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
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
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
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
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.
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.