Canary Bird Breeding – Complete Guide for Beginners
Although canaries were first bred in Germany, they have comfortably grown to endure cold and warm environments worldwide. Yet, it is vital to find out their previous environment when acquiring new birds and strive to give them something close to that.
After that, you can either increase or lower the temperature as they acclimatize to new surroundings. While breeding canaries can be an exciting pastime, you should realize that your little friends are going through the traumatizing experience of adjusting to a new home.
Not to mention that their immune system can be compromised for a while because of diet changes. Below is an imperative guide to an effective and healthy breeding process.
Selecting Canary Pair
Choosing an ideal pair in canaries is not easy as most people presume. The first thing you need to consider is the health of the mates. There is no way unhealthy birds would complete the breeding process efficiently and manage to take care of their little ones. For this reason, strive to offer them proper support, enough space, and optimum nutrition way before the breeding process.
When selecting the mates, settle for young active birds with quality feathers. Often, healthy male canaries are alert and spend considerable time singing. On the other hand, the hens may appear vibrant and broody. As a result, you may observe them laying eggs in feeding containers or collecting strings or papers as nesting materials.
For soft feathered birds, you may notice an increased lighter appearance. Likewise, hard feathered species have feathers that cling more to their skin. Experts recommend that pet owners should not breed soft feathered species because it can result in feather cysts.
Canary Breeding Cage
Bear in mind that male canaries are active fathers who feed the hen as they nest and the babies when they come along. In such cases, you can get special breeding enclosures from bird shows and specialty species.
The main difference from regular cages is that they have a middle section and opening that allows males to move back and forth. One remarkable cage recommendation is the Mcage breeding birdcage with a divider at the center. Compared to other stackable cages, it has a top center with a pull-up partition.
Furthermore, it has durable plastic perches, four feeder doors, and a three-inch deep tray with a raised grille. Most impressive, you do not require special tools to set it up. Other than that, the cage is foldable and comes with a carrying handle which comes in handy when traveling or if you have limited storage space.
Feeding your Birds
Canary birds typically breed in early spring and late winter. Naturally, the germination of canary seeds prompts the birds to start nesting. You can replicate the activity by germinating seeds yourself and then rinsing them off. Then, keep some wet seeds in the refrigerator, wait until they start sprouting, and feed your birds.
During breeding, canaries require more protein in their diet. If possible, you can add hardboiled eggs, seed mixes, and standard pellets to their diet. An increase of carotenoids in their meals also keeps the birds healthy with vibrant color. However, ensure that you remove all uneaten food particles to avoid contamination.
Remember that your hens may also require calcium to avert eggs binding. Additionally, throw in some eggshells, cuttlebone, and fresh greens regularly. After hatching, it is essential to give the parents some egg food daily. For the baby canaries, mix some cereal with the York of a hardboiled egg.
Compared to other birds, canaries prefer open shallow nests. You can get plastic nesting pans from bird supplies stores and pet stores. It is wise to place the nests at the backside of the cage to give your birds some privacy. Even so, ensure that there is plenty of access to the nests, especially when hatching begins.
Sometimes, home-based birds may not manage to make good nests with sufficient lining. Unfortunately, the eggs may not incubate at the right temperature, which is a massive disappointment to everyone involved. Thus, tape a nursing pad, similar to what human mothers use firmly to the pan.
In addition, use commercial nest fabric, torn papers, lint, and cotton strings. Avoid using polyester and nylon fibers because they can get knotted around your adult canary’s feet. Likewise, the fibers can embed into the bird’s flesh resulting in loss of feet.
The Breeding Process
Breeding in captivity becomes successful if you prepare your birds well in advance. One of the easiest ways to trigger them is to keep them in a space with full-spectrum lighters. Given that canaries are sensitive to light, an abundance would put them in a breeding mood.
After you notice molting on your birds, keep increasing the lighting length up to 12 hours full lights daily. It is vital to use a reliable timer that also adds a bit of night light. Mainly, this approach minimizes injury because birds can harm themselves if they try to perch in the darkness after the lights go off abruptly.
Healthy male canaries often indicate their breeding readiness with regular singing. On the other hand, the hen may become active and start making their nests. Usually, you can notice them begging for food from their mates or carrying papers and strings ready for the process.
Laying the Eggs
Most canary hens lay about 3-5 eggs in one season. Usually, they produce a single egg every day in the morning hours. Once your pet lays the egg, replace it with a marble or commercial plastic egg. Then, line them up nicely with a tissue and place them in a container at room temperature.
After the bird lays its last egg, remove marbles and add the real eggs so that they can hatch together. It usually takes at least six days to determine if the eggs are fertile or not. You can hold a flashlight against the egg and check for a dark red color.
If the egg appears transparent, most likely it is infertile. If need be, remove unfertile eggs from the nest to create space for the babies.
Separating the Male
Apart from the breeding season, it would help if you kept your canaries separately. This is because they are not social creatures and may end up harming each other in territorial brawls. It is not unusual to hear about male canaries that killed their mates outside the breeding period.
All in all, you can keep several birds in one space but different cages. That way, you will not only encourage your male birds to sing more, but it is crucial for their healthy being.
Often, canaries hatch approximately two weeks after the last egg gets laid. The hatching happens overnight, and you only hear the peeping sound in the morning. Immediately after birth, the babies are pretty tiny, equivalent to a thumbnail.
Mostly, baby canaries are good feeders and open their mouths for a feeding session when the mother comes close to the nest. It is common to witness caring parents spend most of the time sitting on the babies in the nest. Often, they only leave the nest to eat and then feed their babies. Once well-fed, you might notice a yellow lump on their neck. Keep in mind that the bigger the lump, the better for the baby’s welfare.
What’s more, it is an indication that the mother is feeding her babies well. Most owners prefer to band their baby canaries within the first three days. This is the best time to close a band over the leg because the feet become too large soon after.
During the banding process, you need to hold the fragile bird gently and then fold the first toes simultaneously with the last toe. Subsequently, slip the band slowly over all the toes and twist it up past the rear toe. You can get excellent branded bands either with numbers or year of birth from specific bird clubs. Primarily, branding helps breeders to make proper records on their broods.
Caring for Baby Canaries
Nurturing canary birds to maturity requires careful monitoring from the first day. While some mothers may take care of their babies efficiently, others do not possess maternal instincts and may even toss them out of the cage. Good examples of canaries that rarely take care of their offspring are the color-factored species.
Luckily, baby canaries are easy to rear and only require frequent feeding after every two hours. In fact, they will become very noisy when demanding food. Sometimes, if they make a feeble attempt to attract their parents, you can place some food on your hand and supplement feeding. Since the babies are very tiny at this stage, start by mixing human rice cereal with hardboiled eggs with warm water and feed them in liquid form. It is easier to use a syringe when feeding your baby birds.
Most importantly, ensure that the food is warm but not too hot to scold them—experts advise canary owners to place a small amount of food on their wrists to test the hotness. In the beginning, you can tap the baby’s beaks gently before they get used to the feeding routine.
Fortunately, canaries are quick learners and would soon open their mouths and start begging for more. Before they get accustomed to syringe feeding, place at least 1 ml of food in the mouth and feed them until the crop swells up.
Then keep on checking to confirm if the crop has declined by at least 75% for the next feeding. Lastly, if the mother is not sitting on the babies, place a warming light in the cage to keep them warm.
Baby Canary Fledging
Approximately three weeks after birth, baby canaries may attempt to fly or fledge. Still, the parents will continue to feed them for a couple of weeks. Depending on the amount and quality of food given, baby canaries can leave the nest as early as two weeks.
You can also supplement the feeding with fresh greens, eggs, and soaked seeds. This combination not only helps the birds to grow healthy but also keeps them happy and boosts immunity. All told, healthy baby birds will start feeding on their own when they hit four weeks.
After the babies are fully-fledged, the parents may start showing signs of beginning another brood. Like the previous process, the female may begin laying eggs repeatedly or collecting papers and threads to build another nest. If the older babies are still living with their parents, it is not unusual to find the parent feeding them for a couple of weeks.
How Often Do Canary Birds Breed?
Almost right after the babies fledge, healthy females may display signs of nesting again. Often, whether in the wild or captivity, canary birds lay eggs at least thrice yearly. This means that your pretty singing birds can breed three broods within 12 months.
While this sounds like good news to the breeders, over breeding can drain your hen and make them weak and unhealthy. More so, restrain breeding your older hens too often because they may never fully recover from it. You can achieve that by removing breeding materials and nests from the cage.
If you have warming lights in the cage, do away with them as well. Sometimes, even after removing the nest, some canaries remain adamant and lay eggs in the feeder containers. In such a scenario, take away the eggs as well to minimize chances of incubation.
Beyond anything else, it is prudent to keep your breeding canary pets in a clean environment, offer a special diet and protect them from cold or strong scents. If you want to grow your brood real fast, start with breeding species Glosters. Altogether, female canaries are less expensive than their male counterparts and readily available.