What Do Canaries Eat? Best Food for Canary Birds

If you have canary pets, it’s essential to know what they eat and get them the proper diet to keep them healthy.

Canaries in the wild usually eat varied diets, and you must also achieve this with your pet. In this article, you’ll learn what canaries eat, how to feed them, and foods to avoid when feeding them.

Best Food for Canaries

The main diet of a canary bird are seeds, but they will eat other food such as fruits, vegetables and pelleted food. Besides good and variegated food, they also need fresh water.

– Seeds

Canary diets in the wild usually consist of 80 percent seed, and it varies over seasons. You can feed your canary pet with commercial bird food as they contain multiple seed types.

However, it shouldn’t be their main food source as too much of it can lead to some nutrient deficiency and a decline in their health. Canaries like millet seeds are nutritious, and you can easily find them on millet sprays in pet stores.

While they are good for your feathered companions, ensure not to feed it more than a branch per week, as excess millet seeds can lead to a lack of nutrients after a while.

Almost all commercial mixes have a similar composition. If they offer up to three or four different kinds of seeds, your canary will be okay.

It is advisable to make the seed about 70 percent of your canary diet while the other 30 percent goes to fresh veggies, boiled eggs, and fruits.

The gravest error bird owners make is feeding only seeds to their canaries and thinking they are getting all they need. This can result in excess fat and some vitamin deficiencies.

– Pelleted Food

Pellet diets are designed to provide your canaries with as much natural food as they can get. Pellets contain a very balanced formula, but canaries don’t get used to them easily.

Some pellets are even available for treating some conditions and diseases in your bird. If your birds were raised on seed diets, switching to a pelleted diet can be quite challenging.

There are different pellet formulas for various life phases. The easiest to begin on pelleted diets are hand-raised babies.

– Fruits and Vegetables

Your canary daily intake should consist of about 30 percent vegetarian diet. You can feed the bird with vegetables, fruits, and greens that they like. Before giving the food to them, always wash it first. Also, opt for organic produce, as vegetables containing chemicals can be toxic and harm your canary over time.

It’s advisable to get the food sliced in small pieces to enable your bird to eat them more easily. You can either hang the food on the side of their cage or place it in a container.

While some canaries may prefer one vegetable or fruit over another, try as much as you can to diversify. You can give the canary some fresh greens daily, about a third of its diet.

Some good fresh greens include banana, cabbage, blueberry, tomato, melons, cucumber, carrot, asparagus, apple, etc.

Foods to Avoid Feeding to Canaries

Canaries are small birds, and even the smallest bit of toxic food can poison them. Here are some of the most toxic food that you should avoid feeding to your canary pets.

– Chocolate

Like humans, canaries find it hard to resist chocolate or foods containing chocolates. However, chocolates are toxic to birds, even in very little quantities.

Chocolates contain caffeine and theobromine, which can induce seizures and tremors, increase heart rate, cause hyperactivity, diarrhea, vomiting, and even death.

So when next you feel tempted to share a Hershey’s Kiss or M&M with your feathered companion, offer it a sweet fruit, such as grape, papaya, or mango, instead.

– Caffeine

We all like caffeinated beverages, including soft drinks, tea, and coffee, because they stimulate us, wake us up, and taste great.

However, we shouldn’t think of giving a few sips of these beverages to our canaries, as even one or two sips of these can be poisonous to our birds.

Caffeine can induce hyperactivity and arrhythmia, and increase heart rate, causing heart arrest in canaries. Hence, avoid caffeinated products, and choose water or occasional fruit juice for canaries.

– Apple Seeds and Fruit Pits

While fruits are generally healthy and safe for bird consumption in little quantities, certain fruits with seeds (such as pears and apples) and pits (like nectarines, plums, peaches, cherries, and apricots) shouldn’t be fed to canaries without first taking out the seeds, as these pits and seeds contain some cyanide compound (cardiac-toxic) concentration.

These fruits are very safe for canaries to consume without the pits and seeds.

The seeds of other fruits, including mango, berries, pumpkins, melons, grapes, tomatoes, pomegranate, squash, and citrus fruits, are all safe for your canary consumption.

– Garlic and Onions

Several individuals expect that garlic and onions, like other veggies, are safe for bird consumption. However, while these vegetables are beneficial to people’s health, whether fed cooked or raw, they are poisonous to several animals, including birds, dogs, and cats.

Onions consist of sulfur compounds that can irritate a canary’s mouth or esophagus, resulting in ulcers and anemia.

Garlic consists of allicin, a chemical that can lead to weakness and anemia in birds. So, you can spice up your canary’s diet with little amounts of hot pepper (vitamin A-rich) instead of onions and garlic.

– Salt

Several individuals love to add salt in their foods without measure. People like salty chips, crackers, pretzels, and popcorn. But just as excess salt is bad for humans, it’s the same for your canary, and even a small amount is toxic to small birds.

Even a salty pretzel or chip can upset the fluid balance and electrolyte in your canary’s small body, resulting in dehydration, kidney failure, excessive thirst, and death.

So when next you feel tempted to offer your canary a salty treat, select one or two bites of unsalted pretzels or popcorn instead.

– Avocado

The avocado plant contains a substance called persin, which destroys fungus in the plant. Ingestion of avocado by your canary can lead to weakness, difficult breathing, heart damage, and even death. Although certain kinds of avocado are safe for bird consumption, it’s hard to distinguish them.

It’s best to avoid giving avocado or foods containing avocado (like guacamole) to your canary.

How to Feed Your Canary Bird?

Now, that you know what canaries can eat, you may wondering how to and how often to feed your canary bird. Below, I will explain how to feed canaries the right way:

Converting a Canary to a Pelleted Diet

Converting a seed-eating canary onto formulated diets can be quite strenuous. At first, pellets may not be recognized as food.

Put the pellets in a container separate from other food, and offer them when they’re very hungry. If your canary doesn’t eat e pellets right away, you can slowly wean it off seeds within a few weeks.

Avoid mixing the seed and pellets together, as your bird will pick out its preferred seeds. You can crush the pelleted food into powder and sprinkle moist food over it.

Then, gradually crush the pellets into bigger sizes and mix with smaller quantities of table food. If you experience any problem during this transition, contact your vet.

Feeding Baby Canaries

Newborn canaries need some nutritional supplements to grow properly. The mother often grinds and chews the foods before feeding her newborn offspring.

So, she needs some fruits, vegetables, oats, and animal-protein foods, such as live insects, crushed cuttlefish, boiled chicken eggs, and gelatin. As the newborn grows, you can gradually introduce it to adult feed.

Breeding Canary Diet

A breeding canary also requires special diets to develop the eggs correctly and produce healthy offspring. Try feeding them with high animal-protein diets when they start mating, which will help their eggshell formation.

Can Canaries Eat Meat?

Most meats contain high-fats, and consuming them can cause cholesterol build-ups in the artery walls, predisposing to stroke and heart disease.

You canary can have occasional bites of cooked, lean meat. However, ensure not to feed them in large amounts.

Can Canaries Eat Rice?

Although large birds are generally known to eat rice, whether cooked or uncooked, it’s not the same in smaller birds like canaries and finches. Your canary has a small throat compared to larger birds, and should only be fed with cooked rice (white or brown).

Ensure to give it unsalted rice, as salt can cause dehydration and too much thirst. Furthermore, you can combine the rice with other recommended dry and fresh foods, such as oats, peanuts, and sunflower kernels, to ensure the bird gets every needed nutrient.

Do Canaries Need Water?

Water is vital for every animal, including canaries. Always provide a bowl of clean, fresh water for your canary to remain well-hydrated, healthy, and nourished.

You can also include a small container or pool in the canary’s cage so it can wash. It’s very beneficial as it improves the quality of your bird’s feathers and prevents parasites. Besides, they love fun!

Are Cuttlebones Necessary for Canaries?

Cuttlebone is an essential dietary supplement for canaries, and it’s an affordable source of minerals and calcium carbonate, which helps with blood clotting and bone formation.

Cuttlebone is a natural food and doesn’t contain contaminants or toxins.

The trace elements found in cuttlebones help boost your canary’s immune system, and red blood functioning and formation, and maintains normal muscle and heart activity.

Besides being an essential dietary supplement, its rough texture helps support your canary’s beak strength. Canaries use cuttlebones to trim and sharpen their beaks.


Canaries are lovely to have as pets, and you’ll want to keep yours for as long as possible.

Always wash your hands before feeding them, give them varied diets, avoid foods that aren’t necessary for them, and they’ll do just fine!

avatar William
William is a respected pet enthusiast with expertise in reptiles and birds. With extensive experience caring for these animals, he shares his knowledge through engaging and informative articles in various publications. He is an active member of pet-related organizations, volunteering regularly at shelters and promoting animal welfare and conservation. read more...

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