Canaries are a popular caged bird pet lovers around the world have long prized for their beautiful songs. They are small and easy to keep in most settings, and as pretty as the songs they sing are, they aren’t so loud as to make them obtrusive in tight quarters or apartment settings.
There are pros and cons to canaries as pets. For some, they are perfect, because they provide beauty, wonderful songs and lively antics without the need for constant interaction and extreme care. For others, while the adorable nature of the canaries is lovely, they don’t relate with their human counterparts the way many people expect from a pet bird. Most people are familiar with the parrot species of pets and think all birds should react to humans the way a budgerigar (commonly referred to as American or English parakeets) or African Grey does.
Of the common domesticated birds, the canary is one of the smallest. It averages about 3 inches in length from beak to the tip of the tail. Compare that to the average budgerigar’s 7 inch length from beak to tail tip, and you can get an idea of how really tiny canaries are.
Their size makes them great for pet owners looking for a delightful pet that fits into small spaces. Even a very small cage will likely give a canary enough room to move about freely. While a small cage is suitable, canaries do still need enough room to spread their wings and fly, so a cage at least 18” x 14” that is 18” high is best. It is even more important that an appropriate cage be provided for these little birds than for an average parrot. Most parrots are trained to the point where they can be taken from their cages to enjoy a little freedom each day. Canaries are not going to be easily retrieved if let loose, and should be kept in their cages with plenty of room to move around.
Feeding Your Canary
If you decide on a colorful little songbird for your home, remember that it is the males that are most likely to sing. In the bird world, it is also the males that are the most colorful. All canaries need to have a good diet of the proper canary food and fresh, clean water available at all times. Canaries are omnivores, so simple seeds are not enough to keep them healthy. In the wild they would enjoy a variety of fruits, vegetables, grasses, seeds and even bugs to round out their daily nutritional requirements. A commercial pellet made especially for canaries will meet their needs nicely. Additional fruits and vegetables can be fun to provide and offer extra treats for your canaries.
Purchasing Your New Pet Canary
Birds are generally healthy animals that can live a long life in captivity when cared for properly. The lifespan of the average canary in captivity is over 10 years. The most important part of ensuring a good start is making sure the bird you choose is healthy to begin with. Look for active birds that are engaging and sociable in their environment. The nares (nostril areas) of the bird should be dry and clean. Healthy canaries have bright, sparkling eyes and smooth, clean feathers. Finally, check the vent area (anal opening) to be sure it is clean and dry.
Avoid any bird that has bald spots, looks like it is missing feathers, is coughing or having other respiratory problems, looks like it is favoring one foot or shows any signs of swelling of the beak, eyes or nasal area. At home, keep your pet out of drafts in an area with a temperature maintained around 70 degrees. Unlike tropical species, canaries do not do well in temperatures that exceed 80 degrees.
Canaries are typically not extremely social birds. If preferred a single canary is fine on its own. If you wish to keep more than one, avoid housing 2 males in the same cage, because they will tend to fight over territory. Never put a canary in a cage with another bird species. It may attempt to be territorial, but won’t be able to battle a larger bird. If you plan to keep more than one canary, it is best if the birds are purchased at the same time and brought together at one time.
Toys and Stimulation
Some people are successful in getting their canaries to interact a little with them, and allow them to pick them up. However, most are happiest when left to their own devices. Even though they are fine in their cages by themselves, canaries still need to be provided with healthy stimulation and toys to keep them amused. Provide your pet with perches of varying sizes.
Natural branches made from fruit wood or other non-toxic wood materials are a great choice. Plastic or wood toys are good choices for canaries, and last a long time since canaries are less destructive than their larger, harder beaked parrot cousins.
Any toys created for birds can be used, but avoid toys with mirrors since male canaries may be less likely to sing when they have mirrors. The songs of the canaries are a communication method, and canaries housed with others may not sing as much as a single canary.
(Photo Copyright : Nicolas Nadjar, 123RF Stock Photo)