Canaries


canary w_mic    I breed canaries during mid to late spring.  I work with Red Factors, Glosters, and American Singers.  A young bird needs to be at least 6 months old before I can  accurately determine its gender.  The males are the singers.  I generally start having canaries available in October.  I make a short video of each of the males which I can send to you via email.  In this way you can see and hear the bird to help in deciding if it is one you would like.  My bids are banded and are trained to eat either a pelleted diet or a seed diet.  I prefer the pelleted diet as it is cleaner, more nutritious, and easier for the keeper.       I do not ship canaries.


  See my  Phone number and email address

red factor canary I sell a number of different kinds of canary food and treats in various sized bags including Pretty Bird Pellets, Song Seed treat, Yellow Egg Food,  Red Factor Egg Food, Soak Seed,  Sprout Seed, Hemp Seed, and Canthaxanthin for color feeding Red Factor canaries.

             See the Canary Supplies List  
Yellow canary
See a   video of one of my birds singing.   It will  play with Windows Media Player. The bird in the video has already been sold.  
 Play the video
Order Blank Please call for availability of birds.  (303) 204-5937

 

Canaries
     A canary can make a wonderful pet both to look at and for song. They are a cheerful little bird almost always in motion and very interested in what is going on around them. Canaries have been kept as cage birds for over 400 years and selective breeding has produced many different types and colors. The original wild canaries are mostly a drab greenish-brown color. Not all canaries are yellow although this is the color that the public associates with canaries. Yellowness is a trait that has been developed by selective breeding. Some of our birds have crests on the tops of their heads. The crest is a natural variation in head feather growth. I breed several different types of canaries: Glosters, Red Factors, and a few American Singers and Spanish Timbrados.
Unlike parakeets, cockatiels and other larger hook bills, canaries do not like to be hand held. However, with enough patience canaries can be finger-trained and may even eat out of your hand. They generally do not bond and snuggle with people however as parrots and other hook bills often do. Canaries are more independent creatures. They can live 10 to 12 years. There are reports of canaries living even longer.
Many people buy canaries simply for the bird’s singing ability. Male canaries are the best singers. If you are buying the canary primarily to hear it sing, buy a male. Female canaries (called hens) do make marvelous pets and will cheep and chatter and can occasionally warble a short song, but it is almost unheard of for a hen canary to sing as well or in as sustained a manner as a cock (male canary).


cat in cageCages
     Many different cage sizes and styles are available. Your canary will be happiest in a cage large enough that it must fly to get from one perch to another. If it can simply hop from place to place it will not get sufficient exercise. Cages that are longer than they are tall give the bird the most benefit. A cage at least 24" long by 15" deep by 18" tall would be much appreciated by your canary. Some canary hobbyists allow their birds to fly free for a time each day. While this is very good exercise for the bird there are some limitations to keep in mind: Canaries cannot be house broken. You will be cleaning up after the bird. Windows and mirrors must be covered as the bird can injure or possibly kill itself flying against them. Cats can rarely be trained not to stalk a canary. You risk losing the bird if you allow it out of the cage without taking precautions. Most canary hobbyists clean the bird’s cage thoroughly once a week including the seed (or pellet) cups, the water container, and the perches. You can either line the tray bottom with layers of newspaper and peel off one layer each day or use a sawdust/wood chip like product sold in pet stores. Replace it weekly.

Daily Food
     In the wild, canaries eat many different types of food. They do not live on seed alone. The more complete and balanced a diet you can provide for your bird the healthier and happier it will be. Most canary seed is enriched with vitamins and minerals. Some brands will have small pellets mixed into it to provide nutrients that are not found in the seed alone. It has been my experience that most birds do not eat these pellets, but will instead dig around in the seed cup hunting for their favorite seed (and generally flinging out the rest). Canaries also like fresh food such as spinach, broccoli, zucchini, mustard greens, Swiss chard, romaine or other dark leaf lettuce, corn on the cob, apple, pear, strawberries, melon, banana, dandelion (be very sure it has not been treated with weed killer), and sprouts such as mung beans, wheat, and oats which you can buy in health food stores. Another option is to buy frozen vegetables (unsalted) such as mixed peas and carrots (and corn). To prepare frozen veggies for the bird, cook the vegetables for half the recommended time, cool them, and feed them to your canary. Avocados and chocolate are both poisonous to your bird. A small amount of fresh food offered several times a week will be relished by your bird. A clothes pin makes a handy way to fasten most fresh food to the side of the cage.
     My canaries have been raised to eat either seed or pelleted food. This training is most easily done when the birds are very young, but adult birds can often be converted to pellets if you are patient and persistent. The pelleted food contains all of the nutrients, vitamins and minerals needed by canaries. One of the advantages of feeding pellets rather than seed is that there is much less wasted food, and less mess. The birds do not fling seed all around looking for their favorite type. Also, a pellet diet eliminates the need to remove seed hulls from the seed cups so that the bird can get at the whole seed still in the cup. Each pellet is the same as the others regardless of the color, and contains the same complete nutrition. I have had very good results with pellet brands such as Kaytee Pretty Bird, and Harrison’s. Be sure to buy a type that lists canaries on the bag, since various sized pellets are made for different kinds of birds. There are suggestions listed on the bags as to how to convert a canary to eating pelleted food. If you feed the pelleted diet, then cuttlebone is unnecessary as the calcium source, but keep a cuttlebone or beak block in the cage for beak trimming. You can view a 2 page PDF file with step by step instructions for converting your canary to a diet of pellets.

Treats
     To provide variety and interest to the birds I offer various treats in small amounts each day. One treat my canaries particularly relish is called “couscous” (rhymes with “goose goose”). This is a type of pasta in the form of tiny grains. It is sold in the health or diet section of most supermarkets and in health food stores. Buy the unflavored type. Soak the couscous in an equal amount of water and let it sit for 20 minutes to soften. Prepare only as much as you need for the day. 1/2 teaspoon per bird twice a week is sufficient. I find couscous to be a treat so attractive to my canaries that it is useful in encouraging the birds to eat out of your hand. Couscous can be an even more nutritious snack if it is sprinkled with spirulina power. Spirulina is a type of blue green algae which is an excellent source of vitamins + minerals and enhances the birds natural color.
Another type of soft food that canaries love is called egg food or conditioning food. This is the type of food which breeders make available to the parent birds to feed to the hatchlings. It is made of breadcrumbs, powdered eggs, oatmeal and other ingredients depending on the brand. I see it more often for sale in small pet shops than in PetsMart or PetCo. There is usually little or no seed in egg or conditioning food. Mix equal amounts of conditioning food, hard boiled egg (at least 20 minutes at a rolling boil) which you have mashed up as finely as possible with a fork, and mashed cooked carrot. Make the mixture crumbly moist. Offer 1/2 teaspoon of this mixture per bird twice a week. They love it.
Soaked seed is another nutritious treat which our birds devour avidly. Any brand of canary seed will do although the pellets mixed in with some brands will turn to mush. Soak 2 teaspoons of seed in tap water for 24 - 48 hours at room temperature. Rinse the seed every 12 hours. After a day or two drain all of the water off and offer 1/2 teaspoon per bird every few days. Soaked seed is even more nutritious than dry seed as the soaking releases more of the nutritional value. The unused soak seed will keep 4 or 5 days refrigerated. I sell conditon food, sprout seed, soak seed, song seed, and hemp seed.
Although I feed my birds a variety of treats on a rotation basis most of their nutritional needs are met by the pelleted food. The treats should not be more than 15% of the diet. 85% of the canaries diet by volume should be pellets (or seed if you choose to feed a seed diet). I do provide bird gravel to my canaries at all times. Gravel aids the bird’s digestion since they have no teeth. Most birds will eat some gravel from time to time. Others never touch it.

Maintenance
     Canaries enjoy a bath. There are a variety of different types of baths available. Use room temperature water and offer the bath early enough in the day so that the canary will be dry before dark. The bird will be dry in less than an hour. If your bird is hesitant to get into the water try putting a favorite treat in the empty bath. Do this several days in a row. When the bird readily gets into the bath for the treat(s) switch the treats for water.
Approximately once a year a canary will go through a natural process of changing nearly all of its feathers. During this molting process be especially careful to keep the bird out of drafts during the 6-8 weeks that molt usually lasts. Feeding a small piece of cucumber each day helps many canaries through the molting process. Many birds become more quiet during the stress of the molt which usually although not always occurs during the summer. The molt is generally triggered by the combination of daylight hours at or about 15 hours together with warm temperatures. Since such conditions trigger molting be sure that if your canary is near your grow lights that you cover the bird to limit its exposure to the grow lights to 12 hours or less per day. A general rule for determining how many hours of light exposure to allow is to follow the pattern of the daylight hours. Give the canary the same number of hours of light as there are hours of daylight.
For those interested in breeding the birds be aware that at 13 1/2 to 14 hours of exposure to light together with gradually increasing temperatures the birds will come into breeding condition. The combination of light and temperature causes hormonal changes in the birds. If you do not want your hen canary to lay eggs limit the hours of exposure to light to less than 12 hours. Not to belabor the obvious, but if there is not a male canary in the same cage with the hen then any eggs the hen may lay will not hatch.
Many canary fanciers control the hours of light exposure by covering the cage with a dark cloth. The bird does not need to be in a perfectly quiet room to get sufficient rest, but it does need to be in near total darkness for approximately 12 hours. If you can see the bird when peeking inside the covered cage it isn’t dark enough inside. Failure to give the bird at least 12 hours of darkness in each 24 hour cycle is the leading reason why it may stop singing and go into a perpetual partial molt.
Bird breeders differ as to whether or not canaries are content being kept alone. If your canary has a good appetite, and frequently vocalizes it is most likely content. If it seems lethargic and mostly quiet then having another bird around may perk it up. I have seen canary fanciers buy a hen canary for their singer and put it into the same cage with the male thinking that this will encourage the male to sing. Male canaries sing to claim their territory and to attract a mate. You may get a better singing response by keeping the two birds within hearing of each other, but out of sight of each other.
     My canaries are accustomed to drinking water from “gerbil style” water bottles. These bottles hang upside down outside the cage with the spout projecting into the cage. When the canary pokes its beak into the end of the tube it gets a small amount of water. This type of water dispenser keeps the water cleaner as the bird cannot foul it. Traditional water containers will also work fine, but you will have to be sure to keep them very clean. Since all of the necessary vitamins and minerals for the bird are in the pellet diet I do not need to add vitamins into the drinking water.
Canaries will instinctively remain still in the dark. You can use this trait to more safely capture a canary if it escapes. Note where the bird has landed then darken the room as much as possible. The darker, the better. Use a flashlight to locate the escapee if need be, but turn it off for the actual capture. When you need to capture your bird in its cage it may tend to dart and thrash around. If this happens, try covering the cage to darken it or take the cage to an interior room that can be darkened.
Several times a year it is wise to trim your canaries claws. A vet’s office will do this for you for a fee, but it is quite easy to do yourself using finger nail clippers. Hold the bird belly side up firmly, but gently in one hand being sure that the canary cannot move its wings. Notice that a tiny blood vessel runs through each claw. You want to clip just beyond this blood vessel. Holding the bird in such a way that the claw is back light makes it easier to see the vessel. If you do accidentally draw blood use a shaver’s moistened styptic pencil to stop the bleeding. The first few times you try the claw trimming trim only a claw or two a day. This is because holding the canary for too long a time can put the bird into shock or worse.

Illness
     Canaries can and do on occasion get sick. They can get respiratory infections and digestive disorders. Birds instinctively hide any illness from you and from other birds. This is because in the wild an ill looking bird is shunned and may be driven off by the flock making that bird more vulnerable to predators. An ill canary will fluff up its feathers, close its eyes, and generally act lethargic and uninterested. It may even stay on the cage floor. If this happens, the bird needs immediate medical attention. Don’t wait! By the time the bird actually looks ill it is very ill. Since the average vet charge for an office call can be higher than the cost of the canary, some hobbyists try to take care of the bird themselves. Sometimes this is successful; sometimes it is not. Usually, raising the temperature in the birds cage to 90 degrees and administering an antibiotic such as Ornacyn Plus in the drinking water brings the desired result in fighting respiratory diseases and diarrhea infections. However, there is always a risk in treating illness yourself. A clean cage, fresh, clean food in a varied diet, clean water, at least 12 hours of darkness for sleep, and sufficient exercise will go a long way to keeping your canary healthy. It is wise to decide which vet you might use before you need their services. Some vets do not treat birds as small as canaries or they only have office hours for certain types of animals and birds on certain days depending on their staffing.
     My birds have bands on their legs. These bands are put onto the canaries when they are 7 or 8 days old. This is a way of identifying the history and parentage of each bird. From the information on the band I can tell you the bird’s birthday if you wish to know. Canaries usually begin breeding in March or April unless induced to do so sooner by having the day length manipulated with artificial lights. Pairs can rear 2 or 3 clutches of eggs which take approximately 6 weeks per clutch. The baby birds grow for several months going through one molt. In early fall I begin separating the birds by sex based largely on how they sing. I usually start selling birds in Fall.
There are many good books available about canary care. One in particular is especially worth reading: The New Canary Handbook by Matthew M. Vriends, Ph D.
     I hope that your canary will be a wonderful addition to your life. There can be something very soothing about one’s daily activities while listening to your canary serenade you with a song.

Doug @ The Violet Showcase (303) 204-5937