Canary Behavior

It takes a lot of training for a canary to perch on his person.
It takes a lot of training for a canary to perch on his person. (Image: George Doyle/Valueline/Getty Images)

Originating in Africa, the beautiful canary has been a household pet in the West for centuries. While yellow is their most common shade, these little birds also come in white, red and tan, along with brown patterns. While friendly, the canary isn't usually the type to perch on your finger. With good care, your little friend can live 10 years or more.


Canaries need regular exercise, both in and out of a cage. Choose the largest cage possible for your birds, setting up perches of varying heights for them to hop about. Let your birds out on a daily basis for some flight time around the room. Of course, close all doors and windows beforehand.


Canaries enjoy taking baths. Given their druthers, they will bathe daily. You can purchase a birdbath for the cage at your local pet store or online. Clean and refill the bath every day. After your bird finishes his bath, remove it so he won't drink the dirty water. He should only drink from the clean water that's always available for that purpose. That water should also be changed daily.


If you want truly beautiful birdsong in your canary, choose a male. Females don't sing. Males sing for three seasons out of the year -- autumn, winter and spring. When summer comes around and molting starts, singing stops. Certain canary breeds are bred especially for particular songs. It's like choosing your favorite type of music. American singer canaries are known for their sweet voices, while the Spanish timbrado are akin to the opera singers of the bird world. The German roller canary is so-named because of the rolling quality of his tunes.


Some pets are just too easy to breed, resulting in lack of homes and overpopulation. That's not true of canaries. A canary becomes sexually mature after its first birthday. Breeding season starts in early spring. You'll see the male's abdomen get larger, with his vent also getting bigger. The female's vent swells up. Putting males and females together often results in the male beating up the female, so you must keep careful watch on the pair. Provide nesting material, such as shredded paper or even dryer lint. The female builds her nest, followed by mating. She'll lay several small eggs, which hatch in about two weeks.

Raising Young

Both parents participate in raising their offspring. Mother and father feed their chicks for about a month. Once the babies reach the age of 3 weeks, they exit the nest and start exploring the cage. Once they start flying about, as fledglings, remove them and place them in their own cage.


Before you go to bed, cover your canary's cage with a cloth. That's a signal for the birds to settle in for the night. It also means your bird won't wake you up at the crack of dawn with his singing.

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