a bright yellow Canary resting on a branch

Canaries are a type of small, colorful songbird that have been kept as family pets for centuries. They are native to the Canary Islands and Madeira, but they can now be found in many parts of the world. Canaries come in a variety of colors and sizes, making them an attractive addition to any home.

Canaries make wonderful pets for those looking for an easy-to-care-for companion. They are relatively low maintenance and require minimal space, making them ideal for those who live in apartments or small homes. Canaries are also very social birds and enjoy interacting with their owners.

The Canary Islands are located off the coast of Africa, and were named after the birds that live there. Canaries are members of the Finch family, which is a very large family of birds. 

While a wild Canary’s color is more greenish-yellow on its top feathers, domestic Canaries can be many bright colors including the familiar yellow. Some of the more common ones include white, black, blue, red, and orange. Their feathers are long and soft, making them an excellent choice for people who like to touch or interact with their pets. 

Canaries are very social birds, and they enjoy interacting with humans. They are extremely loyal to their owners, and will often follow them around the house. They are very vocal, and will sing when they feel happy or sad. They are also very intelligent, and will learn tricks fairly quickly.

Canaries are relatively hardy birds and can live for up to 15 years with proper care. They make wonderful companions for those looking for an easy-to-care-for pet that will bring joy and beauty into their home. If you’re looking for a pet that will bring you years of companionship and entertainment, then a Canary might be the perfect choice for you.

Canaries are a great choice for first-time bird owners, because they’re relatively low maintenance and can entertain your family for hours with their singing. They’re very social birds, so if you have other pets in the house they may get along well with them.

Overall, Canaries are a great choice for anyone looking for a pet bird that is both beautiful and entertaining. They need regular care and attention, but the rewards of owning a Canary far outweigh the effort needed to keep them healthy and happy. With proper care, your Canary can give you years of joy and companionship.

Information About Canaries

  • Average Length: 4.5 to 8 inches
  • Colors: Yellow, Red, Orange, Pink and Brown
  • Grooming Needs: Low
  • Tolerance to Heat and Cold: Yes
  • Good Pet: Yes
  • Safe with young Children: No
  • Good with Other Canaries: No, two male canaries housed together will fight but a pair of male and female Canaries can be housed together.
  • Good with Other Pets: No
  • Suitable to live in an Apartment: Yes because they aren’t as noisy as other birds
  • Good for Less Experienced Pet Owners: Yes
  • Training: With patience and commitment it is easy to train
  • Exercise Needs: Low
  • Weight Gain: Normal
  • Health Concerns: Diarrhea, Candidiasis, Canary Pox Virus (CNPV), Conjunctivitis, Mycoplasma, Bumblefoot and Aspergillus
  • Allergies: None
  • Average Life Span: 5 to 15 years

Physical Appearance of Canaries

a Canary near a water hole

Canaries found in the wild have green and yellow feathers. Domestic Canaries, birds that have been kept as pets and have been bred extensively can be several additional colors. They can be orange, yellow, red, brown, pink and brown.  

There are close to 200 Canary types now. Depending on their traits the bird keepers can classify Domestic Canaries into one of three groups.

  • Song Canary – Canaries who are bred for their song and different sounds they produce. The American Singer and German Roller are the most popular Song Canaries in the United States.
  • Color Bred Canaries – bred to produce different colors. Red Factor is one of the most popular varieties of Color Canaries.
  • Type Canary – they are bred for their unique size, feather, and special characteristics like the Belgian Bult and Border Fancy.

Depending on the specific Canary breeds they can have different physical appearances but most Canary breeds have a small compact body. Lancashire Canary is the largest breed available today with a length of 7 to 8 inches.

Temperament of Canaries

Canaries are shy, timid and solitude birds. They are not companion birds and mostly like to stay alone. A single Canary can be kept in a bird cage without feeling lonely, making them a great choice for a first pet. While they are fine alone, they can be kept in an aviary with other birds. They tend to be somewhat territorial, especially with other male Canaries. Two male Canaries should not be housed together in a cage because they will fight. You can keep a male and a female Canary together, but this comes with its own risks of mating. 

Canaries like to mate in the breeding season which usually starts at the beginning of spring. Some owners keep the male and female Canary in separate cages. If you want them to mate then you should keep them together during the breeding season.

Canaries are musical and like to sing and it’s one of the reasons why they are widely kept as pets. Male Canaries are better singers than females. The female Canaries will mostly chirp and not sing. Canaries may sing less or not at all while they’re molting.

Training Canaries

a Canary resting on a branch

Canaries are easy to train. Start by building trust with them. When you first get them home, spend the first few days sitting in the room where they are kept. Whistle or make a distinct sound while entering the room every time. It will help your bird know that you are there.

Place their cage at your eye level and try not to make any sudden movements around them. Avoid making direct eye contact in the beginning because it may make them feel intimidated. Gradually start talking to your bird after a few days. Sit near the cage and whistle or hum to your bird. Making gentle sounds to your birds will help you establish a relationship with them. With time they will recognize your voice.

After a few days when you feel that they have opened up to you, you can try placing your hand inside their cage and offer them treats. Your bird may not take it right away but have patience. Once they start taking treats you can try to handle them and hold them into your hands.

To get them out of their cage use a long perch and place it inside their cage. Let your Canary sit on the perch and then open the door. You may have to give them treats in the beginning but eventually, your bird will start coming out on their own. Make sure the windows and doors are closed to keep them from flying away.

Practice calling them to your perch or your fingers by making a distinctive sound. Reward them with treats whenever they come and sit when you call them. With some practice your Canary will learn to sit on your head or hand when you call them. Keep the training sessions short – 10 to 15 minutes, twice a day. Anything longer can stress or frustrate them.

Their Compatibility with Children

an orange Canary standing on the lip of a bird bath

The small size of your bird may make them look like a perfect bird for kids but this is not true at all. Canaries are delicate and small which can cause them to get hurt easily by children. Canaries tend to get frightened easily and are not recommended for families that have young children.

We have already said that Canaries do not like to be handled frequently. So if you have older children, encourage them to watch your Canary sing and play rather than handling them. Make sure there is an adult around to supervise when your bird is being handled by children.

Best Habitat for Canaries

Since they are territorial we recommend keeping each Canary in their own cage. All Canary breeds are small birds but they need a large bird cage to move around. A larger cage will give them the room that they need for exercise and keep them healthy.

The length of their cage is more important than the height or width. A 24” long and 20” wide bird cage with bar spacing of less than ½ inch is best for them. Wire cages will be better because they will be easier to maintain than wood or bamboo cages. If you decide to keep more than one Canary in a cage, then the size of their cage needs to be a little larger.

A good thing about Canaries is that they can adjust to different environments. Avoid keeping their cage close to the air conditioner vent or windows that receive direct sunlight. Extreme temperatures can be harmful to your Canaries.

Several perches should be available for them in their cage. The perches need to be irregularly sized but still smooth and this will make it easier for your bird to grip them. The diameter of their perches should be between ⅜ to ¾ inches. Wooden perches are the best option. Do not use perches made of sandpaper because it can hurt your Canaries feet.

For substrate aspen, wood-pellet or corn cob make good choices. The substrate should not be more than 1 inch deep.

To keep your birds entertained you can add swings, bells and acrylic or wooden toys in their cage. We recommend only keeping one toy in their cage at a time because they don’t like to play a lot with toys. It’s best to place all the habitat parts in a way so that they don’t prevent your bird from moving around inside their cage.

A shallow dish of water needs to be kept inside their cage. It is very important that your birds always have clean water available. The water should be refilled or be replaced daily. Water is very important because Canaries can die if left without water even for a single day!

Habitat Maintenance

a Canary on the ground looking for food

Canaries need natural day and night cycles and their cage should be covered at night. Having their cage covered will allow them to rest at night. Avoid keeping them up late in the night using artificial lights because it will stress them out.

Droppings need to be removed from their cage regularly. A deep clean should be done once a month. The substrate needs to be spot cleaned every week and replaced if it gets too dirty. Disinfect the perches, toys and other habitat parts with a natural cleaning solution. Using chemical solutions can be harmful to your birds.

Remove any broken perches, toys or any other habitat parts from the cage to prevent your birds from getting hurt. Rotate or change their toys regularly to keep your birds from getting bored. Replace their water and clean the water bowl daily.

The Attention a Canary Needs

Canaries do not require a lot of attention and are happy to stay alone in their cage. These birds prefer to watch their owners from the cage and do not like being handled frequently. They can be handled sometimes, but unless your bird enjoys being handled, not more than 3 to 4 times a week. Canaries are best for pet owners who like watching birds rather than those who want to have a lot of hands-on time with their birds.

Health Issues

A healthy Canary should be active and chirping or making sounds most of the time. If you notice anything unusual in their behavior or appearance you should get them checked early on. Here are some visible signs of an unhealthy Canary –

  • Puffed up or sitting still
  • Watery or red/inflamed eyes 
  • Shivering or sneezing – having watery discharge from the beak
  • Having droppings that are white and watery
  • Sudden loss of weight

The most common diseases in Canaries are mentioned below.


Avian diarrhea is a common issue with birds, and it can have several different causes. Avian diarrhea can be caused by viruses, bacteria, fungi, parasites, and toxins. Noninfectious causes can include changes in their diet, stress, environmental factors like temperature extremes, or internal organ dysfunction. Nutritional deficiencies or imbalances can also lead to avian diarrhea.

Symptoms of Avian Diarrhea

The most obvious symptom of avian diarrhea is frequent and watery droppings. Other symptoms may include:

  • Appetite loss
  • Lethargy
  • Weight loss
  • Dehydration
  • Signs of pain

Depending on the cause, other symptoms like vomiting or regurgitation may be present as well. If you observe any of these symptoms in your bird, it’s important to get seen by your veterinarian.

Canary Pox Virus (CNPV)

Canary pox virus (CNPV) is an infectious disease caused by a virus that affects canaries and other related species. The virus is spread through contact with infected birds or their feathers, as well as through contact with contaminated objects such as feeders, perches, and cages. The most common symptoms of CNPV are swollen eyes, sores on the beak, and swollen feet. More severe cases may cause respiratory distress or even death.

Symptoms of Canary Pox Virus (CNPV)

The most common symptoms of CNPV are swollen eyes, sores on the beak, and swollen feet. Other symptoms may include:

  • Decrease in appetite
  • Coughing
  • Sneezing
  • Nasal discharge
  • Lethargy

In more severe cases, respiratory distress can occur.


Avian conjunctivitis, also known as “pink eye” in birds, is a common condition that affects the eyes of pet birds. This condition causes inflammation and redness in the lining of their eyelids and can cause discomfort and pain. In some cases, avian conjunctivitis can lead to serious complications, including blindness.

The most common cause of avian conjunctivitis is bacterial infection, usually caused by a type of bacteria called Staphylococcus or Streptococcus. This type of bacteria is normally found living on a bird’s skin and feathers, but if it enters their conjunctiva (their eyes), it can cause infection and inflammation. Other possible causes of avian conjunctivitis include fungal infections, exposure to irritants or allergens, physical eye trauma, or a weakened immune system due to disease or malnutrition.


Mycoplasma is a genus of bacteria that cause various diseases in birds, including respiratory infections and joint infections. These bacteria are small, pleomorphic organisms that lack cell walls. This means they can’t be killed by antibiotics that target cell wall synthesis. 

Mycoplasma can infect their respiratory, gastrointestinal and reproductive tracts, causing a variety of symptoms depending on the species involved and the organs affected.


Avian bumblefoot (also known as pododermatitis) is a common and sometimes painful condition seen in birds. It occurs when the skin of their feet becomes inflamed, often due to bacterial or fungal infection. Symptoms include swelling, redness, crusting, scales, and skin thickening. In severe cases, lesions or ulcers may form on their feet.

Avian bumblefoot is most commonly seen in pet birds, especially those kept in cages. It can develop when a bird stands on an uneven or rough surface for too long, and it’s often the result of inadequate cage cleaning or unclean water bowls. Other factors that can contribute to the development of bumblefoot include obesity, poor nutrition, trauma, and certain medical conditions.


Aspergillus is a type of non-contagious fungal disease that is commonly found in the environment, especially in certain types of birds. It’s one of the most common causes of fungal infections in pet birds and can cause a variety of health issues if left untreated. Aspergillus can be found in bird feed, cages, nests, and other areas where birds are housed.

Symptoms of Avian Aspergillus

The most common symptoms of avian Aspergillus is:

  • White or gray substance found on the bird’s feathers
  • Sneezing
  • Difficulty breathing
  • Nasal discharge
  • Weight loss
  • Lethargy

In some cases, the fungus can spread to internal organs such as the lungs and cause serious respiratory problems.


Avian candidiasis is a fungal infection caused by the yeast Candida albicans. It can affect both wild and domestic birds, though it’s more commonly seen in pet birds. Symptoms of avian candidiasis include flaking or discolored skin, poor feather health, and respiratory distress. If left untreated, the infection can spread to other areas of their body, leading to serious health problems and even death.

Avian candidiasis is most often caused by a weakened immune system, which can be due to stress, poor nutrition, or overcrowding. Certain bird breeds are more susceptible to the infection than others. Treatment for avian candidiasis usually involves antifungal medication, such as fluconazole or nystatin. It’s important to keep your bird’s environment clean and free of potential sources of infections.

If you suspect that your pet bird is suffering from avian candidiasis, it’s important to take them to a veterinarian for diagnosis and treatment. Early detection and treatment can prevent more serious health problems.

Bathing and Cleaning

Canaries like to bathe on their own. A shallow water dish with lukewarm water should be placed inside their cage 3-4 times a week. Place the water bowl on the substrate away from the perches or anything else that can get in the way. Remove the water after they are done bathing. Some birds enjoy being misted more than using a bath, you can spray them if you enjoy participating in their baths.

The nails of your bird should be trimmed two to three times a year. Their nails contain veins and it can seem intimidating attempting to cut them yourself. Fortunately we live in a time when YouTube tutorials are a thing and you can watch and learn from others.

Feeding Canaries

a close up of a pile of bird seed

In the wild, Canaries feed on seeds and insects. In a home environment a Canaries diet should consist of fortified pellets or Canary seeds. Pellets are the preferred option because they don’t make a mess like seeds do. Seed hulls will litter the cage floor and will need to be cleaned up regularly. The pellets are also designed to contain more vitamins and proteins.

The pellets should make up for 75% of your Canary’s diet. A good way to make sure that they eat the pellets is to put the seeds under their pellets. Put the seeds in their bowl first, then fill the bowl with pellets. Canaries tend to graze on the top layer of the food, this way you make sure they eat the most nutritious foods before they fill up.

They need one teaspoon of food each day. Canaries do not tend to overeat so if you think your bird needs more, you can give them a little more food.

About 15% of their diet should include vegetables like leafy green kale, zucchini, broccoli and shredded carrots. Feed them vegetables daily and anything left uneaten needs to be removed after 4 hours. Another 5% of your Canary’s diet should consist of fruits like banana, melon, papaya, apples, pineapple, oranges, pumpkin or raspberry. Avocados must not be given to them because it is poisonous for birds. The vegetables and fruits need to be washed and cut into small pieces before feeding them.

Canaries can be given weekly treats like boiled eggs, beans, or peas. It should not be more than 5% of your Canary’s diet.

Keep a mineral block inside the cage at all times. Having a mineral block in their cage will help maintain their beak. It helps trim their beaks while they chew it and it’s a great source of digestible calcium. It’s also something for them to chew on that is different from the cage or one of their perches.

Related Questions:

Where did Canaries Originate?

The Canaries are a native of the Macaronesia islands of Azores, Madeira and the Canary Islands. They have been domesticated for more than 300 years and have been extensively bred to many different varieties. The pet Canaries available on the market are very different from their wild Canary ancestors. The Spanish sailors brought them to Europe in the 1700s. They soon became fashionable and European bird keepers started producing different varieties of the bird.

How can you Help Canaries Start Singing?

In the wild, Canaries learn singing by hearing other Canaries sing. Domesticated Canaries will start singing properly after turning 6 months old. To help them start singing, you can play a recording of a Canary singing. There are many videos available on YouTube. For the most part it’s only the male Canaries who will sing. Make sure you don’t have a female Canary in the same room or cage because the male Canary sings to attract a female. American Singer is a popular Song Canary known for its singing.

Can Canaries be Bred with Other Types of Birds?

Canaries can breed with various species of finches. This is something to be aware of if you have only male of one species and only females of another. You might think you are safe from them breeding, but in some cases like this you could find a small nest with eggs one day.

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Contributing Author & Social Media Expert

Maryna is an animal expert that has had dozens of animals in her life over the years. She has never found an animal that she didn't love immediately. It seems like every year she finds kittens that have been abandoned by their mom and she nurses them to health and finds homes for them. She contributes her vast knowledge about animals and family pets to our website and we're forever grateful to have her working with us. She's also an amazing graphics designer and has designed all of the social media images that we use across all platforms.