6 things to know about canaries
- Experience Level: Intermediate
- Size: They grow to about 5 inches (13 cm)
- Lifespan: Canaries can live up to 15 years
- Origin: They’re named for the Canary Islands, where they originally came from
- Temperament: They prefer not to be handled
- Did You Know: They are bred for their beautiful color and singing voice
How do I set up my canary’s home?
Canariesare very social and can live in pairs — or even whole flocks! Keep your canary in an enclosure large enough for them to stretch their wings, climb and play. The minimum enclosure size for 1 canary is 12 x 12 x 15 inches (30 x 30 x 38 cm). If you have more than 1 canary, you’ll need a bigger enclosure. If you’re keeping a flock, you’ll need plenty of room for everyone.
- Provide at least 2 perches of different thickness and material. Variations in perches help keep bird feet strong and healthy. The perches should also be placed at different heights.
- Don’t put perches over food or water dishes,
otherwisedroppings will make a mess where your pets eat and drink.
- Birds are sensitive to smoke, strong smells
anddrafts. Keep your canary’s enclosure away from the kitchen and open windows. Don’t place the enclosure in direct sunlight and be sure to cover it at bedtime.
- Cushion the floor of the enclosure with an inch or 2 of corncob, aspen, wood-pellet or recycled-paper bedding, or use a liner. Remove droppings frequently, spot-clean the liner or bedding weekly, and replace it entirely once a month. Finches should also have a cuttlebone or mineral block to maintain a healthy beak and provide calcium for strong bones.
What do canaries eat?
- A fortified pellet-seed blend should make up 75% of your canary’s diet. Keep the canary’s dish about three-quarters full and refresh the blend daily. (
Canarieslike to graze on the top layer of the food dish.)
- Fresh vegetables and leafy greens
suchkale, zucchini, broccoli, squash andshredded carrots should make up about 15% of your canary’s diet. Offer your canary vegetables daily, and remove any vegetables that remain uneaten after 4 hours.
- Once a week, offer your canary fruit such as papaya, banana or melon; fruit should make up about 5% of your bird’s diet. Remove any fruit that
remainuneaten after 4 hours. Canariescan enjoy a weekly treat of scrambled or boiled egg, whole-wheat pasta, beans or peas, making these foods about 5% of your pet’s diet.
- Refresh your canary’s water daily.
- Your canary should have access to a cuttlebone or mineral block at all times.
How do I play with and groom my canary?
- Hay balls and millet sprays are great toys for canaries, as they encourage foraging.
- 2 or 3 times a week, put a bowl of warm water in the enclosure so your canary can take a bath. Alternatively, use a spray bottle to gently mist your canary with warm water.
How do I keep my canary healthy?
Canaries prefer not to be handled. This is especially important the first 3 or 4 days after bringing them home – be sure to give them time to adjust.
Even a settled-in bird can feel sick. If you notice any of these signs of illness or distress, contact a veterinarian who treats birds:
- Decreased appetite or weight loss
- Decreased activity or grooming
- Feathers fluffed up for a long time
- Long periods sitting at the bottom of the enclosure
- Discharge from nose or mouth
- Change in droppings for more than 2 days