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There are many species of petbirds, but the one that can most compete with the parakeet is without a doubt the canary, one of the best companions to have at home thanks to their cheerful songs and their vitality.

Types of canaries

What do you know about the canary?

The canary, also known as Serinus canaria, is a species that belongs to the family of the Fringillidae. Although its name suggests that it is native exclusively to the Canary Islands, the truth is that they can also be found in the Azores and Madeira. The closest relative of this bird is the European little green.

The law of the Canarian government considers this bird the natural symbol of its archipelago together with the Canarian palm tree, as well as being a protected species for its lands only being able to be sold by people who have the appropriate permits for it.

How is a canary ?

Its trill is singular and if it is necessary to say that it looks like some other bird, it could be said that it is the semblance to the twittering of the goldfinch, but very different at the same time. Their colors are usually brown in the upper part and greenish yellow in the area of the face and lower parts. It has greater contrast than other birds of the same family, such as the little green tree. It can measure 13 centimeters and weigh about 50 grams.

Although as a general rule they are birds of muted tones, from the XVII century it began to be crossed with other variants which has given origin to bright colors such as white, orange, copper or yellow, the most common tones in canaries intended for sale. The red canary was the first canary to be created by a genetic selection.

And how much does a canary live?

Of course, having a canary implies having a partner for a long time. The normal thing is that a canary lives around 10 years, although there are some that have come to live 10 years in captivity.

The hunting of these birds in some islands for their study, has caused that some do not reach to overcome the 7 years of life. In addition, the common ignorance of many caregivers causes that these animals, in most cases do not exceed 5 years of life

How to know the sex of a canary

While with other birds it is almost impossible to distinguish the male from the female, in the case of the canaries  there are some clues that can help detect the sex of the bird that is kept at home.

Fo example  the males are slender, athletic and tend to have a more upright posture. The females, on the other hand, are smaller and their head has a more rounded shape. Also, during the heat season you can easily check it. In the cloaca, the females have a smoother abdomen, while the males have a protuberance, which is known as a button, just at the outlet of the cloaca.

In the breeding season is another good time to know the sex of the bird that you have at home. The males sing stronger songs to attract the females, they will try to feed the beak and woo it. In the case of the females, they will try to prepare the nest, looking for materials that they can has in the cage to build it

When they are young, some breeders have developed some methods to differentiate the sex of the chicks. For example, some say that if the nest is hit, the males lower the head and raise the tail, while the females do not flinch. Another method is to place the chicks on a towel. The males go out to explore, while the females stay in the towel.

I’m going to the store to get a cage, what do I have to look for?

Unlike other birds, canaries spend most of their lives locked in the cage, so you have to get one that suits ther needs and can be happy the time they spend there.

Size is very important, since canaries love to fly from one place to another. Thus, a cage for a canary must be 100 cm wide, 60 cm high and 80 cm deep. A perfect size also if you are going to have two birds. The maximum width of the bars must not be greater than 12 mm and the separation between bar and bar must not exceed 1 centimeter. In addition, it must has some horizontal bars, since this bird likes to perch on the walls to gossip its surroundings.

When it comes to the shape of the cage, many often make a serious mistake of buying a cage that is homemade or that is oval (or cylindrical). Big mistake, since this only stresses the bird and cause psychological damage. It is necessary to always opt for a cage that has a square or rectangular shape, because this way the bird can make horizontal flights in its interior. Choosing the best material is also important. Many bet on a wooden or plastic cage, although the best thing is a metal cage, stainless steel if possible, because they are much more durable. Never opt for plastic cages, they are difficult to clean. If you live in an area with wild birds, and have long beaks, it is advisable to cover the cage with a birdhouse mesh to keep the canary safely inside its cage, because these birds will try to attack it to eat it.

The hangers are the fundamental part of the decoration of the same, avoiding at all costs those with sandpaper or plastic, as they damage the legs of the canary. Always opt for hangers of natural wood or put some branches inside the cage, because they are much healthier for them. As for toys, you can always bet on a rope, ladder or something that can bite.

Canaries are not as escapist as other birds, but they may give you a good scare if you get distracted, so you can prevent the sprue and feeder from getting into the cage through a slit or gate. Better that they be the ones who hold on to the outside, with this you will prevent them from trying to escape and be hurt in the process.

At the base of the cage it is necessary to place sand for birds, which helps to keep the cage clean and is much more hygienic than using only paper. Although, if you put a base of newspaper and then the sand, this will facilitate cleaning tasks.

I have the cage, but where do I put it?

One of the main causes of canary mortality is making a serious mistake when locating the cage. Avoid placing this bird on balconies or galleries in the kitchen at all costs, since they are not very healthy areas for them. On the balconies the noise stresses them and they are unprotected by sudden changes in temperature. On the other hand, in the kitchen they are exposed to contamination when you are cooking , which is very dangerous.

So, you have to choose the room that is well ventilated and that gives the sun, but only for a couple of hours throughout the day, such as the living room or a bedroom. The height always has to be the same height as your eyes (especially if you want to establish a link with the bird) and two walls of the cage are attached to the wall of the house (this prevents the bird from being afraid of seeing someone arrive). Avoid at all costs an area with air currents, such as near a window, and that has too much light. Canaries love natural light, but not that they are given all day.

If you have a house that is too “bright” you have to locate the cage in such a way that part of it is in the shade, so when the canary gets tired it can be protected in that part of the cage.

How do you clean your canary’s cage?

In order for this bird to have a long and prosperous life, hygiene tasks are very important. First its bathes. That the bird is enclosed does not mean that it does not has to be cleaned. You must put a cup or a bowl of water so you can bathe, especially in summer, and so be gleaming.

With regard to the cage, the base of it must be changed two or three times a week, while the inside of it is recommended to clean it at least twice a month so that the canary is healthy. Start by removing the tray and cleaning it well, and then put the canary in a carrier while you do the cleaning tasks.

The best thing to remove the dirt, and in passing germs, is to use bleach diluted in water and clean bars and hangers with a rag soaked in this mixture. Insists a lot to be able to eliminate all the bacteria, especially in the hangers, since it is possible that they have traces of their feces. Once clean, wet with water and then dry with a dry cloth or let it dry in the sun. Then you place it back, save the canary again inside and until the next cleaning.

What is the canaries fed?

In many supermarkets you will find alpist for your canaries, this being your main food thanks to the carbohydrates it contains. It is as healthy as there are for these animals, however, it is recommended that it be mixed with other seeds such as black, hemp, reddish nape or rapeseed to receive nutrients. The ideal mixture consists of 50% canary seed, 20% of black, 10% of reddish navy, 10% of hemp, 6% of cardillo, 2% of oats and 2% of flax.

But is this enough to feed the canary? It is true that yes, but it is also good to feed some fruits and vegetables, which provide vitamins and minerals. Among those who can eat are carrots, spinach, cabbage and lettuce provided they are well washed and chopped. Of fruit, the best thing is the apple, the orange and the banana. All well chopped so that the bird does not hasa hard time digesting them.

The water of the drinker must be changed every day and it is recommended that from time to time a vitamin complex, especially vitamin C and D, be added to take care of the health of your bones.

If my canary is sick, what can it has?

That they are protected by some bars does not mean that the bird will be healthy throughout its life. On the contrary, there are many diseases that can suffer. The most commons are:

  • Cold: If the cage of the canary is misplaced and is constantly hit by air currents, it will end up catching a cold, feeling tired, sleeping more than usual and breathing slowly. With vitamin C you can recover.
  • Catarrh: In the case of not treating the cold when it is detected, it can lead to a cold, in which the bird will lose its appetite but will drink a lot of water, will have a soft crop and violet skin and will begin to suffer from diarrhea. You have to take it to the vet for treatment.
  • Paratiphosis: A fatal disease caused by poor hygiene of the cage. Among the different symptoms, the canary will have plumage bristling, you will notice sad and with lack of desire to do any activity. In addition, the eyes will always have them closed.
  • Constipation: A bad diet can end up causing this bird to suffer from constipation. It can be easily cured with a little lettuce in the diet or making a porridge with soft vegetables and a little bread.
  • Asthma: This has to be treated by a specialist, because although it is not deadly, you have to know what treatment to give depending on the level of asthma you have.
  • Intestinal inflammation: Because it feels something wrong or a genetic problem, the canary can suffer from intestinal inflammation. it will lose your appetite and has diarrhea. With an antibiotic, the disease can be treated.
  • Bronchitis: In winter it is normal to suffer from bronchitis in the event that the cage has not been placed in a place that is warm. it will open his beak to breathe and will be in motion all day, with its eyes closed, so it could hurt himself. You have to change it to a warmer place .
  • Earthworms: For a bad diet it is possible that the bird has worms. In the feces there will be white spots and the bird will be tired and lose weight quickly. It has to be treated by a veterinarian.
  • Mites: Mites can attack the bird if there is not a good cleaning of the cage. it will lose its feathers, scratch itself frequently or hurt itself t. The only solution is to take it to the veterinarian.
  • Cobalicilosis: A deadly disease that requires you to take it quickly to a specialist. In addition, it is very contagious and can also pass to humans, so you have to be very careful. Between the symptoms, it is detected that the feces have a green and white color, in addition the bird loses the appetite.
  • Afonía: its trill will be hoarse, because it is in a poorly ventilated area, full of humidity or singing too much. You have to give it some lemon boots with a thousand so it can recover.
  • Wounds: The bird can get injured because it flies very fast inside the cage or is nervous. In this case you have to treat the wounds with hydrogen peroxide quickly so you do not get infected.

Acariasis in the legs: In the legs or fingers will has crusts, which will need an ointment so that it can be recovered as soon as possible.

Can a canary be trained?

Although the canary spends most of its life in a cage, it really does not have to be that way. It is possible to trainiy, to do simple things , so that it is posed on the finger or so that it can fly free through the house and then return to its cage. It is easy? Not at all, since you must to have a lot of patience. Do you want to know the steps to follow to train it?

  1. First step: Accustomed to your presence is the first step. Therefore, when the cage is located, it has to be in the room with the greatest social activity in the house. So at all times they know what is happening around them and they can get used to the noises. Little by little, get close to the cage, checking the maximum distance that the bird allows you. And then, give him some candy to buy “his love”. Eventually he will approach the bars of the cage to eat it.
  2. Second step: Have you managed to get used to you and let you get close to the cage without getting scared? Perfect, then it’s time to put your hand inside the cage with food that it like, such as cookies, pine nuts or pieces of apple. Wait until it is inits hand to eat. You may not do it on the first day, so do not give up.
  3. Third step: the canary will have become accustomed to your presence and can already be in your hand without problems. That’s when you should try to pose on your finger. But what to do for that? When you are on the hanger, tap it gently with your finger, so that you lose your balance, so you will place it on it and you can take it.

Now, let’s say you want to let it out of the cage. The most possible is that the first time try to fly out, so first of all close the window and the doors of the room. Then take it out and let it come back if it want. With a snack you can convince it to go back to its cage. Never force it with a shout or try to catch it, because all the hard work of trust it has done will be lost

I want my canaries to breed, what do I have to do?

Getting the Canaries to breed is not impossible nor difficult. For starters, the breeding season is usually in late spring and early summer, when the days are longer and there are more days of light, when you already must to have your pair of canaries matched.

You should know that females acquire sexual maturity at 7 months, while males do at 9, so you have to wait a bit until both have reached the mature stage of their lives. The process of courtship can last many days, so you must to have enough patience during the process.

If you have succeeded, you have to buy a nest in which you can lay its eggs. Many breeders bet on wood nests, because they are spacious and very safe, while others choose to buy the materials so that the female is the one who builds the nest

We must be very attentive to the laying of the eggs, since it will lay an egg a day, or it is possible that one day rest and put one on the next two days. Once placed, they must be removed, which helps the hatching of the eggs to be the same day. Once you have laid all the eggs, between three and five, you have to put them all back in the nest and this way you can incubate them for two or three weeks until they hatch. While the eggs are out of the nest remember that they are in danger, so you have to cover them with an electric blanket or something that can give heat.

Once the chicks are born, they will depend entirely on their parents, so you have to give them an exclusive feed for these young so that the parents can supply it. Also, giving them a worm can be good for getting vitamins. After two months they will begin to explore the cage and it will be time to change them to another module or an independent cage so they can live their own lives.