Canaries are best fed with a seed mixture of 80% canary grass
seed and 20% canola rape seed as their basic diet. Canary
grass seed is light colored and shaped like a football.
Canola rape seed is dark and round.
seeds are contained in the pre-mixed bird seed you find at
department stores, but these retail packages also have a lot of
seeds that canaries don't like. One "filler" type of seed
often used is millet, which the canary will usually throw out.
If you can't find an 80/20 mix, choose a package that is
formulated specifically for canaries.
A canary will eat about a teaspoon of bird seed each day.
Canaries husk their seeds, so be watchful of a seed dish that
looks full. It may be covered with empty husks, and the bird may
not realize that there is seed under the layer of husks.
Your canary can starve if he can't find his food. Blow off
the layer of husks each day, or better yet, give him a fresh
supply of seeds each day.
There are several special seed mixes that are available to
enhance song. This one contains seeds such as thistle,
flax, sesame, hemp and anise.
Canaries do not need grit in their diet because they shell their
seed. They crack the shell and eat the nut meat, throwing
the husk back into the seed cup or onto the ground. Birds like chickens swallow their seeds whole, so
grit is needed in their gizzard to grind the seed and allow for
digestions. The canary digestive system is not like that
of a chicken. No grit is needed and has even been found to
cause death when fed by parent birds to small chicks. So,
to repeat....no grit for your canary.
Another really good food option is pelleted canary food.
This is made of ingredients such as wheat, canary grass seed,
barley, corn, buckwheat, rice, oats, peas, flax seed, beans,
peanuts, almonds, fresh dandelion, chicory, kale, apples, pears,
honey, brewers yeast, ground egg shell, etc, Usually there
are also vitamins and minerals added. The mixture is
extruded, making small pellets. There is no mess from seed
shelling as the entire pellet is eaten. You need to be
careful if your bird is not used to eating pellets, as he may
not realize that it is edible. Introduce the pellets and
continue to feed your seed diet, reducing the seeds gradually as
you see him eating the pellets. Some breeders feed pellets
as the primary food and swear by them.
I keep a dish of pellets
in each cage at all times as a supplemental food. There is
no waste, and it gives the birds an option to the standard seed
Although a seed or pellet diet as described above is nutritious, especially when supplemented
with treats, giving your canary a good avian vitamin is
suggested. Just like humans, in that it's hard to consume
all of our recommended daily allowances of vitamins through our
diet alone, it's equally hard to formulate a diet for our
canaries that is perfect. Sprinkling avian vitamin powder on
their food will supply the supplements that they need. If
you get a vitamin that goes into the drinking water, be sure to
change the water in the drinker daily.
There are also avian probiotics which contain "good" bacteria
that is beneficial to the digestive system of your bird.
It can be mixed into the food you offer or sprinkled on top.
Some folks swear by this additive and
many veterinarians recommend it's use, especially after a bird is
treated with antibiotics.
If you are interested in
breeding canaries, you will need to look into the special
dietary needs of not only the parent birds, but the special
foods you will need to provide for the parents to feed to the
chicks, from hatching up through weaning. I've found that
if I talk to a hundred different breeders, I will hear a hundred
different "formulas", each having a plan that works for them.
Since I work a full time
job, I have adapted my feeding plan for chicks to provide a
cornbread based soft food in the morning, and in the afternoon
when I get home from work, I give them a nestling food with
fresh boiled egg in it. The morning food is very
nutritious, but omits the fresh boiled egg that can spoil
rapidly. If the parent birds would feed the chicks food
that has soured, it can cause the chicks to become ill or even
die. The "formula" used in my birdroom has been adapted to
not only fit my needs, but to also provide the right kind of
nutrition to the growing chicks and their hard working parents.
Some of the books and
websites I refer you to in the "Good Connections" section have
very good recipes for nestling foods and diet plans for breeding
pairs. You'll need to make your own choice as to which
plan works for you and your flock.