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Thank you for visiting our virtual aviary.

We hope you gain a broad overview about the care, breeding, and selection of canaries.

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What is a canary?

These lovely birds are of the Finch family and were found in the wild in the Canary islands and were domesticated over 400 years ago. Canaries are generally divided into three categories: bred for Song (specific melodies), bred for Type (conformation and shape), and bred for Color (multitude of colors).

Canaries make wonderful pets. They are lovely to look at and the males have a beautiful song. They are not social birds that require the company of other canaries. Once they are adult (at 6 months), they are perfectly happy by themselves. However, they do become attached to certain routines, such as feeding, and will act expectantly when one brings new foods to the cage. Some even try to sing when the owner approaches and a few tame ones are tame enough to take out of the cage. However, make sure that there are no windows or high ceilings in the room. A small and safe room is Ok. If you have windows cover them with a soft curtain so they don't fly into them and break their necks. Canaries will normally live 4-10 or years. I have read that it is possible to live 20 years. This may be similar to what is said about humans having a life span of 120 years. I had a client who had two canaries live 12 years each.

General Categories for canaries.

This website deals only with the Color canaries since that is what we raise. There are dozens of different classes of color canaries and more hybrids are created all the time. The original canary was a green/gray bird and it took a mutation and selective breeding to achieve the yellow canary. The Red-factor canary, on the other hand, is a hybridization of a Siskin Finch with a Canary.

In considering obtaining a canary as a pet, it is wise to become familiar with the different kinds of canaries available in your area, and to decide what characteristics are most important to you. Although Color canaries are not bred for song, they do have a pretty melody. Listen to the male sing and then decide if you love the color and his song. However, if certain types of melodies are important to you and you are particular to the specific pattern of the melody and other characteristics, locate an aviary that breeds for Song. You typically cannot get the exceptional appearance characteristics of a bred-for-color canary and the melodic characteristics of a bred-for-song canary combined in one bird; you must choose that which is most important to you.

Kingdom: Animalia
Phylum: Chordata
Class: Aves
Order: Passeriformes
Family: Fringilliadae
Genus: Serinus
Species: S. Canaria

red bronze in flight
These canaries are amazing when they fly. The Red factor on the left and the Bronze on the right were photographed in their cage during their normal flying from perch to perch.

To maintain good health provide plenty of space in the cage for flying time. Long cages are better than tall cages. A flight cage that is 5 feet long is ideal.

several birds flying in outside aviary taking bath
Provide your bird a bath daily if you can handle the clean-up, or at least weekly. Cold, clean water is all they need. Make sure there is no draft in the room, and that they have enough time for the feathers to dry before sleep time.

The bronze canary on the left is splashing and having a great time.

If you have a screened outside "aviary" take them out for exercise and baths. The Silver bird on the right is posed to land in the bath. Bathing is important, especially during the molt. Change the water often until they are done.

several birds flying in outside aviary taking bath
A bath is really the highlight of their day! Not only do they play, splash and clean themselves, but afterwards they preen for hours.

We give our birds their first bath when they are one month old. Sometimes the parent or another bird has to demonstrate, but they seem to instinctively know what to do. This is a great way to clean up all the nest dandruff and the food they get on themselves at this age.

How do I breed canaries?

Breeding canaries is not particularly difficult, but it pays to read all you can before you undertake this task. There are many books available at libraries and for sale. It is important to understand the basics in order to protect the parents from harm and to obtain good quality canaries that are strong, healthy and beautiful. There is no sense in creating birds that because of poor breeding have genetic problems leading to sickness and death. At Sunshine's Aviary we try to select for you the right breeding pair and if the ideal match is not possible with our birds, we will tell you and suggest you purchase a male or a female from another breeder (particularly from Mary's birds) to be the perfect match to the bird you purchase from us. We will advise you against improper matches. Sometimes we will sell an ideal combination of mother/son, or father/daughter for breeding. These are the best pairings for producing exceptional birds. We occasionally will sell these pairings because this is a hobby for us and we have reached the limit of how large our aviary is to be and we may choose to keep the offspring and sell a proven hen/cock that may only be 1 or 2 years old. All our birds are banded with closed bands, so you always know the age of our birds. For lots of pictures of our nursery, click here.

Proper feeding of canaries.

Most people feed canary seed and although the birds totally love the seed, they will lack proper nutrition. Seed does not contain the animal protein that they need, and it is lacking in some minerals and vitamins. In our aviary, the bulk (70-80%) of what our canaries are fed is Zupreem pellet food, that can be found in most pet shops. It is a completely nutritious pellet with no waste. The birds are conditioned to eat this from their second month on and when we obtain new birds, we slowly introduce them to this kind of food. The rest of the food is fresh green vegetables, corn on the cob, and sprouted seeds. We make our own sprouted seed every 2-3 days and keep it refrigerated until meal time. On the sprouts we sprinkle Spirulina, which is a very high protein nutritious green algae that boosts the birds' immune system. During the summer months, we feed them dandelion leaves. Canaries can eat what humans eat, but since we have so many birds, we have simplified it. They absolutely love broccoli and corn. This food is given raw. We do feed hard boiled eggs with the shell. During the rearing of chicks we feed a dried commercial egg product. During conditioning prior to breeding we feed Pentamine also. We do not try new products or vitamins or other things since we have excellent success with our current methods.

Credits & Acknowledgement.

We want to acknowledge and thank our good friend Mary Bacon of Exquisite Exotics Aviary for teaching us the methods that worked so well for her birds for the last 10 years. Early on we purchased some great birds from her and adopted many of her practices. Her great care and dedication to producing exquisite birds, and their proper care, selective breeding, and excellent nutrition have impressed us greatly and we rely on her expertise and trust her advise.