During my long life and many years of contact with many kind of animals, both at home and in nature, I am absolutely convinced, that basic requirements, basic priorities are exactly the same for "big and small" animals including humans. And the most important requirement it is to have an own territory, own space, own environment in which one hopes to leave peacefully without interference by the others.
The problem is, that several hundreds years ago, we forcefully and against their will, removed the canaries from their own territory. We transplanted them into our environment, which was completely alien to them. In order to keep them less or more happy, we created for them the new environment, their new own territory – the cage.
Their previous surroundings, on the Canary Islands in Atlantic Ocean, were vast fields of, trees and abundant fresh air with easy access to plenty of grass seeds, berries and fruits. Over their heads was mostly blue sky with bright light of warm sun and at night starry sky. Now, it is a cage with some kind of wooden structure called roof and four walls all over mostly wooden or from wire and again wooden or metal floor under the feet. Very often they do not have even the sand, so important for the birds well being.
Whatever material is used to construct the cage – the cage should be as big as possible. It should be a minimum of about 60cm (24") x 40cm (16") x 40cm (16") for one single bird. Majority of people having a canary bird has only one singing bird for pleasure of its song and for companion. They keep their winged friend in a cage constructed mostly from wire, very often of elaborated shape, standing on some of the furniture or hanging on a special stand. The bird in its cage can be moved from one place to the other, to the place were is more sunshine, or fresh air, as a balcony or a yard.
During the night the cage can be and should be covered, if in the same room lights are kept long after a sunset. The birds need quite a lot of rest and sleep. In general it is no problem with a single bird kept as a companion. Their owners have only one or two birds are very continuous to give them as much care as possible. The only remainder is, for single bird keepers, have the cage as big as possible. The birds like very much to fly a bit or at least stretch their wings, so for that reason the cages should be as large as you have room for. Preferably they should be wide enough for the birds to move freely to different perch levels. Tall narrow cages are not recommended because birds tend to move laterally and not vertically. Your cage should be large enough for your bird to express its natural inclinations to move around, to flap its wings and to preen without touching the sides of the cage.
The owners of pet canary will buy the cage in a pet shop where they will find quite a variety of wire cages with all necessary "furniture" like perches, water and seeds containers even some plastic toys for birds. In the same pet shop one can buy a ready-made packet of canary seeds, some tonics claiming to improve quality of singing. One will get also general advice regarding general care. And if everything will go, as it should, the new owner and his canary will live happily together for many years to come.
It seems strange, but lonely bird will develop quite often a strong affection to its owner, and usually it is strong mutual affection. Majority of people has one or two canaries, male canaries, to enjoy companion and song. They do not read books about canaries except maybe a small brochure found in nearly every pet shop. If they have some problem with their pet, they go back to ask the shopkeeper for help. Luckily, it happens once only, when they experience first molding season and can’t understand why the canary stops to sing. We will talk about a bit later
It is a bit different story if one would like to breed canaries and in particulars German Rollers. It is not so easy to find a good breeding cage in a pet shop. The sizes are rather too small, finish crude and for the reason, which I can’t understand, the sand-drawers are without sides. I can’t say if it is so every where, but it is so in Sydney.
In my opinion, the best option, it is to build a cage according to own specification, having in mind the best possible comfort for the bird.
A rectangular cage is preferable. A wooden box-type cage with a wire front only is the most practical. All wire cages can leave the bird exposed to the weather elements like cold droughts, wind or too much sunshine. In a case of a single bird in a wire cage, it is no problem to move a cage to a different position. But breeding cages are in their permanent position. Customary, the breeding cages are builds as a double cage, or as it is called a two-hole cage. There are quite sound reasons to have a double cage, which has removable partition in middle. I will explain later the advantage to have such a cage.
At the moment we establish that our housing for a canary should be rectangular, wooden, double cage, with wire fronts only, it is basically a standard among the canaries' breeders. But size of the cage is up for discussion.As we said at beginning, the canaries were removed by us from the vast fields with abundant fresh air, so we should give them at least a cage as big as possible. We will never be able to give them back, what they lost forever.
It is a double hall cage build by me. It has removable front and removable partition.
The general size of the smaller box cage (a single breeder) is 45 cm. (18’) long by 30 cm (12’) high and 30 cm. (12’) deep. Double breeders are generally 90 cm. (3’) in length with the other dimensions the same as above.
The bigger the cage the more room to fly the bird will have and the better the bird will feel. Thomas Velluer who runs The Haartz Roller Canary page on Internet said, that the current opinion in Germany is that a cage for a single bird should not be smaller than about 60 cm. (2’) long, 38 cm. (15") deep and 38 cm. (15") high. In a cage like this the bird can really fly. The cages mostly sold in pet shops force the canary to hop from perch to perch only.
Assuming, we build a cage according to our specification, we need to provide furnishers to the bird quarters. The essential cage fittings consist of perches, seed-hoppers, and water and grit containers and clips to hold mineral block and green. Also very important part of functional cage is a sand-drawer. It needs to have sides of 1 cm. by 1 cm. dimensions. It should be snag fitting and at the same time must be easily removable together with its contents, without spilling the sand.
Perches are the only one, which need to be of specific shape and size. Perches should be made of softwood and should be of oval shape, about 1 cm. across. It is best to vary the size of these a little, and even a shape as well, but never use round perches, as these will cause corns on the bird’s feet. It is handy to have a complete duplicate of these perches so that can be replaced without delay, leaving plenty of time for cleaning of those removed. My perches oval in shape have longitudinal cut in the front part and the cut fits over the downward wire and rest on the crossbar. The rear end of the perch has a nail driven in and the nail enters the back wall of the cage. Place perches in such a way that the birds' droppings won't contaminate food or water.
And here again we need to make such perches on our own, because nearly without exemption, the perches sold in pet shops are round, to small in size, and recently they are sold made from plastic or overlaid with sandpaper!
Can you imaging discomfort and suffering of a tiny bird’s feet having scabby sandpaper under them? The idea of such sandpaper lining it is to clean the feet. The bird’s feet are becoming dirty with feces if the floor of the cage is filed with some cat litter or covered with a newspaper. It is extremely lazy way of keeping the cage’s floor clean. But more important it is very bad for a bird. The sand is a must for birds, mostly for seedeaters. It plays enormous role in crushing the seeds. Without sand the birds will have a problem with digestion. For this reason a lot of people buys grit and gives it in special containers. Personally, I never used the grid. I was and still I am using the sand. But in a past I was using the sand from the beach It had a lot of tiny shell grid in it. Nowadays our live deteriorated so much that collecting the beach sand in many places is forbidden. If we like it or not, we are more and more restricted in our activities, very often without realizing it.
The most important role played by sand is helping in digestion.
The sand helps also with cleansing the feet. A bird achieves also cleaning the feet by bathing in a water. So it is our duty to supply water for bathing at least every second day. It can be done by putting into a cage a plastic or glass container with about two centimeters of water in it. The birds love bathing. They perform their ablution very vigorously. They splash the water all over. The are very messy bathers. For these reason a plastic container with transparent walls, which hangs outside the cage, is supplied. The bird enters its "bathhouse", splash the water against the walls without fouling the sand. It is handy to have such bathing facilities for every cage. It makes our morning servicing far quicker.
Seed hoppers vary in type and size, and it does not matter which type we choose, but preferably, they should be all the same as it makes favorable appearance of the cages’ assemble or the birds’ room if we are lucky to have one.
It is useful to have well functioning strong holding clips to grip cattle-fish bone or greens.
Perches, seed-hoppers, water, grit containers and clips to hold mineral block and green. The drawers full of good sand and plastic bathhouses – those items are necessary equipment to make our birds happy in its new environment. All this items constitute a well-outfitted house, if you like to use that human expression. The quality and amount of that equipment make our duty easier. Very often I found that if I must buy something – the cheapest is not exactly cheaper.
Basically that is all so far as the birds’ housing requirements are going. It is a good start to have a cage before a bird. We are nearly ready to bring our new friends home, but before we will do it, lets think where we will keep the cages. In a case of one, single canary kept in an ornamental wire cage it doesn’t matter. But if we want to breed the birds and we have two or mostly four double cages, it is becoming a bit more complicated. Not every member of our family would like to be with those birds all the time. What is even more important, the birds are also not exactly keen to be with every member of our dwellings, but they do not know how to express their protest.
Whatever will be decided, to have the cages in one of our common room, or we will be able to have a spare room, which we can designate as a bird room, it should be planned in advance. Some will have an opportunity to have a special shed or small house for birds only. It would be the best, but still require planning. It cans also a lot to be said about situation of the bird room or house. Should the windows face east or west south or north, but we will talk about a bit later. At the moment we are happy to have the cages and some kind of space for the cages, the best kind of space we have been able to afford.
Both pictures of the birds' rooms are not mine. I found them on the internet several years ago. If the owners of the birds' rooms would like to have their names to be mentioned : e-mail me please.
In the breeding room the practical side of the venture should be fully considered. Any fancy cages, while very much in place in a sitting or drawing rooms, are quite out of place in the breeding room. The cages, wooden boxes, double breeders with removable partition between the holes, should be harmonious in their construction and all finishing details. In this way, the bird room looks neat and tidy. The same applies to drinkers, seed hoppers and all utensils – same shape, same size and same color.
Well-arranged and equipped bird room is an envy of every canary's breeder.
We are really nearly ready to bring our birds in, but before we will do so, let talk first about feeding. It would be not so mach important to have a long talk about canary’s food if we want to have one singing bird. In that case, one seed hopper in the cage should always be kept filled with a good canary seed mixture. For the pet canary, packet seed is to be preferred. Some brands have seeds specially treated to supply necessary vitamins. Such vitamins fortified seeds cost a bit more, but it is worth it.
And again, it is a bit different story if we are breeding canaries and we have about eight birds, four males and four females to start with. In that situation we must prepare our own mixture for the birds and some other food as well according to requirements.
If you have some questions, please e-mail me
Back to Index Next to Feeding Page
September 09, 1999 11:24 AM [Hit Counter]