Canaries: Keeping the Birds

Budgerigars are the most popular pet birds in this country – directly followed by the Kanaris, who have been enchanting people with their art of singing for centuries. The canary is not just an animal singer with incredible vocal potential: In addition to the pleasant singing, the small, nimble birds also fascinate with their splendid colors and diverse optics.

How the Canary Came to Europe

The Canary Island Girlitz – a bird from the finch family with yellowish plumage and brownish markings – was discovered in 1473 by the Spanish conquerors on the islands off the northwest African coast. The bird is found in the Canaries, Madeira, and the Azores and drew the attention of seafarers to itself with its beautiful voice. They caught some of the animals and brought them to the continent. The melodic singing soon delighted bird lovers, who until then had only domesticated domestic birds in cages. So the Canary Girlitz became a breeding modified canary over the centuries.

Above all aristocrats and bird lovers from the upper class were enthusiastic about canary breeding, while the appearance of the Canary girl seat changed significantly. To date, targeted breeding has produced 30 different breeds. The little bird was not only bred for its song, however: miners took it underground – as a living gas detector. Today canaries are popular, easy to care for, and also suitable for novice birds, whose cute behavior in pairs or flocks is fascinating. Even teenagers interested in birds can keep canaries.

Not Just Yellow and Smooth: Variants of the Canary

Only some of the canaries that exist today have been technically influenced in terms of their vocal qualities.

A distinction is made between the following variants of the canary:

  • Singing canaries: These birds are bred to sing particularly beautifully, with only cocks running at top form. The best-known singing canary is the “Harzer Roller”.
  • Color canaries correspond to the different colors that occur in other ornamental birds. Starting from the standard yellow of the “classic” canary, birds were bred in white, reddish, orange, and brown, as well as so-called “Isabel birds” with light pen drawings. Vocal power plays a lesser role in color canaries.
  • Posture canaries represent the largest group. During breeding, for example, abnormalities in the feather structure were increased. With hoods, ruffled cover plumage, or noticeable size deviations, there is a wide range of different breeds.

The Canary Bird Shelter as a Comfortable Bird Home

The canaries feel comfortable in a flock, so your bird needs at least one partner. The spacious accommodation is required for species-appropriate husbandry. The suitable canary bird accommodation size is 100 x 50 x 50 centimeters for a couple – you have to add 50 percent space for each additional animal. Bigger is always better, of course. But even with a very spacious aviary, the birds need a lot of free flight every day under supervision. A room or outdoor aviary is ideal, with a grid spacing of twelve millimeters. Like all birds, canaries should never be kept in a round shelter, as they can lose their orientation in it. When furnishing the canary shelter, be sure to choose natural wood poles; their uneven diameter trains the bird’s foot and protects against the callous formation. It is best to attach the perches on one side only, so they spring a little – that’s even more natural.

The canary shelter facility also includes:

  • Bowls for food and bird grit;
  • Water dispenser;
  • Bathhouse;
  • Swing or ring as a place to sleep;
  • Daylight lamp for days with little light.

In contrast to parrots, canaries do not need toys in the aviary: they do not have a pronounced play instinct, so things like this would only take up unnecessary space. Keep your canaries busy by offering them green fodder in such a way that they have to “work” a little for it. A few examples: Clamp the dandelion between the grilles under the aviary ceiling, stick a piece of cucumber at the open end of a natural wooden pole, place a forage plant (chickweed, Golliwoog) in the room.

Appropriate Canary Husbandry: Healthy Nutrition

As a basic feed, you receive grain mixtures with seeds specially tailored to the nutritional needs of canaries. Give about a teaspoon per animal per day. If you value appearance, you should choose mixtures without rapeseed: Their carotene content can lead to harmless, but possibly undesirable changes in the plumage color of light-colored birds. There are also herbs, vegetables, and fruit in moderation. The canaries also need protein. Add hard-boiled eggs, cream cheese, or curd cheese once a week. Also, ensure the minerals and vitamins for the birds. A limestone and (in consultation with the veterinarian) vitamin preparations for green fodder muffle should accompany the species-appropriate diet.

Can I Tame Canaries?

Taming canaries shouldn’t be approached with the same expectations as you should approach parrots. The nimble birds are active and curious, but approach people with caution. With patience, calmness, and small treats, you can make a canary so trusting that it can be picked up or used as a landing pad during free flight. You can be proud of such signs of trust. The animals’ excellent hearing is also remarkable. Although they cannot speak, gifted animals imitate tone sequences and incorporate them into their singing.

How Do I Transport My Canaries If Necessary?

Any transport is stressful for canaries and should therefore be kept to a minimum. One of those inevitable opportunities is going to the vet. Have a bird carrier or small birdcage handy for this purpose. The latter has the advantage that a bird can stay in the practice for a few days if necessary. The small transport box is only intended for a few hours. But you make the vet’s job easier because he can take out the canary better. You should refrain from transport on your vacation trip. Don’t bring your animals to the resort, but organize a reliable bird sitter to feed and take care of them. Give the supervisor comprehensive instructions and provide consumables (food, sand). An alternative would be a short transport of the birds together with their living cage to a boarding house or the household of a holiday supervisor – there the animals should not have any contact with pets there for safety reasons. Inevitable transport is best done by car – public transport and long walks could frighten the canaries.


The Canary Islands, Madeira, Azores;

13 to 14 centimeters (color and song canaries), 11 to 23 centimeters (posture canaries);

15 to 25 grams;

Rounded head, pointed, conical beak, typical finch stature;

Bright yellow to orange as well as numerous shades of color;

Life expectancy
6 to 15 years;

Active, trusting, sociable.

Mary Allen

Written by Mary Allen

Hello, I'm Mary! I've cared for many pet species including dogs, cats, guinea pigs, fish, and bearded dragons. I also have ten pets of my own currently. I've written many topics in this space including how-tos, informational articles, care guides, breed guides, and more.

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