Things To Consider
Whether or not you should breed
canaries is a serious issue you should consider well before you begin.
Think about what your goals are, what level of time and space you are able
and willing to commit to the activity, and ensure that your expectations
Do you wish to buy a pair or two and
breed purely for pleasure? That is a wonderful reason to breed and a great
experience to have at least once in your life. Is your goal to exhibit?
That too is a wonderful reason to become involved in canary breeding.
Whatever your reason, you need to have those goals in mind when you set
out to purchase stock as no amount of selective breeding will make poor
quality canaries show specimens- if your purpose is to compete, spend
your money on a few great birds rather than several mediocre ones.
Realize that breeding birds takes
time and dedication. As with all things in life, you will get out of the
activity what you put into it. If your intention is to throw some randomly
selected pairs of canaries into cages, feed them a minimally nutritious
diet, and maintain your bird room in the shortest period of time possible
just so you can produce some birds to sell this hobby may not be for you.
If you set out with the intention of producing show quality birds, realize
that you are entering into a serious investment of your money and time.
While the hobby does not need to be a timesink, there are periods
of the year such as during breeding, training, and show seasons when you
will be very busy.
There are things you will need to
forgo to breed canaries such as vacations during the breeding season and
vacations of longer than three days at any other time of the year unless
you can find a competent and reliable bird sitter. If you breed a
number of birds, finding a bird sitter is likely to not only be difficult but
also costly as well.
There will also be times when you
will wish to do anything other than bird room chores, but you must. The
birds cannot go without food, water, and clean living quarters regardless
of how nice it is outdoors, the fact that you have company, or because you
are sick or injured. There are unexpected situations in life- such as an
emergency that requires you to spend a great deal of time away from home-
being prepared in advance with a plan for what you will do in the case of
such an event could mean the difference between life and death for your
If you plan to show, sometimes you
will need to give up
some of your weekends. Seriously exhibiting American Singers in the Midwestern
United States demands the commitment of nearly every Friday and Saturday
(and quite a few Sundays) in the months of October, November, and
December. Of course, there is a wide continuum of commitment - you
need not attend every show. In fact, I know many folks who only attend one
or two shows each year. However, the more you exhibit the more successful
you are likely to be.
Naturally, if you have a family or a
significant other in your life, they will need to be supportive of your
hobby as it will have a significant impact on them as well. You would do
well to consider this in advance as an unsupportive spouse or partner can
take a considerable amount of the pleasure out of the hobby.
As far as space- even if you breed a
single pair of canaries, you will need a minimum of three decent-sized
cages. You need one for the birds to breed in, one to put the male in
should he prove to be a problem, and one for the young birds to be placed
to wean and mature in. Once they reach maturity male and female birds cannot be caged together
except while breeding and for a short period during the molt, so you will
need two cages for your parent birds for much of the year.
The young should not be sold as soon
as they are able to feed themselves - they are very susceptible to health
problems prior to their first molt and not fully mature until 6-8 months
of age at the earliest; whatever accommodations you have for your young
birds will need to be sufficient to last them for several months.
As far as expectations, many folks
begin breeding canaries with the mistaken assumption that canaries are an
easy way to make money. I have had a number of parrot breeders tell me
that canaries are "easy money"! While it is certainly true that canaries
are easier to breed than parrots and that there is a positive supply
versus demand ratio for sellers, don't be fooled into thinking that a
canary breeding hobby is ever going to be more than that unless you choose
to establish a mass production operation to supply bird store chains or
choose an expensive canary breed and produce top show quality birds. (Even
then, most birds will not go for top prices.) If you are lucky, you will
nearly break even most years- and if you actively show your birds, you
will be unlikely to manage that.
All of this said, if you go into the
hobby with clear and realistic goals and expectations canary breeding can
be a very fun and rewarding hobby.