for Your New Canary
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Typical yellow-colored canary at top. We prefer the variegateds and red factors.
Most people prefer the yellow Tweety birds.
Origins: Canaries were first shipped to Europe from the Canary (dog, canes = Latin dog as in old Roman yard signs, CAVE CANEM = Beware of the dog) Islands. The different European nations developed many different strains and colors. American canaries are often an amalgamation of numerous strains of canaries (much like most of us).
Foods: If they will accept them, canaries do fine on the pelleted diets. Unfortunately, few confirmed seed eaters will convert to pellets. Some birds just refuse to convert to pellets. Some little guys, such as canaries, will often starve before they accept pellets. Hookbills switch over much more easily.
Supplements: Most fortified canary foods contain all the elements healthy canaries need – including the breeders and their babies. However, canaries really appreciate treat foods. They welcome little changes in their diet but not large ones. To bring out the full potential in “red factor” canaries, you will need to feed “color foods.” Mix the color supplement with mashed boiled eggs. Canaries love boiled eggs. The red color additive will not make them healthier, just prettier.
Lighting: All birds do better and look better under full-spectrum fluorescent lighting. They also enjoy real sunlight when kept in outdoor aviaries. Make sure they can get out of the sun. Actually, with the advent of West Nile virus deaths in crows, there's no way we'd keep birds outdoors.
Heat: Room temperature works fine. Cool days won’t bother them but avoid drafts. If your canary gets sick, warm him up and call your bird vet.
Water: If you give them a bowl of water, most canaries will jump in it and thrash around. Change their bathing water often because they also drink it. Give them drinking water in drinking tubes. They’re easier to keep clean. They also like daily mistings. Canaries learn to open their wings when you mist them. Do it early so they have time to dry.
Mixers: Canaries usually mix with other canaries (in big cages) and with most finches. Keep your eye on them. If certain ones get picked on, take out the victim (usually a female) or the bully (usually a male).
Isolate Males: Some males will fight with other males (and with females). You will have happier and “sing-ier” males if you put each in its own cage.
Tameable: Canaries (unlike the flightier finches) will learn to sit on your finger or shoulder. Few try to hand-train their canaries. Never take an untrimmed canary outside. Indoors, they can smack into objects hard enough to kill them. Ceiling fans, glass windows, and foods cooking in the kitchen present common dangers.
Breeding: Sexually mature male canaries sing to attract willing females. If you decide to breed them, put the two sexes in side by side cages. Provide nests and nesting materials. When she starts building a nest, she’s ready. If he starts feeding and “kissing” her, he’s ready.
Tips to Increase Singing: To encourage your male canaries to sing more, make sure they can’t see other canaries. Listening to pre-recorded tapes and hearing better singers will enlarge their singing repertoire. Certain “singing foods” will also encourage your males to sing better. Most sing best early in the day – when the light first hits them and in the early evenings.
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