My experiences are not typical or the same as everyone else’s. In general, female birds have a shorter lifespan than males. The stress on their bodies of laying eggs and raising the chicks is high. And if these things don’t cause the early death, they might succumb to egg binding or other such complications of procreation.
I recently lost my third female waterslager canary. She did act odd for a week or so, but not like she was suffering from any ailment. She simply liked to sit in one of the larger dishes in the cage. I had hoped she would go to the nest and lay an egg or five, but that didn’t happen.
After I took her from the cage, Rico, the male, called for her for a couple days. Then he went back to singing. Due to shuffling cages recently, I have put Rico in the same cage with Barney, my male Fife canary. They are not thrilled with the situation but so far they are tolerant of one another.
I had considered breeding Fifes because so many other club members are doing well with that. But now I think I am done with canaries. We’ll keep the males we have around and enjoy their singing. Nothing more is needed.
I’ve had similar bad luck with some of the most beautiful finches. Lady Gouldian Finches will not breed for me and die long before they should. Owl finches, the same. Cut throat finches lived long but did not breed. I gave them to someone who had better results.
Whenever I see beautiful Gouldians I get the urge to have them around me once more. They can be real characters as well. The first pairs we had were given the names that played on the name Gould or Finch. Elliot, a beautiful black head male, gave us daily laughs from the way he drank water. I used a Lixit-type water bottle on their cage. Elliot would push the ball up and drink, then pull back and slowly wag his head from side to side. Like he was saying, “Wow, what a rush!”
A side note: I discovered that the name Gould is an Anglicization of the word Gold, and of Irish, Scottish, or Anglo decent. Good thing it did get changed because Lady Gold Finch would have been so confusing.
Of course, not just female canaries and finches can pass away early. Their lives are so short, to begin with, it may seem they leave us too soon. Calcium and heat sources are key when they are showing any signs of illness. But male birds can also go through issues and have shortened lives due to their environment.
Another side note about canaries, unless you live somewhere that doesn’t have mosquitoes, do not keep your canaries outside. The little yellow songbirds we love are susceptible to a pox that is carried by the bloodsuckers. The wild sparrows and finches also can contract this pox and have significant loss of flock members from it. There is a vaccine for it, but it will only cure the bird inoculated and he or she could still be a carrier.
Understanding the world of breeding birds means accepting that there will be death and loss in several areas. Loss of chicks because the eggs are infertile, death of hens when their condition isn’t checked soon enough, and hopes unrealized when a pair of birds don’t mate. In spite of it all, I would rather have the birds in my life than not. I will simply remain a breeder of budgies, cockatiel, and zebra finches. The world may go on without me producing canaries and Gouldians.
Thanks for reading, I’ll be back next Sunday.