The Domesticated Canary, often simply known as the canary, is a domesticated form of the wild Canary, a small songbird in the finch family originating from the Canary Islands.
Canaries were first bred in captivity in the 17th century. They were brought over by Spanish sailors to Europe. This bird became expensive and fashionable to breeding in courts of Spanish and English kings. Monks started breeding them and only sold the males (which sing). This kept the birds in short supply and drove the price up.
Eventually Italians obtained hens and were able to breed the birds themselves. This made them very popular and resulted in many breeds arising and the birds being bred all over Europe.
The same occurred in England. First the birds were only owned by the wealthy but eventually the local citizens started to breed them and bcame a poplular pet bird. Many breeds arose through selective breeding, and they are still very popular today for their voice.
Canaries originate from the Macronesian Island, Canary Islands, Azores, and Madiera. These islands are located just off the northwest coast of mainland Africa to Morroco.
Canaries require a mixture of canary seed, soaked grass seeds, sprouts , fresh fruits, dark leafy greens, and vegetables. For a complete list of fresh fruits and vegetable to feed your canary, visit our fresh food page.
Inexperienced breeders find it difficult to determine the sex of canaries by appearance, intensity of colour, or demeanour. Most males sing and most females do not. As spring approaches physical changes are observed in the vent area. The abdomen of the hen becomes more rounded and that of the cock becomes larger and protudes downward in the same direction as the legs.
Canaries are only fertile when the length of the day increases to about 12 hours. This occurs naturally in the spring but can be induced earlier through artificial lighting and heating. Good nutrition is essential. Cuttlefish bone is often used to provide calcium for the formation of egg shells.
Liquid vitamin drops help guard against deficiencies. Greens are a staple, such as chickweed, seedy (lawn type) grass heads, dandelion, carrot, broccoli, sprouts, and apple. There are many recipes for soft food that include ingredients such as hard boiled egg, gelatin, bread crumbs, or biscuit crumbs. A protein-rich soft food, together with sprouted seed, is the fundamental diet of canary chicks.
Canaries are best suited to breeding in a controlled environment with one pair per cage. This is essential for any pedigree show varieties. They can also be bred successfully in an avaiary situation if there is sufficient room, excess nesting sites, and a plentiful supply of nesting material.
Males will often be ready to breed before the females. A cock may pursue a hen relentlessly or fight with her. In these situations the pair is separated until the female has most of the nest built and is more likely to accept the male.
Many breeders use a "double breeder" cage with two compartments separated by a removable wire partition. The partition is removed when the pair is observed "kissing" (the male trying to feed the female) through the bars.
An open (uncovered) 10 cm (4 in) nest cup is previously installed in an accessible position above the height of the perches. There are several types of nesting material that can be used such as cotton wool, burlap, pine, and aspen bedding.
The hen lays four or five eggs, on successive days. She rarely leaves the nest during the two weeks of incubation and relies on the cock to bring food. Some breeders remove the first two or three eggs and replace them with dummy eggs.
They then return the real eggs when the clutch is completed. This causes the eggs to hatch over fewer days and gives a higher survival rate due to less disparity in the size of the chicks. Fresh soft food and sprouted seed is provided regularly until the chicks are weaned to hard seed.
The chicks leave the nest at about 18 days and are fed by the parents for another week or so. The hen then commences a second round and may attack the first one.
Canaries should be housed in a cage large enough to fly around. When only housing one pet canary, a smaller cage can be used with room for flight as well.
These wonderful birds will make pleasant pets whether they sing or not. They require a good amount of sleep after the sun goes down so families with loud pets and children may not be the best fit. Canaries will thrive well as pets when given a proper cage, a variety of fresh fruits and greens, a positive peaceful environment, and adequate temperatures.
*Some informational resources are from Wikipedia.