by Gordon M Duncan©
The domestic canary is one of the most widely kept and popular cage
birds world-wide. They are inexpensive, easy to feed and house.
They are beautiful to look at and they sing magnificently. There
are clubs devoted especially to canary breeding and showing, or
you could join a general bird club like Rand Avicultural Society.
A good canary should cost you about R150. Do not buy a small, cheap
cage. All wire cages are suitable. The cage should be AT LEAST 45cm
long by 25cm wide and 30cm high. Round cages with only one central
perch are not suitable. Nor are bamboo, multi-storey ‘pergolas’.
Should you intend to breed canaries you will need a double breeder
box-type cage about 90cm long by at least 30cm high and wide. These
are available from any good bird farm or pet shop.
The cage should be fitted with three perches, preferably natural
twigs of varying thickness. Do not clutter the cage with more perches,
Position the cage about 1.2m above the floor in a room where there
is activity, but not in the kitchen with the heat and steam of cooking.
Avoid drafts, and try to get a LITTLE morning sun.
The cage should have a removable floor tray, covered with newspaper,
for cleaning. A cloth ‘bag’ fitted over the bottom of
the cage will catch spilt seeds etc.
The best time to buy a canary is in the late summer or early autumn.
Try to get a young bird. If you want a singing bird, you must buy
a male. Male and female canaries are alike visually. You have to
trust your dealer or breeder to supply you with a male. Get a guarantee
that if the bird turns out to be a female and fails to sing, you
can exchange it for another within a reasonable time. Expect to
pay R75 to R150 for a young male canary.
Canaries are seedeaters, but they do need extras. Their diet should
SEED: A good mixed canary seed, which includes Rape
and Niger, from your pet shop or bird dealer. Replace the seed daily
and give the ‘leftovers’ to the wild birds.
SOFT FOOD: Sold in
a dry form and only requires moistening. Offer a teaspoon daily
in a small dish.
FRUIT: A slice of fresh apple, pear, etc. twice
GREEN FOOD: Parsley, lettuce spinach and even carrot
tops are excellent. Fasten a piece to the bars of the cage with
a clothes peg every day.
GRIT: See that your
canary always has a dish of ‘Health Grit’, available
from your pet shop, in his cage.
a small piece of cuttlebone to the bars with a clothes peg.
COLOUR FOOD: For the
red canaries, colour food is needed. This is as simple as a powder
or liquid mixed with his soft food.
WATER: Clean water,
changed every day must always be available for both bathing and
drinking. Offer this water in a bath and he will be quite happy.
CLEANLINESS: With food and water this is essential.
NEVER offer food or water in dirty dishes. Feed fresh every day
in clean dishes.
When you get your new bird home
Gently release him into his cage. Move quietly when approaching
him and he will soon settle.
To breed canaries, buy the best pair that you can afford. Place
them in a double breeder in the early spring with a wire divider
in place. Offer top quality food, including increased supplies of
soft food. Hang a nest pan with a felt liner glued in place on the
female’s side. Offer commercial nesting material or soft,
dry grass to the hen. When she begins to carry nesting material
remove the wire divider. Remove the eggs that are laid and replace
them with artificial ones. When the 4th egg is laid return the real
eggs and remove the artificial ones. When the chicks hatch the supplies
of canary rearing food (soft food) must be unlimited.
Both parents will feed the chicks. Once the chicks are ready to
leave the nest provide a second nest pan. The hen will make a new
nest while the cock finishes rearing the babies. As soon as you
are sure that the babies are feeding themselves properly remove
them to an aviary or large cage where they can exercise and develop
If you wish to meet others who enjoy the hobby as much as you do
then it is advisable to join a club.
The members of the Rand Avicultural Society meet at the Honeydew Country
club Tennis club section, No 1 Boundary Rd Honeydew, Johannesburg on the LAST
TUESDAY OF EVERY MONTH, except December.
If you wish to find out more about the club then click back to RAS