Alfred Vivar: Breeder & Exibitor

Bird Breeder

Canary Tips and information I have been asked about before...

Below you will find some good tips on raising and breeding canaries. I have been asked thousands of questions anywhere from what is a good breed to how many times should a bath be offered to a canary per week. I have added some information here I think will help a person starting out or even an experienced breeder trying to get some different information. Every now and then I will try to add new information here as it comes up. If I get asked how to do something a few times I will also post it here to help others that might have the same question.

What is a good book on breeding canaries? 

You should buy Linda Hogan's book "The Complete Canary Handbook: A Collection of Canary Tales". You can buy it from her blog Her blog is a great resource of information also. This book has tons of great information. She is a well known judge and breeder. 

You can also buy Brian Keenan's book "Keeping Canaries". Brian Keenan is a champion breeder and exhibitor who has been breeding canaries for more than 50 years, is in demand as a popular judge at exhibitions throughout the world, and has a regular column in Cage & Aviary Birds magazine.

I have heard good things about these two books by Robirda McDonald. She has written "Canary Crazy: How To Keep, Breed, & Care For Canaries" and "Brats in Feathers, Keeping Canaries: A Guide For The Pet Canary Owner". Robirda brings a lifetime of experience working with canaries and other birds and animals to her books. Her clear, easy-to-follow explanations and charming insights have educated thousands of bird owners over the years, and warmed many hearts along the way. 

How do I contact you for more information?

 Just Click on the (Contact Us) tab. Enter all your information. I will contact you as soon as I can. You can also call me directly at 561-432-2277. If I don't pick up please leave a message. Thanks.




What are some good sites for canary supplies? 

What is a good light schedule to go by for breeding? 

(Courtesy of 3ncanary)

Canaries are sensitive to light. Their breeding cycle is regulated by the amount of light and duration of light received. The lights should be gradually changed over the course of the year. Mid September you should have the least (9 hours) and mid March you should have the most light (15 hours). Change your light 1/2 hour twice a month (one hour per month) to condition your birds for breeding in January or February. The following schedule will work well:

Jan 1 - 12.5 hours of light
Jan 15 - 13 hours of light
Feb 1 - 13.5 hours of light
Feb 15 - 14 hours of light
March 1 - 14.5 hours of light
March 15 - 15.0 hours of light (Maxiumum Exposure)
April 1 - 14.5 hours of light
April 15 - 14 hours of light
May 1 - 13.5 hours of light
May 15 - 13.0 hours of light
June 1 - 12.5 hours of light
June 15 - 12.0 hours of light
July 1 - 11.5 hours of light
July 15 - 11.0 hours of light
August 1 - 10.5 hours of light
August 15 - 10.0 hours of light
Sept 1 - 9.5 hours of light
Sept 15 - 9.0 hours of light (Minimum Exposure)
Oct 1 - 9.5 hours of light
Oct 15 - 10.0 hours of light
Nov 1 - 10.5 hours of light
Nov 15 - 11.0 hours of light
Dec 1 - 11.5 hours of light
Dec 15 - 12.0 hours of light

(Courtesy of 3ncanary) 


Another light schedule below courtesy of (

Canary Breeding Light Schedule

Date    Hours       Time

December 7 11½ 7:00 - 6:30

December 14 12 7:00 - 7:00

January 5 13 (pair birds) 7:00 - 8:00

January 17 13½ 7:00 - 8:30

February 5 14 7:00 - 9:00

February 17 14½ 7:00 - 9:30

March 5 15 6:30 - 9:30

March 17 15½ 6:00 - 9:30

April 5 15.5 6:00 - 9:30

April 17 15 ¼ 6:00 - 9:15

May 6 15 6:00 - 9:00

May 17 14 6:00 - 8:00

June 5 13 ½ 6:00 - 7:30

June 17 13 6:00 - 7:00

July 5 12 ½ 6:00 - 6:30

July 17 12 6:00 - 6:00

August 5 11 ½ 6:30 - 6:00

August 17 11 7:00 - 6:00

September 5 10 ½ 7:00 - 5:30

September 17 10 7:00 - 5:00

October 5 9 ½ 7:00 - 4:30

October 17 9 7:00 - 4:00

November 5 10 ¼ 7:00 - 5:15

November 17 10 ½ 7:00 - 5:30

Courtesy of (


Another lighting schedule below courtesy of (


Date      Length

October 1            9 hours

October 15          10 hours

November 1       10 hours

November 15    11 hours

December 1       11 hours

December 15     12 hours

January 1             12 hours

January 15           13 hours

February 1          13 hours

February 15        14 hours

March 1                14 hours

March 15             15 hours

April 1                 14 hours

April 15               14 hours

May 1                  13 hours

May 15               13 hours

June 1                12 hours

June 15              12 hours

July 1                 11 hours

July 15                11 hours

August 1              10 hours

August 15            10 hours

September 1      9 hours

September 15   9 hours

Courtesy of (

Basic tips on Canary Keeping (Courtesy of

(Courtesy of 

Three Types of Canaries:

When you decide to purchase a canary, you may choose from among three basic categories: Song, Colorbred and Type Canaries.

Song Canaries include - American Singers, German Rollers, Spanish Timbrados or Waterslagers. These song canaries are judged in competition on how well they sing.

Colorbreds come in 35-45 different color variations. Many feel the Red lipochrome canary is the most popular. However, there are so many different colors; it is hard to say which ones are the most popular. Everybody seems to like more than one, like potato chips! Colorbreds are judged in competition based upon how well they conform to the standards for size and color.

There are also Type Canaries and those are the birds whose body shape looks different. These include Border, Fife, Gloster, Yorkshire, Stafford, Parisian Frills, Lizards and Northern Dutch Frills to name a few. Type canaries are also judged according to how well they fit the conformation standards.

While all of the male canaries in each category will sing well, one favorite of the Song birds is the Spanish Timbrado, as it has a beautiful metallic tone, good volume and sings all the notes. The German Roller is still one of the most popular song bird in Europe, as it has a soft, muted song; it sings with a closed beak and is not a loud singer but sings several notes. For more than 60 years, the German Roller was also the most popular bird in the U.S. For a while, the only one available for sale and now days, the Roller is not all that easy to find.

No matter which bird you choose, when you first bring him home, you must offer him a clean and safe, stress free environment. In addition, you must quarantine all new birds from other birds in the home for a minimum of three weeks. Inquire what hours of daylight he is accustomed to and match those. If you decrease his normal hours of daylight, you will throw him into a molt. Never keep your canary in a room warmer than 85-88 degrees.


You should choose a rectangular shaped cage large enough to allow your Canary proper exercise space, as a physically fit male sings more. The general rule is “the bigger the better” when it comes to cage size. The cage with feed dishes that can be filled from the outside are best. My favorite cage design for breeding birds is the ‘double breeder.’ Double Breeders can be divided down the middle and make two separate units as the need arises. I do not put my birds in a round cage as birds need to be able to go to a corner in a cage when they need comfort or to find solace. Definitely, you should not house a canary for very long in a cage smaller than 18″ square.

All male canaries expected to sing for their room and board should be housed alone. In the wild, male Canaries are solitary birds and need to feel that they have established their own territorial space in order to properly develop their song and their libido. If you get more birds, male or female, each male should occupy his own cage. You can house several females together but males require a lot of space. If you house several together, you will need a much larger cage and an aviary is even better.

Double Breeding Cage:

I use a double breeding cage that is divided in the middle. The cage size is 24 inches long, 16 inches high and 16 inches wide. These cages are inexpensive now that they are manufactured in China. They come with four wooden perches, four feed cups and the wire divider. I have these available from time to time in a case of six.

If you are breeding your birds, the double breeder allows you to put the male on one side and the hen on the other. The double breeder cage also is great for separating the young babies on one side just as the mother starts to build her second nest. She can then feed through the wire or be fed by the father.

Placement of the Cage:

Since male singers respond best to a well-lit location, find a place in your home in which you spend most of your day. Most people seem to choose their kitchen or breakfast area. In any case, the room chosen must have a window that allows the bird to see the passage of the day. If the window gets too much sunshine, place the cage about halfway in so the canary can go the shaded side of his cage whenever he chooses. Make sure you place your bird away from the draft of a door or air vent.

I like to place the cage at eye level as I feel the bird feels a little safer higher up. If you are breeding the birds, the location should provide plenty of privacy. Some hens are afraid to get off the chicks to feed them if there is too much commotion going on. You should also observe the male at this time. Sometimes the hen is afraid the male may hurt the chicks. In this case, she remains on the nest. Quite often though, you do see the male feeding the hen and she then feeds the chicks. Do not be surprised to see the male at times sitting on the nest while the hen is away. Those are the little fathers that just make this hobby so much fun!

Don’t try to breed birds in a busy location as they need to feel secure and have a sense of calm and privacy. You can put a tea towel over the part of the cage where the nest is located to offer her more privacy. Make sure the birds are not in the direct line of an air conditioning vent. Canaries can adjust to cold temperatures but not a cold draft. The perfect temperature is 74 degrees. Sudden spikes in temperature are not good for birds. Make sure you protect them from extreme cold and heat. Certainly, do not place birds where the door opens all the time and allows a cold draft. You must also not put your birds outside where mosquitoes will bite them.

Cover the Cage at Night:

It is best to cover his cage at night to keep the night wind off of him and especially if there will be light in the room after dark. If your bird is in a room where no one will be at dusk or for the rest of the night, you would not have to cover him but if you only have a single cage or two, it would be best to cover them. It is thought that your bird will sing more if you cover him at night. If you are up late or have to return to a room, covering them would prevent you from startling him with turning on the light. It is also suggested that canary’s see into the pixels on television. Be sure to place your canary facing away from the TV. The ordinary noise in the room will be fine, just the light keeps them awake.

If you try to keep your Canary on your screened porch, be very cautious. Canaries suffer dehydration from the heat and also suffer stress during thunder storms and are at risk from vermin. I do not recommend you ever try to keep your birds outside, except for a brief time while you are with them. Mosquitoes, snakes and hawks are attracted to the birds. Keeping them outside exposes them to the elements of wind, rain, heat and cold, not to mention the neighborhood cat or dog.

 Canaries take time to get comfortable in their new home. Avoid moving the cage once the Canary has started singing. In many cases, it could take two weeks before he gets adjusted and every time you move him, he must get acclimated to feel comfortable enough to sing. By all means, protect them from other pets in the home that will be very curious, if not harmful to your new feathered friend. If your singer has not sung within two weeks and you have provided him his own cage – not one shared with another bird and he is in a safe, well lighted area with no loud commotion–you may not have a male singer. But some little stubborn males have been known to hold out for a very long time before they sing.

Bath Time:

Canaries love a bath. They would take a bath every day if you provided one. Do try to provide bath water at least once a week, preferably in the morning. Birds prefer the morning bath time because they then have lots of time to dry off before they go to roost at night time.

A small dish around two inches deep will suffice for a bathing vessel. Use cold tap water, as they prefer cooler water – not warm water. You could also put a few drops of Listerine in their water; it is good for their feathers and will kill any feather lice. Frequent baths will also cut down on the dander in the room. In hot and damp weather, you must be on the lookout for mites. It is not a bad idea to use Sevin dust or diatomaceous earth (organic kind) around the cage, especially under the cage paper.

Air Quality Concerns:

The bird should always be removed prior to cleaning the oven. I have permanently removed Teflon pans, candles, and room and carpet deodorizers. Also, birds must be kept inside protected from the heat and mosquitoes, especially Canaries. Of course, they would enjoy fresh air on the patio while enjoying the day with its owner to watch over him a screened porch would be ideal.

If you keep your Canary in the kitchen, make sure you do not expose the bird to any Teflon pans (Teflon is odorless but can kill) or strong cleaning agents, like oven cleaners or Clorox, ammonia, cigarette smoke, etc. These have proven deadly. Do not use your self-cleaning oven with birds around! A canary friend told me how he lost 121 Gloster canaries to Teflon fumes. He was boiling water in a Teflon pan and forgot to turn it off. When the Teflon overheated, his birds died very quickly. In the old days, coal miners would bring a canary into the mine shaft as a way to check air quality. If the bird suddenly died, the miners left the area as it was too toxic to remain down there. Canaries need clean, fresh air to survive- no scented candles, no cigarette smoke. I cannot emphasize quality air enough.

The more birds you keep, the more dander will build in the room. Dander is the white powder that helps them ward off parasites. Too much dander causes respiratory problems for you and the bird and should be removed each day. You can purchase an expensive air cleaner or make an inexpensive one from a box fan and air filter. I use a $19 box fan in the room with a standard air filter attached to the back. You will need to change the filter or vacuum the filter often. You will be amazed how much dander and other material this inexpensive air filter traps each day. Use more fans if necessary. There are also whole house air filters available to clean the air and also trap dander.


Canaries are seed eaters. Use a good brand of canary seed mix and feed it daily. Most any commercial brand will work fine. Some canary seed mixes are vitamin coated; actually, generally only the oat seed is treated. The other seed shells are too slick for the vitamin solution to be absorbed. Some breeders are now using Canary pellet food rather than seeds. If you decide to switch over to pellets, make sure it is gradual and that your bird is seen eating the pellets before removing the seeds. I will say that a canary on a pellet diet and no seed, do tend to lack that nice sheen that canaries on a seed diet get; however the pellet diet is deemed to be superior than seed.

The Importance of Green Food:

Offer something green about three times a week. The very best type of greens is sprouted seeds. Birds that eat sprouted seeds are usually in top condition. But you can use green peas, romaine lettuce, spinach, broccoli or cucumber. Don’t use iceberg lettuce as it is too watery and offers no nutrition whatsoever. Be careful to wash any fresh foods even if the package says it is prewashed. Never feed anything fresh if you do not know where it came from as pesticides would be harmful for the birds.

About once or twice a week, offer a small piece of orange or apple. Each bird should not receive a piece of fruit larger than a 25 cent piece. Almost any fruit except avocado is enjoyed. Avocado is to be avoided by any bird. Bee pollen is also an excellent source of vitamins and minerals as is the green algae product called Spirulina. You do need to be careful that fruit left in the cages does not attract ants, if they are around, they will be in your cages.

Do not over feed your bird as Canaries will get fat and lazy. They become fat when they eat too many carbs and get too little exercise. Avoid too many carbs from bread products. They do enjoy corn, sweet potatoes, brown rice, and all the good veggies but feed in small amounts as a treat. Feed no sugar, caffeine, avocados or too much sodium. No canned veggies, use fresh or frozen.

Egg Food Recipe:

If you decide to breed your canaries, you will need to purchase ready-made egg food or make it yourself. I bake corn bread, grind it up and then add green peas, grated carrots, hard boiled eggs, dry vitamins and spirulina. You can use your favorite recipe of cornbread by using plain yellow cornmeal, substituting water for milk, canola oil for shortening, omit the sugar and add an extra egg or two to the recipe. Grind up the carrots very fine, they will not eat chunks of carrots.

When you have colorbreds, you can use the basic cornbread mixture but you will need to add the color food. After cooking the cornbread, I add Canthaxanthin color powder to this mix and work it in well. If you add to hot cooked cornbread, the entire product will turn beet red from the canthaxanthin. I serve this egg food early in the morning and refill as necessary. Don’t let the egg spoil by leaving it in the cage overnight or in a hot room for very long. If you do not add the canthaxanthin at this time (while the cornbread is hot) but add to cool cornbread or veggies later, you will need to heat a small amount of water to dissolve the canthaxanthin so it will turn the food red.

Cuttle Fish Bone:

Cuttle bone should be kept in the cage. It helps keep the beak trimmed, as well as, adds needed calcium and other minerals. Iodine blocks are also available at most pet outlets. Iodine blocks are inexpensive and provide additional minerals. Sometimes, the lack of iodine causes feather loss around the neck and head area.


I prefer to use plastic perches in the cage. The best one has a variable diameter from narrow to semi-wide and its top is flat. Wood perches can house leg mites and plastic perches are less likely. Do not use a sand paper type perch. These cut the birds feet and do little to keep nails trimmed. If you buy a concrete perch make sure the top is flat and smooth with the back and front rough. Birds cannot stand on rough, cobbled cement as it will give them a sore foot. Can you stand on cobbled cement with your bare feet for very long? It is also best to put perches on different levels to encourage more exercise. Some pet stores are still selling sand paper bottoms for cages, do not use these.

Water Drinkers:

I prefer bottle type drinkers; they stay more sanitary and just last longer. Be very careful not to change the bird to a water bottle without ensuring he knows how to drink from it. You will lose birds who do not know how to drink from the bottle. Also, bottle drinkers (like Lixit) sometimes stick and do not release water, so keep check on it. Until you are sure he is drinking from the Lixit bottle, continue with the traditional water drinker. You also can mark the lixit bottle with a marker to see if he is indeed drinking from it. The lixit bottles should not be filled to the top, as no water will flow. Also, make sure it is hung at the proper angle to allow water flow and that water is actually flowing. Always make sure the bird knows how to drink from this type before leaving as the sole water source, there are actually some birds that do not try it. To entice them, I fill with ice cold water and tap it a few times, most often a thirsty bird will try it.

It is not necessary to use bottled water. You can use tap water from the sink. As long as humans can drink it, birds can too. Spring water is thought to be better than distilled water because the minerals are still in spring water. Whatever water vessel you use, please use one that attaches to the cage side not an open vessel, it just becomes pea soup as they will bathe in it. Keep the water bottle clean and potable.

Toys or No Toys:

The only play thing suitable or desired by a Canary is a swing. They do not really play with toys nor enjoy a mirror like parakeets do. If you hear of a toy that your canary likes, please let me know. I have a dear friend in Houston who says her canaries will play with a single strand beaded toy. Often a mirror will intimidate the male canary and he will not sing as he sees another canary. Actually, anything near or in the cage that makes a noise can startle a little bird and also cause males not to sing. There are some safe fiber toys that I have seen and it gives a cage of birds something to pick at rather than their nest mates feathers!


Most American Canary breeders do not use bird grit as an aid to the bird’s digestion. If you feel you must have grit, I recommend ‘Miner-grit’ that dissolves in the crop. Min-er-grit contains many minerals and trace elements and can be purchased from various suppliers. Please make sure you only use the miner grit, any other could bind in their stomach or make them feel so full that they do not eat. Also, keep cuttlebone in their cages. I do keep some of the miner-grit on hand if I have a little bird that seems to have some indigestion and feel it may help in that regard.


If you are feeding a balanced diet that includes bee pollen, greens, some fruit, a good seed mix, you will be supplementing some vitamins already. If you use vitamins, I recommend that you put in their soft food. If you decide to feed in their water make sure you change it out and wash the drinker at the end of the day. Vitamins will cause a bacterial growth inside the drinker. Feeding once a week for vitamins is plenty. I have also heard it mentioned recently that you could use Childs Poly Visol with Iron. Quite often we have these things available so we do not have to wait to order on line. Human grade

Color Feeding:

If you have purchased a Red ground canary and want to maintain its red color, you will need to feed food that contains beta carotene. Many foods contain carotene, but I like to use a concentrated form of carotene called Canthaxanthin and Bogena. It will bring out the best color. We sell the Bogena and Canthaxanthin by the ounce. A little lasts a long time, of course depending on how many birds you have to color feed.

The best time to use a color enhancement agent is during the molting time and several times a week throughout the year. When babies are being fed and as new feathers come in, they have a blood supply to them and therefore the color can be changed. Once the feather hardens off, you won’t be enhancing the color. If you are raising babies, start feeding the Canthaxanthin from day one until they finish their baby molt and the feathers harden off (no longer have blood supply to them. Feed each day.

The best way to feed them the color food is in their soft food. Take a small amount of powder and dissolve it in a small amount of hot water. Pour a few drops of the red liquid over a small square of bread. Store the remainder in the fridge. Major pet stores and online stores do sell a commercial nestling food for both the yellow birds and ones for the color birds as well.

My Canary Won’t Sing!

A Canary male sings to attract a mate so he broadcasts his song. Some have more volume than others do. Some canaries are great singers and some less so. I find the use of a canary training recording to be very helpful. Sometimes your bird needs a little encouragement. If your bird has quit singing for some time, he might restart while listening to the CD. Many of our customers report their bird likes classical or country music! There are many pet owners who are musicians and they play their piano, organ or musical instrument and the little canary is very interested and tries to sing along!

When you first bring him home, be patient; give your new Canary at least two weeks to adjust to his new environment and to begin singing for you. Make sure you do not put your new male in with other males as the alpha male will dominate and prevent the other from singing, eating or will even fight. Also, do not put the bird in with its intended female mate. Give them time to adjust to each other. She may not appreciate a new bird in her space. She wants to also hear his song first. Avoid placing your canary near loud larger birds that may frighten or stress him. Other animals in the home may also intimidate the little singer. Once he becomes more accustomed to his new surroundings, he will begin practicing his song. Male Canaries do not sing all day long, year round. While they are exchanging feathers once a year during their molt, they will stop singing all together. The molt usually starts in early summer and may last 12 weeks. During the molt offer more protein and avoid unnecessary stress. The molt is hard on their system as they will begin to replace some 1,000 feathers!

Another reason your Canary may stop singing is his declining health. If you keep the cage clean, keep his air quality good and offer clean water and good food, he should stay healthy and sing a lot. Single males generally live around 7-12 years. Any noticeable change should be evaluated. Make sure he does not have a pasted vent, see if he feels thin (thin keel bone). I like to offer a bath and most birds that are accustomed to bathing will welcome a bath unless he does not feel well.

My Bird is Sick:

If your bird becomes listless and tired acting or sits fluffed up on the perch, the bird may be ill. It could be a passing bout of indigestion, taking a nap, or just a downer day. However, if the bird doesn’t go back to normal in a day, he may be coming down with something more serious. My best advice is to remove to his own stress-free environment and give him extra warmth from a heat lamp. Often if he does not look and act right, he’s not and you need to take immediate action, do not delay; they can go down very quickly.

Some possible causes of illness are mites, bacterial or viral infections or poor environmental conditions, like bad air quality. Give him an immune booster such as 2 drops of cod liver oil in the beak or on some food he is eating. If he is really listless, avoid stressing him. If no improvement, begin offering a broad spectrum antibiotic medicine right away. You can get this antibiotic sold at every pet store. It is a good idea to keep medicine on hand for emergencies as they always seem to happen at night or on weekends when help is not readily available.

Double the dosage of vitamins. Leave a small amount of apple and a slice of orange along with his seeds. Remember to change the water vessel often with the use of vitamins. This is the only time I recommend putting vitamins in the water. Pediatric electrolyte will ensure your birds stay hydrated. Alternate the vitamin drinker with the electrolyte during the day. I use one third electrolyte to two thirds water. If you travel the bird always use electrolyte in his water during the trip and for a day or two before and after the trip. Also, leave an orange in the cage for moisture and energy. If you think your bird got overheated definitely use it.

What is causing the Illness?

Check around the cage to see if you have somehow made him sick. Is the air quality good? Poor air quality is a key factor in causing illness. Is he in a cold draft situation? Did he get bad food, like spoiled egg food? Spoiled egg food will kill your bird, so always remove it within two hours; remove even sooner if the room is very warm. Is his food fresh and clean? Is his cage and perch clean? Have you just added another bird that was not quarantined properly? Has he been able to drink his water normally? Is the bottle drinker stopped up? Check it daily. Is he in a new drafty location? Is he being stressed out? Stress is a major killer of canaries. Make sure any other animals in your home are not stressing your little canary.

Mites/Parasite Infection:

Canaries can get mites or lice on them and in them. Leg mites are common and cause leg scaling. The product “Scalex” is used for this problem. Rubbing Vaseline on the scaly legs will also smother mites. Air sac mites are common Canary pests in Texas. The bird seems to have labored breathing. If you place the bird close to your ear you can hear a clicking noise. You will need to use a product called “Scatt” or Ivermectin to relieve breathing difficulty in birds.

Scatt is applied one drop to the skin on the back of the neck. Ivermectin is given one time in the water. I dissolve 7 ccs of Ivermectin to a gallon of water and offer as their sole water source. Repeat this step again in 10 days. You can use either Scatt or Ivermectinone depending on the number you are treating, do not use both at the same time. Using Ivermectin is like mixing oil with water – they do not stay mixed, you must keep mixing. (There are other products similar to this that I understand does not have this mixing problem).

Frequent bathing opportunities are encouraged. Canaries love to bath in cold water, preferably in the morning hours. Bathing helps the feet and legs deal with any parasites; it also keeps the feathers in top condition and improves insulation with their feathers.


By keeping the cage and perches clean, you will eliminate most causes of infection. You should rinse the water drinker daily to prevent a slime build up inside the tube. Washing your drinkers about once every 5 days is preferred. Always wash your hands before you handle the bird or touch its food. Do not bring in branches from outside unless you know it is a safe wood to use AND unless you have washed and baked in the oven to kill any critters living on the tree branches.


In a book written by the avian biologist, Bernard Poe entitled “The Cage Bird Handbook,” (Bailey Bros & Swiften, London, 1950), his chapter on ‘The Circulatory System” provides a big clue on why Canaries under stress will often die from heart related problems, including outright heart failure.

“The human heartbeat is a standard 72 bpm, a chicken’s is about 145 bpm while canary’s heartbeats have been measured at rates from 300 to 1000 bpm.”

If you have ever handled your bird you can almost think he is purring like a cat! That is his heart in overdrive. Constant stress will eventually kill the bird as it cannot relax and be calm.

Poe continues that the Canary has the highest hear rate in the bird world and with one exception, has the highest body temperature at 110 degrees.

During incubation, the canary hen’s temperature can reach 116 degrees!

That is another reason not to breed canaries outdoors in the heat.

My Canary is Molting:

Once a year, usually in the hot summer, all canaries will begin to lose their feathers. Since feathers are made of protein, you will need to feed more protein rich foods for the 12 weeks or so it takes him to lose and replace all his feathers. Anytime your bird goes from one environment to another, he may suffer a “soft” molt as it is not possible to exactly duplicate his former environment.

Not only will he not feel up to singing, but he will act sleepy and tired during this very taxing process. Many canaries die during this time as they have lower resistance to disease. Avoid any stress on the bird at this time.

Hard-boiled egg pushed thru a sieve or ground up in the food processor, shell and all, is an excellent source of easily digested protein. Be careful not to leave spoiled egg in his cage as he may eat it anyway and then become sick.

Remove the remaining egg after about one hour. That is the time it takes to spoil in a warm room. About a half teaspoon per day of egg is sufficient.

The Soft Molt:

The soft molt can occur any time during the year. The bird will shed body feathers, not wing or tail feathers. Hot temperatures or stress will cause them to drop some extra insulation as will a change in lighting conditions. Soft molts are generally nothing to worry about.

Breeding Your Canaries, Step by Step:

For more than 500 years, most Canaries have been bred in people’s homes. Therefore, I strongly recommend Canaries be bred indoors as they have become very domesticated and are not as strong as wild birds. Canaries do not do well outside in all types of weather, especially the Texas heat. Thunder and lightning storms will scare the birds so much they will abandon their nests or die of fright.

Best Temperature to Keep Canaries:

Canaries do best at 64F to 74F degrees year round. If the temperature goes over 90F the birds will not do well. You will notice a soft molt, labored breathing and other signs of stress. If the hen is feeding chicks or is incubating eggs, she will most likely stop, that is why it is best to breed them indoors where you can control the temperature.

Stock Selection:

If you wish to purchase a pair of Canaries for breeding purposes, the most important thing to do is to purchase the best birds you can afford from an experienced Canary breeder. Purchase canaries from a person who breeds them and knows how to take care of them.

Do not let price dictate what you purchase. (You get what you pay for). You should make the investment in young, healthy birds in beautiful color and feather. These birds will produce the best quality babies for you. Most breeders I know want you to succeed and are willing to help you with the many questions you will have during breeding season. They will also recommend the right equipment, food and techniques.

Intensive versus Non Intensive Feathered Birds:

Colorbred canaries come in two different feather types, Intensive and Non Intensive. You must always breed an Intensive bird to a non-Intensive bird for best results. The Intensive bird has a narrow feather that is colored all the way down to the tip and therefore appears to have deeper color than the non-Intensive.

The Non Intensive feather is wider and is not colored all the way down to the end. The color goes around three quarters of the way down with the end appearing white or uncolored. All the white tips layered on top of each other give the bird a ‘frosted’ or veiled appearance.

You want to mate a narrow feather to a wide feather so that the babies will average the right feather width. Half your babies will be intensive and half will be non-Intensive on average which is what you want.

If you breed wide to wide, the bird will get too big looking and may develop feather lumps. If you breed narrow feather to narrow feather, the bird will get too thin looking. Your breeder will get you the right feather combination when you purchase breeding pairs.

Time of Year to Breed:

You have two choices: Use artificial lighting and start in January or wait until spring time when daylight is around 13 hours long. I use an artificial fluorescent (full spectrum) light above my cage because I want my breeding season to be over before the hot weather sets in. I take a 48 inch fluorescent fixture and place two Sunshine stick bulbs in it. Use full spectrum light bulbs only. Make sure the light source is at least 12 inches above the cage.

Starting in January, set the timer on 10 hours a day, say from 6:30 am until 4:30 pm. After that, advance the timer 15 minutes each week until the light is on for 13-14 hours. Birds wait until the photo period is 13-14 hours a day before they will go to nest.

Step by Step Breeding:

Place your male in a cage next to your hen. I use a double breeder for this purpose. If you are a serious breeder, you will need a double breeder to use as it has many good uses.

The male should be in full song if you conditioned him properly. That means for around three months prior, he is kept by himself in a single cage under a fluorescent light that has gradually increased to 13.5 hours per day. Use a timer so there is consistency in the on and off time. Start the light at 10 hours three months before breeding time and gradually move it up until you come to 13.5 hours daily.

Provide the hen with a cage and material with which to build the nest. I like to place the nest in the back or back corner of the cage. When you see the hen take food from the male, allow them together. The hen will build a nest in about a week. Continue to supply burlap until she is finished as she will waste a lot during the process. You must also prevent mites in the nest. You can use an avian safe spray sold at different websites or 5% seven dust placed under the nest pad. You will need to check periodically and reapply the insecticide.

You may or not see the male mount the hen, but in about a week or so, she will begin to lay one egg each morning until she lays the final egg which will be blue. After the third egg is laid, she will reach her incubating temperature. During the 14 days she sits on her eggs, only feed seed and water, no rich foods. You may have chicks on the 13th day, it just depends on how soon she begins sitting and how tight she sits.

If the male doesn’t bother her, he can stay in the same cage and he will most likely feed her while she sits. If he bothers her, remove him to the other side of the cage until the chicks start hatching and then let him back in with her as he will assist feeding the babies.

From the first day on, feed the egg food you purchased or made. Add color agent from the first day so the chicks get red right away. Keep feeding the red egg food for about three months. Feed longer if you plan to show your color birds in competition. Most breeders will feed until they are finished with the show competitions. You will also want to feed a couple or three times a month throughout the rest of the year.

Breeding Behavior:

If you place the male in the same cage as the hen, he will not sing as much except when he wants to mate with her. When he wants to mate, he will sing lustfully rocking back and forth on the perch, moving ever closer to her.

When the hen is receptive, she will squat low on the perch and lift her tail while fluttering her wings in anticipation. If the hen fights with the male, remove him. Removing the male is very easy if you have a double breeder where you can place a wire divider between them.

At the same time, you need her or the father to continue feeding the chicks until they start cracking seeds. If you place the chicks on the other side of the wire divider, the father will feed them through the bars and she can go ahead and finish getting ready for the next round. Supply her with plenty of burlap or nesting material and a clean nest to use. He stays with her all this time as long as he is helpful and not harassing the female. There are some males that do not get involved in chick rearing or may harass the female, however, they generally are very good fathers and make excellent feeders.

Once you observe the chicks cracking seeds, they will be OK. I sometimes place apple, orange or millet in their space (on the cage floor) to entice them to eat the food. Once they realize they can feed themselves, all is well. They learn fast. But be careful and make sure they are all eating on their own, if one begs, make sure he is getting fed by a parent.


I use a 4 or 5 inch diameter plastic canary nest and a felt liner. I like the larger nests for the bigger birds and for hens that have larger nests of chicks. The felt liner will keep the eggs warm while she is off to eat. I also buy burlap wash it once then cut it into 3 inch squares. I pull the burlap apart and leave the strings in the cage for her to use to spin the nest. Burlap has been used by Canary breeders for a few hundred years. Do not use cotton string as it will wind around the birds leg and cause great damage. The birds love the burlap.

We use the felt liners but they must be secured into the nest as the females can easily pull them out. You can sew or super glue them in

Nesting Material – Burlap:

While many materials have been used by breeders over the years, for example goat hair, by far the most popular material used for nest building has been washed and cut burlap. You can get Burlap at any fabric store. Cut it into 2-3 inch squares, wash it in your washing machine and then put it all in the dryer. The burlap will look like cotton candy. Pull it apart and give to the hen.

Banding Your New Chicks:

Unless you know the breeder you are purchasing birds from, choose close banded birds. The close band has the year of birth printed on it and can only be put on the leg when the chick is around 6-7 days old. The day varies depending on how well the parent(s) have fed. By contrast, open bands or split bands can be put on the leg at any time. The closed band guarantees the age of the bird.

I must admit that some of my birds are not banded due to my fault. I simply missed the opportunity to get the band on before the leg was too big for the band to go on. If you try to force the band over the foot, the most likely result is a broken toe- simply not worth the risk.

Some birds will not tolerate any bands on their legs. I have had to cut the band off on some birds because they became obsessed with it. They keep picking at it all day long trying to get it off. A few mother birds may throw the chick out of the nest because it has a band on the leg. This happens very infrequently and it is thought best to band the babies just before bedtime. Also, some breeders will put colored string in the nest the same color as the bands. Such as 2008, the color is green and some will put some green string in the nest so the hen is not distracted by the colored band.

Open/Split bird bands also come in different colors which can be used to color code your birds. You can use one color to identify a certain family of birds or use blue for male birds and pink for hens, etc.

How Long Do Canaries Live?

Generally speaking, Canaries live 7 to 12 years. Much depends on their environment. Single birds tend to live longer because they are not exposed to disease from another bird and the overall stress that comes with breeding and caring for chicks. Breeding females generally last 3-4 seasons due to the extra burden of raising the chicks. Males have been known to be fertile at 7 years, of course all is relative.

(Courtesy of


How do I start showing canaries at shows? Why?

I suggest that you join a local club and speak to a breeder regarding showing birds. It is very fun once you start and know what you are doing. Below are some good tips from Vonda of Even though the tips are regarding finches you will still understand what is needed for canaries. 

(Courtesy Vonda of

Why Show Birds?

When I decided that I would like to breed birds, I needed to know what to look for in a breeder bird. I could recognize a healthy bird without obvious defects, but could I select a bird with good conformation, proper color markings, proper size, and proper proportions? I learned that I could not. The NFSS standards are helpful for some species, but even better is the opportunity to compare like birds side by side while an avian expert comments on their differences, strengths, and weaknesses.

A bird show is an excellent tool for breeders, providing the opportunity to have your birds judged against each other and against other birds. Those that do well consistently under different judges will be the birds to breed in the upcoming breeding season. Does this exclude those of us with just a handful of pet birds from participating in shows? Absolutely Not!

Anyone can enter finches and softbills in a show, even if the bird was not bred by the exhibitor. The NFSS does not even require that your birds be banded. Why would anyone want to enter a bird they did not breed? A bird needs more than good genes to win a bird show. Part of the judging is based on condition, an aspect totally in the keeper's control. Proper training can influence behavior in the show cage. The experience you get will prepare you for the time when you can show your own bred-and-banded birds. You will also meet others with similar interests. The expert judges are extremely approachable and will discuss the birds and share information garnered from their vast experience. Entering your birds in shows also helps keep the shows alive. Most importantly, however, it is a whole lot of fun!

How to Show Birds

I was very fortunate to have met Darla Dandre at my local bird club. Darla achieved NFSS Exhibitor of Excellence (a lifetime award) from the NFSS in 2000, and has been an NFSS Champion Exhibitor (a yearly award) several times over. Despite having many things going on in her life, she offered to make time to teach me how to show my birds. I want to share that information with others. Note that while I credit Darla as the source of most of the information herein, any errors introduced are mine alone.

How to Find a Show

Local bird clubs sometimes host an annual show, possibly two, and they frequently distribute information about shows in the surrounding states. The NFSS keeps a list of some NFSS-sponsored shows on theirwebsite. Darla runs a Yahoo! Group called BirdShowClub with a calendar of upcoming shows throughout the country. There are also two national shows that are held in different parts of the country each year: The Great American Bird Show (GABS) and The National Cage Bird Show (NCBS).

Cage Preparation

Finches are commonly shown in Type I or Type II standard show cages. Plans for these show cages are available from the NFSS Finch Shop. However, you can use any small cage that you own. Better to enter your bird in a regular cage than not to enter at all. As a general rule, a better bird should not be penalized because of lack of a show cage. However, a show cage offers better visibility and the bird is likely to stay in better feather in a show cage.

The exterior of most standard show cages is painted black with glossy black paint. The interior is usually painted white or eggshell blue. It is best not to show an all white bird in a cage with a white interior. However, some exhibitors have expressed a preference for a white interior for other colored birds.

For most finches, two perches should be provided, running from the back of the cage to the front, placed a few inches apart. The width of the perch should be appropriate to the species. If the perch is too wide, the bird will have difficulty staying on the perch, and this will affect its score. When seated on a perch, the bird's tail should not reach the sides of the cage.

The cage should be cleaned thoroughly before the show. Do not submerge a standard show cage in water or the wood may rot and mold may develop. A black Sharpie marker can touch up nicks and scratches on a standard black show cage and can hide the places where the powder coating has worn off the cage bars.

A source of food and water must be provided or your bird will be disqualified. Seed is usually used to line the bottom of the cage, eliminating the need for a seed cup. Use only as much seed as is needed to cover the bottom. Placing a folded piece of paper towel or a cut piece of wax paper on the bottom of the show cage before adding the seed will make cleanup easier after the show. If seed is not used to line the bottom of the cage, corncob bedding should be used instead and seed must be offered elsewhere. Never use artificially dyed seed mixes. Seed dye can bleed onto the bird's feathers and can stain the interior of the show cage, hurting the bird's score.

Water is usually offered with a small L-shaped tube-style drinker, placed as low and off to the side as possible, so as not to obscure the judge's view of the bird. I was concerned at first that with no nearby perch, the birds may not reach the drinker. Darla assured me they would be fine, and she was right. They learned quickly where to find the water and how to reach it.

No toys or identifying marks should be in or on the cage. Nothing indicating who the bird owner is should appear on the cage. No advertising on the cage is allowed.

If using a standard show cage, after placing the bird inside, tape the door shut with black electrical tape or black masking tape to prevent the door from swinging open accidentally during handling at the show.

Bird Preparation

Make sure your birds bathe regularly every day for a few weeks before the show to ensure good feather condition. If your birds do not bathe, mist them daily with water in a spray bottle.

Cage training is often helpful in making the bird feel calm and comfortable in the show cage. This involves putting the bird in the show cage for periods of time in the days before a show. Picking up and moving the cage suddenly from behind will help prepare them for the unexpected cage movement that occurs at a show. You may also want to keep the bird in the show cage for couple days before the show so they are comfortable come show day.

If your bird will not stay on the perch (a common problem), cage training will help. Try covering the bottom half of the cage front with cardboard until the bird becomes accustomed to the perches. If the bird cannot see out, it will eventually take to the perch. Alternatively, you can fill the cage with as much seed as it will hold. When the bird sinks into the seed, it learns to prefer the perch. Do not try this on show day, however.

The day before the show, any broken feathers should be pulled. If a few pin feathers are present, a toothbrush or the stiff side of a piece of Velcro can be used to scratch off the sheath, freeing the new feather. Long nails should be trimmed, and many exhibitors do so a few weeks early for a more rounded appearance come show day. An overgrown beak will count against the bird, so it is best to trim or file it down to its natural size, being careful not to trim too much.

The bird should be placed in the show cage the day before the show (if not earlier), so that it will have time to adjust to the cage. The night before the show, the cages should be covered so that the birds spend their time sleeping and are not overly tired when it is time to enter them in the competition. Only one bird should occupy a cage unless you are showing birds as a pair.

Just before entering the bird in the show, mist it using a spray bottle filled with water. This will get the bird preening itself so that it looks its best when judged. Remove any loose feathers from the bottom of the cage, as the presence of feathers will hurt your bird's score.

Forms, Cage Tags, and the Show Catalog

At the show, you will purchase a cage tag for each cage (they usually cost about a dollar or two). You may be able to purchase these in advance from the sponsoring club. When you purchase your tags, you will also receive an entry form and a show catalog containing the classifications of the birds to be judged. 

Each section is divided into classes. For example, Blue-Capped Waxbill and St Helena's Waxbill are classes under African finches; Normal Gray and Fawn are classes under the Zebra finch section. Each class is split into young (or unflighted) and old (flighted). The unflighted class is only for birds with current-year closed bands. All other birds belong in the old class, regardless of age. If your bird does not fit into any of the classes listed, it may be entered under the AOV (any other variety) class for the appropriate section. Each class is assigned a unique 3-digit number. The first digit is the same as the NFSS section number. If you need help determining how to classify your bird, the division steward will be on hand to assist you. If you misclassify your bird, the judge will correct the classification when he/she does the walk-through.

Usually, birds are exhibited singly. However, you may also exhibit your birds as a pair in the Pairs section. The pair's score will reflect the score of the lesser bird; thus, to do well, both birds must be in excellent condition. Birds exhibited as a pair should be a true pair and should compliment each other. If they are too dissimiliar, they will be marked down for it. This creates an interpretation problem when "true" pairs of sexually dimorphic species are exhibited as a pair - should they be marked down because of their difference? It is logical to say that they should not, but it has been known to happen. Also, birds shown as a pair are not necessarily birds that should be bred as a pair. If you show an albino society in the Pairs section, the other bird must be an albino as well. However, in practice, it is recommended that you not breed one albino society to another.

Cage Tag

The class, section, and division numbers from the catalog must be recorded on the tag. Also record a description of the bird (eg, normal gray zebra cock) and the bird's band number if banded. If the bird has split plastic bands, enter the color of the bands for identification purposes. Write your name and address in the designated location on the cage tag (bring address labels if you are entering many birds). When your bird is turned over to the steward, he or she will fold over your personal information and staple the tag so that the judging is anonymous.

If you are a novice exhibitor (have not placed on the top 10 bench for the Division three times [correction: I formerly reported that the 3 times must be at three different shows with three different judges, but this was incorrect - all three times could be at the same show with the same judge]), write the letter "N" on the top left corner of the tag. If the bird is bred and banded by you with a closed dated traceable band, write "BB" on the top left corner. Affix the tag to the cage with string. String is not always provided, so remember to bring string and a scissors with you. Fasten the tag in the lower left-hand corner of the cage.

Entry Form
NOTE: Your Exhibitor Number will be provided when you purchase your cage tags.

Once the tags are filled out, list all the cage tag numbers on your entry form and duplicate the cage tag information for each entry on the form. Write "NOVICE" on the top of your entry form if you are a novice. Write your NFSS number on the top of the form if you are a member.

If you cannot get tags in advance, it is helpful to record the appropriate tag information on a sheet of paper as you are collecting your birds, or alternatively, mark it on a piece of masking tape on the show cage (which you must remember to remove before entering your birds).

What to Do After the Paperwork

Once your cage tags are filled out and attached, the show steward verifies the tags match the entries on your form, then folds and staples the tag so that your name and address are hidden. He or she will then take your birds from you. You will not have access to your birds again until the judging is over.

After the steward takes your birds, it is a considerate thing to do to ask if you can help. The shows are staffed by volunteers, and while clubs try to have volunteers lined up ahead of time, there are frequently some unfilled positions come show date.

Show Volunteers

Division Secretary

The division secretary is responsible for recording the entries and the results of the judging. As the judging proceeds, the secretary checks the cage numbers being judged against the entries in the book to ensure all birds of the class are present and accounted for. When judging is over, the secretary fills out the show report.


The steward is responsible for accepting the birds entered into the show. The steward will check to make sure the paperwork is filled out correctly and will answer related questions. The steward will then position the entries on the benches according to their Division, Section, and Class numbers. Just before judging, the steward will walk through all the entries with the judge, while the judge takes a cursory look at all the birds so he/she knows what to expect. When it is time for judging, the steward will bring out the birds to be judged and will rearrange them as directed by the judge. The steward then proceeds to move the judged birds off the judging table and bring the next set of birds out, until judging is complete.

Ribbon Tier

Ribbon tier is an ideal volunteer position for novices. The ribbon tier works in close proximity to the judge and gets a close-up view of all the birds. The ribbon tier follows the judge as he/she makes the final place determination for class, section, and division. When the judge writes the place on the cage tag, the ribbon tier attaches the ribbon. The ribbon can be attached by wrapping the string around the cage tag. Rosettes for the top bench can be affixed by attaching the clips to the cage bars. The ribbon tier must also affix ribbons for best novice, best unflighted, and best bred and banded, if available.

How the Show Works

The steward will place all entries on tables behind the judging benches, ordered by class and section. The judging bench is set up in front of the tables, with lights overhead for good viewing. At a 90 degree angle to the judging bench is a table where the secretary sits and records the entries and the results. In front of the judging bench is the gallery - seats where the exhibitors and general public can watch the judging.

Before the judging begins, the judge and steward do a walkthrough of all the entries to become familiar with them and ensure all birds are classified appropriately. The judge may reclassify birds entered in the wrong class at this time. When the judge is satisfied, judging can begin.

For any given section, the birds of each class are judged together first. 1st, 2nd, and 3rd in class are awarded at this time. The judge will write the bird's place on the tag when he/she has made an official decision. The ribbon tier attaches the appropriate ribbons/stickers. Best Novice in Class and Best Unflighted in Class may also be awarded. While judging is in progress, the judge will discuss the merits and flaws of the birds being judged. People in the gallery may ask questions, but one cannot say anything that identifies a specific bird as being his/her own. This would disqualify the bird.

After all birds in the section have been judged against birds in their like class, the top birds are judged against each other for the Best in Section awards. 1st, 2nd, and 3rd in section are awarded at this time, as well as Best Novice in Section and Best Unflighted in Section, if available. It is very possible for a low-placed bird in one class to place higher than a 1st place bird in another class. However, if birds A and B are in the same class, and bird A placed higher than bird B in its class, bird B cannot place higher than bird A when the section is judged. The same holds true when the division is judged. After one section is judged, the classes in the next section are judged.

After all classes and sections have been judged, the top birds in section compete for Best in Division. Once again, a lower placed bird in one section can do better than a higher placed bird in another section.

Awards for the division winners are given to the top ten birds. This is called the Top Bench. Also, a Best Novice in Division, a Best Unflighted in Division, and a Best Bred and Banded in Division may be awarded. The 1st in Division bird is usually referred to as Best In Show. After the awards are distributed, the cage tags are opened and the names of the winners are announced.

Some shows have a Best Overall in Show award. In this case, the Best in Division (Best in Show) birds from all divisions (finches/softbills, hookbills, lovebirds, cockatiels, budgies, canaries, etc) compete against each other for Best Overall in Show. The judges of the different divisions get together and discuss the merits of the birds. They then vote based on a points system to determine a Best Overall in Show.

Many shows have a banquet afterward. Sometimes there is a speaker at the banquet. The banquet costs extra and is optional. Some shows also have a raffle table. Proceeds from the raffle table help pay for the costs of the show.

How the Birds Are Judged

The birds are judged based on conformation, condition, color and markings, and deportment or demeanor. The NFSS standards break down how many points are awarded for each. It also defines how the bird should look for a number of common species. However, judges rarely record a point score for the birds being judged.


Conformation describes the body shape and posture of the bird. Is the bird proportionate? Does its back form a straight line at the proper angle, or is it humped? Is the bird cobby or snaky? Is the head proportionate? Is it rounded or flat? Do the wings stay close to the body or droop down? Is it too small or too large for its species. Conformation is broken down into Head and Body, Wings and Tail, and Legs and Feet. For the most part, conformation is a genetic trait of the bird. Only good breeding can lead to good conformation, although age and injury can be a factor.


Condition, on the other hand, is in the control of the keeper. Are the feathers torn, shredded, damaged, or missing? Is the bird overweight? Is the bird in optimal health (as a result of good diet, proper environment, freedom to exercise)? Are the nails trim and clean?


Color of the bird should be appropriate for the species or mutation. The color is judged based on depth of color, evenness of color, and lack of irregular blotches or markings. How the markings are judged varies between species and mutations. Pied birds should be evenly pied, preferably 50/50, with white breaking up all major areas of the body, but not obscuring features that identify sex.


Deportment pertains to how the bird acts and carries itself in the show cage. A bird that clings to the cage bars or sits on the floor will not do very well. Cage training can help a bird feel comfortable in a show cage and perfom better in the deportment/demeanor category.

A bird with good deportment sits calmly on the perch and is unfazed if the judge approaches and runs a baton gently across the cage. A bird with poor deportment will jump on and off the perch and startle easily when the judge approaches. Birds such as zebra finches, java rice finches, society finches, and many grassfinches should exhibit good deportment.

Demeanor applies to many of the smaller wilder birds such as the waxbills. Waxbills are expected to be active and move about. They are not expected to sit still on the perch. Ideal behavior would be hopping back and forth from perch to perch and exhibiting proper head, tail, and body movements for the species.

What to Bring to the Show

Besides the birds in their show cages, the following supplies may come in handy:

Cardboard File Boxes for Packing Show Cages
The NFSS Judges Handbook and Official Standards if you have it
Pens and Pencils
Black Sharpie Marker (for touching up nicks that may have appeared in transit)
Black Electrical Tape/Masking Tape (for securing cage doors)
Scotch Tape
String (for securing cage tags)
Scissors (for cutting string)
Stapler with Extra Staples
Return Address Labels
Spray Bottle with Water from Home (for refilling drinkers and misting birds)
Extra seed
Towels (for covering cages) or cage covers
Nail Clippers
Blood Stop Powder
Antibiotic Ointment
Pedialyte/Electrolyte Supplement
Hand Sanitizer
Extra Drinkers
Bird Net

(Courtesy Vonda of


How often should a bath be offered? 

Canaries as well as finches typically love a daily bath. At a minimum offer the canary a bath at least once a week. To prevent a chill offer the bath early in the day so that they are thoroughly warm and dry by bed time.

(Courtesy of 

What kids of canaries are there? 

There are three main types of canaries. There are songbirds which are bred for their song. Canaries that are called Colorbred which are bred for color. There are also canaries which are bred fro their type.  

(Please research the look and style of canary you want before purchasing)


Type Canaries: 

Borders, Glosters, Yorkshire, Norwich, Columbus, Fife, German Crested, Irish, Japanese Hoso, Raza Espanola, Lizard, Parisian Fril, Lancashire, Scott Fancy, Belgian Fancy, Gibber Italicus Frill, Southern Frill, Northern Dutch Frill, Fiorino, Hartz, Stafford, and a few others. 

Colorbred Canaries:

Lipochrome (Red Ground Intensive, Red Ground Frost, Yellow Ground Intensive and Frost, White Ground Dominant & Recessive, Ivories, & Mosaics)

Melanin (Black Intensive, Black Red Frost, Brown Red, Red Agate, Isabel, Yellow, White, & Mosaics)

Melanin New Color (Opals, Inos, Satinets, Pastels, Red  & Yellow, Topaz, Onyx, Eumo, & Cobalt)

Song Canaries:

American Singers, Rollers, Spanish Timbrado, WaterSlager, 


(Please research the look and style of canary you want before purchasing)




What is "Soft Molting"? Why is my canary loosing feathers?

When your bird starts to molt anytime other than the normal molt, that is called "Soft Molting". Your canary is very stressed out at this time. I would suggest you use a good mixed seed diet. You should offer a daily bath. You should maintain a constant temperature. You can offer a soft egg food or a boiled egg daily. There is also a specialty molting food that can be bought from your local pet shop for example "Kaytee Pet Products Forti-Diet Pro Health Molting and Conditioning Small Bird Supplement Jar". You can use "Avita Plus Multivitamin" or "Featherific" by Avitech. You could use "Feather Fast" by Morning Bird Products. You can use "Feather Up" from the Bird Care Company. Glamorous Gouldians offers "Simple System Molting Crumb". You can use "Quiko Bio Moulting" Supplement. You can offer many greens like peas, spinach, sprouts, romaine lettuce, spinach, kale, & watercress. I like to use cucumbers because I was told by a good breeder that they are good for the molt.  These are all things that should help your bird get out of the "Soft Molt". Below is some information from Canary Advisor's Website. 


(This information come courtesy of

"The normal annual molt occurs naturally during the last half of summer and continues into the fall.

BUT...When your bird seems to be molting at any time of the year other than mid to late summer we call that a...

•“soft” molt

•“shock” molt OR

•“off-season” molt.

It is common for pet bird owners to complain of off-season canary molting in December and January. This abnormal molt is usually caused by too many daylight hours being experienced by your canary.

Your birds hormones and cycles are controlled by the amount of light entering through his eyes. When the days are at their longest, at mid-summer, his natural annual molt will begin.

But at midwinter when days are at their shortest there should NOT be canary molting. And because humans like to have some lighting--even after the sun goes down--many pet canaries will suffer with an off-season molt.

Other causes of an off-season molt are high much activity around his cage, high temperatures, high fluctuations in temperature, and fear. These high stress molts are called “shock molts”.

If you've ever seen a cat try to catch a wild bird you probably saw feathers flying everywhere...even if the cat never actually touches the bird! This is an extreme example of how a canary can lose his feathers under stress.

“So my bird loses a few feathers. Why should I care?”

It's a matter of keeping your bird in excellent health. Canary molting is a time of high stress for your canary bird. It takes a lot of energy to replace all those feathers...roughly 2000 on a single bird! One molt per year is enough. And one of the problems with off-season molts is that they linger...they just drag on and on and your bird can end up sick as a dog.

Even if you provide your canary with the perfect canary molting diet he might appear listless and will probably stop singing while molting. That’s normal. What’s NOT normal is a bird that is molting in late fall, winter, or spring.

Jolt the Molt

You can avoid an off-season molt by limiting your bird's daylight hours to 10 or less per day in the winter. Do this by covering his cage with a dark cloth at sundown and removing the cover at day break.

This will give him the most natural amount of daylight hours throughout the year. Be sure to let him go through his normal annual molt in the late summer when days are long.

Keep temperatures below 70 F degrees during the winter months. Some breeders report that they have outdoor aviaries where temperatures get down below 20 degrees and have had no problems.

In the summer, as high as 90 degrees is OK...70 to 85 is best.

Your canary bird is susceptible to other illnesses during a molt because of his weakened state.

If you’re finding a lot of feathers around the cage, implement the above suggestions and feed your bird a good diet. Your canary’s diet during a molt should consist of high protein--feathers consist of 80-90% protein.

Continue feeding as you normally would but also provide egg food or boiled egg dailyFeeding

You can also purchase molting food. It's high in protein and nutrients that your canary needs during a molt and any other stressful time. Canary molting supplements are available at The Canary Store.

Other foods that might help are oily seeds like niger, flax, and millet to improve luster in new feathers.

Daily cool-water baths and conditioning sprays will help your canary shed old feathers and keep new feathers clean. See...Clean Bird.

Provide your canary with a safe, stress free, loving environment with the right amount of light and temperatures, and your canary will keep on S-I-N-G-I-N-G!"


 (This information come courtesy of

Any tips on color feeding? 

There are many ways to color feed your canaries. You can research online and spend a lot of time reading on the different products and different natural ways to color your birds. I'll just speak briefly on this. 

 You can feed color the natural way. Some breeders use beets, sweet potatoes, squashes, tomatoes, cherries and grated carrots to help with color. 

There are alternative methods to the natural way. Canthaxanthin, Beta-Carotene, and other orange carotenoids. Canthaxanthin is the most popular color promoting substances. They say the proper amount to give is one teaspoon of the blend to one-half gallon of water. Refrigerate the unused portion. Canthaxanthin and Beta-Carotene can also be fed in the nestling food (Egg Food). Mix one teaspoon of the mix of Canthaxanthin and Beta-Carotene with one kilo of dry ingredients. 

A lot of breeders are now using a mixture of Bogena Red Intensifier (500 gram size) and 10% Carophyll Red. You can mix it in water or soft food. You can get it from South Florida Pet Products, Inc

Mr. Alfred Iglesias

13130 SW 128th Street, Unit # 5

Miami Florida 33186

ph, 305-251-5550

fax 305-251-4466

Here is a link to a short video on color feeding...


What Egg Food/Soft food/Nestling Food should I use?

There are many different brands on Egg Food/Soft Food that are on the market. I'll tell you a few brands you should be happy with. These are recomendations. You have to see what your birds like. 

Cede Egg Food 

Quicko Egg Food

Orlux Egg Food

Higgins Pro Teen 25

There are many others you just have to find your preference.  


How do I Foster Canaries? 

When you have a hen that will not raise their young or might be killing the young just foster out the chicks. A lot of types of canaries need foster help. I have heard breeders of Borders, Norwich, Glosters, and Yorkshires use foster parents. Below is how Brian Keenan of explains how to use them.

(Courtesy of

A foster mother can be any bird other than the natural parent of the chick. To canary breeders, fosters can be either from the same variety or from another variety of canary.  The first question is whether it is better to foster out some eggs, or actual chicks.


There are several reasons why eggs could be fostered. Consider unflighted hens attempting their first nest. Experienced fanciers know that these hens can be problematical, and each year, some will desert their nest after only a few days incubation, whilst others may not 'sit' at all. By keeping a watchful eye, fanciers can rescue a nest of eggs that would certainly fail to hatch, if they act in a timely way. The fancier setting hens at the weekend, has time to observe from a respectful distance, and will have the advantage over the hurried fancier, as he is much more likely to be able to spot a 'flighty' hen, and take remedial action. The cycle repeats too, as these 'weekend' nests will also hatch out during the weekend, enabling the crucial first couple of days to be observed, and allowing appropriate actions to be taken.

In a similar way, eggs from top class exhibition stock can be deliberately moved to known rearing hens, thereby allowing the exhibition hen to more quickly regain condition and lay a second nest of eggs, which can be similarly treated, before finally allowing her to rear her third nest un-aided. (These eggs can be her own, or from a 'lesser' hen, until she has 'learned the ropes') By following this practice, the yield from your best stock is improved dramatically, given that each hen starts out as untried - and may not perform as desired. The increased production is achieved without impacting the health of the hen, and the results gained should help to quickly establish or improve your strain.

When moving eggs, there are again several considerations. My preference is to foster complete nests, as this removes any doubt as to the actual parentage of the chicks that will eventually be reared.

There are times however, when it is necessary to split nests, or add single fertile eggs to other full nests. This poses a new problem - how to identify the resulting chicks with any degree of certainty.

Fanciers are often advised to mark the shell of an egg with a non-toxic indelible marker. Whilst this can guide as to whether the egg actually hatched, it does nothing to identify the actual chick. Experienced fanciers will know that eggs vary between hens, some are a different shape or a different size, some are a different shade, and some carry more speckling than others. I now tend to note these variations, and use this as my guide as to whether the transferred egg has hatched or not. This removes any lingering doubts about damaging either the chick inside, or the egg itself, by removing the problem of marking the shell.

With all aspects of canary keeping, the fancier using an optimum number of hens, say 16-20, is at an advantage. He or she is more likely to have pairs consisting of clear birds, extending through variegated, to darks, including perhaps whites and cinnamons. Identifying chicks is now made easier, as it is usually possible to place eggs from clear parents with darker stock, or normal with cinnamon stock, etc. As a final resort, both the second round chicks and the parent stock can be compared with the fostered chicks, and the similarities will become apparent - even the most closely line-bred stock will still display discernible differences when examined thoroughly.

A few points to remember - fostered eggs moved immediately will hatch in the normal timescale - after approximately 14 days. Those moved later are likely to be delayed by perhaps up to a couple of days, so once again, this should be taken into consideration when making up mixed nests. Similarly, increased eggs, even growing from say three to six eggs in the nest, will usually be accepted by the foster hen, although they may again hatch a day later than normal.

Canary hens will usually sit for a few days longer than the normal incubation period, often up to 17-19 days quite happily, which works to the fancier's advantage, when 'juggling acts' are called for. Consider the experienced hen with a nest of clear eggs. She is an ideal candidate for a foster clutch, and the swap can be achieved at the twelve day mark, so that incubation continues unaffected. This alone is sufficient reason why proven hens should be left to complete their incubation periods - even when their eggs are known to be clear. The foster mum will hatch the chicks normally, freeing the breed hen to produce her second clutch, without the rigors of raising her initial brood, and without interruption to her natural egg-producing cycle. An additional side benefit is that the foster hen is often stimulated to produce a full second clutch herself, following her successful rearing of the fostered eggs, when she may otherwise have produced a second barren clutch. A non-laying hen can be used in the same way, as many of these birds will sit tightly on an empty nest, or one containing only dummy eggs - 'practicing' for later!


So much for fostering eggs, but what about fostering chicks themselves?

Here, once again, observation is key. Initially, chicks are nourished from the remains of the egg. Attention from hens varies, with some quite attentive, some feeding immediately, and others merely continuing the incubation process. My own hens will generally feed in my presence, and are not in the least bit nervous, although I do tend to busy myself at a distance from the cages, so that I can be watchful, without disturbing the birds. If I see the hen feeding, usually all is well, but on the second day, if I have not seen any signs, I do try to tempt the hen with fresh food, until I am confident she is behaving. If not, then fostering the chicks may be called for.

Again, it is often better to move a complete nest rather than a single chick. Good feeding hens will take to newly hatched chicks without a problem, and the 'old wives tales' about smearing dirt from the foster parent nest are not necessary, in my experience. Acceptance is usually immediate, especially if favorite fresh foods are provided.

Sometimes it may be necessary to 'adjust' other nests throughout the room, as the movement of chicks between available mothers can have a cascading effect. Use your judgment - it is usually safe to move a chick at anything up to perhaps eight or nine days of age, but after that time, depending on how well developed the chicks are, could result in a series of nest jumping, or of rejected young by the foster hen.

You need to make a judgment call - assessing the risks and potential rewards, then acting assertively and quickly. After that, it is 'anxious father' time, until you observe the foster mums first incubating their new broods, and then feeding. I find that placing chicks in the new nest for a warm for say half an hour, then providing a fresh pot of sprouted seed, usually tempts the hen off the nest to feed, by which time the 'new arrivals' are calling for food along with their new nest mates - which may not have been the case if the feed were provided immediately.

One trick I have learned, is to place a foster chick into a nest containing slightly younger, but better fed chicks. The advantage is they will not overpower the older, perhaps weakly, foster chick, which larger, stronger chicks may have done. Of course, it does depend upon what is available to the fancier at the time, and at worst case, I have placed chicks that were several days old, directly into the nest of a 'barren' hen, or of an experienced hen that was in the latter stages of incubation, quite successfully. Trial and error I know, but sometimes, that is all you will have to go on.

Finally, how to track the chicks that have been moved? As with moving eggs, it helps to move dark chicks into clear nests, or cinnamons into dark eyed nests, but if that is not possible, there are still several options.

Marking under the wing with an indelible pen may help, but I find a much simpler method is to carefully snip away the soft downy feather tufts from each side of the head, as this will provide an immediate identification which carries through until after the chicks leave the nest - by which time, they will be recognizable through variegation, or mannerisms, to any attentive fancier. Ringing chicks is another option, but I am still waiting for one of my canaries to tell me the benefits of wearing jewelry - especially of the permanent kind!

Far from painting a picture of the trials and tribulations of any breeding season, I am merely offering fostering as a means by which we can improve our chances of success, whilst taking nothing away from the natural parenting capability of our foundation stock. Used judiciously, in a timely manner, we will enjoy more successes than we do failures, and will be rewarded in the breeding room and subsequently on the show bench. Our parent stock will be less stressed as the fancier is not 'panicked' into extending the breeding season un-necessarily, vainly in search of the numbers he or she hoped to originally achieve. So everyone's a winner - and that can't be bad!

(Courtesy of

Do you make regular pairs or use 1 male to multiple females?

Many like to breed one male to one hen and that is what I do, others breed one male to two hens and still others have had success breeding three hens to one male. If you have chosen to go with the traditional pair (which should not be of the related stock), you should put them in a breeding cage and provide the nest together with some nesting material. Sometimes the male and female will fight and have to be separated into two cages. Some breeders think that one cock canary and two hens is a good combination. Hens should be at least a year old. The cock may be that old or older. If you are using a single hen, the male may be allowed to remain in the cage until the baby birds arrive. If he seems to be a helpful father and wants to assist in feeding the young, he may be left in the cage afterward. If he seems bored with the whole business, take him out. If you are using two hens, the cock should be removed from the breeding cage as soon as all the eggs are laid.

Matts Fife Canary Page says… “Having decided which cocks to run with multiple hens and which birds I'll run as pairs and trios I separate all of the cock birds into single cages in early March - ensuring a dust down and spray with anti-mite powder prior to putting them in their breeding cages.

The hens are given a further two weeks in the flight cages to ensure they're in tip top condition. I then place the hens in the empty cages, complete with nest pans. With the odd pairs I run after a day or so I'll pull back the wooden divider - just enough so the cock can call to and feed the hen but not enough to enable him to enter her cage. After a few more days I'll pull the divider back letting the cock in - in most cases the cock will tread (mate) the hen immediately - even when this does not happen I'll leave the cock bird in, unless the hen is overly aggressive to him (which usually indicates she is not quite in condition). The cock remains with the hen throughout the rest of the season.

With trios and the other hens I'll watch the activity of the hens more carefully - when I see a bird showing an interest in the nest pan I'll run the cock bird in - again the cock will normally tread the hen within the first few moments of being in the cage - after he has mated I will return him to his cage, which is away from the hens, before running him with a second, third, fourth or even fifth hen later in the evening. I'll continue this process until the first egg is laid”. 

Some people remove each egg and replace it with an artificial one till the full clutch has been laid.  The artificial eggs are then removed and the real eggs replaced.  Most of the eggs then hatch on the same day.  The babies are of similar size and grow at the same rate.  Obtain expert advice before trying this with your own birds.  Fake or artificial canary eggs are available from most pet shops, canary clubs and bird dealers.
Some breeders remove the cock bird from the cage before the eggs have hatched.  The hen will raise the young on her own.  The cock bird can be re-introduced when the young birds are about 18 days of age.  A second nest must be available so the pair can start another nesting.

How do I band Canaries? 

If you are going to band your birds please get the correct size bans for your canary from they specialty club or your local club. It is good to band your birds because it is a record of the birds you have raised and it also is a great tracking method for pedigree. You can go the the National cage Bird Website and look up your breeds specialty club in the link section ( click here... ) or you can get them from your local bird club. Here are the rotating colors for each year...

Red/ 2015/2021, Blue 2016/2022, Silver 2017/2023, Orange 2018/2024, Purple 2019/2015, Green 2020/2026 

(Courtesy of Connie Soto of 

When can you band a baby canary?

Typically a normal developing baby is ready for a band at 5 days old. Banding baby canaries are specific to the rate of individual growth. Many factors determine the rate of growth so it is best to check early. With experience and when the baby is 4 days old you will be able to determine when you can band the baby.

How do you know when it is too late to band the baby canary?

The size of the ankle determines when it is too late to band the baby. The ankle is the widest part to slide the band over therefore it is usually the determining factor of when it is too late. Never force a band as it could cause permanent injury to the canary.

If in doubt, band the baby early and if it falls off try again the following day.

How does a novice get to feel more comfortable with this process?

The banding process is sometimes uncomfortable until you have had a little practice. The baby is quite tiny and just one slip could injure or cripple the baby. This alone makes the importance clear, the resulting impact to the little life that is in your hands. Experience is the key to comfort, keep in mind how fragile the tiny parts are of a baby bird and never force, pull or tug too hard.

Steps to Banding the Baby Canary

This is only meant as a guide from my personal experience; please ask for help if in doubt.

Read all the steps first before attempting to band your baby canary.

Cup the baby bird in your hand

Picture the little wing at your thumb and its little head sticking out as you encircle the baby

Hold the birds foot between your thumb and index finger

With the back toe lying against the leg and the 3 toes forward

Place the 3 toes in the band and slide it gently down toward the ankle

Slide the band over the ankle and continue it up the leg

Now the band should be resting on the leg and the back toe

Bring it up the leg as far back as it will comfortably set

Use your finger nail to gently pull the back toe out of the band so that it joins the 3 front toes

If it is too difficult to use a finger nail to release the back toe other items could assist

A tooth pick without a sharp point

A old fashion match stick

A caution here is to have the items ready when you begin as you do not want to delay the process

(Courtesy of Connie Soto of

Can you define some of the terms? Classifications? 

¼ Variegated: Bird has 25% or less dark pigmentation distributed anywhere on its head, body, wings, or tail.

½ Variegated: Bird has 26% to 50% less dark pigmentation distributed anywhere on its head, body, wings, or tail.

¾ Variegated: Bird has 51% to 75% less dark pigmentation distributed anywhere on its head, body, wings, or tail.

Agate: A self-bird, the first reduction of a green canary diluting the black and brown melanin pigment, appearing as gray, with a characteristic mustache.

Bronze: A self-green bird on red ground having striated black melanistic pigmentation.

Brown: A self -bird having brown striated melanistic pigmentation.

Cinnamon: Another term used for a brown. Often used to describe variegated brown birds, e.g., "a cinnamon crested, frosted, variegated cinnamon and rose hen".

Clear: A bird showing no melanistic pigmentation of its body. (Check the under flu feathers. A satinette appears clear but the under flu is dark.) The crest can be clear, grizzle or dark.

Crested: A growth of feathers radiating from a central point on the head. One of two partners in a breeding pair.

Dark Crested: A crest of dark feathers (Black, Brown/Cinnamon).

Dimorphic: A very broad feather that extends the amount of frosting on the edges of the feather. Dimorphism exhibits two distinct forms of feather pattern for the cock and hen, may appear in clear, variegated and self-varieties. (What appears to be a clear red or rose fledging, in the Summer/Fall moult will turn white with red markings).

Fawn: A white ground cinnamon

Flighted: A bird having moulted its flight feathers, (over 18 months old).

Foul: A self-bird having up to three light feathers in either its wings or tail.

Frosted: A bird showing white frosting on the tips of its feathers.

Grizzle: A term to describe melanistic markings in the crest, appearing as a salt and peppery crest

Heavily Variegated: Bird with more than 75% dark pigmentation distributed anywhere on its head, body, wings, or tail but less than a self-green.

Ino: A self-bird having chocolate brown melanistic pigmentation in a spangled formation and red eyes in a recessive (non-sex linked) factor, therefore without albinism. (The non-pigmented is a red eye, clear red lipochrome and is called a Rubino).

Isabel: A self-bird. A diluted brown (cinnamon) bird.

Isabel Satinette: (See Satinette)

Mosaic: A term used interchangeably with dimorphic. However, there is a dramatic difference. The male markings in a new type Mosaic are brighter and more extensive than in the old type dimorphic male markings. In the clear Mosaic variety, both male and female show more ground color contrasted with more distinct red markings.

Non-Crested: A Stafford without a crest but with a round head, which sustains the round crest. One of two partners in a breeding pair. Not interchangeable with the Color Bred Red ground canary.

Non-Frosted: A bird that shows no frosting on its feather tips.

Opal: A self-bird characterized by the inhibition of brown, having gray/blue striated melanistic pigmentation. The dark, melanistic color appears in the underside of the feathers, while the outer feather have a milky gray/blue glaze.

Pastel: A paling or dilute factor called ivory in the lipochrome and pastel in the melanin. The first reduction in black and brown melanin pigment produces agate, the second reduction is the Pastel. In the self, appears as a suffusion of brown melanistic pigmentation covering the entire plumage.

Satinette: A ruby eyed self-bird appearing as a clear bird of ground color, with only the melanistic coloring of the dark under flu distinguishing it as a self-bird, not a clear bird. (When the Satinette also has striations, it is then called Isabel Satinette. Here, the brown melanistic pigmentation is in a striated formation with ground color between. The ruby eyes determine if the bird is an Isabel Satinette or a black-eyed Isabel).

Self: A bird with melanistic pigmentation on all of its feathers, legs, feet and beak.

3 Part Parts Dark: A bird showing only one quarter of its body with light feathering.

Ticked: A clear bird having a mark on its body coverable by a penny. ("One pence piece")

Unflighted: A bird that has not moulted its flight feathers. Current year bird. (In England, a bird is not color-fed until after the fledgling moult and therefore its primary flight feathers will appear white to pale yellow against the red or rose ground color. This obvious contrast is a sure sign of this being a current year's bird, in a country where closed bands are not used for dating birds.)

Variegated: A clear bird showing any form of melanistic markings on its feathers, from a tick to 3 parts dark.

(Some terms are courtesy of

Where can I get show cages? Show drinkers?

I have been asked numerous times where can show cages be bought. Below I'll post a few places where you can get some show cages. You have to call, email, or check out the website and see what the cage maker has right now. 

1) Jerry Cason

2016 Oak Crest Ct.

Azle, TX 76021

Phone: 817-237-5867  



2) Tom Voges

3601 S. Valleyview St.

Wichita, KS 67215

 Phone: 316-440-0839



3)  Twin Brooks Pet Supply (Website) 



4) Mini Show Drinkers (Website)




What Bird Shows can I show canaries in Florida?

Below I will post some information on clubs that have shows in Florida that you can bring your canaries. If I find more I will update the post. 

Suncoast Canary & Finch Club


This show is in October every year. (Canaries (Type & Colorbred) & Finches being Judged) (Location: Punta Gorda, FL)


South Florida Bird Breeders Association


This show is in November every year. (Canaries (Type & Colorbred) being judged) (Location: Miami, FL) 


Colorbred Canary Club of Miami  


This show is in the first week of December every year. (Canaries (Type & Colorbred) being judged) (Location: Miami, FL)


Florida Canary Fanciers


This show is in the second week of December every year. (Canaries (Type, Colorbred, & Song) & Finches being judged) 

(Location: Orlando, FL)  

What is Weaning? How to? When to separate chicks from nest?

Weaning is very important.  At 18-24 days old, chicks can be seen picking up soft-food, soaked seeds or green-food, and at this stage it is safe to remove them into weaning cages with no more than 5 or 6 youngsters per double-breeder cage. When I'm confident the young chicks can feed themselves the youngsters are then placed in the weaning cages. Normally by about 24 days they are ready to be moved. Do not rush this process as taking an extra day or two is better than losing a ‘slow’ chick. The youngsters are kept as a family and put in a single cage with perches set as low as possible. I always put seed on the cage even though I know they will not be eating it until they are about 5 weeks old. I do this as putting it on later becomes a point of curiosity and may cause them to eat before they are ready. Fresh soft-food should be provided. When the birds are 5-6 weeks old, they should be separated into single cages to allow the better birds to develop to their full potential.


Article below is courtesy of (

Weaning Chicks

Written by Marie Miley-Russell

Most breeding resources indicate that chicks should be weaned at around 28 days, but this is rarely practical for first clutch babies as their mother becomes focused on her next round. Babies from the last clutch can generally be given more time, but in my experience babies begin weaning between 21 and 25 days. This is of course largely dependent on the development of the chicks. The longer they remain with the parents the better, but if they are pecking at food and being harassed by the parents they can be separated. If the chicks are being plucked, but are not ready to wean they may be placed in a cage which is hung on the side of the breeding cage and the parents will continue to feed them through the cage bars.

Fathers will generally feed chicks longer than hens will. In my experience, usually the chicks fed the longest turn out to be hens. When chicks begin eating on their own breeders should watch feeding males carefully as they may attack young males.

After chicks have been seen eating for a couple of days they can be removed to the weaning cage. No dramatic change to the diet should be made when chicks are placed in the weaning cage; only foods they have been reared on should be provided. Do not crowd weaning chicks- no more than four or five chicks to a double breeding cage. Perches should be placed as low as possible in the weaning cage- as chicks become more independent the perches can gradually be moved higher. Food in the weaning cage should be placed on the floor in shallow dishes- chicks will walk through the food and peck at it when it sticks to their feet. Small glass ashtrays and glazed plant saucers are good feeding dishes as they are heavy and flat.

Some chicks able to manage on their own in the breeding cage can regress when placed in the weaning cage so they must be monitored carefully. Chicks refusing to leave the perches to eat can be restricted to a single perch placed as close to the floor as possible.

Chicks being weaned which peep continuously are starving and should be attended. They can be placed back in with the father or the father may be placed in the weaning cage for some time.

Placing an older bird with an easy-going disposition in the cage with chicks being weaned can help teach the young birds to eat on their own by allowing them to mimic feeding behaviors.

Good first foods are well-cooked carrots- the bright orange color attracts the chicks and it is easy to eat. Other foods should include soft foods such as egg food or nestling food, shredded wheat moistened with carrot or apple juice, cooked couscous, soak seed, and greens. Some small pellets for finches and canaries should be offered as well as they will be able to eat these before they can crack seed. Some breeders scatter rolled oats directly on the clean cage floor; chicks seem to notice it and peck at it.

Chicks will not be able to crack seed for at least six weeks and probably will not be able to fully support themselves on seed until a few weeks later. During this time they must have access at all times to foods they can eat. The introduction of unlimited quantities of hard seed too early can result in the loss of chicks- don’t rush them onto hard seed too quickly. I introduce small amounts of seed at five weeks or so but continue providing soft foods right up until chicks begin the baby molt.

Chicks in the weaning cage tend to become fascinated by each other’s tail feathers. Providing young birds with plenty of toys will help alleviate this. Chicks which continue plucking their cage mates must be separated. Placing them with other aggressive pluckers usually solves the problem as pluckers will generally not allow themselves to be plucked.

Some breeders insist that chicks cannot receive a bath until they are six weeks old out of concern that they will inhale water and develop chronic respiratory problems, but I routinely allow birds to bathe from the start and have not seen any problems arise from doing so.

Chicks can easily be lost during the weaning period due to illness. Careful husbandry can largely prevent such losses. Diligent attention to ensuring that cage papers and perches are clean and that all scattered egg food is removed from the cage is vital. Take care to not become absorbed in the tending of second clutches to the detriment of first clutch chicks.


Courtesy of (

What is Vent Trimming? Should I Vent Trim my canary? 

When canaries are headed into the breeding season many expert breeders trim the vents of their canaries to make sure they have the best chance to reproduce. The majority of breeders who do this are owners of canaries with longer feathers. Below is some great information that Barbara Rosario has posted. 

Information below is courtesy of Barbara Rosario (

At the beginning of the breeding season I usually get the question from novice breeders, “What is vent trimming, is it necessary, and if so how do I go about it?" When the question comes by mail, phone or email. I always hope that I get the idea across for this is truly the time when a "pictures is worth a thousand words".

Nature may have designed the feathers of the domesticated canary, but man has changed the length and width of them. Glosters, due to this manipulation, are a rather heavily feathered bird. If you were to look, let’s say at a Fife, the feathers are usually shorter and narrower and the need for trimming may not be required. The idea of trimming the vent areas is to expose the "guide" feathers that occupy the area directly encompassing the vent external surface. The "guide" feathers are basically an extension of the birds’ reproductive organs. When mating, it is essential that these "guide feathers" of both sexes make contact with each other. During the act of mating the more these feathers come in contact with each other, the better the chance that the hen will produce fertile eggs. However, just trimming the vents, will not insure fertility if the birds are not in optimal breeding condition. So to respond to the first part of their question, I have to answer. . . Yes, in the case of the Gloster, vent trimming could improve you success. 

To respond to the second part of the question this gets a bit trickier when you are doing it with the spoken word. Hopefully my drawings will do in place of pictures. First before I explain the trimming aspect, envision the position that the birds assume during the act of mating. The cock mounts the hen copulates with her using essentially a down and forward motion, from one side of the body or the other. The hen during the act of copulation assumes a position with the rump being up and tilted forward from its normal position. That is why a hen is trimmed differently from a cock. In trimming, take the bird in hand, having it on its back. I find or me that it is easier to trim birds if I have the head pointing towards my body with the tail point out. The first thing I do is blow the feathers away from the vent area. This serves two purposes; 1) gives you a visual inspection of the vent area for readiness to breed and 2) lets you view the "guide" feathers. It is essentially that these feathers are not trimmed or pulled out. If it is a hen that I am preparing, I identify the "guide" feathers, and start trimming the feathers just in front of the vent area (belly side of vent) (see illustration) do not trim in the direction of the belly. For if the hen is in breeding condition or nearing it, you will notice as you blow the feathers out of the way, the belly area is becoming bearer as she approaches optimal breeding condition. This is the brooding area and the feathers are normal lost in this area so that the hen can have the eggs in direct contact with her skin surface. This provides for maximum heat to the eggs and the surround feathers will trap this heat in to incubation the eggs. After trimming just behind the vent I proceed to the side of the vent area. Here you want to take off enough feather bulk so that those feathers do not over lay onto the "guide" feathers. I then trim towards the tail area. During the trimming process I have blown the feathers in the vent area to keep reassuring that the "guide" feathers are out of the way of the scissors. In trimming a cock the bird is handled in the same manner and again I blow the feathers in the vent area to check for readiness and location of the "guide" feathers. However, with the male I start trimming to the side of the vent area first, then proceed to just behind the vent area. (See illustration). I then trim towards the belly. In the cock bird more of the belly feathers are trimmed to clear the way for the "guide" feathers. 

Again I think if you look at the illustrations and think of the positions that the birds must assume to mate it will be clear "How to Vent Trim".

Female - Dotted line indicates area to be trimmed around vent (Above)

Male - Dotted line indicates area to be trimmed around vent (Above)

 Courtesy of Barbara Rosario (

What do you recommend for mites? Scaly feet? Scaly Legs? 

We recommend you use Ivermectin solution. It can be bought from Abba Seed. 


This is the description from their website. " Many customers throughout the world have requested us to provide them with individual doses of Ivermectin to make a gallon of treated water. Put the contents of the bottle in 1 gallon of drinking water. In the evening, just before the birds go to sleep, remove all of the drinking water from the cages or aviary. The next morning, the birds will be thirsty. Use a clean, sterilized water container and vigorously shake the gallon after you add the Ivermectin. Usually, one drink will help eliminate internal and external parasites, including scaly feet and scaly legs. Leave the treated water before the birds until they drink all of it or until the next day. Refrigerate any remaining mixture which can be used for treatment again in 14 days. Many bird fanciers throughout the world treat all their birds with the above-mentioned method twice a year, in January and again at the end of the breeding season." 

"Be careful, Ivermectin is a very powerful parasiticide. An overdose may kill your birds. Do not administer Ivermectin straight from the bottle."