How To Care for a Canary Bird

Author: Leslie Davis | Reviewed by: Nancy George | October 26, 2022 | Updated May 24, 2023
canary, canary birds, canary cage, canary food, canary habitat, canary health
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canary bird care
Photo by Dieny Portinanni on Unsplash

Canary birds, known for their beautiful songs and colorful feathers, are wonderful pet companions and are known for being great pets for beginners. They are even easy pets to take care of in college, making them a great choice for many. If you’re looking for a cheerful, low-maintenance friend, a canary bird might be for you. Read on to learn more about canaries and how to care for them.

What Is a Canary?

Canaries are small finches that have been bred for their beautiful colors and unique songs. They have cheerful, easy-going temperaments and enjoy being around people. Canaries can be housed with other small birds (just not two male canaries), but they’re also happy in solitude and won’t get lonely. Canary birds can even be trained to fly around the room or move to a perch, as they are very intelligent animals.

Canary birds are most famous for their lovely singing. Female canaries mostly chirp, while it is the male canaries that sing the songs we associate most with this bird. Male canaries usually sing after six months of age to attract females during breeding season.

Singing canary breeds have been bred to sing specific songs and color-bred canaries have been bred for their specific colors of feathers. This means there are many types of canaries to choose from, both beautiful in their song and look. 

canary bird care

Rodrigo Chaves on Pexels

The Best Habitat for a Canary

best canary cage

Canaries should be provided with as big a habitat as possible, as they enjoy flying around. A good-sized habitat is 18 to 20 inches wide and 18 to 24 inches tall. The bars should be spaced no greater than 3/8-inches apart to prevent their heads from getting caught. Using a wire cage will be easier to clean than a wood cage. You should also include perches of different diameters (3/8–3/4-inches), which will keep your canary’s feet limber and prevent pressure sores from forming on their feet. Whittle notches onto the perches to help their grip and avoid using sandpaper perch coverings.

Oher things you should have in your canary habitat include bedding, bird baths, food dishes and enriching toys. Include a meddle crate above the droppings tray to keep the space clean and line the bottom tray with habitat paper for easier cleaning.

Provide separate food dishes for dry food, fresh food and water and avoid placing dishes under their perches to prevent contamination. Include a birdbath or shallow dish full of lukewarm water for the canary to bathe in three or four times a week. Toys and other features such as bells, swings and ladders can also be added to keep your canary busy and curious.

Finally, canary birds can be kept in room temperature surroundings, but keep them away from drafts and air conditioners. They also need to be kept under UV light (if possible, lights designed specifically for birds) for 10–12 hours a day to absorb dietary calcium and make vitamin D in their skin. Then, cover their cage at night so they can get their rest on a light/dark cycle.


What To Feed a Canary

To stay healthy, canaries should have a balanced and nutritional diet with several different food sources. First, make sure they always have fresh drinking water. To eat, offer a mix of several important foods. Nutritionally-complete, pelleted food for canaries should make up 70–80 percent of their diet, followed by small amounts of seeds. Because seeds contain fats that contribute to the production of important hormones, they’re essential to their diet; however, seeds should be given in small amounts because they are nutritionally incomplete. Fresh vegetables and fruits such as bell peppers, leafy greens, kale, kiwi, mango and more are also important for your bird’s diet. Shred them into small pieces to make them easy to manipulate and eat. The only produce canaries cannot have is avocados. If you have a red-factor canary they will need additional, specialized food containing beta-carotene to help maintain their feather coloring.

canary bird

Joshua J Cotton on Unsplash

How To Keep a Canary Healthy

Now you know how to build the perfect home for your canary bird and what to feed them, you’re on the road to successful care-taking. There are just a few more important things to know about keeping them healthy and what to avoid.

Besides avocados, you shouldn’t feed your canary fruit seeds, chocolate, caffeine or alcohol. Canaries should also never eat undigestible grit or gravel. Unlike other birds that ingest seeds whole, canaries discard the hulls of their seeds before ingesting them. They can, however, eat digestible grit as a source of calcium when they are egg laying. Oyster shell or cuttlebone will work for this.

Canary birds also need grooming every few weeks or months. Trim their nails but never clip their wings. Canaries also need regular exercise, which can be accomplished by splashing around in their bird baths, as well as playing on a ladder or swing inside their cage. Keep their cage free of clutter to help them move around more easily, and when they are comfortable with you, allow them to fly around the room supervised for up to an hour each day.

Canary birds can truly be a joyful addition to your home, and with the added perks of being inexpensive and low maintenance, there’s really only one thing left to do… find a canary of your own. With this information as your guide, you can take great care of your canary and enjoy their beautiful songs for years to come!


About the Author

canary bird care

Leslie Davis

Leslie is a communications student at Weber State University and a proud wildcat! She has experience in marketing, public relations, and running her own Bookstagram and book review blog. One of her favorite things to do is curl up and read a good book with her cat Lulu lounging next to her. After inheriting Lulu from[...] Author Details

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