PO  Box 126 Mitcham Vic 3132 ( Victoria, Australia )

Home ] Up ] Aberdeen Finch ] African Silverbill ] Aurora Finch ] Bamboo Parrotfinch ] Bengalese Mannikin ] Black headed Nun ] Black headed Siskin ] Black rumped Waxbill ] [ Canary ] Chaffinch ] Cordon Bleu Waxbill ] Cuban Finch ] Dybowski's Twinspot ] Eurasian Siskin ] European Greenfinch ] European Serin ] European Siskin ] Golden Song Sparrow ] Goldfinch ] Green backed Twinspot ] Green Singing Finch ] Green Strawberry Finch ] Grey headed Silverbill ] Grey Singing Finch ] Himalayan Greenfinch ] Hooded Red Siskin ] Hooded Yellow Siskin ] Jacarini Finch ] Java Finch ] Javan Munia ] Lavender Waxbill ] Linnet ] Melba Finch ] Mexican Rose Finch ] Orange breasted Waxbill ] Orange cheeked Waxbill ] Oriental Greenfinch ] Peale's Parrotfinch ] Peter's Twinspot ] Pin tailed Parrotfinch ] Plain backed Sparrow ] Purple Finch ] Purple Grenadier Waxbill ] Pytilia ] Red billed Firefinch ] Red Crested Cardinal ] Red crested Finch ] Red faced Parrotfinch ] Red headed Parrotfinch ] Redpoll Finch ] Red Strawberry Finch ] Rufous backed Mannikin ] St. Helena Seedeater ] St. Helena Waxbill ] Saffron Finch ] Silver headed Nun ] Spice Finch ] Tri coloured Nun ] Tri coloured Parrotfinch ] Violet eared Waxbill ] White bellied Canary ] White rumped Munia ] Yellowhammer ] Yellow rumped Serin ] Yellow rumped Siskin ]

. Canary
This page is Sponsored By:
Burwood Pets & Birds
1415 Toorak Rd, Camberwell Vic 3124
We specialise in aviary and pet birds and
the cages, bird foods and accessories
Contact us on: (03) 9809 1212
  • Scientific Name:  (Descendents of) Serinus canarius
  • Common Name/s:  CANARY
  • Sub Species in country / area of origin:  Not applicable
  • Origin / Distribution:  Original wild stock from the Island of Madeira, off the coast of Africa.  Modern Canary is a domesticated version of Serinus canarius.  "Canaries" have been bred and domesticated for over 500 years.  The wild birds have been bred for over 2000 years.
  • Habitat In Wild:  Not applicable
  • Status In Wild:  Not applicable
  • Status In (Australian) Captivity:  Common
  • Age To Sexual Maturity:  About 10 months of age (Cock birds will start to sing at this age).
  • Adult plumage: attained at about  3 - 4 months  
  • Best breeding years (estimate):  12months - 5th year.  Best years for hens is about 4 - 5 years, and cock birds about 6 - 7 years.
  • Lifespan (estimate):  Breeding birds often achieve approx. 7 - 8 years.  Non-breeding pet or companion birds should achieve about 12 - 15 years with good nutrition, housing & husbandry & a bit of luck.  Record lifespan is 32 years.
  • Sexing:  Monomorphic / Dimorphic  Sexing can start at about 10 months of age.
  • Colour mutations:  Many.  Basic yellow is the most popular.  Colours include rose red, scarlet, brown, fawn, & cinnamon.
  • Availability:  Pet shops and bird dealers.  Canary Clubs often specialise in particular types and these clubs can offer these types to people who want to breed a particular type of bird or birds to conform to "Show or Competition" standards.
  • Temperament:  One of the world's most popular birds.  Many are good singers.  Most make good pets or companion birds.  The cock birds will whistle/sing better than the hens and most of the cock birds have a repertoire of songs.  The Roller Canary is bred for its singing ability.  The Red Factor is bred for the red plumage colour.
    Some types/breeds have a very soft song - some birds sing with their beak closed.
  • Cost (Victoria) Per Pair: - Normal colour (Approx.) $20 upwards
  • Description Of Adults: Original wild birds, about 115mm long, were generally a greenish yellow with shades of grey and black on the wings and tinges of grey on the head, neck, and upper breast area.  Shoulder feathers are a darker green and the tail is dark grey.
  1. Length: Approx. 125 mm or longer (or approx  5 inches or longer).  Some types be up to 200mm or 8 inches long.
  2. Colour ( "normal" colour ): Refer photo/s above if available.
  3. Weight:  Varies widely according to the type/breed of canary.

Breeds include:- Border Fancy, Fife, Gloster, Lizard, Norwich, Roller, and Yorkshire.  Some breeds have a crest.

The Lizard breed is the oldest of the canary breeds and dates back about 400 years.

The wild canary is less colourful than the domesticated version.  The wild type is rarely kept or bred in captivity.

Aviary Notes:

Level Of Knowledge Required: Beginner / Intermediate / Advanced / Specialist Breeders Only.

Government Regulations & By-Laws:  Refer to "Government Laws" web page.

Housing Requirements:  Click on "Housing birds" web page for general details on the housing of Non Australian Finches or read on for specific details for this finch.

If you place a canary cage outside to give the bird or birds some sunshine, be aware that they could be predated upon by birds such as currawongs, magpies, hawks etc.  Long beaked birds can grab and either injure or kill a canary.  Cats and dogs are other predator that can inflict injury or death upon the inhabitants of an outdoor canary cage.

Canaries can be housed as a mixed finch collection in a suitable sized aviary.  Canaries usually do not show aggression to other species of finches.

One pair of Canaries can be housed and bred in a normal Canary cage of about 600mm long x 400mm deep x 400mm high (24 in x 16 in x 16 in).  The young would have to be removed from a cage of that size as soon as they become fully independent.
Most good pet shops and bird dealers have a range of sizes and designs of cages available to cater for the number of birds you want to house.
Most retail outlets carry a variety of cage colours.  This gives you the option of choosing a cage colour to match the room decor.
Subject to suitable local weather conditions, Canaries can breed as a colony in an aviary.  Care should be taken to ensure adequate nests and nesting material is available and a careful record of the young is maintained, usually with closed metal numbered leg rings.  Overcrowding must be avoided as these birds can breed quickly.

One pair of canaries is usually safe to place in a planted aviary.  They should not be too destructive of established trees, shrubs or growing plants in an aviary.  However, canaries may be destructive to the new buds and shoots.  If too many canaries are in a planted aviary the canaries will eventually strip the plants of their leaves and eventually kill the plants.  There must be a balance between the number of birds and the size  and growth rate of the plants.  Most outdoor Canary aviaries look similar to a typical finch aviary, and need a small mesh size to avoid escapes (generally about 12mm or half inch mesh).  Mouse proof wire (approx  7mm mesh) is ideal.  Most outdoor finch aviaries have a fully covered roof, usually a transparent or semi-transparent material.  Side walls and the back wall are often enclosed with metal sheeting.  Newer aviaries can be purchased in a number of Colourbond finishes to fit in with the decor of the environment.  An aviary or 2000 mm long x 1200mm wide and 2100 mm high (approx 6 - 7 ft x 4 ft x 7 ft) should be adequate for 3 or 4 pairs, or 2 cock birds and 4 - 6 hens.

If space allows, a 3 metre x 2 metre ( approx 10 ft x 6 ft ) aviary in a planted environment (i.e. plants outside the aviary) can make a pleasant addition to a backyard or courtyard.  The larger aviary can be split into two separate sections.  One for the breeders and the other for the young birds.

Two or three hens can be placed in an aviary with one cock bird and the group will often happily raise one nest of young per hen.  Each hen may raise 2 or 3 clutches per breeding season.  To maintain minimal aggression in an aviary, no more than 2 cock birds should be housed in the same aviary.  The more pairs that are in the aviary, the more likely only the dominant pairs of birds will successfully raise young.

Bird Play Toys or Bird Play Gyms can be added to the cage or aviary allow for mental and physical exercise.

Canaries love to bathe, so a suitable size shallow bowl can be placed in the cage or aviary to allow these birds to bathe.

A "Double door" or "Safety door" in an outdoor aviary is essential to minimise the escape of these quick flying birds.

Diet / Feeding:  Click on "Feeding birds" web page for general details on the nutrition of  Non Australian Finches or read on for specific details for this finch.

These active birds housed in a wire cage have a habit of flicking their seed food around when feeding and uneaten seeds often end up on the floor outside the cage.  An "apron" or "skirt" can be placed around the base of the cage to minimize the amount of seed the bird can flick out of the cage.  The "skirt" is often about 60 - 75mm high (2.5 - 3 inches).

Canaries require a quality "Canary seed mix" plus a variety of seeding grasses.  Many breeders add a piece of cuttlefish bone for them to nibble on for a source of calcium.  Additional green vegetables such as Silverbeet, endive, cos lettuce and Broccoli will be eagerly consumes and make up a valuable part of a balanced food intake.  Some seasonally available fruits can be offered, e.g. apple.  Soaked or sprouted seed can be offered.
Red Factor canaries are often fed a commercial carotene supplement either in the food or in the water.  This should help maintain the red plumage colour.

There are a variety of supplementary food mixes available for Canaries and finches.  Commercial "Hand rearing mixes" are available for feeding baby birds.

Adding "mineral and vitamin supplements" and/or calcium supplements to the diet should only be done after consultation with an avian veterinarian or general veterinarian.  Too much "mineral and vitamin supplement" can be detrimental or fatal to birds, both the young and the adult birds.

"Egg & biscuit" mix used to contain cooked/boiled chook eggs mixed with plain crushed biscuits.  Many new commercial mixes no longer contain eggs or egg products.  Feeding eggs or egg products can be detrimental to the long term health of the birds.  With the out break of avian flu in countries North of Australia and Europe, Africa, EU and the resulting destruction of birds, the continued feeding of eggs or egg products should cease.  There are a number of commercial companies that produce a variety of balanced nutritious dry supplemental food mixes that contain no egg or egg products.

The food intake can be adjusted to cater for the additional demands such as moulting, feeding young and the cooler winter months.  Seek advice from experienced local breeders or a veterinarian to obtain the best seasonal food intakes for your area.

Home made "Egg & biscuit" mixes should not contain any no egg or egg products.

Some Canaries may consume insects as part of their normal food intake if housed with, or beside, other birds that normally consume insects.

Nesting:  A basic overview only.

  • Roosting nest:  No
  • Nesting months:  Spring to early summer (July to December)
  • Nesting receptacles:  Commercial metal, plastic or cane nests are available for a reasonable price.  These nests are strong, reliable, easy to attach and easy to clean.
  • Nest:  Commercial Canary nesting material is available from most pet shops and bird dealers.  Basic nest material is dried grasses.  The nest is usually lined with feathers and soft fine grasses.  Nest liners can be made or purchased for the plastic nests.
  • Who incubates the eggs: Hen / cock / both share.

The parents no not observe nest hygiene and hence the nests can become quite dirty.
Adequate new nest material and a second nest receptacle must be available for the parents to build a new nest for the next clutch.

More details on finch nests and a selection of finch nest photos can be located on the "nests", "finch nests" and "finch nest photos" web pages.  Click on "Up" then "nests" then "finch nests" and "finch nests photos" in the navigation bars.

Breeding:  Egg Colour Pale blue speckled, the last egg laid per clutch is not speckled.  Clutch/s per year 2 - 3 ( most will raise 3 clutches).  Eggs per nest  3 - 6,  One egg is laid each day.  Incubation approx. 13 - 14 days.  Fledge approx.  21 days.  Independent at about 6 weeks of age.

Metal nests with a wire mesh cup allow the birds and the nest material to "grip" the interior of the cup.  Modern plastic nests can be very smooth and the nest material will slip and slide in the nest receptacle.  To prevent the movement of nest material, a nest liner can be placed in the cup and tied into place.  The liner can be a felt like material and are available at most pet shops, bird dealers and canary clubs.
Some breeders place nest material into the nest frame and form it into the preferred shape.  This can make the adult birds very lazy and some birds will loose their ability or desire to make a proper nest.  Allowing the birds to make their own nest is the preferred method to ensure the instinctive nest building abilities are handed on to future generations.

Nest inspections are usually easy to perform and well tolerated.  The chicks can be leg rung with a closed leg ring at 6 days of age but, before trying it yourself, obtain advice and instruction from an experienced breeder or avian veterinarian.

Their juvenile moult usually occurs at about 10 - 12 weeks of age, but may take till about 14 weeks.

Some breeds have a crest.  However, the crested factor is a lethal mutation and crested birds should not be paired with another crested bird.

Some people remove each egg and replace it with an artificial one till the full clutch has been laid.  The artificial eggs are then removed and the real eggs replaced.  Most of the eggs then hatch on the same day.  The babies are of similar size and grow at the same rate.  Obtain expert advice before trying this with your own birds.  Fake or artificial canary eggs are available from most pet shops, canary clubs and bird dealers.
Some breeders remove the cock bird from the cage before the the eggs have hatched.  The hen will raise the young on her own.  The cock bird can be re-introduced when the young birds are about 18 days of age.  A second nest must be available so the pair can start another nesting.

Most types of Canaries make excellent beginner's bird.  Usually good parents and very fertile.  Babies are usually leg rung with a closed metal numbered leg ring whilst still in the nest.  Parents usually allow the babies to be handled without abandoning any of the chicks.  Canary clubs produce special numbered rings that show the year of breeding.

A good management plan must be implemented to avoid the hens over breeding.  Too many clutches per year can compromise the health of the parent birds as well as the young.

Fewer clutches per year usually produces more good quality birds.  That is better than lots of smaller, poor quality birds.

Special breeding cages can be made or purchased that have a divider through the centre of the cage.  Two partitions are facilitated, one a solid partition, the other wire.  Just prior to the start of the breeding season, the solid partition is in place.  A few days later the solid partition is replaced with the wire partition.  When the birds are singing to each other, the wire partition is removed and the birds should soon start building a nest.

The parent birds feed their young when the fledglings lift their heads and open their mouths.  Allow adequate room for the birds to alight onto the side of the nest and feed the young.

"Red factor" canaries are a result of crossing the canary with the Red Siskin.

Artificial incubation, hand rearing or fostering will not be covered on this web site.  It is too complex and diverse in nature to be attempted here.  Refer "Specific References" as listed below and "General References" listings.                  

Health Issues: Refer "Avian Health Issues" web page for information and references.

  • Worming and parasite control and Quarantine requirements of new birds or sick birds are considered to require veterinary advice and therefore not covered on this web site.  Refer above option - "Avian Health Issues" web page.
  • Avian medicine is advancing at a rapid pace.  Keep updating your knowledge and skills.

Specific References:

"The Australian Canary Handbook".  Authors Jeff Leaney & ?.  Jeff is from the Australian Canary Club.  Hardback.  Published 1990's.  This book was produced to cater for Australian breeders and Australian conditions.  About $40.  May be hard to obtain.

General References:  Refer to references listed on "Book References" web page.

Local libraries usually have a range of books available covering all aspects of Canary care and breeding.  Some libraries have Canary magazines and Canary videos for loan.

Most Canary clubs have a library of books, magazines and videos available for loan to members.

Most Avicultural Clubs and Societies have members who breed Canaries and other aviary birds who will share their expertise and have quality birds for sale.

Top of - canary - Page is one of the world's largest and most informative avian or bird web sites.  Copyright 2002 - 2008 inc.  All rights reserved.  Disclaimer:  This web site has been compiled from material provided from a large number of sources.  Personal experience and personal contacts have been used.  Results vary according to factors such as environmental factors, aviary design and the physical and genetic backgrounds of all living birds/animals.  Every endeavour has been made to ensure the accuracy of the material but no responsibility is accepted by  for the accuracy of the material on this web site. The intent of this web site is to provide a "care sheet"  format and provide general material only.  Readers should rely upon their own enquiries in making any decisions relating to their own interests.