There are many species of domestic birds, but the one that can compete the most with the parakeet is undoubtedly the canary, one of the best companions to have at home thanks to its cheerful songs and vitality.
Types of canaries
Southern curly canary
Italian giant curly canary
Padovan Curly Canary
Northern curly canary
Spanish gibbous canary
Tenerife honey canary
Parisian curly canary
American singing canary
Italian gibbous canary
Spanish timbrado canary
What is known about the canary?
The canary, also known as Serinus canaria, is a species that belongs to the Fringillidae family. Although its name suggests that it is native exclusively to the Canary Islands, the truth is that it can also be found in the Azores and Madeira. The closest relative of this bird is the European verdigris.
The law of the Canarian government considers this bird the natural symbol of its archipelago together with the Canarian palm tree, in addition to being a species protected by its lands and can only be sold by people who have the appropriate permits for it.
What is the canary like?
Its trill is unique and if it must be said that it resembles some other bird, it could be said that it is a face to the chirping of the goldfinch, but very different at the same time. Its colors are usually brown in the upper part and greenish-yellow in the area of the face and the lower parts. It has greater contrast than other birds of the same family, such as the verdigris. It can measure 13 centimeters and weigh about 50 grams.
Although as a general rule they are birds of muted tones, from the seventeenth century it began to cross with other variants which have given rise 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 genetic selection.
And how long 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 some have lived 10 years in captivity.
The hunting of these birds in some islands for their study has meant that some do not exceed 7 years of life. Also, the common ignorance of many keepers causes these animals, in most cases, do not exceed 5 years of life.
How is a male different from a female?
While with other birds it is almost impossible to distinguish the male from the female, in the case of canaries some clues can help detect the sex of the bird that is kept at home.
An example is that 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. Besides, during the mating season, it can be easily checked. In the cloaca, females have a smoother abdomen, while males have a bulge, known as a button, just at the exit of the cloaca.
In the breeding season, it is another good time to know the sex of the bird that is kept at home. The males sing louder songs to attract the females, they will try to feed her from the beak and woo her. In the case of females, they will try to prepare the nest, looking for materials that they may have in the cage to build it.
When they are young, some breeders have developed some methods to be able to differentiate the sex of the youngsters. For example, some say that if the nest is struck, the males lower their heads and raise their tails, while the females remain undeterred. Another method is to place the youngsters 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 their needs and can be happy the time you spend in there.
Size is very important, as canaries really like to fly from one side to the other. Thus, a cage for a canary should be 100 cm wide, 60 cm high, and 80 cm deep. Perfect size also if you are going to have two birds. The maximum width of the bars must not exceed 12 mm and the separation between bar and bar must not exceed 1 centimeter. Also, it should have some horizontal bars, as this bird loves to perch on walls so it can gossip about its surroundings.
When it comes to the shape of the cage, many often make a serious mistake of buying a cage that is home-shaped or that is oval (or cylindrical). Big mistake, since this only stresses the bird and causes psychological damage. You should always opt for a cage that has a square or rectangular shape because this way the bird can make horizontal flights inside. Choosing the best material is also important. Many opt for a wooden or plastic cage, although the best is a metal cage, stainless steel if possible because they are much more durable. Never opt for plastic cages as they are difficult to clean. If you live in an area with wild birds, and that have long beaks, it is advisable to line the cage with an aviary mesh to keep the canary safe inside its cage, as these birds will try to attack it to eat it.
We come to the moment of deciding that the canary is going to be kept in its cage. To begin with, the hangers are the fundamental part of its decoration, avoiding at all costs those with sandpaper or plastic, as they damage the canary’s legs. Always opt for natural wood perches 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 they can chew on.
The canaries are not as escapist as other birds, but they can give you quite a scare if you get distracted, so avoid getting the waterer and feeder into the cage through a crack or door. Better that they are the kind that is held on the outside, this will prevent them from trying to escape and can hurt themselves in the process.
At the base of the cage, you have to place bird sand, which helps to keep the cage clean and is much more hygienic than just using paper. Although, if you put a base of newspaper and then sand, this will facilitate the cleaning tasks.
I have the cage, but where do I put it?
One of the main causes of mortality for canaries is making a serious mistake when locating the cage. Placing this bird on balconies or galleries in the kitchen should be avoided at all costs since they are not very healthy areas for them. On the balconies, the noises stress them and they are unprotected against sudden temperature changes. On the other hand, in the kitchen, they are exposed to contamination when you are cooking a dish, which is very dangerous.
Thus, you have to choose the room that is well ventilated, and that gives you 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 as that of your eyes (especially if you want to establish a bond with the bird) and that two walls of the cage are attached to those of the house (this prevents the bird from being scared when you see you get). Avoid at all costs an area with drafts, such as near a window, and that has too much light. The canaries like natural light, but not that it is giving them 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, in this way, when the canary gets tired, it can take shelter in that part of the cage.
I’m going to clean his cage, what do I do?
For this bird to have a long and prosperous life, hygiene tasks are very important. His bathrooms first. That the bird is locked up does not mean that it does not have to be cleaned. You should put a cup or a bowl of water in it so that it can bathe, especially in summer, and thus be sparkling.
Regarding the cage, the base of it must be changed about two or three times a week, while the interior of it is recommended to clean it at least 2 times 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 go about cleaning.
The best way to remove dirt, and incidentally to kill germs, is to use bleach diluted in water and clean bars and hangers with a cloth soaked in this mixture. He insists a lot be able to eliminate all the bacteria, especially on the perches, since they may have remains of their stool. Once clean, wet with water and then dry with a dry cloth or let it dry in the sun. Then you put it back, keep the canary back inside, and until the next cleaning.
What are canaries fed?
In many supermarkets you will find birdseed for your canaries, this being their fundamental food thanks to the carbohydrates it contains. It is the healthiest thing there is for these animals, however, it is recommended that it be mixed with other seeds such as black, hemp, reddish rape, or rapeseed so that it receives nutrients. The ideal mix is made up of 50% canary seed, 20% black, 10% reddish rape, 10% hemp seed, 6% Cardillo, 2% hulled oats, and 2% flax.
But is this alone enough to feed the canary? It is true that yes, but it is also good to feed him some fruits and vegetables, which provide vitamins and minerals. Among those that you can eat are carrots, spinach, cabbage, and lettuce as long as they are well washed and chopped. Fruit, the best is them Tanzania, orange, and banana. All well chopped so that the bird does not have a hard time digesting them.
The drinker’s water must not be changed every day and it is recommended that from time to time a vitamin complex be added, especially vitamin C and D, to take care of the health of your bones.
If my canary gets sick, which ones can it have?
Just because they are protected by bars does not mean that the bird will be healthy all its life. On the contrary, many diseases can suffer. The most commons are:
- Cold: If the canary’s cage is misplaced and it is constantly hit by drafts, it will end up catching a cold, feeling tired, sleeping more than normal, and breathing slowly. With vitamin C you can recover.
- Cold: If the cold is not treated 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 purple skin, and will begin to suffer from diarrhea. You have to take him to the vet for treatment.
- Paratyphosis: A fatal disease caused by poor cage hygiene. Among the different symptoms, the canary will have ruffled plumage, you will notice it sad and with a lack of desire to do any activity. Besides, the eyes will always be closed.
- Constipation: A poor diet can end up causing this bird to suffer from constipation. It can be cured easily with a little lettuce in the diet or by making porridge with soft vegetables and a little bread.
- Asthma: This has to be treated by a specialist since although it is not fatal, you have to know what treatment to give according to the level of asthma you suffer.
- Intestinal inflammation: Due to something wrong or a genetic problem, the canary can suffer from intestinal inflammation. You will lose your appetite and have diarrhea. With an antibiotic, the disease can be treated.
- Bronchitis: In winter it is normal for them to suffer from bronchitis if the cage has not been located in a warm place. He will open his beak to breathe and will be on the move all day, with his eyes closed, which could cause injury. It must be moved to a warmer place in the house.
- Worms: Due to a poor diet the bird may have worms. There will be white dots in the feces and the bird will be tired and lose weight quickly. It has to be treated by a vet.
- Mites: Mites can attack the bird in the event of not having a good cleaning of the cage. He will lose feathers, scratch frequently, or hurt himself to scratch. The only solution is to take him to the vet.
- Cobalicillosis: A deadly disease that requires you to quickly take it to a specialist. Also, it is very contagious and can also pass it to humans, so you have to be very careful. Among the symptoms, it is detected that the feces have a green and white color, besides, the bird loses its appetite.
- Hoarseness: Your trill will be hoarse, due to being in a poorly ventilated area, full of humidity, or singing too much. You have to give him some lemon boots with a thousand so that he recovers.
- Wounds: The bird can be injured because it flies very fast inside the cage or is nervous. In this case, the wounds must be treated with hydrogen peroxide quickly so that they do not become infected.
- Acariasis on the legs: On the legs or fingers will have scabs, which will need an ointment so that it can recover as soon as possible.
Can you train a canary?
Although the canary spends most of its life in a cage, it doesn’t really have to be that way. It is possible to train it, for simple things, of course, to stand on the finger or so that it can fly freely around the house and then return to its cage. It is easy? Not at all, since you have to be very patient. Do you want to know the steps to follow to train it?
- First step: Getting used to your presence is the first step. Therefore, when the cage is located, it must be in the room with the greatest social activity in the house. So at all times they know what is happening around them and can get used to the noises. Little by little, get closer to the cage, checking what is the maximum distance that the bird allows you. And then, give him the treat to buy “his darling.” In time, it will approach the bars of the cage to eat it.
- Second step: Have you gotten him to get used to you and let you approach the cage without freaking out? Perfect, then the time has come to put your hand inside the cage with food that you like, such as cookies, pine nuts, or apple pieces. Wait until it sits in your hand to eat. It may not be the first day, so don’t give up.
- Third step: The canary will have gotten used to your presence and it will be possible in your hand without problems after a while. At that moment is when you must try to pose on your finger. But what to do about it? When the perch is there, tap it gently with your finger so that it loses its balance, this will make it stand on it and you can remove it.
Now, let’s say you want to let him out of the cage. Most likely the first time you try to fly away, so first of all close the window and the doors of the room. Then take it out and let it come back if it wants to. With a treat, you can convince him to return to his cage. Never force him with a yell or try to catch him, because all the hard work of trust you have done will be lost.
I want my canaries to breed, what do I have to do?
Getting canaries to breed is not impossible or difficult, but this does not mean that you will not have to wait for canaries to want to have young. To begin with, the breeding season is usually in late spring and early summer, when the days are longer and there are more days of light, at which point you already have to have your pair of canaries paired.
You should know that females acquire sexual maturity at 7 months, while males do so at 9, so you have to wait a bit until both have reached the mature stage of their lives. The courtship process can take many days, so be patient during the process.
If successful, buy a nest in which they can lay their eggs. Many breeders opt for wooden nests, because they are spacious and very safe, while others choose to buy the materials so that the female can build them with them.
You have to be very attentive to the laying of the eggs since it will lay one egg a day, or one day it may rest and lay one the next two days. Once laid, they must be removed, which helps hatch the eggs on the same day. Once you have laid all the eggs, between three and five, you have to place them all back in the nest so that it 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 them heat.
Once the chicks are born, they will depend entirely on their parents, so they must be fed an exclusive diet for these young so that the parents can supply it. Also, giving them an insect or worm can come in handy to get vitamins. After two months they will begin to explore the cage and it will be time to change them to another module or a separate cage so that they can live their own life.
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