Scientific Name: Serinus canaria domestica
Originates From: Canary and Other Islands off the Coast of Africa
Average Adult Length: 4-7 inches
Average Lifespan: Up to 10 years
Canaries have been kept as caged birds for more than 400 years. Canaries continue to be a popular pet bird choice because they are simple to keep and are beautiful birds. The males of this species exhibit the typical bright yellow coloration and are known for their singing abilities.
The standard finch cage measuring 15”x14”x18” (minimum) with approximately ½” bar spacing is perfect for a Canary. Larger cages or flight cages can be used for housing pairs, but be very careful to only use cages with very narrow bar spacing to reduce the risk of escapees. Inside, be sure to provide many perches of different sizes and materials. Perching on a single-size wooden or plastic perch can cause foot cramps and other issues. Flexible rope, mineral, natural wood, dowel, and plastic perches can be used. Remember, if you acquire any materials from outdoors, be sure to sterilize the material via boiling or baking to kill any potential parasites. Because the primary activities of Canaries are grooming, singing, and nest-building, provide nesting materials and toys of rope, paper, and/or cardboard to stimulate the birds and keep them active and happy. Make sure that you are leaving enough space for the bird to climb and roam around in the cage comfortably. Use ink and chemical-free paper based bedding to line the tray. Change out the tray lining weekly and freshen the cage with bird-safe cleansing sprays, like Natural Chemistry’s Bird Habitat spray. Make sure to position the cage in a place that is stable, away from potentially threatening pets, and away from drafts.
Lighting and Heating
Canaries are sensitive and need a consistent room temperature (65-75ºF). For their psychological well-being, provide an approximate 12-hour photoperiod either by means of positioning the cage near natural light or by providing a lamp with a compact 5.0 UVB bulb clipped on the cage. The use of UVB has shown to promote overall happiness and health (change out bulb yearly).
Canaries benefit from “baths”. You may provide a shallow dish of water (separate from regular drinking cup) for birds to enter and bathe. Another option is to lightly mist the birds with water using a spray bottle for 5-10 seconds daily (do not drench the bird). To familiarize them with “bath time”, lightly mist near the cage and gradually get to a point of misting directly into the cage, making sure to approach them in a calm manner so as to avoid startling the birds. A fine mist is good for their skin, feathers, and respiratory system.
Canaries perform best on a domestic fortified Canary seed diet. Fortified seed is a complete diet, which includes their necessary vitamins and minerals. Wild Finch diets lack the necessary vitamin pack that is essential to caged finches, like Canaries. Spray millet can be clipped on the inside of the cage as a treat. In a separate feeding cup, offer fresh leafy greens, fruits, and vegetables as a treat. A varied diet is beneficial. Be sure to have a mineral block or cuttlebone in the cage located in a place where it can be easily reached from a perch. Always provide a fresh, clean cup of water. Birds tend to defecate in their water dish, so regularly clean and refill.
Providing a few rough perches can aid in keeping toenails trimmed. However, most Canaries will need a nail trim monthly (sharp nail clippers work well). Exotic veterinarians, as well as small animal groomers (like Zamzows Pet Room professionals), can perform regular trims.