Named after their origin of the Canary Islands, these small, brightly coloured birds are a pleasure to keep, with their cheerful character, easy maintenance and pretty song.
Reluctant to be tamed but incredibly sociable with those of their own kind, they are best for owners who wish to admire their feathered friends with a more hands-off approach.
Making a home
Canaries love to fly, so make sure your feathered companion has ample space to stretch their wings freely. A solo bird requires a minimum space of 16” high, 18” wide, and 30”long, but adding more birds calls for a larger cage or aviary.
Their timid nature means they suit a quiet, well-ventilated space best and positioning the cage against a wall gives an extra sense of security. Canaries like to be up high, so either place your cage on a stand or hang it securely from the ceiling, away from drafts, direct sun and other pets.
Inside their enclosure, provide a variety of softwood perches at different levels for them to fly to and from, including at least one up high, which they will use for roosting at night. Canaries do not necessarily need many toys, as flying freely is highly entertaining for them, but one or two, such as a swinging perch or a bell, make good additions. Ensure that they are kept out of the way of the main flying pathways to not cause extra obstacles.
For a special treat, you can add dampened grasses to the bottom of the cage, which your birds will enjoy rolling in. This behaviour is seen in their natural habitat and not only is it enjoyable but it also helps keep their feathers clean.
Bird sand or sand sheets layered on the base of the enclosure is good for pecking, aiding in digestion.
Feeding your canary
Canaries need approximately one teaspoon of good quality feed per day. Offering fresh, organic fruit and vegetables cut into chunks, such as kale, broccoli, apple and banana, provides further supplements and variety to their diet.
Some foods, such as beetroot and sweet potatoes, can enhance the colouring in colour bred birds. Do double check that the food you offer to your feathered friends is safe, however, as some vegetables and fruits are surprisingly detrimental to bird health. Fresh water should always be supplied.
Keeping canaries healthy
Canaries can live for up to 10 years. To ensure your birds stay happy and healthy, make sure to keep their home clean, washing and refilling all food and water containers every day, refreshing the paper on the bottom of the cage, and regularly giving the cage a thorough clean with a mild, bird-friendly soap.
Signs of illnesses include weight loss, ruffled feathers and behavioural changes, so do keep an eye out for these and consult a professional if you have any concerns.
Our retail store in Bristol, Barrow Mill Country Store has trained staff on hand to offer bird keeping knowledge and advice.
You can also contact us here for further information, and to answer any further birdkeeping queries.