Canary Love

In the town that I called home for my childhood and teen years, there lived a woman who bred and sold canaries. In the late spring and summer, when we drove past her house with the windows down, and especially if we had to stop at the traffic light just down the street, her birds would be holding free concerts. I dreamed about going there to buy a canary and filling my life with that glorious music.

I also watched the movie Bird Man of Alcatraz, which added to my wish to know personally these cheerful feathered singers. Life took me in different paths for many years, and when I did get around to having a nice flock, I didn’t think much about canaries any longer.

A friend gave me a green singing finch. This adorable yellow and gray finch was said to be the natural starting point for the man-made canary. The real canary ancestor is called the Atlantic canary Male and female adult green singers are easy to tell apart, as the female has a “necklace” of little dots on its lower throat. I had a male, and set about finding a female. These little birds are feisty and pugnacious. And did not work well in a community flight cage. On their own, I tried many different nests and live food, and never had any breeding success. I’m down to one single female, and have her paired just for company with a male zebra finch. So ends that attempt.

My husband wanted a canary. He loves their singing. So when my bird club had a special program on canaries, I talked to the presenter and purchased a beautiful male American singer as a birthday present. The house filled with glorious song, and all was well. But did I stop there? Of course not! I soon after purchased a female, threw them into a cage, and gave them a nest. Yeah, that’s not how it’s done.

Luckily these birds hadn’t read any more on the subject than I had. Soon the hen was sitting on a nest of four eggs. Sadly, shortly after the eggs hatched, she succumbed to an illness and passed away. I feared I would lose the chicks, but the dad stepped in and raised the babies all by himself. Then he died. Chances are good that this drated mite is what killed the adults. I learned to spray Avian Insect Liquidator (AIL) on all my finches regularly to prevent this issue.

The babies grew to adult hood, and some went off to new homes. I kept the hen that most resembled her mom, and got a new male. For whatever reason, this girl loved to sit on eggs, but found the new-hatched babies ugly and horrible. She tossed every baby. The longest she went without infanticide was 5 days. Just when I had my hopes up, the baby plummeted.

Needless to say, she never got another nest again, and I stopped breeding canaries. Through one thing and another, I ended up with a handful of canaries, and we enjoyed the songs. But some of the canaries were elderly, and we lost them to old age. Now we are down to two of that group, and very little singing. I wanted to get waterslagers, since they are the best singers, but they aren’t cheap.

The bird club had another canary presentation. The opportunity table that night had a pair of waterslager canaries available. One of my tickets was the second one called, and I nabbed the canaries. Yes!

New cage, new place in the dining room, and the whole house filled with song. What a great start to the new year. I know you want to hear all about these two, Rico and Bubbles, as time goes on. Thanks for reading, and I’ll be back on Thursday.

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