The Canary (Serinus canaria) is the world’s most popularly-kept song bird. However, certain basic questions still commonly arise, especially as spring approaches and Canaries begin to show breeding behavior. Unfortunately, both sound and unsound information has made its way onto the internet. Today I’ll cover some questions that usually come up as winter ends and avian fancies turn to reproduction.
Why won’t my male Canary sing?
Males that are not in the peak of good health will usually forgo singing. A singing male is advertising his vigor, suitability as a mate and ability to defend his territory – instinct will compel a sick male remain silent.
Males that are molting rarely sing. As with all birds, molting individuals cannot fly as well as usual, and are using energy and calories to grow new feathers…it is not in their best interest to attract the attention of predators or competing males.
The presence of a dominant male in the same room, or sometimes even within hearing distance, may inhibit other males from singing. Sometimes, however, the presence of another male may spark competitive singing; much depends upon the individual birds.
A female housed in another cage, and Canary Training CD’s, can be very useful in encouraging reluctant males.
Why won’t my female Canary build a nest?
Young female Canaries and first time breeders often practice nest building before actually getting down to a serious try. Provide her with ample nesting material and a cup nest and let nature take its course. The nesting cup should be located high up in the cage, but at least 6 inches below the top, and positioned in a well-lit, draft-free area.
Some male Canaries may also attempt to “help” the female to build her nest, although more often than not their clumsy efforts do little good!
How can I tell if I have a pair of Canaries?
Determining the sex of Canaries is surprisingly difficult, and impossible before age 8-10 months. Behavior (other than egg-laying, of course!) is not always a reliable guide, as both sexes may practice singing and nest-building. Same-sex pairs may form, so mutual feeding does not always a mated pair.
Genetic feather testing is reliable, and quicker and less expensive than in years past…please write in if you would like to learn more about this option.
I have a male and female Canary, but they fight when put together; what can I do?
If you wish to breed Canaries, the sexes are best housed separately and introduced at the start of the spring breeding season. However, if one is suddenly thrust into another’s cage, fighting will almost always ensue.
Even if they have been kept in the same room, a potential pair should be slowly introduced by moving their cages closer to one another over a period of several days. Eventually, align the cages so that they are side by side (or invest in a breeding cage with a removable divider) and observe their behavior.
If they are compatible, the male will feed the female and she may begin building a nest, or at least carrying bits of material about. His singing should increase as well. At this point you can open the doors between the cages, or remove the divider, and allow them access to one another.
Always introduce your birds early in the day and when you will be home to observe them carefully, so that you can split them should a “domestic disturbance” arise. If at all unsure, separate them and try again in a day or so.
Shipwrecks, Viscous Dogs and Escapees: the Odd History of Your Pet Canary
thanks for the info, I have Parasian ferrils and i am not sure of the sex of one. how can i be sure i have a pair?
what is feather testing?
Hello EK, Frank Indiviglio here.
Thanks for your interest in our blog. Sexing can be difficult based on behavior/appearance alone. Feather sexing is a lab test that analyses a feather’s DNA to determine sex. You can find out more about the process on the Avianbiotech website. Your vet may be able to recommend another company; local bird clubs are also usually in touch with a feather-sexing lab.
Please let me know if you need any further information. Good luck, enjoy and please keep me posted.
Best regards, Frank Indiviglio.
I just remember an encounter of a canary when I was still very young….
I once sat at my desk, trying to do homework, when I got extracted by an unusual loud whistling outside my window…
As I looked out, I saw this little yellow furry kind of ball whistling its heart out….!
It looked as if it was a tennis ball that was too long in the rain and then smacked a few times. It literary was a yellow ball on two tiny legs, whistling like a reffery who swallowed a whistle and trying to announce a penalty!!! It got to such an extent that the bird fell on its side and I really thought the poor canary had some kind of epileptic attack. It lay there for a few seconds and stood up again (all on flat ground) and too my surprise, the bugger started all over again and AGAIN till it fell over on to the ground.
I have never in my live have encountered such and amazing ritual and recalling back, I am even sure this would be something for the crew of Planet Earth!
Just another funny observation of a ridiculous afford to try and gain approval of a woman…sorry, FEMALE!
Hello Gert, Frank Indiviglio here.
Thanks for your interest post…quite a story. I’ve seen a number of males of several species go through some amazing lengths in that regard (I’ll steer clear of our species!), and once found 3 male American Toads in amplexus with a very stressed a carp (I understand African Bullfrogs will do the same…)., but your story tops all!
Best regards, Frank Indiviglio.
my little girl is 4 months old,
and nowadays she seems to like ripping off newspaper from the cage floor.
does this mean she’s trying to build a nest?
is she ready to mate at that age?
Hello Raymond, Frank Indiviglio here.
Thanks for the update. Yes, that behavior is usually a sign a female is becoming sexually mature. While it is possible for them to mate at 5-6 months of age, it is best to hold off until 8-10 months. Also, young males may tear paper out of curiosity, and some young females try to sing. …so determining sex before age 8 months or so can be tricky.
Please let me know if you need any further information. Good luck, enjoy and please keep me posted.
Best regards, Frank Indiviglio.
hello again Frank!
sorry to bother you, but i can’t help worrying about my canary:
I don’t see her drinking!
everytime i check on her water bottle it doesn’t seem to decrease, she just spends her time eating seeds or veggies, or just resting…
other than that her behavior seems normal. doesn’t seem to be dehydrated or anything
why is this? thanks
Hello Raymond, Frank Indiviglio here.
Great question…most people don’t notice but it’s an interesting point. If the bird has a good amount of greens and other veggies, it will drink far less than if on a seed-only diet. Needs will also fluctuate with activity, season, temperature, etc. No need to be concerned…dehydration saps a bird’s strength very quickly; they instinctively meet their needs for water even over the need for food. Please be sure to give your bird access to a bath as well, most take to this readily.
Please let me know if you need any further information. Good luck, enjoy and please keep me posted.
Best regards, Frank Indiviglio.
Hello Frank… Thanks for your blog. I hope we will meet in person some day so I can shake your hand.
I bought a pair of Spanish Timbrado canaries in May, in Madrid… the male was singing his heart out when I bought him, but would you believe I have never heard him sing again since I brought him to Mexico… Wrong time, I suppose. I hope to hear him sing again in September.
Anyways… They mated and the female laid 6 eggs… of these… one DISAPPEARED completely… Where did it go? Two were born and are now little chicks… (of course I don’t know their sex yet…) Two eggs were clear when I saw them with a light behind, and one egg was dark but the bird was never born… I sadly buried it yesterday. Very sad…
Question: Where can I buy rings to put on them? How many canaries does a professional breeder have? Why were two eggs not fertile? Is this common?
It is now June, and the female has had her first babies… Can she mate again now, in June, or should I separate her from the male until Spring?
She has a green cap, like a Gloster, but she is a beautiful green Spanish Timbrado. (I hope I might have at least one baby Timbrado male with a cap, but it is too early to know, yet.)
I give thanks and I am happy with 2 little chicks, but I wish I could have more. I have one more male Spanish Timbrado (which I bought in Canary Islands 5 years ago) and I would like to mate the female with this other male. He is still singing. Can I mate her now, in June? Or shall I wait until Spring? How about October or November?
By the way… I love Spanish Timbrado canaries.
A cross with American Singers would probably result in a really nice singer. I would love to buy an American Singer some day, and see what we get…
THANKS for your great blog on canaries. I love canaries, and I APPRECIATE IT. – Ellis Toussier, in Mexico City.
Hello Ellis, Frank Indiviglio here.
Thanks for the kind words and your most interesting post; it would be a pleasure to cross paths someday.
Infertile eggs are common in young hens; the change in locale, and the stress of transportation, can also be a factor in this and in the male’s singing. During my years at the Bronx Zoo, I noticed that birds of many species would cease breeding for a season after being moved to a new exhibit. Canaries respond to day-length, in terms of breeding, but are also affected by “internal clocks” (circadian rhythms)…this can be disrupted by travel, even if the change in latitude is not great. Breeding too early in the season can also affect fertility. Next season should be a better test of your pair’s potential.
Obesity can affect breeding success, as can unstable perching, which may prevent the pair from copulating successfully.
Best to wait until spring before putting the hen with either male, especially as she has had a major change in her environment. Crossing types is very interesting, although this sometimes complicates future breeding….each line or type of canary may come into breeding condition at slightly different times.
Not sure about the missing egg…birds of many types will eat eggs, but there is usually some shell remaining behind.
Check this supplier for rings; a local bird club may be able to point you to a local source.
Please let me know if you need any further information. Good luck, enjoy and please keep me posted.
Best regards, Frank Indiviglio.
I had this concern for breeding canaries in aviary…
What if inbreeding suddenly happened? like if a father mate with daughter or mother mate with son…
I know its creepy, but it appears it doesn’t bother people from keeping and breeding them in aviary together (see youtube)…
Does the offspring become sterile? If so that might be a good thing…
Is there a way to encourage a pair to stay together and not mate with others?
Thanks Frank 🙂
Nice to hear from you again. Inbred birds are fertile, although after long-term inbreeding fertility may be lessened (hybrids between distantly related species are generally sterile, as with mules, tiger-lion crosses etc; canary-siskin crosses, used to bolster red coloration, are sometimes sterile).
Parents may mate with their young, and siblings will mate, if housed together. Some pairs remain faithful, but such is far less common than with parrots. Whether this will cause problems depends, to some extent, on how inbred the line is already. Many species can cross for quite a few generations w/o incident…I’ve seen this often in large zoo exhibits, where it is difficult to trap and remove birds. Good private breeders keep records, so you may wish to check into that and start (or add) birds from lines that have not been inbred. Trading birds with others can also help…even if ancestors are unknown, there’s a good chance you’ll be introducing new bloodlines.
Please let me know if you need any further information. Good luck, enjoy and please keep me posted.
Best regards, Frank Indiviglio.
I am happy to find your blog. I got a pair of canaries around eight months ago. They where both around six month to a year old & because they where kept in the same cage with several other birds I tried to choose different colors to avoid inbreeding . I do not know what breed they are but the male is cinnamon color on top with a yellow belly & the female is brown color on top with a peach belly. The male did not know how to sing and it took about six month to teach him. I kept them in a cage with a divider and removed the divider about three weeks ago. They where getting really loud. The female doesn’t let the male around the nest basket or too close to her for that matter. The male carries nesting material with him around the cage but the female is not showing interest in nesting. I tried put some nesting material in the basket but she cleans it out, so I left some on the corner of the cage. They are not fighting but if the male hears any other males singing he opens his wings & sings aggressively. The female is pecking at the cage when she is not pecking at the cuttlebone. Any recommendations?
I thank you for your time in advance.
Your doing a great thing here.
Thanks for your interest and the kind words. Sounds like you’re doing everything right, and that the male is in breeding condition. The female will carry nesting material when she is ready, and will also beg for food (greens especially). She may not be in sync with him, in terms of hormonal flow/readiness; It could also be that they are incompatible – not all get along. Give them a week or so together, then separate again for 2 weeks. If you use a divider, try leaving some nesting material in with the female, and offer the male, but not the female, greens and sprouts. If she does not exhibit any signs of breeding readiness, it may be best to try her with another male if available.
Please let me know if you need any further information. Good luck, enjoy and please keep me posted.
Best regards, Frank Indiviglio.
I tried separating them but I am not sure what is happening. Even though they are extremely attached and the male feeds the female, most the time the male is chasing her around the cage singing or chirping. It seems that the sight of me in the room also inspires this behavior.,but she doesn’t let him get on top and some times they end up neck garbing. At food time she gets aggressive and chases him away. There are also times where she tries to get beside him and he runs away. So I have separated them again and I am thinking about adding a tow year old Red factor female to his cage. I was wondering how would it work out between the three or would I have to have females in one side with two nests. I would really appreciate you insight in this complex matter. I would hate to loose the female I have now.
Here is a link where I posted my bird pics.
Thanks again, Ace
Seems they are just not in sync (hormones, breeding readiness) ..it’s very common. May work out in time, best to keep doing as you are – try together, separate, etc. Another female may work with the male, but putting 2 females in at once is not a good idea,
Hi Frank ,
I’d like to know if i can breed a 5-8 month female with a 1 year male .
It is best to wait until she is 1 year or so of age; some reach sexual maturity earlier,but it is often hard to be sure of the sex until at least age 10 months. However, even if you are sure of the sex, it is best to wait until age 1 year before slowly introducing her to a male.
Enjoy, and please keep me posted, Best, Frank
Hi again ,
I want to breed them this year if it’s possible so, when does the breeding season end ?
Assuming you are in the UK, unfortunately it may be too late to breed them this year. They generally come into breeding condition as the daylength reaches about 14 hours; females that are ready will sometimes begin to shred paper, as if nest-building, and the vent area will become red and swollen. Breeders usually begin pairing them (slow introduction with a cage divided by a barrier) in Feb or March, and mating is most common in April/May. Artificially long or short days can throw off their cycle, so it is best to expose them to a natural day/night cycle. In winter, we often have house lights on long after dark…at this time, it is best to shorten their days, to match outside conditions, by using a light timer if possible (easiest if birds are kept in a room that people do not use much after dark – unless you and yours see well in the dark!).
Enjoy, [please keep me posted, Frank
Hi Frank ,
I’m in Albania ,a Mediterranean place . Here the summer is long with a lot of light and very hot . Furthermore my female canary reacts to my neighbour’s male canaries when they sing .
Thanks for your advice Kleo .
Thanks…I saw “UK” in your email address. Same general rules apply; best to keep your birds on the local natural light cycle. Females may respond to males before they are sexually mature, by paying attention, nesting behavior, etc. Some birds are ready to breed at a young age, but most experienced breeders advise waiting until until age 12 months or so.
Hi Frank ,
I’d also like to know which is the best type of canary …
It mostly comes down to personal preference, as there are so many strains that are bred for specific colors, size, shape, song quality etc./….please see this article for some examples.
Small local breeders will usually have information on the backgrounds of their birds – whether they tend to breed readily, calm vs nervous personalities, and so. Larger stores may not have that info.
You might also be interested in this article on the red-factor canary/siskin connection.
Hi Frank ,
My male is ready to breed but he doesnt sing a lot and the femae is not interested on him . She reacts to other males singing but not to him . What should i do ?
Canaries are very specific as to mate selection..you cannot force it. She should only be paired with a male that she shows interest in.
Enjoy, best, Frank
I tried to put them in the same cage and the male wanted to mate but she didn’t let him . What should I do ?
Sorry if I wasn’t clear last time. Canaries must choose their mates – females and males often reject those we choose for them. There is no way to force them to stay together…sometimes, many different individuals must be tried. Members of canary clubs and societies often exchange birds for this reason. The female may also be too young, as mentioned. Young females may appear interested, but lack the ability to actually mate; best to wait until a female is at least 1 year of age.
Best regards., Frank
I separated them but they want each other and dont stop calling . What should I do ? You’e helped me a lot !
Thanks , Kleo
The male will likely continue to sing in order to attract another mate; moving the female to another room may help. Reintroductions at a later date work with some birds, but if your female is too young this would not be a good idea.
Hi Frank ,
My grandpa gave me an old crested canary , which is a female and I want to breed her with my male which is crested too . Is it possible ?
Unfortunately, crested canaries are best bred to non-crested; when a pair of crested breeds, the chicks often suffer immune system problems, leading to a general lack of vigor and susceptibility to disease. They are often undersized as well, and the feathers may be in poor condition; likely related to inbreeding. Older females (any type) often have difficulties breeding as well. Most advise not breeding after age 5.
Best regards., Frank
Hi Frank ,
I think that they are not the same type of canary because the male is a crested timbrado and the female is an other type … Is it a problem ?
There’s always a risk of problems when you cross 2 animals that have already been inbred to obtain certain traits, i.e. crests, unusual colors etc. The concept is known as inbreeding depression, and is the reason we see so many problems in certain lines of dogs (hip displaysia in German Shepards, etc.). Breeding 2 different types of crested canary will reduce the risk, but there is no way to say with \certainty how the young will turn out,.
Hi Frank ,
I have a canary female which layed a egg without a male in her cage . I’d like to know if I could breed her with a young male . I putted the male in the female’s cage and he was afraid of her . I don’t what to do because he signs very good and loudly when he is alone .
You can leave the egg in – she may lay more and sit on them. They won’t hatch, but sitting for a time will stop her from continually laying (sometimes, if you keep tossing eggs, they keep laying, and deplete calcium reserves) Don’t worry if you disposed of it, just watch her. If she’s not sitting in it, you can discard it.
Males will sing when alone (to attract females). But birds must be introduced slowly, as they are territorial and also will not accept every mate. A breeder’s cage, with a removable partition in the middle, is best. Once the male begin feeding the female through the wire divider, you can remove it and keep them together. Or you can place their 2 cages close enough to allow the male to feed her when ready. Just putting 2 together in the same cage, right away, is not usually successful.
Please let me know if you need more info; enjoy and please keep me posted, Frank
My beloved female has finally built her first nest and laid some cute eggs.
They’re sterile, because she still doesn’t have a mate yet. She may have realized this, so she doesn’t lay it on the nest, but on the cage floor.
What do I do with the eggs? She obviously does not care for them so I took them out. Also, she does not touch the nest anymore, should I take it out too?
Hopefully I can get her a mate by the time she wants to mate again.
Thanks for the update. Best to remove the eggs; if she sits on another infertile batch, leave them until they are abandoned – pulling them may cause her to lay again quickly, which can deplete calcium reserves. Best to remove the nest also.
Hi Frank ,
I saw the male feeding the female until she was sitting but the began fighting after some hours . I separated them . I really want to breed them , what should I do ?
Best wishes Blendi
Thanks for the update. Unfortunately, trial-and-error is the only option. They can be very picky, making false starts and rejecting one another even long after they seem to be content – almost as fraught with difficulties as our own mating rituals! Give them a week and try again, starting off with a slow introduction (cage divider or side-by-side cages.
Please keep me posted, good luck, Frank
Hi Frank ,
My canary has scaley mites on his face , but there’s not an avian vet in my town . How can I treat my canary at home ?
The various mites can be difficult to distinguish, but the type you describe (which is not commonly found on canaries) can sometimes be eliminated by coating the afflicted areas with mineral oil. However, Ivermectin is much preferred and in any event I would not recommend the mineral oil treatment be done at home. You can read more about mites and bird lice here. Ivermectin injections, and mite treatment in general, is standard practice for a variety of animals…most vets would be able to determine the proper dose for a bird and can easily consult with colleagues as to other treatment aspects. I don’t believe you need a specialist for this problem. I can refer your local vet to the country’s leading exotic animal vet for a consult, but I do not believe this would be necessary. Good luck, keep me psted, and please let me know if you need further info, Best, Frank
Hey Frank, me again
was wondering about the sterile egg… I read somewhere that birds will eat their sterile egg to replenish their lost nutrients… maybe I could boil this one and feed her with it?
….it sounds creepy though, like cooking your own children…
what do you think?
Nice to hear from you. I don’t know of any birds that do so, although many will consume eggs from un-guarded nest so it’s not out-of-the question. No real need to cook that particular egg, however, and probably not a good idea as it’s likely been at room temp for a period of time. A bit of hard-boiled chicken egg is fine on occasion, and very impt during the breeding season, or you can use commercial Egg Food.
In years past, hard-boiled eggs, ground with shells, were standard ingredients in many diets..please see this article for a look at how things were done when I started out (more interesting, in my opinion, that standard diets, but lots of work!).
Hi Frank ,
My female has laid 3 eggs but i don’t know if they are fertile . She was with a male , but i separated them because i saw them fighting . They have mated only one or two times ,but the mating wasn’t normal because she didn’t want to mate.
Copulation is a very brief process, so it is possible that she was fertilized. If she’s sitting, leave them in with her. She’ll abandon them if they fail to hatch within a normal incubation period. If they do hatch, she should be able to raise them on her own, provided she is well fed, etc…we can go over details if needed at that time.
Good luck, Best, Frank
Hello Frank, me with my problem again…
My little girl is now sitting on her eggs, last I checked a total of 4 sterile eggs.
I feel her commitment to her eggs are so great, most of the time I saw her just sitting, and I didn’t see her much feeding or drinking. She still eats a little since I saw some husks.
What’ll happen if she keeps doing this? Sitting for so long only to see no result happening, will she be dissapointed and leave? Or should I just take those eggs out?
I didn’t take them out before because I think she could “practice” building nest and caring for eggs.
Best to leave them, as if you pull she may just lay a replacement clutch, which could be a drain on her resources. She will eat/drink less, and usually furtively; without male the process is thrown off a bit, but females usually do fine alone. She’ll abandon the clutch shortly after the normal incubation period expires; they can be pulled if she does not, but that would be rare (‘enough is enough” is programmed into their behavior!)
Hello Frank, I bought a 5 yrs old male canary a proven breeder from the yrs before. He’s in very good health, singing actively… What is my chance of breeding him at this age? Have you know of a male canary that is still actively breeding at 5 or more years of age?
Thank You In Advance!
Males in good health will breed readily until age 7 or so. Non breeders typically live to age 12-15, with a record of 32; breeders tend not to live as long.
Please let me know if you need any more info, enjoy and please keep me posted on how all goes, Good luck! Frank
Male/Female…insane. My young canary sings but is light in color.has long center toes but churps alot .I am guessing about 8months old sold as a male but i am not sure . Since the only sure test is a egg or not how do i inspire the canary to lay a egg . soon , i feed it shells and calcium foods ,how long should i wait ?
Most females cycle and lay eggs in spring, although there are exceptions. Unmated females may or may not lay. No reliable way to induce them now, unless you are in the southern hemisphere and spring in on way. This passage on sexing might be helpful, but not foolproof. Some canary interest groups post photos of vents, seminal vesicles, but birds need to be fully mature….at 8 months, yours may be there, or approaching. Color not reliable unless you know about bird’s ancestors, as so much inter-breeding of various color phases has gone on. Best, Frank
Thanks for your info : One more question Is their any truth to the statement that the males have a long center finger and the females fingers are even ? No joke thats what was written on another site if true it sure makes this stuff easy. Joe M
My pleasure. That idea surfaces from time to time, but I’ve never known it to have been proven, and have not observed it. Even long-experienced old time breeders use the methods we’ve mentioned, and make mistakes on occasion. Perhaps toe length differences are consistent for a particular strain, or line, of canaries of which I’m unaware (inbred birds often have fixed traits peculiar to themselves) but otherwise not a reliable method. Pleas keep me posted, Best, Frank
my female canary drinks a LOT of water, so much that every morning her bottle is always empty.
and her poop is always watery, but is not like diarrhea… sometimes she just pees…
my other bird doesn’t act this way…
She has been laying sterile eggs these past few months, so is it possible that she drinks a lot because her body’s in heat?
Thank you Frank 🙂
I hope you are well.
Egg-laying does use up the bird’s resources, so they tend to eat and drink more; if dehydrated, she will have a hard time passing eggs. Calcium supplemnetation is also very important at this time. If the eggs are infertile, it may be best to remove the nest, if there is one, and separate the pair for now.
Watery stool should be investigated, as there may be another reason for her excessive intake and for the condition of the stool. A vet exam/fecal test would be your best option.
Please keep me posted, best, Frank
I understand putting two male canarys in the same cage might not be a good idea ,but is it the same for two females ? Also i live in central florida when are the best months of the year for breeding canarys. joe
Females usually get along, but they must be watched as dominance problems can develop. Best to breed in spring/late winter. Best, Frank
I have written before about sexing canarys ,I hope i haven’t ended up with 2 females. time will tell. I do have a question about my gouldian finches . I just got two at a show in Orlando Fla. I have had them 5 days and they have not bathed yet . is that normal ? My canarys are in the water 5x a day or more . thanks Joe
They come from very arid habitats, and seem programmed to take advantage of bathing opportunities, but it’s not a cause for concern; they may just need to settle in, bathing puts birds at risk of predation, so there may be an instinct to avoid at first. many will use a sand bath as well,
Enjoy, Best, Frank
I have two female canarys in a cage 30x18x18 they have gotten along great until today .nothing has changed except they have been fighting on and off all day. Anything i can do besides seporating them ?
In such situations its often a hormonal change, such as an entry into adulthood or breeding condition, that riggers the change; unfortunately, separating them is the only option in most cases. You may be able to reintroduce after a few weeks – try keeping cages side by side for a time, or use a cage divider, to gauge their reaction. The mere sight of an aggressive bird can be stressful to another, so best to keep them out out of sight of one another if you notice any unusual behavior even when they are separated. Please keep me posted, Best, Frank
Thanks for your help .I seporated my two female canarys ,as suggested ,the fighting stoped of course ,now they just tweet back and forth .No they cant see each other . I will be getting a male next Sunday ,I will use the split breeder cage as directed . fingers crossed. How long after the eggs hatch should i remover the male ? A optimist JoeM
Thx for the feedback. Unless the male is causing problems, you can leave him in until the chicks are independent and feeding on their own. He will feed the hen and chicks on the nest, and after they have fledged but are not yet taking seeds. Please let me know how it goes, enjoy, Frank
hey there, i have bought a couple of canaries. a male and a female. its been 3 weeks that the female has finished the nest perfectly and she has been sitting in it for two weeks but no eggs were layed. 4 days ago i so them mating and most of the times the male feed her in the nest but the problem is that there is no eggs yet. what do you think the problem is ?
Thanks for your interest. Canaries and other birds, especiually first-time breeders, sometimes do as you describe. She will likely abandon the nest, and which point you can let them try again or perhaps separate and re-introduce. Watch carefully, however, for signs that the female is egg bound – straining, swollen cloaca, puffed feathers (please see this article for further info); these symptoms would likely have appeared by now, so I’m assuming that she is just not ready to lay. Please let me know if you need more info on preparing them to breed, etc.
hey frank. well i dont think she is going to abandon the nest because they are really and constantly working on it. she sits all day long in it except when she wants to eat and sometimes the male feeds her while she is in the nest.
If she does not produce eggs, She may sit throughout the normal incubation period before quitting the nest. It is a good sign that they have bonded and the male is feeding her. If the same thing happens during the next nesting cycle, a vet visit may be in order to see if there is a medical reason for the failure to lay. Best, Frank
one more thing , they mated twice today and since then she has been eating very much(boiled eggs and bananas and the normal seeds). is it a good sign. 10x for your help frank your the best
Thanks for the update… not definitive, but it could be a good sign; I hope it is. Good idea to include eggs; if possible, grind up the egg with shells, as her calcium needs will increase. Be sure to have cuttlebone available as well. Please keep me posted, always useful to have observations to learn from and pass along to others, Enjoy, Frank
hey frank. i have seared for a cuttlebone but sadly i havent found one so i am changing their diet between apples, bananas and boiled eggs with their shells included. still no eggs but they are mating like 4 to 5 times a day since a week and i have notice that she gained weight because her chest and cloaca are now at same level. no egg binding since cz she is active and no straining have occurred.
Grind or crush the shells until powdery, and mix into a favorite food; some will also take finely ground dried shrimp; if available, these are also a good calcium source, as are most insects. Hope all goes well, enjoy, Frank
Me again …So here is what going on in joe m house now The male gouldian is keeping the female out of the nest (they have two eggs ) what is that all about? last night she slept on the top of the nest . This is there first nesting together. any ideas ? JM
First time breeders (many species) sometimes experience difficulties; although much of their behaviors are instinctual, they do seem to need to “work out the kinks”. If he is incubating, and not attacking the female so as to cause injuries, it’s probably best to leave them as is. Removing him would allow her to incubate, and single females have hatched and fledged chicks, but preferable for them to figure all out now, so as to possibly avoid future problems.
Please keep me posted, best, Frank
hey frank, its me ahmad. my female has been sleeping at night in the nest for 2 days. i didnt check for eggs yet. in my country lebanon its february so i think its early for breeding but iam giving them 14 hours of light and a good food diet so do u expect some egg laying?
They will breed out of season, especially if given long periods of daylight. Best not to disturb her to check for eggs…just observe and you’ll get a peek eventually.
Good luck, enjoy, Frank
I have four canaries in on big cage one of them has laid eggs do i have to seperate the hen from the others? Will they harm the eggs or chicks when they hatch? Thank you
Best to remove others; mate should be left in if you can Identify him. Mated pairs sometimes co-exist with others in very large cages/aviaries but it is safest to keep others separately.
Enjoy, pl keep me posted, Frank
Thanks so much Frank i will do that
My pleasure…let me know how all goes, good luck, Frank
By Any Chance, do you have even more posts similar to this one termed, Canaries in the Spring – Frequently Asked
Questions on Breeding and Nesting That Bird Blog? We would like to read through even more concerning it.
Thanks for your time.
Thanks for your interest. This article covers diets for nesting canaries and other finches; please let me know a bit more about what you are looking for and I’ll send links.
hello i have a male and femal canary my hen is def tryiny to get the attention of the male she always jumping all around the cage making noice but the male doesnt seem interested he usuallu just eats ans sits aoround and pays no notice to her i dont understand there in a breeding cage with a divider pleanty of light and great temputure what can be wrong he makes no noice
I have written before about my gouldians . Still not having allot of luck .i guess they are young ? the first 4eggs ,the male fliped the young when they hatched. the second group i removed him soon after the eggs were layed ,she would not go back to the nest. this time #3 i see 3 old and 3 new eggs and they don’t spend much time in the nest with them . None at night ? should i remove the eggs ? My societys( 2 pair ) are out of sink ,(eggs). any ideas ?
Joe M again This time it is my canarys .Yes i have allot of birds .i got into it about 6 months ago after my 8th cancer surgery to help me cope so thank you for your help. My female canary is not a hen but a bitch, lol I have tryed to mate her with two different males .she has managed to beat the you know what out of both of them . i gave away the first one ,he was small and gentle. the second one is bigger but can’t handle her. she will jump him at least once a day and beat his butt . Yes i kept them seporate in a breeding cage for 4 weeks. I guess i should stich to societys LOL
He may be too young, or not yet in breeding condition. Even though both are exposed to the same temperatures and light, hormone flow can differ, so that on may be ready before the other. Try housing them in dfferent cages for a time…in same room if the female is not stressed, but move him out of sight if she seems to be spending time trying to get his attention. Please keep me posted, best, Frank
Some females are like that and never seem able to settle down. It could be, however, that the males are not in breeding condition; hormonal flows etc. are often not in sync in captivity, even if both sexes are exposed to same light, etc. Keeping them in separate cages until the male shows interest by singing may improve your chances for success, Local bird clubs sometimes run “dating services” where members try to match birds that are difficult to pair up..if available, this might be an option. Society finches are a pleasure, aren’t they! Plenty of other less troublesome finches as well, in case you wish to branch OUT…good LUCK WITH ALL, PLEASE KEEP ME POSTED, BEST, fRANK
Yes its me again, new problem. My wife came home with a cage and two outstanding canarys. thats the good news ,the bad is the guy that sold them to her did not tell her the hen was sitting on 4 eggs which she abandoned when she got them home . the seller should never have sold the pair on eggs but did . I waited about 24hours to see if she would go back on the nest she did not. so i moved the eggs to one of my societys that were on eggs and removed 3 of there5 .A sad thing to do but i could not think of anything else . The society has been sitting on them like they were her own but a friend said the societys will not feed them as chicks . Is that true if so what do i do, eyedrop feed them? with what ? help Joe M
Society finches have been used to raise canary eggs/chicks; this is the best route to go, as hand rearing is very difficult. They may be more successful if you remove the rest of the finch eggs; not written in stone, just judging from experience with other species. This would likely be especially important if the finch eggs were to hatch before the canary eggs. Good luck and pl keep me posted,
I have a female canary who built a nest three weeks ago. She has no mate but continues to sit in the nest most of the day. She did this once before and actually laid an egg ( sterile, of course). Would I leave the nest in the cage till she tires if it or should I remove it so she can return to her normal fun, active thriving
Be sure she has extra calcium, as she may be developing eggs. Also watch that she is not egg bound (straining, puffed feathers, poor appetite). She may just re-build the nest if you remove,.as long as she is feeding, you can leave it for another week or so, then try removing, I hope all goes well, Best, frank
with greeting. after on day mate if i separate male did the for egg after that fertilit or not.and how time sperm alive in hen oviducts
with greeting. after on day mate if i separate male from hen did the egg after that fertilits or not and how many days sperm alive in hen bodey.thanks.
They usually mate a number of times…there’s no way to tell which mating was successful in fertilizing the eggs, so it is best to leave them together. Also, assuming they get along, the male will help feed the female on the nest and will assist in rearing the chicks. Good luck, enjoy, Frank
FRANK I FEELL SILLY WRITEING FOR HAVE RAISED BIRDS FOR 20 OR 30 YEARS HAVE SEVERAL AVIARY KINDS. I JUST GOT BACK IN THE CARNARIES WHICH I LOVE. HAVE A FEMALE WHO HAS 4 BABIES , FEEDING THEM HER SELF WELL 2 WEEKS OLD HAVE ANOTHER FEMALE THAT IS LAYING CLEAR EGGS 2 CLUTCHES DO YOU THINK WOULD BOTHER IF I TOOK THE MALE THAT IS WITH THE HEN FEEDING BABIES AND START TRYING TO INTRODUCE TO THE OTHER FEMALE IN A BREDER CAGE’
Not silly at all..I just wrote a friend with a question concerning a musk turtle that has been in my collection for 43 years! Keeps life interesting…
The female would be able to raise the chicks on her own, but I think you’d be taking a risk as the change would be stressful to her and possibly to the male; I worry about immune system problems in stressful situations…illnesses often show up in the following weeks; also, male may not mate at this point, hormonal flow changes once chick rearing begins. No certain answers, unfortunately, but I wouldn’t risk it. Best regards, frank
OK THANKS WHAT I HAVE DONE IS TOOK THE HEN OFF THE UNFERTILE EGSS PUT HER IN A BREEDER CAGE TO REST HER A WEEK OR SO LEFT HER MATE IN THEIR LARGER BREEDING CAGE BUT RIGHT NEXT TO HER SHE IS VERY CURIOUS HE WENT AND SAT IN THE NEST DOSENT SEEM VERY INTERESTED IN HER JUST NOW.
ONE MORE QUESTION I RAISE MOST ALL MY BIRDS OUT DOORS IN BIG FLIGHT GAGES 5 FT BY 20 FEET HAVE PLENTY NEST BOXES FOR ALL PAIRS BUT YET SEVERAL HENS WILL PICK ONE BOX AND LAY MOSTLY CLEAR EGGS AND SOME JUST DROP EGGS ON FLOOR . THIS HAPPENS MOSTLY IN COCKATIELS.
I’ve seen the same with several species – esp. cocktails as you mention and also a number of finches; females seem stimulated to use site by first nester; adding a new box right after one bird nest sometimes spurs interest/investigation,, but not always. I hope all goes well, pl keep me posted, best, Frank
I SURELY THANK YOU FOR TAKEING YOUR TIME TO ANSWER EVERY BODYS QUESTION. OH HAVE YOU READ THE BIRD MAN FROM ALCATRAZ. HE TELL HOW TO SEX A BIRD WITH NEEDLE AND THREAD I USE IT ALL TIME ABOUT 98 % PERFECT
My pleasure; some of the older bird keepers at the Bx Zoo described the system to me many years ago, but I’ve not tried. Interesting to hear about your experience, thanks. best, frank
Hi frank : Well my canary’s have three healthy chicks .two of them started to come out of the nest for a few hours a day . the bad news is the mom and pop are dancing around with paper in there beak’s again like they are ready to start a new nest . These chicks are a long way from leaving the nest . I am new at this so I am not sure what to do . The male canary has also been pulling the feathers of the chicks when they get out of the nest . The canary behavior is much different then any of my finches. Joe M
Unfortunately captive conditions can throw off normal hormonal flow, etc., resulting in agression, early re-nesting and such. Best to remove the male; the female will be able to care for them through this phase.
Good luck, enjoy, Frank
just a note to let you know the hen has laid 5 eggs and hatched all. one is smaller than the rest but doing okn
great news, Jim; enjoy and pl keep me posted, Best, Frank
Hi joe I have just got 2 canary,I have never had these birds before and I be leave I have a male and a female.i don,t no how old their are ,the male is singing a lot and is fluttering his wings .he has started to show interest in the female I have seen him trying to give her food and he has been trying to build a nest.there has been some chasing around the cage. The female did not seem interested in the nest .i have now removed the male into another cage and she is now building her nest .i also find that if I move the male cage away from the female her gets quite stressed and he starts to sing very pound.does this mean thay may be a perfect pair .how do I no if they are ready to be put back into the same cage together.is this normal behaviour for them.
What you are seeing is typical and the lack of aggression is a good sign. You can experiment with re-introducing them now; it may take several tries, and if this is their first breeding all may not go perfectly, but most pairs settle down and do fine in time. please keep me posted, enjoy, Frank
Thanks joe I will try .can I ask you if im given them the right diet ,I am given them fresh fruit and canarie seed that was given to me by the pet shop I also have put cuttlefish and a small amount of built egg is their anything Elsie should be given them. Thank you for your advice you have been most helpful.
Hi frank do I need to feed my male canarie a special diet .
Adding some high protein foods is a good idea, especially for the female (who will also need extra calcium at this time). Please see this article for some suggestions and product links. Insects, which are mentioned there as well, are not strictly necessary but worth trying..the freeze dried types are simple to use. Commercial egg food and hard-boiled eggs are used by most hobbyists.
Enjoy, best, Frank
Hi, thank you for an interesting web page. I have what i thought were 2 male canarys, which i keep in seperate cages. but i let them out to fly and play for a few hours each day. they enjoy flying together and don’t seem to fight. however lately they have been taking their millets and cage paper pieces and putting them up on the top shelf in the room. one bird flys back and forth and the other makes sqeeky noises. I clean off the shelf and the next day they start over. Will two males act like this during breeding season? they seem to be having fun and good exercise i hate to lock them in. what should I do?
Thanks for the kind words. Males usually fight, but same sex pairs are not uncommon, especially among young birds. Males may also attempt nest building when kept alone or without a female. There’s no harm in letting them go on as you describe, but keep an eye on them as their behavior can change as the season progresses, hormones exert their effect, etc. Please keep me posted,
ok thank you so much…
Me again , After my canary hen started to net again and had two eggs the both parents became more aggressive to the three chicks. so I moved them oldest first for three days into there own cage .they were a few weeks out of the nest but were drinking on there own .It was move them or watch the parents kill them slowly . Anyway they are doing very well the last five days. I feed them mostly chopped boiled eggs .However I will be away for five days next week .All of my other birds will be fine with seed and water + but I am not sure about the canary’s (baby’s ) I will not be here to give them fresh daily eggs .Any ideas? I was told oatmeal ,? Cooked or out of the box ? Help Joe M
Soaked couscous and soaked seeds work well; sprouting seeds are important as canaries like them and when picking at it they often try dry seeds (which should be mixed in) in the process. Egg food can be used in place of eggs, and try adding some soaked softbill pellets also…it lasts longer but it will be a risk to leave them for 5 days at this stage. perhaps a pet store or vet can board them if no one can stop in to feed them? Local bird clubs may also have a list of folks who will do this. Please see this article for further information, I hope all goes well, Frank
FRANK I CANT BELIEVE WHAT HAS HAPPENED. THE FIVE BABIES ARE SIX WEELS OLD. WOULD YOU BELIEVE ONE OF THE LITTLE FEMALES TOOK OVER THE OLD NEST HAS LAAID 4 EGGS AND HAS BEEN SITTIN ON THE ALL THE TIME . HAVE NOT CHECKED YET IF EGGS ARE FERTILE , NEVER SAW ANY ONE MATE WITH HER
Thanks for the update, Jim. That is something…alot depends on the bird’s background, but 1st crosses – mating with sib or parent, are not always problematical. it will be interesting to hear if the eggs are fertile, given her age, pl keep me posted, best, Frank
Hey i just want to know why does my male canarie mess up the females nest
Young males or those that are not quite ready to breed may do that. usually they get it right in time (or the female makes up for his mistakes!)
Let me know how it goes…if it gets very bad, you may need to separate them and re-introduce at a later date. best, Frank
what is you feeling on feeding prepared egg food. from k t my birds love it and feed it with regular seed.
Hi Frank, it’s me again with the two “male” birds. One of them laid a beautiful blue egg this morning on the bottom of her cage. Now what do I do? this is a small cage in the living room where he/she sleeps. I have a larger cage in the back room but there doesn’t seem to be much interest in it for them. I have been removing the nesting materials from the top shelf all this time, so i feel bad about that, but i can’t have a nest up there away from the cage? should i put a nest in the living room cage? is it too late? help?
I’m not sure I’m following the problem with the 2 cages?, but she will be ready to lay more eggs now, so it’s best to provide a nest for her to use at this point…sorry if this is not what you are asking, pl let me know ifn you need more info, best, frank
It’s a great product, long term staple for hobbyists and some zoos; you can alternate with hard-boiled egg if you wish, but not necessary. Best, frank
thank you frank. I can fit (barely) a nest in the cage in the living room where she sleeps, but it is a small cage 11×11 x 20 tall inches. she has a very big cage in the backroom but she prefers the small cage and goes there most of time and it is where she layed the egg and sleeps. I’m sorry it is confusing… I got the larger cages (actuall there are two) in case we needed to lock them up for a few days in an emergency and to give them room to play, which they do go in there but not often. (they are flying for about 4 hours each day and then go inside their own small cages in the afternoon- i then shut them in for the evening and nite.
Kitty again with a ps – Or, I could put the nest in the male’s cage which is in a different room and slightly bigger. ? and see if she would go in there? maybe it’s best to put the nest in her own small cage?
Thanks, Kitty, I understand…the larger would be preferable, but birds can be very choosy and so tend to nest where they see fit…comfort, security, etc comes into play. Perhaps try leaving a nest site in both, or in the larger cage only…if she lays on the floor of the smaller cage again, you’ll know there’s no point in placing nest in larger..let me know how all goes, best, Frank
Ok, thank you… one last question for now. please. What do I do with the egg? should I put it in the nest?
It’s worth trying…she may not sit on it , change can throw them off but no harm in putting it in nest, best, Frank
FRANK YOU MAY REMEMBER ME TELLING YOU ABOUT THE YOUNG FEMALE THAT HAD TAKEN OVER HER MOTHERS NEST AND WAS SITTING ON FOUR EGGS AND I HAD NEVER SEEN ANY ONE BREED WITH HER . WELL DID I GET FOOLED ALL FOUR EGGS HATCHED LAST ONE TODAY . SHE IS SLOW ABOUT FEEDING THEM BUT THE MOTHER TO HER ARE IN THE SAME CAGE SO I AM HOPEING SHE WILL HELP OUT , BABIES LOOKING GREAT . ITS HARD TO BELIEVE A 3 MONTH OLD FEMALE WOULD LAY AND HATCH OUT THE BABIES.
Hi Jim, Thanks…very interesting indeed. Be sure she;s getting enough food, extra calcium and all; I’m interested to hear if the older female helps out…hope all goes well, enjoy, Frank
FRANK A DIFFERENT QUESTION. TO DAY I NOTICED A PLACE OVER THE EYE ALMOST LIKE A SORE OR WOUND I WAS AFRAID IT MAY BE CANKER. BEING A COREMAN IN THE NAVY I TREATED THE BIRD WITH A CREAM I HAD AND OPEN THE SORE . I THE ORDERED RUSH SHIPMENT FROM RED BIRD PRODUCTSI ORDERED RONEX THEN WENT TO PET SMART IN HOPES TO GET A DUSTING POWDER ALL THEY HAD WAS A SPRAYWITHPRYETHRINS AND PIPERONY,BUTOXIDE,TECHNICAL IN ITSAYS TO SPAY BIRD NOT IN EUYES . AM I ON THE RIGHT TRACK OR DO YOU HAVE ANY OTHER SUGGESTIONS
a BROAD-SPECTRUM MED Like Ronex is best if you need to guess, but unfortunately the only way to be sure is to have a culture etc taken by a vet…too many possibilities to accurately diagnose via description, in my experience.
I hope all goes well, best, Frank
frank years ago we were able to get a continer in it was a powder that killed mites on birds. you squeased the metak ciontainer and it poof applied it on the birds very effective have you any idea as to where you may purchase a dusting powder
Sorry, I do not; all I’ve seen advertised is the cream, Best. Frank
Again , My canary’s have 4 chicks they have been out of the nest about a week . the last time this happened the male started pulling the chicks feathers also about a week after they left the nest .I was told they, the adults are looking to start another nest and I should remove the chicks . I was worried they would hurt or kill the chicks if I did nothing so I removed them. lucky they made it on there own and are doing great. however here we go again ,feeding and pulling feathers ,both parents, I am not going to let them breed again this year so I plan to separate the adults but I worry about removing the chicks to early . Help ! Joe M P.S. it was true as soon as I removed the chicks last time they mated and she had these 4 .
Best to split the pair, as multiple clutches can take a toll on the female. As for the chicks, as long as they have been picking at food on their own they should be fine. Parents may feed the chicks, through cage bars, if they are placed in an adjoining cage. Egg food, nestling food, cooked carrot, sprouts, soaked seed, soaked finch pellets are all good started foods..best placed in jar lids, plstic coffee can tops on cage floor until chicks are feeding well.
Enjoy, best, Frank
I have been told not to breed my mop top red canary with my mop top yellow and brown because the chicks will not survive and if they do they will be sickly . Is that true. This info came from someone who has been breeding canary’s for years . thank you …. Joe
I’ve not experienced or heard anything regarding the colors specifically, but highly inbred lines of all types (canaries and most animals) are problematical. poor survival of the chicks, parents abandoning the nest, difficulties in molting, etc are more common among these. I’ll search for a contact who may have had more experience with this particular cross. best, frank
hey there FRANK WELL MY CANARIES HAVE JUST ABOUT STOPPED BREEDING FOR THIS SEASON . FRANK THEY ARE HOUSED IN A LARGE SUN ROOM WITH ALL SIZE BREEDER CAGES ON THREE WALLS. THEY ARE STARTING TO MOLT AND I WAS THINKINKING OF PUTTING ALL MY MALES IN ONE OF THE LARGER BREEDER CAGES AND THE FEMALES IN ANOTHER , GOOD IDEA OR NOT.MY PARROLETTS HAve just started breeding so will leave them together since they seem a little harder to mate up.whats your suggestion
Nice to hear about the parrotlets! I hope all goes well. I wouldn’t keep males together…even if they seem to get along for awhile, no way to predict when fighting will break out, and it usually doe, Also, subordinate males will be under stress even if there is no actual fighting…they seem to know what’s coming! Best, Frank
Thanks for the nice blog 🙂
Maybe my question might sound a bit irrelevant but I am concerned about my male canary. He has stopped singing for a while now but he has also started to become aggressive when i come near to his cage. He pecks my finger like he is trying to say that I shouldn’t touch his territory. He eats well and likes to bathe 2-3 times in a week. He is a bit overweight though. I don’t think he is molting because it’s still June and I haven’t seen many feathers around or in his cage. He spends all day long alone because I am gone most of the day and when i come back home it’s almost bedtime for him. Is he angry with me?
Thanks in advance, Zerina
Hormonal changes can cause aggression, territoriality; even though he has stopped singing, he may still be in breeding condition, as captivity often changes the timing of reproduction, hormone release, etc. This may pass in time. Canaries are not social to the same degree as are parrots; unless the bird was hand raised, the agression is not likely due to anxiety at being alone. Best, Frank
Thanks! I appreciate it a lot
I don’t want to jump into conclusion, but I do believe my canaries are “getting along”.
They live in my planted aviary.
I’ve seen my male sing a lot and loud, graze for vegetation alongside the female, and sometimes they sit together and the male regurgitates food for her…
The female is now spending quite some time with the nesting cup I’ve prepared, she carries some dried leaves and shredded papers and placed them in… even though I’m not quite sure since the cup is up high above. She did sleep in the cup tonight though…
I have not seen them copulating, nor does the female get in position when she hears the male sing, sometimes she shoo the male away (but not very violent)
What do you think? should I expect babies soon? Thanks
Sounds like a textbook description of pair formation! Copulation only takes a few seconds, so you’ll not likely see that, and singing does not usually signal that copulation will occur (more for attracting female to territory, showing health and vigor, warning off other males). Shooing male away at times is normal, not a problem as long as they are not fighting. First breedings do not always work ou…infertility, failure to incubate, false nesting can occur, but over time results will improve if all is not perfect at first. Congrats, enjoy and pl keep me posted, Frank
Hi, I have a pair of canaries that I was told were male and female. They built a nest and laid 5 eggs. The female had been sitting on them for about five days and then the male started attacking the female in the nest. He wouldn’t let her sit and he would sort of squat on them or sit on the edge of the nest. I don’t think any of the eggs are fertile but he plucked a large spot of feathers of her head while fighting. Do males do this or do you think it could be a female that wanted the nest for herself? I took the “male” out so the female could keep sitting on the eggs even though they are not fertile so she will not learn to abandon future clutches. Thanks!
Two females may pair up and nest…in some cases they then fight as you describe. Have you heard the “male” singing?
Also, males sometimes attack their mates even when all has been peaceful beforehand. Captivity changes their natural behavior…hormonal changes may occur at odd times, cage size can be a stress factor, etc. Some males and females are just ill-suited as breeders. best to do as you have…allow her to incubate; if infertile she will abandon the clutch after the incubation period.
It’s usually best to keep the sexes apart until the male shows interest, and the female begind to shred papers etc in preparation for nesting. Introduce them slowly .
Please keep me posted, best, frank
Thanks so much for your help. He does sing a little. Just short clips but that may be because there is another male in the cage above him that is very dominant and sings all the time. (He has a new chick as of this morning!) Thanks so much!
Thx for the feedback, Tina and good luck with the chicks, best, Frank
My hen started throwing her chicks out of the nest??? Why do they do this? She kept two and is feeding them. I put the other two in my other hens nest that had the infertal eggs, after the mother had thrown them out three times. The other hen seems to be caring for them. We will see. Very sad though…. She didn’t do that with her last clutch. She raised all four of her chicks. Is there a reason that they start doing that? Thanks!
I wish I could provide a useful answer…easier to do if all were abandoned, inn which case you could look into stress, light cycle, hen’s background, etc. . Captivity changes everything…i.e. hormonal surges can fluctuate randomly, changing female’s behavior. Fostering is generally the best option in cases such as yours. I hope all goes well, please keep me posted, best, Frank
The chicks are all doing well! The two that were thrown from the nest were each given to a pair who’s eggs didn’t hatch. It is all working out fine! THanks for your interest!
Glad to hear, Tine…fostering does not always work out, so this is promising news! Enjoy and pl keep me posted, best, Frank
Is it normal for first time pair to lay only one egg?
Also, do you have any idea how to make a mosaic canary?
I was planning to breed a red / orange with a white to produce this color
Small clutches are common, but 1 egg is a little unusual. Just watch that she is not straining, which might indicate retained eggs. Unless you know the histories of each parnt and their ancestors, it is very hard to predict how various crosses will turn out. Most canaries contain a wide variety of genes, as there has been crossing of various colors (even crosses with other species, such as green canaries and siskins; please see here).
Please let me know how all goes, Frank
Hi Frank, Just wanted to let you know, both my male canaries turned out to be female – both sing every day quite a lot and they are still getting along fine (best of friends). All’s well that ends well. Thank you again for your informative blog and articles. best, kitty
Thanks for the update…nice that they sing well and often – not common among females; they sometimes set uo house as a pair also, will lay and incubate but unless they squabble over incubating rights all usually goes well. Enjoy and pl keep me posted, Frank
I read through your blog and posts to see if I could find an answer to my question/situation. Last summer I was gifted with “2 “mixed breed” canaries, one male, one female. This spring in May the female began laying. She was about one year old. She laid several single eggs in seed cup, which she sat on for a dy or two before I either found them cracked or broken beneath the cage floor. Since she kept laying a single egg off a nd on, I finally provided a nest. She then laid a clutch of 3 eggs, of which 2 hatched tge 2 nd if June and were raised by the pair. All 4 birds are still housed together in a 3x2x2′ cage in an area with natural daylight, but house lights which are on and off after dark intermittently. The two chicks are both ysinging up a storm along with the originaly male/ father. About the end of October, beginning of November the hen started laying again. I was surprised because I thought that she wouldn’t lay again until spring. She laid one egg, but then didn’t sit on it, so I removed it after 2 days, thinking it was a fluke anyway. Several days later, she laid another egg, this one i took right out, where upon she laid yet another.This one I left hoping she might stop laying if she could sit in it. Well she sat for about 4 days and then I saw the egg cast out and broken. Several weeks went by with no egg, but this last week she began again and now is sitting on 4 eggs. I don’t really want to be breeding canaries, especially since they are possibly in- bred.
Questions : 1- is it normal for a hen to lay in the fall?
2- is it because she is still hosed with males?
3- should I take these eggs out and get “fake” eggs?
4- or is there some way to sterilize these eggs? And leave them in?
5- any other way to prevent more laying, with or without a male present.
All 3 makes are singing a lot and do not seem to fight.
Thanks for any advice you can give me
Thanks for your interest. Captivity changes the normal hormonal controls that regulate breeding. This can happen even when light cycles are carefully controlled, but is less likely. The female may be being stimulated by the presence of the males…a single male may cause this also; more likely with 3 since each may come into breeding condition at a different time, stimulating her further. Disturbances may cause her to reject the eggs then lay again when she settles down. Overproduction is very draining on the female..be sure she is getting a good diet and plenty of calcium. Males almost always fight eventually, especially in late winter early spring. Even without outright fighting, you may see stress-related health concerns. Multiple males can work in larger cages, but with only a single female there will likely be problems between them, and the same egg-laying concerns for her. “Pin-holing” the eggs usually works, but not always..dummy eggs are a better option, but I’d suggest thinking about splitting the birds up..moving the 2 males; considering splitting the pair. An empty cage or 2 should be on hand for emergencies whenever you’re keeping more than 1 bird. Please keep me posted, best, Frank
Hello Frank! Been a while.
So, I finally had a male and a female. They once courted and mate in my aviary! I even observed their adorable marital behavior such as male feeding the female and such. I even found one egg on the nest.
Strangely, after a few days, I checked again, and the egg is gone… and just like that, the pair started to separate. What do you think happen Frank?
Currently they’re still living together in the same cage, but they’re not a couple. I even saw the female, being a yorkshire descendant, uses her large size to chase the male away from the food dish. The fight is never fatal and never as intense as two males fighting, but this is still frustrating to watch.
The male is eager to sing, he sings quite a lot, but the female has no interest at all. So perhaps I should get another female? one that’s more ready to mate and accept my boy…
Thoughts? Thanks you~!
Nice to hear from you again.
Assuming a small predator has not entered, it cold be that one of the birds (usually female) has eaten the egg. A diet low in protein and/or calcium isw often the cause.
Separating the pair and reintroducing when she shows interest in useful; however, they can be picky as to mate choice, and some females, for a variety of reasons, are difficult to pair up or routinely toss eggs, etc. Sorry I could not be more helpful, best, Frank
frank question . what causes egg bound . have parrolett that lid 1 egg then got egg bound on second egg. had a real good breeding season last year just need to find out let for the hand fed babies and some breeders got all colors
A calcium deficiency seems to be the most common cause, or contributing cause (muscles cannot contract properly, egg cannot be expelled) but there’s a huge range of other potential causes; complete blood work-up, x rays can be useful, but not always 100% effective in diagnosing cause. Best, Frank
Hi Frank, to continue the last progress on breeding my pair: its in a frustrating level now…
I did what you told me, separate them.
it works fine, the male sing more, and the female made a nest.
However she did not respond to the male’s singing, and just this morning, I saw one egg laid…
I decided to just put the male in the female’s cage, hopefully they will mate in the evening. the female still did not respond no matter how much and skillfully the male sing.
What am I to do here…? Thanks
You’re doing all that can be done. It’s not always obvious why some males are rejected; but things can change over time, so it’s worthwhile to continue trying as long as they get along.
Sorry I can’t offer a more definite answer, best regards, Frank
to continue my frustrating experience…
I decided to separate the male from the female, and took away the sterile eggs from the nest.
The female is still not interested in mating. and continues to sit on the nest as if nothing happened.
Now, what if I just took the nest out as well? wait for a few days then put it back in for her to restart making nest, also hoping she responds to the male.
what do you think? thanks for the help in advance
Sorry it did not work out…but I have to compliment your persistence – and when you do breed them, think of how gratifying that will be!
Removing the nest can “jump start” the process, but it may be better to let her sit until she leaves on her own (may take until the end of the normal incubation period, or a bit longer).. Incubation behavior is largely controlled by hormones, so removing the nest could be somewhat stressful…not always, but I’d say better to err on the side of caution.
Hello Frank! I have read the entire blog! Ok, I will ask 2 specific questions… or maybe 3.
1. Breeding canary father with daughter better or worse than brother with sister? I have 2 males, 1 female. All related. One male is the dad. He sings beautifully. Or is this totally discouraged, to breed within same bloodline/ from what I just read, it seems to be discouraged.
2. The only female I have just keeps sitting on the bottom corner of the cage, for months now, just on the bare wires and her feet dangling. No eggs. Each of my birds has their own separate cage. Is it healthy for her to do this? Why does she do it? She even spends the night there, not jumping to the perch.
3. Originally I had Ricky and Lucy, and let me tell you, that or a first time breeder/enthusiast, I did pretty well. She had 5 eggs first time, all hatched and lived happily ever after. They had another 4 babies, all good and well. I gave away as gifts everyone but a boy and a girl *therefore question 1*. Lucy laid 19 eggs in a row. She wouldn’t or couldn’t stop. She was alone in her cage. One day, as I do my daily look/over/inspection, I saw blood around her vent area. Took her to the nearest avian vet in my rural area of California, and it was too late to save. She died. Question> What did I do wrong? Why 19 eggs and no sitting on them? Why did this happen? She was not egg bound, the vet said that her reproductive tract had “come out”, and died. So… Any help you could give me with the three I have left would be appreciated. It is such a joy to witness the whole process and to see the new babies. Beautiful creatures. I have one boy, he is a Gloster (with the flat top), female is almost pure white, and Ricky, their dad is yellow and average looking. (in other words, beautiful!). Thank You Frank!
Thanks for your interest.
Always preferable to avoid breeding relatives…canaries are often already heavily inbred, so addition matings of relatives increases the chances for harmful mutations/health risks.
Some females will lay and sit even if they have no mate…however, they usually return to normal behavior after the incubation period passes; a bird sitting for so long likely is in poor health; I’d recommend a vet check.
Over-production of eggs is a common problem; captive conditions (light cycle, diet, temperature) changes the normal hormonal flow that controls reproduction…hence birds tend to breed out of season, too often etc. Calcium depletion is common; what your vet describes sounds like a prolapse of the cloaca or part of the reproductive tract – over use, straining, Calcium depletion (CA helps in muscle contraction, so that eggs can be expelled without straining) etc. Please see this article for a bit more info and let me know if you have any questions; enjoy and please keep me posted, Frank
Thank You Frank! Let me tell you, my female bird that sits on the corner of the cage, no eggs, – her name is Plumita, meaning “little feather”… She is a happy little bird. She is up and around a lot, she is the one that bathes happily daily, and today she was flying in her cage. She jumps, gets on the swing, BUT… she goes back to sitting at the corner, facing Ricky’s cage. He sings his heart out to her all day long. He acts like he wants to feed her, and she begs him, making chirping sounds that are different, special, like she wants to be fed. Anyway, because they are father and daughter, I have been ignoring them. Not wanting to have babies with problems. That is why I had asked if it would be wise to have them mate, and no, I will not risk their lives.
Calcium deficciency… what is a good diet for canaries. She eats from her cuttlebone, but I don’t want her to suffer like Lucy did. Be calcium depleted and never ending egg laying. So far, I check every day and no, there have been no eggs yet. The avian vet said to give my canaries all foods. They are omnivorous (according to her), so I give them food to try, green lettuce, cilantro, grapes, watermelon, bread in very small quantities, oranges, apple, and celery. What specifically could be good calcium for my babies?
Thanks for reading Frank, and hello to all canary enthusiasts! LuLu.
Correction on my spelling… deficiency has only one c. LuLu.
Thanks for the update…I didn’t realize the bird was also moving around, bathing, etc. Yes, both are looking to breed. It wouldn’t necessarily cause problems to do so…1st and second crosses are usually fine; the risk is that they are already highly inbred, and there’s usually no way to determine that. They will likely keep trying to get at each other if kept in the same room.
Cuttlebone is a good source of calcium, and a varied diet as you describe is fine; introduce new fruit/greens slowly. Please also check this article on Canary Diets.. You might also like this one on the origins of pet canaries.
my canary hen has mated and laid a clutch of 5 eggs ,she has sett tight for 18 days ,the eggs are shiny i believe they are not fertile ,how long should i let her continue to set on them, and can i try to bread her again
I have a clutch of 5 canary eggs that the hen has set on for 18 days they are all still shiny and i believe they are not fertile ,when can i re breed her thank you
It’s difficult to determine fertility by appearance alone, but in any event best to leave eggs for the normal incubation period, after which she will likely abandon the nest. Brooding is under hormonal control…pulling the eggs early mat stimulate her to lay a replacement clutch right away, and she may not be receptive to mating. Good luck, pl keep me posted, Frank
It takes 14 days for the babies to hatch. Follow Frank’s advise. I read somewhere that they lay egg #1, and #2 and when they lay #3 is when incubation actually begins. (Frank, correct me if I’m wrong please). So, maybe they are well within the time frame. I hope you get babies. LuLu.
Frank, do you think its normal to see the female looking so tired and sleepy, almost like she’s sick?
i don’t want to panic and make conclusion that she’s sick, but i deduce its because she spends most of her time making nest.
even after i put in food, the pair didn’t rush to it, the female is more interested in collecting materials… further proving my suggestion is that the food is largely not eaten, they still eat i guess, but not as much as usual.
sorry for the many questions, but ever since my favorite canary died i want to be extra attentive
It’s common for them to focus on nest building, spend much time and energy…but they should be feeding; becoming inactive, sitting with feathers puffed and so in is not typical of nesting birds and could indicate illness; straining, panting, staying on floor rather than perch could indicate egg-binding. I hope all goes well, Best, Frank
Replying to your answer Frank, she’s not sitting with puffed up feather or on the floor.
BUT she does look sleepy with her head tilted a bit down, and when breathing, I can see her body moving – or panting.
Of course, this only happens occasionally (not too often) when she’s resting. She can still be seen eating and busy gathering nest material.
Another factor of cause is probably because the season is changing where I live… Its been extra hot these last few days, even humans like me gets tired. It could be that?
Whatever it is, I have now isolated this bird (she used to be in the aviary) and will give treatment until I see she’s better. Do you perhaps have any article on treating a sick bird?
One last thing: Is it normal for females to sit on the nest even though she has not mated with the male nor laid the egg? She’s still in the building phase… When the male sings, this girl replied with chirps while sitting…
Sorry for the many questions, I do hope you could help me out.
Thanks in advance
They will build and sit even if unmated; panting or the body moving when she breathes is not a good sign…they do this when egg-bound, which would fit in with her nesting behavior; if it worsens, you’ll see actual straining…trying to expel egg. But no way to be sure other than via vet check; if the bird is egg bound, the condition is fatal if untreated. Birds that are over-heated will sit with the mouth open and the throat pumping (gular flapping). best, Frank
i have a pair of canaries who have 5 eggs everything was going smoothly until yesterday day 10 i noticed the female had a bald patch under her eye and it looks a little swollen i thought i saw the male peck her when he was feeding her but he has shown no signs of aggression towards her i have moved him into another cage where she can still see him would i be able to handle the female at this stage to try and bathe her eye or would it be too stressful for her and what should i do with the male they have been calling each other all day please help im new to this
Tough call as there are riskd no matter what you do. I wouldn’t handle her now unless you see signs of an infection, a reaction in the eye itself etc; in which case a vet visit would be your best course of action. Hens can raise young on their own..however, it can also be stressful to split them, and this can distract her from incubating; hormones sometimes go awry in captivity, resulting in short term aggression…perhaps this was the case, and they may get along if you try again…unfortunately, many variables so no hard/fast rules. Goos luck and please keep me posted, best, Frank
thanks for the advise i decided to put the male back in this morning and so far all is well its now day 12 and im eagerly awaiting chicks arrival i dont no if the eggs are fertile as i didnt want to disturb to check them fingers crossed they hatch though thanks once again
My pleasure…I hope all goes well; yes, best not to check (unless you are able to render them fertile by your touch!)…she’ll abandon in time if they do not hatch; please keep me posted, enjoy, Frank
hi frank an update i had to take the male back out as he was pecking her again the first chick has hatched at 19.00 hrs tonight fingers crossed it makes it through the night my hen still has her eye closed from the male pecking her will she cope ok feeding the chicks would you put the male back in again or let her do rear the chicks on her own thank again
Glad to hear an egg hatched,. Hens can rear young on their own; that would be the best option, as the male will likely continue and may attack chicks as well. Please keep me posted, best, Frank
hi frank i think the hen is having problems feeding the chick with only one eye she cant seem to find the chicks beak and pecks any where she has found the right spot occasionally what should i do
hi frank me again she seems to be feeding the chick ok now however my husband found the chick on the cage floor very cold he picked it up and put it back all ended well none of the other eggs have hatched the last egg was layed on 21st thing that may be due today thanks for all your help
Glad it is working out, thanks for the update; disturb her as little as possible…be sure she has plenty of food and water, as it will be an extra strain raising the young alone if the other eggs hatch, pl keep me posted, best, Frank
Frank… I don’t think I have time to read all over the postings… my female canary Plumita is not defecating solid. It is coming out like squirt of water. Started today. She laid one egg 2 days ago. Its shell was so so so thin, it broke just by picking it up. New thing I did was put water in a water tube with vitamins at the proper ratio. I have not changed her diet. Only new thing was I gave her a minuscule piece of cucumber… HELP!!!!!!!!!!!! or send me a link. Being a Saturday afternoon, there are no veterinarians around here open until Monday, and that if I had an appointment. Avian vet is 60 miles away from home…………….
Sorry…no way to diagnose at home as loose stool is typical of many ailments; thin eggshells often a sign of a calcium deficiency, but they may or may not be involved with the other problem. Remove vits for now in case they are playing a role. Ill birds often decline quickly, so hopefully your vet will see the bird on an emergency basis. Sorry I could not be of more help, I hope all goes well, Frank
THANK YOU FRANK,
I SAW SOMEWHERE ELSE IN THE INTERNET TO FEED HER ROLLED OATS TO STOP OR SLOW DOWN THE LOOSE STOOL.
I PUT CLEAN WATER, SHE TOOK A BATH.
I ALSO PUT CLEAN WHITE PAPERTOWELS ON THE BOTTOM OF THE CAGE TO REALLY MONITOR THE FECAL OUTPUT.
SHE IS HAPPY, JUMPING FROM PERCH TO PERCH, REMOVED THE SEED AND THE WATER WITH VITAMINS. I WILL SEE HOW SHE DOES TOMORROW (SUNDAY), BUT SO FAR, SHE IS FINE. SHE IS NOT ACTING SICK ANYMORE…….UF……..LIKE YOU SAID, THINGS HAPPEN / DECLINE / IMPROVE QUITE QUICKLY.
WE WILL TAKE HER MONDAY IF NEEDED TO THE VET————-$$$————–BUT, IT IS JUST THE WAY IT IS AROUND HERE. I WILL NOT SKIMP ON HER VET CARE.
WILL KEEP YOU UPDTATED AND THANK YOU FOR YOUR RESPONSE. LULU.
Rolled oats can be useful if she seems to be dehydrating due to the looses stool and is not drinking. Some birds will not accept it, and it’s not a good idea to keep the bird hungry in order to force acceptance, as major changes not good,. Good sign that she is using water, moving. Addition of fruits/veg can cause loose stool, altho rarely if just 1 small piece is given. When laying eggs, system is already taxed so best to avoid any additions…foods, vitamins at this time. I hope all goes well, Frank
MONDAY, MAY 5, 2014. PLUMITA IS DOING WELL. DID ADD HER NORMAL BIRDSEED DIET TO THE FEW ROLLED OATS. WILL REMOVE OATS COMPLETELY TODAY. NO MORE DIARRHEA. SHE IS WELL. THANK YOU FOR HAVING THIS BLOG, FRANK, I AM SURE YOU ENJOY HEARING STORIES FROM NEW OWNERS AS WELL AS SEASONED ONES.
I DECIDED NOT TO BREED PLUMITA WITH HER DAD. SHE DOES HAVE ONE BROTHER, BUT THAT IS NOT A GOOD IDEA EITHER.
I HAVE THEM THREE, 2 MALES AND PLUMITA, EACH IN THEIR INDIVIDUAL FLIGHT CAGE, AND RAN OUT OF ADEQUATE ROOM WITH GOOD INDIRECT BRIGHT LIGHT FOR THEM. SO I WILL KEEP THESE THREE. WE ALMOST BUILT A BIG AVIARY OUT IN THE SHADY AREA OF OUR PATIO, BUT I DISCOURAGED MY HUSBAND FROM DOING SO SINCE I LIKE TO KEEP A CLOSE EYE ON EACH ONE OF MY BABIES. THAT IS HOW I DISCOVERED THAT PLUMITA WAS SICK. THEN TOO, WHERE I LIVE IN THE CENTRAL VALLEY OF CALIFORNIA, THE WEATHER CAN GET PRETTY EXTREME… WELL OVER 100 DEGREES IN JULY AND AUGUST AND IN THE TEENS IN DECEMBER/JANUARY. SO… I KEEP THEM IN MY DEN, IN THEIR LARGE CAGES AND THEY CAN SEE EACHOTHER. WHEN THE 2 BOYS SING, IN STEREO…….HAHA, THEY SING SO LOUD!!! I THINK PLUMITA IS GOING TO NEED EARPLUGS…… OH, I SAW A VIDEO ON YOUTUBE, A MALE CANARY TRAINED TO COME OUT OF THE CAGE, FLY TO HIS OWNER’S INDEX FINGER, AND SING HIS HEART OUT! ON A SCALE OF 1 TO 10, HOW HARD IS IT TO TAME A MALE CANARY TO THAT LEVEL? THANKS FRANK, ANY IDEAS? I WOULD LOVE TO BE ABLE TO DO HALF OF THAT WITH MY BABIES. THANK YOU, HAVE A NICE WEEK, AND HELLO TO EVERYONE THAT READS MY POST. SINCERELY, LULU.
Thanks for the kind words and update, glad to hear all is well.
Outdoor housing takes care and planning…predators , weather etc. but can be very useful in terms of exercise, sun, and so on; but yes, harder to watch closely and to interact.
Training varies with individual, but much harder than for highly social birds such as parrots. Most of the very well trained birds you see were partially hand raised as fledglings. Here’s an article that might be useful, let me know if you need anything, enjoy, Frank
I have one pair of cockatiel , but they didnt have matting but that female laid eggs is this possible, without matting cockatiel laying eggs?
I am concerned, my canaries laid 4 eggs and the mother sits on them. when three of them hatched, the mother started tossing the youngest of the bunch out of the nest on several occasions. I have been trying to feed the chick food but i am having troubles with that. I still put the chick in the nest at night so it can be warm. Furthermore the chick is only 2 days old and i dont want it to die. what should i do.
I forgot to type this: the father feeds all the chicks but the mother only feeds the two oldest. when i am not there, she moves the chick slowly, little by little until she pushes him off. i have put blankets at the bottom of the cage so if the chick falls it will survive. Can you help me in this situation.
Unfortunately it’s difficult to hand-rear a chick; some females do this routinely – hard to say why; it could be that she is seeking to get rid of the youngest or weakest so as to be able to devote more resources to the stronger chicks..very common in many species, some kill the yong, other times siblings will eject weaker ones from the nest. As long as she’s not attacking it, probably best to keep returning and hope that she accepts it. Best, Frank
Recently someone released quite a few tropical birds into our northern Illinois neighborhood. I have adopted 4 canaries and 1cockatiel that we caught outside. I have another 22 year old cockatiel but caring for the canaries leaves me with many questions. Right now all 4 canaries are in one large cage. The other day I noticed one canary carrying paper around. I put a nest I the cage with some nesting material and now she is sitting in the nest. Should I put her in a separate cage? I have no idea what sex any of the other birds are. What should I do? Help.
Nice of you to take them in…they’d not survive a northern Illinoise winter (not sure I would!).
Females may lay w/o mating, in which case she’ll abandon the eggs after tie incubation period. If you see another entering the box, feeding her, then they likely have paired up. In that case fighting may occur, and it would be best to remove the other birds. If there’s no fighting, you can leave as is…this will be easier , I imagine, than setting up another cage. Re-locating just her will likely cause her to abandon the nest, but not necessarily. Please keep me posted, best, Frank
I have two canaries, male amd female…which i put together one week ago, they kissed and the male fed the hen. Then i seperated them again after they fought. Now the hen laid an egg and she’s sitting on it probably all the time and is not feeding well. The male is in a seperate cage and is singing all the time. The female, while sitting, always makes a sound like she’s calling the male. Should i put the male with her in the same cage or should i keep him in his cause i think she needs him to feed her?
Thank you so much!
Best to house them together…unfortunately, captivity changes their behaviors and fighting can occur. Watch them closely and be prepared to separate…please keep me posted, best, frank
Love reading your blog. I have a female canary sitting on her second clutch of eggs this season (I am in the southern hemisphere) and the male is clueless about things. He doesn’t help feed her, or leave her alone. It got so bad today that we finally took him out of the cage as he was chasing her off the nest all the time. He wasn’t like this with the last lot of eggs. Any suggestions as to what to do or why he is doing this? We have had to remove him twice now.
Thanks for the kind words!
It’s common…captive conditions change the birds’ hormonal output and other aspects of breeding behavior; if they are not exactly “in sync”, aggression or breeding failures usually occur. Removing him is the best step…females can often raise chicks alone. re-introduce gradually after that. Please let me know if you need anything, good luck, Frank
Hi Frank really hope you can help me my 3 yr old hen started laying eggs in august.It her first time laying we are now into november and she has laid 4 times each time laying 4 eggs all not fertile.I’ve left her to sit on them thinking she will abanon nest but she won’t she is currently sat on a nest of 4 eggs is there anything I can do to stop her laying another clutch she should have gone through her molt 2 months ago but all she seems interested in is making nest and laying eggs I’m worried if this carry on I’m going to lose her.please help and advise would be much appreciated.Thanks
It can be difficult to control; captive conditions can drastically change normal breeding behavior. Best to let her sit until she abandons them, or she’ll just lay again. After that, remove nesting material and shorten the daylength /light cycle if possible. Removing the male can also help, if one is present. Also remove nest and nesting material. Be sure she’s getting enough calcium, as egg-laying depletes her reserves. Please see this article, and let me know if you need anything, best, Frank
Our male canary passed away 2 days ago from a respiratory infection & our female canary has stopped sitting on her eggs. The eggs are about 8 days old. This is all new to us.Is she grieving for her mate? & should I leave the eggs for a few more days?
Females sometimes incubate and rear chicks alone, but they often abandon the nest if the male dies…instinctive survival measure – risky to spend resources on nest with poorer chance of survival when only 1 bird is feeding young, etc. If she does not incubate continually the eggs will not hatch, so it’s best to remove and discard after another day or 2. Best, Frank
One of my canary’s egg hatched but the next day the baby was on the floor of the cage dead. Later that same day, two more hatched. Everything was fine but then two days later, one was on the floor of the cage but it wasn’t dead so my mother put it back in the nest. Is the mother canary doing this? If so, why?
Either sex may do this…sometimes related to noise, poor diet, disturbances (cleaning, checking nest) etc., but some birds seem to do so no matter what – inbreeding, hormonal abnormalities due to captive conditions, etc. If it doesn’t work out let me know and we can go over some possibilities for change. For now, stay away as much as possible, limit cleaning and so on. Best, frank
My female canary had 4 infertile eggs, it’s been 3 weeks and she is sitting on them all day. since it is already passed the incubation period, I took the nest out after this she kept fighting with the male, so I put the nest back on the same day and she directly went back and sat on it. I started stealing the eggs one egg per day 🙂 today I took the last one out but kept the nest, she went out and started eating and moving around the cage, but after a period of time she went back and sat on the nest! now she is sitting on an empty nest without moving. I am not sure if this is a normal behaviour or what shall I do? she is young around 10 months old and this is her first batch. The male is in the same cage with her.
I am not very sure but it feels that they are not fully compatible each one have a different cycle, when the male want to mate she is not in the mood and vice versa! do you have any tips on how to sync their cycles together?
Thanks & Regards
First time breeders are often unsuccessful; Unfortunately, it is common for the birds to be on different cycles, just as you suspect, as captive conditions (light cycle, temperature, etc.) change the timing of hormone release, etc. It’s generally best to separate the pair until the breeding season…typically, this begins as days reach 14 hours in length and temps rise to 70 F or so. A natural light cycle (either via a window or controlled indoor lights) and temperature cycle is the best way to get them in sync. Best results are usually had as spring arrives in temperate zones, but an artificial “spring” can also be used to stimulate them. Please keep me posted, good luck, Frank
Differing cycles are common
My female canary just had another set of 4 eggs again! not sure if they are fertile yet, may be in a couple of days. If the eggs are infertile again what would you suggest? Shall I introduce her to another male or shall I remove the nest and reduct the day light to stop the egg laying and try again with the same male after a period of time?
I would try manipulating the light cycle first..either female or male may be the cause of the infertility problem, so easier to start with cycle – this would be beneficial to them in any event. Please keep me posted, best, Frank
I’m a silent reader of your blog 🙂
i got a lot of help from your experienced answers.
I live in middle east and i have 4 pairs of canaries. Couple of pairs bred a year ago, the first clutch went fine but the 2nd was unfertilized for one pair and the other pair hatched the eggs but all the 3 chicks died in a week, after that i never had luck with breeding as i always had unfertilized eggs. later i realized that my male canaries had fat on their belly (Might be cause of egg food and less exercise). Please tell me how i can help my male canary to reduce the fat?
Another question: i have a perfect male 2 years old and it’s in full breeding and i paired it with a young hen (almost 8 months) which is ready to lay her first ever egg in a couple of hours as i felt the egg in her vent. my question is it normal for the canary hen to get stressed when she is ready to lay an egg?
my hen i fluffy and stressed (less movement) sitting on a perch rather than sitting in the nest.
is it a normal behavior or my young hen is egg bound (the vent seems normal and the egg has strong shell).
Thanks for the kind words.
Infertility is a complex issue;while it’s always best to keep your birds at a healthy weight, being overweight is not commonly associated with infertility (as far as we know). More commonly, genetic factors are involved…inbreeding is though to have a big effect in some populations. Poor nutrition / missing nutrients is also a possibility. Please see this article.
Young hens can become easily stressed, but it’s not common for one to remain out of the nest as you describe; having the feathers puffed out is also not a good sign. Watch closely for signs that she may be egg bound – straining, labored breathing, staying at bottom of cage and seek vet help right away if this is the case.
Sorry I could not provide more specific answers, Please keep me posted, frank
I have a female canary who made a nest and is sitting But no eggs were laid. Male is in cage with her but never sang much in last couple months. How can I get her to stop being broody and breed?
In adjacent cage female laid 2 eggs before the nest was put in. Nest was put in cage and she built nest then male was put in cage. A week later she laid more eggs in the nest. This Male not singing in last couple months either. Will eggs be fertile?
Both cages are up near ceiling away from cat. It’s dry and at a higher temperature up there. Would temperature affect any of the above issues?
Thanks for your response.
Better results are usually had by keeping the sexes apart until the males sing; then move cages closer as females show interest, begin nest building, then introduce. No way to guess as to fertility of eggs already produced…she will abandon the nest after the incubation period if they are infertile. Check that female w/o eggs is not straining (egg bound)…young females sometimes sit even if not ready to breed…perhaps split pair and see if this changes her behavior. Best, Frank
My female canary has been nesting for 2 weeks. Today i just noticed there were two eggs on the floor. Unfortunately they both were broken. Did the female drop them on purpose? If so why is she doing this??
They will toss infertile eggs, but that usually occurs a few days after the normal incubation period. First time breeders often have trouble on their first attempt…become stressed somehow and destroy eggs as a result; aggression, mating attempts from male, if present, sometimes involved also. Unfortunately, some never seem to get the hang of incubating…in breeding has been proposed as one reason, but more research needed. Disturb as little as possible, limit cleaning, feed briefly, etc, and be sure they have quiet at night, and a stable day/night cycle. Please let me know if you need more info frank
I have a male canary, about a year old. I have had no reason to doubt that he was a male, since he sings beautifully quite a bit. However, yesterday he started tearing apart newspaper and piling it in the corner of his cage. There are no other canaries or birds of any kind in the house. What’s up? Thank you!
Some females try to sing, but a full blown song indicates a male. Due to captive conditions, they sometimes exhibit confusing behaviors..males try to build nests, but rarely “get it right”. He’d likely breed if a compatible female were introduced, but they get along fine alone as well. best, frank
Hi again Frank,
After the female abandoned the second infertile batch I removed the nest and the nesting materials, separated her from the male and took your advice to manipulate the light for a period of time then slowly increased the daylight duration till she started actively looking for nesting materials I put back the nest and on her half way through the build I put the male back to the same cage (note even when they were separated both where in the same room and during weekend I would open the cages to let them fly in the room) 2 weeks back she layed her first egg unfortunately on the floor, on the same day she was setting on the nest and making this soft voice a I took a video of her in below link. The next days she layed 4 more eggs in the nest and again they are all infertile. She still sets on the nest so far. I am not sure if the issue is with the female or the male appreciate your advice and what does her behavior in the video mean? Is she making a mating call and the male is not responding?
This is the video link:
Pairs communicate throughout the nesting season – bonding calls, feeding solicitation, etc., but she would not be initiating mating while sitting on eggs. Unfortunately it’s not possible to determine the cause of the problem via behavior alone. I hope all goes well, frank
I have a quick question. I have a proven male and a proven hen that I introduced in the same cage. 8days ago. The female is interested in the nesting material but I have noticed that the male likes to sleep in the nest at nite and I have seen the female feeding him. She was pulled from her fertile clutch directly before I introduced them. They get along great no fighting or aggression. But have you ever heard of the female feeding the male? And again. They are dido barely male female and both have produced offspring once so far this season. Any thoughts?
*definately male and female
Captive conditions change their natural behaviors…if one enters breeding condition earlier than the other, you will see unusual behaviors, sometimes aggression as well. Pl keep me posted, best, frank
Well my male and female canary feed each other and they can not be seperate wen i seperate them they call each other with disturbing noise. But that is not the problem, when my male starts to sing and wants to mate with the female she runs from him, she does not build the nest but she flaps her wings and when the male wants to sing she does not let him and she alerts him by making an attack sound, maybe she is young but she is flapping her wings that is a sexual act i think please help me.
Captive conditions change the timing of breeding…she may not be ready, and age is a factor as well, as you suggest. As long as they do not fight seriously, they can be left as is and will likely synchronize their cycles in the future. I hope all goes well, Frank
I have a question Frank my canary laid 4 eggs in April I had to go out of town so I lost track so when I came back didn’t wanted o take the eggs out because I didn’t know when they were going to hatch by the time I went to check her again she had 4 more so what do I do just leave them shes been laying on them all the time
Sorry for the delay…they often do lay a replacement clutch if first is infertile; removing the nest box and splitting up the pair may break the breeding cycle, but some females do over-produce; be sure she is getting a good diet and especially, enough calcium. Pl let me know if you need more info, frank
Hello Frank. My problem is we have a pair of canaries in the same cage. We’ve had the mail about six months and the female about a month and put her in with him, I wasnt told they should be separate, anyway everything was going ok they had a few little squabbles but nothing bad. However recently over last couple of weeks it has become a bit more aggressive and I’m afraid the female is going to get hurt, but in the last couple of days hes been feeding her and visa-versa and becoming more closer but they are still fighting. I need to get another cage and separate them I think also would it help if I put a nest would that help her.
If they are getting along and feeding as you describe then she may nest if given a site. Aggression is common when one enters breeding condition before the other, but yours should be fine for now. keep another cage handy, however, Please let me know if you need more info, best, frank
Thank you Frank for your quick reply, what would be best to put in the bottom of the cage, would shredded paper be good for her to build a nest. Sue
You can use bathroom tissue, bits of soft rags (w/o long hanging strings that can catch feet), some dried grass and/or commercial nesting material sold for canaries and finches.
Actually I have a question, I am having pair of canaries, they were fighting earlier but recently when I caged them back together they get along well and all of a sudden the female laid an egg in few days but as soon as she laid her first egg they started fighting again so what should I do? should I separate them with partition and hen can raise the babies or should I keep them together? kindly advise
I am very pleased I found your blog and thank you very much for it. We have a male and female canaries in one cage and they have been in it for 5 months now and except for some little fighting at the beginning everything seemed to be fine. At least until today when unfortunately we found out that our male somehow had his right leg injured inside the cage. He can still sit on one leg and move and fly through the cage. We tried to take him to a vet but no one knows how to treat them…they usually deal with cats or dogs mostly. One of our friends that has a good experience with birds told us that it will be ok after 2 or 3 days but I am not sure and do not know what to do. Furthermore, as to make things worse, the female has started to disturb him pulling off his feathers from his tail. Please we need your advice on what to do…
Thanks a lot
Thank you for the very interesting blog. I have a query regarding my pair of breeding canaries (both about 1 year old) – they have mated but the hen has laid eggs from the perch resulting in cracked eggs on the cage floor. She has built and frequently sits in the nest. Is this type of behavior normal for young canaries?