Happy Birds of Song

Canaries are cheerful, active, pretty little birds, that are known for their beautiful songs. There are many varieties but they all belong to the same genus (Serinus). They all originally evolved from their wild relative (Serinus canaria), which lives on the Canary Islands, off the coast of Africa. There are three main categories or breeds which include color, song and type. However, they all make wonderful pets, so you be the judge when it comes down to choosing one. You may find yourself deciding between one with pretty colors, and there are many different colors available, or one that enthusiastically sings beautiful songs, and though all canaries can sing, these are bred specifically for this purpose. Then again, you may prefer one with frilly feathers or a crest on it's head! It is a matter of personal preference, as all of them will delight you and bring a bit of sunshine into your day.

2 Canaries

When selecting a canary, both males and females make fine pets, as they are both similar in personality. However, males are the primary singers. Females can sing, but they do not as often as males and they have less variety in their songs. Males sing to attract a mate and defend their territory. Though they may not sing as often, if they are in a cage with a female or in an aviary with others of their kind, they still will sing on occasion. When the female goes to nest and is incubating the eggs, the male often sings quite a repertoire of songs. When selecting a bird for it's song, take the time to listen to different songs that the canaries are singing and choose based on what sounds good to your ears.

When purchasing a cage for a canary, you should select a cage that is longer than it is high. They like to fly back and forth across the cage, which gives them exercise.

Minimum cage
size should be approximately 15 inches wide, 15 inches tall and 20 inches long. The biggest cage you can obtain is best, as most canaries are kept in their cages all the time. If you do allow your canaries out of the cage, as I did, I found that they usually return to their cage on their own. They truly appreciate flying freely in the room and it is fun to watch them. Always place your cage in a draft free area, as they are particularly sensitive to drafts.

A good diet for canaries consists of a high quality canary seed mix, supplemented by fruits, vegetables and greens daily. In addition, pellets can be offered. They also enjoy sprouts and millet sprays. As with all birds, never give them avocado, as it is toxic to them. Supply a cuttlebone for calcium and always provide fresh water. Canaries like to bathe every day, so you might consider using a water bottle type dispenser to keep their drinking water clean. You can give them a separate bird bath for bathing everyday. They like swings and small toys, particularly ones with bells.

My two canaries were Gloster fancys and they had no crests, so they were considered plainheads, or consorts. Glosters with a crest are called Gloster coronas. I bought the male first and his name was Frankie. He had been named by the store after Frank Sinatra, because he sang so sweetly. I then purchased a female to keep him company, which I named Sandy. They got along great right from the beginning and Sandy soon indicated she wanted to build a nest, as she took bits of string from her toy and put it in the food dish. She was soon sitting in the dish and no one could eat! I went out and bought a wire nest with a felt pad in the bottom and attached it to the side of their cage. On the cage floor, I put nesting materials that I had purchased for them. Sandy immediately began building a nest, with Frankie assisting. It was a beautifully constructed nest and within days, Sandy laid her first egg followed by three others.

I marked the calendar, knowing that it took 14 days for the eggs to hatch. Sandy sat on her eggs all day and night, only leaving to eat and drink in the morning and the evening. Frankie would often feed her in the nest. He acted like a proud, happy father, strutting around and singing. Unfortunately, fourteen days came and went and the eggs never hatched. I finally removed them after another couple weeks. They all appeared infertile. Sandy promptly laid four more eggs, which also never hatched. At this time, I asked the vet and she suggested I remove the nest, as my canaries might be too young to produce chicks. I did not know their exact age. I took out the nest, but sure enough, Sandy laid an egg in her food dish. I decided to let them try again, so I put the nest in and transferred the egg into the nest. Sandy and Frankie were delighted and they quickly rebuilt the nest, with Sandy laying two more eggs. Like the others, these never hatched either. It was very dissapointing, because I could sense that they would have been great parents and it would have been exciting to see the babies grow.

At about this time, I was talking to a friend who knew someone who specialized in breeding canaries. She was looking for a pair of Gloster canaries, so I decided to give them to her, as I felt they would be given the best of care and given her extensive canary breeding experience, she might be able to figure out why none of the eggs ever hatched. I knew they would have excellent care and she would keep me updated. I do miss Frankie's beautiful songs, but I would never split Frankie and Sandy up, as they were so devoted to each other.

I hope you have better success if you decide to breed your canaries. Then again, if you have time to give it attention, keeping a single bird can be very rewarding. Whether you choose one or an aviary full, you can be assured that they will lift your spirits with their happy attitudes and lovely singing.