Domesticated centuries ago, canaries were popular in the courts of Spanish and English royalty in the 17th and 18th centuries because of their beautiful singing. Over the years selective breeding has focused on creating a variety of colors and shapes, but one of the most desired traits of canaries remains their ability to enthrall their audience, and hopefully a mate, with a repertoire of sounds and songs that are very pleasing to the human ear. Wild canaries are generally yellowish green in color, but domesticated canaries are available in a range of colors, including yellow, orange, black, brown, white and red, as well as mottled blends of these various colors.
Prospective owners of pet canaries need to be aware that they are not generally companion birds, as one would consider a parrot, budgerigar or cockatiel to be. Nonetheless, their cheerful disposition and amazing singing abilities make canaries a popular choice as pets. It should also be noted that only male canaries sing as this is how they attract a mate (although some owners have reported their female canaries can sing). Also, they tend not to sing when molting in summer. So, if you are considering getting a canary specifically for its singing, you’ll need to get a male and he would have to remain a bachelor. However, as they are territorial and not particularly social birds, canaries apparently do not need feathered companions to be happy.
As they like flying horizontally from perch to perch, canaries need a cage that is at least 20 inches or longer, by about 10 inches high and 10 inches wide, for them to get enough exercise. Place a perch on both ends of the cage, and maybe one midway. This will encourage your canary to keep fit and healthy. Tall or small cages are not at all suitable for canaries. They don’t need a lot of accessories in their cages, and may see their reflection in a mirror as an intruder or threat. Position the cage in a room where there is some activity and preferably some morning sun, but not in a kitchen and not in a draft.
Pet shops generally stock seed mixes specifically for canaries, as well as soft food in dehydrated form. Ensure that you canary has fresh seed every day and a teaspoon of moistened soft food, as well as some fresh green food such as carrot tops, parsley or spinach. You can offer your canary a slice of fresh apple or pear twice a week as a treat. Fresh water for drinking and splashing around in should be provided each day. Canaries also require grit, obtainable from the pet shop, and enjoy a cuttlebone. For your canary’s good health, ensure that his food and water bowls are cleaned every day. A healthy, happy canary will reward you with cheerful, chirpy activity, and hopefully hours of beautiful singing.