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 Canary Care


A number of frequently asked questions about canary care are answered on the FAQ page. Feeding information can be located here and housing questions are addressed here.

Basic Guide For The Care of Canaries

  • Buy the largest cage you can afford. Length matters more than height. Purchase a cage for your BIRD and for ease of cleaning, not simply for looks. For a more in-depth discussion, check out the housing page.

  • Keep the perches as clean as possible - canaries use their perches as napkins and stand on them all day. Dirty perches lead to illness and foot problems. Do not use sandpaper covers - they don't actually keep nails trimmed and they scrape the skin off of a bird's feet and cause sores.

  • If your canary escapes his cage, immediately control other pets such as dogs and cats. Close your drapes, windows, and doors. Use a lightweight towel or something similar to toss over the bird if you do not have a bird net.

  • Canaries can tolerate cold temperatures much better than hot temperatures, which tend to cause molting. In general, if you are comfortable, your bird should be. Avoid drastic temperature changes.

  • Do not place your bird in direct sunlight without access to shade.

  • Be careful with drafts - canaries can tolerate air blowing on them if they can get out of the draft so long as the temperature of air is not significantly different than the room temperature.

  • Pet canaries do best when their lighting schedule is consistent. In general, the best lighting schedule for a pet canary is to wake with the sunrise and go to sleep when the sun sets. Cover the cage with an opaque cloth or move the cage to another room so the bird can have a darkened, peaceful night's rest.

  • Be diligent about your bird's food and water as canaries are unable to live long without either. Be sure that your bird's water is as clean as possible and that the hulls are blown off the seed dish regularly as canaries do not dig through their seed dish the way parrots do.

Axioms of Practical Avian Management For Canary Breeders

(loosely adapted from "A Survey of Avicultural Medicine" by Robert Clipsham, DVM, published in American Cage-Bird Magazine March 1992)

  1. Aviculture is farming.

  2. Productivity is the life blood of the farm.

  3. The flock takes precedence over the individual.

  4. Culling and stock rotation is fundamental for long-term flock improvement.

  5. Flock management protocol is dictated by production goals.  Whether you are breeding for song, color, show, quantity, etc. will dictate many of your management practices.

  6. Success in the exhibition setting is best achieved when canary breeds are restricted to one type (at least for song breeds). Rare as proverbial hen's teeth are breeders who excel at a song breed and another kind of canary such as a colorbred, type, or posture breed. Specialists can excel while generalists usually fare poorly... 

  7. The closed aviary concept is the safest. At a minimum, aviaries should be closed to new birds and visitors throughout the breeding season. Illnesses and pests can hitch a ride into your bird room on both birds and people!

  8. Drugs are not a substitute for sound management. For example, dosing birds with ivermectin can eliminate a mite infestation but does not substitute for maintaining a clean, healthy environment that is unfriendly to the pests.

  9. Promotion of health is more cost and time efficient than symptomatic and therapeutic medicine.

Some Dangerous Foods For Canaries

  • Moldy, spoiled and poor grade foods.
  • Avocado- the peel and seeds are very toxic to birds. I have seen mixed information about the fruit itself - I would not risk it.
  • Coffee and coffee beans.
  • Rhubarb leaves- whether raw or cooked, the level of oxalic acid in the leaves is poisonous.
  • The green parts of tomato plants.
  • Potato shoots.
  • The green parts of potato plants.
  • Cat or dog food- these can contain bacteria.
  • Foods high in oxalic acid should be fed sparingly as oxalic acid can damage the kidneys and bind nutrients such as calcium, preventing proper absorption. These foods include vegetables such as spinach, beets and beet leaves, purslane, chard, parsley, chives, cassava and amaranth.
  • Salty foods.
  • Chocolate.
  • Alcohol- this can be lethal even in very small doses.
  • Yeast- uncooked.
































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Last modified: 06/30/15