Aria From A Bird Cage

American Singer Canaries 


  According to Webster Dictionary:     a-ri-a. (ä΄rēַə), noun,  1. an elaborate melody sung by a single voice    2. a striking solo performance  [Italian, from Latin ǎera, literally means air]

Canary Health and Happiness

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Canaries are contented to live by themselves and are perfectly happy without a large amount of interaction from other birds or their human caretakers.  This trait makes them a great pet for a working person who doesn't have a lot of one-on-one time to devote to a pet. 

If you do have a lot of time, it is possible to hand tame a canary.  This takes patience, as canaries are instinctively cautious, and you look like a big predator to them.  Slow movements, and soft spoken words will start the process of gaining their trust.  You can read many testimonials from folks who have hand tamed canaries, even allowing them to fly free out of their cages periodically.

If you want more than one canary, you need to consider their housing needs.

You can enjoy having more than one male if you cage them separately.  When one starts singing, the other one will chime in to make his presence known, and you'll have endless duets.  Keeping them in the same room is fine, but you should place their cages where they cannot see each other.  Never cage two males together, as they are very territorial and will fight. Even a male and female cannot be caged together outside of breeding season, so if you purchase a pair, keep in mind that you will need two cages for most of the year.  

Keeping more than one hen in the same cage is usually fine, but choose a cage that is large enough for them.  Each bird has a different personality, and you may have one that simply does not like the others.  Watch their interaction and be ready to intervene if you see prolonged bickering.  I routinely cage several hens together in one flight cage for most of the year and they all get along quite well.  The key is to have plenty of room in the cage, a variety of perches, and be watchful of the food dish.  If one hen is dominating the food supply, the others will suffer.  You can remedy this by having more than one food dish in the cage.  Keeping multiple hens is a nice way for someone to collect the different colors of canaries and enjoy them in one environment.  Hens usually have sweet personalities, so don't overlook them if you're wanting a pet.  During breeding season, they tend to become more territorial, so be prepared to separate them.

The male canary is the singer.   Hens chirp a few notes or calls, but nothing compared to the male's song.  There are a few rare hens who do sing, in fact, one of my first hens was initially thought to be a male by her breeder when he was separating his young males from his young females.  He thought this because she was singing softly, as all young males will do as they are first learning their songs.  Breeders usually pull the young males and cage them together with an adult male tutor, which really helps their song development.  After being in a flight with the young males for a few weeks, he noticed her being picked on by the other birds and that her song was not becoming stronger.  He pulled her from the flight, which rescued her from the feather pulling, and placed her with his young hens. 

I purchased her because of her strong background (both her father and grandfather had won Best in Show awards for their song performance).  Since it is said that a hen carries the song of her father, I wanted her for my breeding program.  It was intriguing to watch and listen to her when she was in the flight cage with my other hens.  This unusual singing hen would sit on a perch and twitter her song, which contained quite a variety of phrases and notes.  She was a pleasure to have in the normally quiet cage.  She taught me to never say that hens cannot sing, as she proved to me that there are some who can sing, and do sing very well.

Canaries are very photosensitive.  Their life cycle is influenced by the increasing daylight hours in Spring, which encourages them into breeding condition.  As daylight hours become longer in the Summer, the canary will molt.  They totally replace their feathers during the molt, with new feathers pushing out the old ones.  Males will usually stop singing during this time of feather re-growth.  Don't be concerned, just continue with nutritional feeding through this stressful time. 

For your pet canary, using natural lighting from the windows in the room will be perfect, as it will change with the seasons and keep your canary on a normal life cycle.  Be careful if the bird is in a room with a television or room lighting on in the hours before dawn or the hours after dark.  This kind of lighting lengthens the day for the canary, and will throw off his system, possibly causing unseasonable molting.  If he must be in this type of room, use a cage cover that is heavy enough to block light from entering the cage and try not to disturb his sleep.  One of the most common reasons a canary stops singing is because a change in room lighting has signaled him to start molting.

Keep your canary out of direct sunlight and drafts.  If the cage is positioned where light from a window falls into it during certain times of the day, be sure that part of the cage has some shade that the bird can retreat to if he gets too hot.  Watch the location of air vents in the room.  A rule of thumb is... if the air flow in the location of the cage will cause a candle flame to flicker, it is too drafty.

Toenails may need trimmed periodically, and this is very easy to do with fingernail clippers.  Nip off the overgrowth, being careful not to cut too short.  If you don't handle your canary often, this can be a bit stressful, both for you and the bird.  

The easiest way to hold your canary is as shown in this photo, with his head positioned between your index finger and your middle finger, and his body securely held in your palm.  This frees up your thumb and index finger to hold the leg while you are working on it.  With your fingers forming a loose cage, you don't have to have a firm grip to keep him under control.

Anytime you need to take the bird out of his cage, either to examine him or place him in another cage during cleaning, be sure you have the doors and windows of the room shut and any pet dogs or cats out of the room.  This is a preventative measure to spare you the tragedy of the bird escaping or being captured by one of your pets. 

I tell you this from experience, as when I was cleaning my first canary's cage, I placed my hand in the cage to remove a perch.  The canary flew out of the cage through the opening where my hand was inserted and was "caught" by my border collie, Bo..... little yellow feathers poking out from the dog's mouth.  I pried open the "jaws of death" and placed the slobber coated little fellow onto his cage floor, thinking I was witnessing his final moments.  He laid on his side on the cage floor with his eyes closed, breathing rapidly.  As I watched him, my dog was sitting beside me, wagging his tail, thinking he did a "good thing" by capturing something that was so important to me that I kept it in a cage.... he didn't let it get away!!!  To make a long story short, the bird popped his head up and started looking around after about ten minutes, and after another ten, had rolled up into an upright position.  After about a half hour, he was back sitting on his swing, though he didn't sing for the rest of the day.  I tell you this to let you know that accidents happen, and we need to think ahead to what can possibly go wrong.

Have you ever wondered how much a canary weighs?  Well, the average sized canary weighs about 20 grams, which is about the same as the weight of seven pennies.  I keep 7¢ on a shelf in my bird room.  When I get a visitor, especially a child, I place the coins in their hand to let them feel the weight.

If you plan to breed or keep a larger collection of canaries, see the information on this site about Canary Management, as it provides more information that would be helpful to someone going beyond just being a pet owner.






Quick Pick

Here is a Quick Pick Guide to some useful tables, instructions and forms available on this site.

Conversion Table
Pedigree Form
Breeding Cage Card
Singer Evaluation
Bird Swing Plans
Color Pairing Chart










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This page last updated: 01/02/2013