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Weaning Canaries – Encouraging Fledglings to Accept the Adult Diet

Canary NestingWhether they are hand or parent-reared, young Canaries usually need some encouragement to switch from the nestling to adult diet.  This change-over period can be quite stressful, but there are a number of steps you can take to ease the transition.

The Transition Period

Pet Canaries feed their chicks largely upon sprouts, soaked seeds and Egg Food or hard boiled eggs.  Once the young fledge, which usually occurs at age 16-20 days, they will be fed by their parents for an additional 2 -3 weeks.  During this time, they will also begin to pick at food and eventually learn to eat on their own.  Fledglings benefit from watching their parents and siblings…chicks that are hand-reared are at a disadvantage in this respect, but will also respond to the ideas and foods mentioned below.

Hard seeds are a novel food for young Canaries, and acquiring the skill needed to open them takes practice.  A high protein diet remains important right through the first molt (which usually begins within 2 months of fledging), but eventually seeds should replace egg-based foods as their staple.  Read More »

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 »

Breeding Canaries, Waxbills and Other Finches – The Importance of Insects

Red-billed FirefinchWild finches of almost every species consume beetles, spiders, caterpillars and other invertebrates throughout the year, and in large quantities both before and during the breeding season.  While those we keep as pets may thrive on seed-based diets, providing them with a variety of insects will improve their health and encourage breeding.  A reader’s note concerning his success with Bronze-Winged Mannikins and the onset of the spring breeding season here in the Northern Hemisphere have sparked me to take another look at this important topic. Read More »

Canaries in the Spring – Frequently Asked Questions on Breeding and Nesting

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. Read More »

When Your Canary Molts – Care and Diet Tips

Domestic CanaryMolting season is a trying time for Canaries – after all, they are shedding and replacing over 2,000 feathers!  Following are some steps you can take to lessen the stress of your pet’s annual molt.

Timing of the Molt

Canaries molt once each year, usually in late summer or early fall.  The process seems partially controlled by an “internal clock”, and usually occurs at the proper time, but external factors do have an influence.  Molting out-of-season can negatively affect a bird’s health.

If your Canary is molting in winter or spring, try limiting its day to 8-10 hours of light, and keep the temperature at 68-70F.  Full spectrum light (please see article below) is also helpful in establishing normal cycles and supports immune system functioning.<!–more–>

Stressful situations can cause partial or complete out-of-season molts.  Fear (noise, another pet, moving), overly-warm temperatures, and too much light during the fall and winter are common causes of stress-induced molting.

Molting Behavior

Your Canary should complete its molt in 6-12 weeks.  During that time, the feathers will appear loose and disheveled (please see photo) and it may become listless and less active than usual; males often cease singing.  This is a normal response to the physical drain of growing so many new feathers; molting birds are also less capable of escaping predators, and so instinctively maintain a low profile.

Diet and Care

Despite being less active, your Canary’s need for protein and fat will soar during the molting season (feathers are 88-85% protein).  Egg Food, oil-rich seeds such as niger, flax and hemp and small live or canned crickets and mealworms are important additions to the diet throughout the molting period.

A bath should always be available and will get frequent use during molting; specially formulated feather-sprays are useful in dry homes or for Canaries that appear to be slow in finishing their molts.

Further Reading

Feather-related ailments can mimic bad molts and need to be addressed by a veterinarian.  Please see this article for info on French Molt.

Full Spectrum Lighting for Pet Birds


Domestic Canary image referenced from wikipedia and originally posted by L.E. MacDonald

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