Canaries: Popular Pets for 500 years

The male canary’s beautiful song has made it a wildly popular pet, around the world. Today’s domesticated canaries all descended from a wild species found in the Canary Islands. This species was first brought to Europe during the 1500’s.

During the next 500 years, many European breeders made their living breeding and selling canaries. For example, canaries became the chief industry of the Harz region of Germany. Breeders soon developed different kinds of canary. By the 18th century, there were twenty-nine varieties.

Many of these varieties are available today, for pets. Some are bred for their colors. Others were developed for their shape, such as crested canaries. A third group of canaries were bred specifically to enhance their voices. For instance, the Roller Canary is known for its rolling songs.

Canary breeders often take their birds to shows, where judges rate the birds by their song or appearance. These shows take place in October and November, when the breeders’ new male canaries are most likely to sing.

Today, canaries make ideal, easy pets for busy households. They don’t require constant attention, like some parrots and cockatiels. They live happily in cages, provided the cage is large enough. Toys in their cage can prevent boredom. A happy male canary can live and sing for up to 20 years.