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Canary Shows – Rating the Songs of American Singer Canaries

CanaryBird clubs and associations regularly sponsor shows in which parrots, finches and others can compete for prizes based on appearance, color and even “breed standards”. Less common, but very popular among canary enthusiasts, are singing competitions. But just how does one judge something as “natural” as a bird’s song? Today we’ll look at the surprising array of criteria used to rate the songs of the ever-popular American Singer Canary. If you are looking to add a new aspect to your hobby, singing competitions might be the way to go (your own efforts will not be appreciated, so please leave the singing to your Canary!).

American Singer History

The breed known as the American Singer Canary was developed in the 1930’s. Canary enthusiasts seeking a good songster with a calm personality searched for breeds that might be crossed to produce a bird with both qualities. The German Roller was chosen for its singing abilities while the Border Canary was selected due to its good nature and suitability as a pet. Cross-breeding Rollers with Borders produced the American Singer Canary, which has become one of the most popular of all breeds. Read More »

More Than Just a Pretty Song – Taming and Training Your Canary

Yellow FinchThe Canary (Serinus canaria), known the world over for its fine song, has another side – certain individuals not only become quite tame, but can also learn a host of tricks.  Most of the older bird keepers I worked with at the Bronx Zoo had honed both breeding and training skills on these delightful little birds.  Space for parrots was not always available to those of us growing up in NYC, and Canaries were far easier to manage.  Read More »

Canary Types – an Amazing Array of Color, Size, Shape, Plumage and Song

For a somberly-colored bird, the Canary (Serinus canaria) has made quite an impression on us.  Shipwrecks, vicious dogs and thievery all figured into the captive history (please see article below) of what is now the most popularly kept finch.  Selective breeding has also resulted in an array of different types, some of which are barely recognizable as Canaries.

The First “Type” Canaries

CanaryDifferent Canary varieties (termed “types”) first developed quite by accident.  Canaries arrived in Europe in 1478, when they were taken to Spain from their native habitat on several islands off Northwest Africa.  As the Spanish sold only males and travel was difficult, Canary owners usually bred related birds to one another.  This increased the likelihood of mutations, including the yellow coloring that is now considered to be the Canary’s “normal” color (wild Canaries are actually greenish-brown).  Read More »

Canaries Are Endowed With Unique Song-Learning Abilities

Male canaries (Serinus canaria), long prized for their beautiful songs, may have unique learning abilities that explain their outstanding performances. Most birds acquire singing abilities by listening to others of their kind early in life…without appropriate role models, they fail to develop normal songs. Young canaries, however, seem able to switch learning strategies so as to develop normal songs even under unfavorable circumstances.

Effect of Imperfect Song Tutors

Serinus canariaResearchers at the Max Planck Institute of Ornithology exposed young male canaries to adult males that sang imperfect songs. The young males mimicked these songs to some extent, but by adulthood were singing near-perfect songs. This indicates that canaries likely have an internal “song template” that helps to correct deviations in the songs of their role models. The template seems to be activated when the youngsters hear an adult song, even if that song is imperfect.

Effect of Isolation

Canaries raised in complete isolation from adults do try to sing, but the sounds they produce bear little resemblance to a normal male’s song. Usually, birds do not modify their songs after reaching adulthood – what they learn as juveniles remains their song for life. However, when the canaries raised in isolation were exposed to a normal canary songs, they modified their own songs, despite having reached adulthood. In time, their songs improved greatly. So, unlike most birds, canaries remain able to change and improve their songs even after reaching maturity.

Human Language Development

Children raised in isolation have great difficulty in acquiring language skills later in life. It is hoped that the canary research will help us to understand human speech problems.

The Canary Song CD

As canaries seem able to learn throughout life, it’s never too late to try helping your pet to improve. A Feathered Phonics Canary Song CD may do the trick.

Further Reading


Most people are not aware of the dramatic story behind the canary’s entry into the pet trade. Please check out Shipwrecks, Vicious Dogs and Escaped Birds for details.


Image referenced from Wikipedia and originally posted by LC-de

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