temperature changes. On the other hand, in the kitchen they are exposed to contamination when you are cooking a dish, which is very dangerous.

canary as a pet

So, choose a room that is well ventilated and sunny, but only for a couple of hours during the day, like the living room or a bedroom. The height must always be the same as the height of your eyes (especially if you want to establish a link with the bird) and two walls of the cage must be attached to the walls of the house (this prevents the bird from becoming frightened when you see it arrive). Avoid a draughty area, such as near a window, that has too much light at all costs. Canaries like natural light, but not that it’s giving them all day long.

If you have a house that is too “bright”, you should place the cage in such a way that part of it is in the shade, so that when the canary gets tired he can take shelter in that part of the cage.

I’m going to clean his cage, what do I do?

For this bird to live a long and prosperous life, hygiene tasks are very important. First your bathrooms. Just because the bird is locked up doesn’t mean it doesn’t have to be cleaned. You should put a cup or bowl of water in it so that you can bathe, especially in the summer, and be shiny.

As far as the cage is concerned, the base of the cage should be changed two or three times a week, while the inside of the cage should be cleaned at least twice a month so that the canary is healthy. Start by removing the tray and cleaning it well, then place the canary in a carrier while you do the cleaning work.

exotic bird

The best way to remove dirt and germs in the process is to use bleach diluted in water and clean bars and hangers with a cloth soaked in this mixture. He insists a lot on getting rid of all the bacteria, especially on the hangers, as they may have traces of his faeces. Once clean, wet with water and then dry with a dry cloth or let it dry in the sun. Then you put it back in, keep the canary back inside and until the next cleaning.

What do you feed the canaries?

In many supermarkets you will find birdseed for your canaries, this being their basic food thanks to the carbohydrates it contains. It is the healthiest thing for these animals, however, it is recommended that it be mixed with other seeds such as blackcurrant, hemp, reddish turnip rape or rapeseed to receive nutrients. The ideal mixture is made up of 50% canaryseed, 20% blackseye, 10% reddish turnip, 10% cane, 6% cardamon, 2% oatmeal and 2% flax.

canari bird exotic eat

But is this alone enough to feed the canary? It’s true, but it’s also good to feed him some fruits and vegetables, which give him vitamins and minerals. Among those you can eat are carrots, spinach, cabbage and lettuce as long as they are well washed and chopped. Fruit, the best is apple, orange and banana. All of them well chopped so that the bird does not have a hard time digesting them.

Drinkers’ water should be changed every day and it is recommended that from time to time they add a vitamin complex, especially vitamin C and D, to take care of their bone health.

If my canary is sick, what can it have?

Just because they are protected by bars does not mean that the bird will be healthy all its life. On the contrary, there are many diseases that they can suffer from. The most common are:

canari in a hand

  • Cold: If you misplace the canary’s cage and it is constantly hit by draughts, you will end up catching a cold, feeling tired, sleeping more than usual and breathing slowly. With vitamin C you can recover.
  • Paratyphoid: A deadly disease caused by poor cage hygiene. Among the different symptoms, the canary will have a bristly plumage, you will feel sad and reluctant to do any activity. Besides, your eyes will always be closed.
  • Constipation: Poor nutrition can lead to constipation of this bird. It can be cured easily with a little lettuce in the diet or by making a porridge with soft vegetables and a little bread.
  • Asthma: This needs to be treated by a specialist, since even if it is not fatal, you need to know how to treat it according to the level of asthma you suffer from.
  • Intestinal inflammation: Because you feel something bad or a genetic problem, the canary may suffer from intestinal inflammation. You will lose your appetite and have diarrhea. An antibiotic can treat the disease.
  • Bronchitis: In winter it is normal for them to suffer from bronchitis if the cage has not been placed in a warm place. He will open his mouth to breathe and will be in motion all day, with his eyes closed, so he could hurt himself. We need to move it to a warmer part of the house.
  • Worms: Because of a bad diet, it is possible that the bird has worms. In the feces there will be white spots and the bird will be tired and lose weight quickly. She has to be treated by a vet.
  • Mites: Mites can attack the bird if the cage is not cleaned properly. You will lose your feathers, scratch yourself often, or hurt yourself to scratch. The only solution is to take him to the vet.
  • Cobalicillosis: A deadly disease that requires you to get it quickly to a specialist. It is also highly contagious and can also be passed to humans, so be very careful. Among the symptoms, it is detected that the faeces have a green and white color and the bird loses its appetite.
  • Aphonia: Your trill will be hoarse, because it is in a poorly ventilated area, full of moisture or singing too much. We’ll have to give him some lemon boots and a thousand to help him recover.
  • Injuries: The bird can get hurt because it flies too fast in the cage or is nervous. In this case, the wounds should be treated with hydrogen peroxide quickly so that they do not become infected.
  • Acariasis on the legs: The legs or fingers will have scabs, which will need an ointment to recover as soon as possible.

Can you train a canary?

Although the canary spends most of his life in a cage, it doesn’t have to be that way. It is possible to train him, for simple things, so that he can sit on his finger or so that he can fly free around the house and then return to his cage. Is it easy? Not at all, since you have to be very patient. Want to know the steps to follow to train him?

  1. Step one: Getting used to your presence is the first step. Therefore, when the cage is located, it has to be in the room with the most social activity in the house. So they know what’s going on around them at all times and can get used to the noises. Slowly get closer to the cage, checking the maximum distance the bird will allow you. And then, give her some candy to buy “her love”. In time, you will approach the bars of the cage to eat it.
  2. Step 2: Have you got him to get used to you and let you near the cage without him getting scared? Perfect, then it’s time to put your hand inside the cage with food you like, such as crackers, pine nuts or apple pieces. Wait until he sits on his hand to eat. I may not do it on the first day, so don’t give up.
  3. Step 3: The canary will have become accustomed to your presence and will be able to hold it in your hand without any problems after a while. That’s when you have to try it on your finger. But what can we do about it? When the sling bar is in place, tap it gently with your finger, so that it loses its balance, so that it will sit on it and you can pull it out.

Now, let’s say you want to let him out of the cage. Most likely, the first time you try to fly away, so first of all close the window and the doors of the room. Then take him out and let him come back if he wants to. With a trinket you can convince him to go back to his cage. Never force him with a scream or try to catch him, because all the hard work of trust you have done will be lost.

I want my canaries to breed, what do I have to do?

Getting the canaries to breed is neither impossible nor difficult, but this does not mean that you will not have to wait for the canaries to breed. For starters, the breeding season is usually in late spring and early summer, when the days are longer and there are more days of light, when you have to have your canary pair matched.

cage of canary bird

You should know that females acquire sexual maturity at 7 months, while males do so at 9 months, so you have to wait a little until both have reached the mature stage of their lives. The courtship process can take many days, so be patient during the process.

If successful, buy a nest where they can lay their eggs. Many breeders opt for wooden nests because they are spacious and very safe, while others choose to buy the materials so that the female can build them with them.

You have to be very careful about the laying of the eggs, as you will lay one egg a day, or you may rest one day and lay one for the next two days. Once laid, they must be removed, which helps to ensure that the eggs hatch on the same day. Once all the eggs have been laid, between three and five, they should all be placed back in the nest so that the nest can incubate them for two or three weeks until they hatch. While the eggs are out of the nest, remember that they are in danger, so cover them with an electric blanket or something that can give them warmth.

Once the chicks are born, they will be completely dependent on their parents, so they must be fed exclusively for these youngsters so that they can be fed by their parents. Also, giving them some insects or worms can help them get vitamins. Within two months they will begin to explore the cage and it will be time to move them to another module or a separate cage so that they can live their own lives.

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