The canary received his name from his native habitat -- the eastern Atlantic Canary Islands. There are still at least 150,000 wild canaries still living on these isles. These birds are members of the finch family. The yellow canary was first domesticated by Europeans in the late 1600s. It was in Germany that breeding and training canaries first took off.
He Wants to Be Alone
Don't think your canary needs a cage mate. Unless you plan to breed the birds, canaries are quite happy by themselves. These territorial birds will attack other canaries placed in their cages. Even breeding pairs often don't get along when it's not breeding season.
If you keep a single male, he will sing. Some female canaries sing, but their song isn't as pleasing or strong as male birds. Not all canary songs are the same. They vary a great deal, but birds can be trained to sing. Certain types of canary are bred specifically for their melodic singing. These include:
- German roller: The equivalent of canary classical music
- American singer: A sweet singer
- Belgium waterslagger: Possesses the greatest range
- Spanish timbrado: Louder and higher pitched singing.
To find an exceptional singing canary, seek a reputable breeder. Canaries begin singing about the age of 6 months, so it's a good idea to wait until this time to hear the actual singing. After this age, you can tell the gender of canaries by the quality of their songs.
Canary Colors and Types
Canary fanciers have developed all sorts of shades of birds, and "color" canaries are bred more for appearance than song. While colors of canaries run the gamut, some -- such as the red canary -- require special food to achieve the best coloration. Natural foods such as cherries and beets can give this bird a deep red tone.
Type canaries are bred for certain physical characteristics, such as the lizard canary, which resembles that reptile in its color pattern. Type canaries appear in various sizes, feather styles and body carriage.
Although canaries make good pets, they don't like to be touched or handled. Just enjoy your bird for his beauty and song, rather than trying to hold or pet him.
Feed your canary a high-quality seed developed specifically for the species, and always make sure he has fresh, clean water available. You also can give him vegetable treats. These include:
- Grated carrots
- Sprouted seeds
Avoid certain types of veggies, as they aren't particularly nutritious. These include:
- Iceberg lettuce
Canaries like fruit, but don't overdo fruit treats. Suitable small fruit pieces include oranges, apples and pears.
Provide your bird with natural wood perches in his cage, and place several of varying heights. Your pet also should have a bird bath, which requires regular cleaning. Your canary should have a wide cage, not a tall one. Place the cage out of direct sunlight and away from drafts.
A well-kept canary may live as long as 15 years, although 9 years is more the average.