The little canary birds are known all over the world for their amazing vocal abilities. The canary is so named because it was once brought by explorers from the Canary Islands. Today it is a fairly common pet. Its popularity as a domestic animal lies in the fact that it does not require any special care. The bird quickly adapts to new environmental conditions and feels comfortable at home.
Origin of the species and description
The canary belongs to chordate vertebrates, is a representative of the class of birds, the superorder of neopalates, the order of passerines, the suborder of songbirds, the family of finches, the genus of canary finches, the species of Canary canary finches, the subspecies of domestic canaries.
Ever since the time when the discoverers brought from various overseas and unknown countries writings about various outlandish representatives of the animal world, people first learned about the canary. Scientists, researchers and navigators not only described a small bird that sings amazing trills, but also brought drawings with its image. Subsequently, several amazing birds from the Canary Islands were brought to Europe. It is thanks to the region of their habitat, which was considered the immediate homeland of birds, that they were called canaries.
After the first birds came to Europe, they were quickly brought to Russia and became very popular and in demand as pets. Gradually, people learned how to properly care for canaries, and subsequently breed them. Canaries became so popular that in some regions entire villages and villages were only engaged in breeding and raising birds, making cages and perches for them.
During the period of domestication, birds have changed quite a bit. Domestic canaries have a number of distinctive features from their relatives – wild Canary finches. This is clearly manifested in the size of the body, the color scheme of the plumage, as well as the manner in which they perform their trills.
Appearance and features
Canaries are small bright birds. Domesticated individuals have larger body sizes compared to wild birds. The average domestic canary has a body length of 13-15 centimeters. The body size, taking into account the wingspan, is about 23-25 centimeters. However, there are individuals that have larger or smaller dimensions. These little songbirds have very harmonious, well-proportioned body proportions. On a small body there is a rounded, small head.
The eyes of the birds are black, round, very expressive. On the head there is a light, most often yellowish pin-shaped beak. Plumage color can be varied. The most common is a rich yellow color. However, there are individuals that have a different plumage color.
What plumage colors are possible for canaries:
- chocolate color;
- greenish tint;
- all kinds of shades of brown;
- the presence of red feathers is possible (the result of crossing a canary with a fiery siskin).
Canaries tend to sometimes change the color of their plumage depending on climatic conditions. There are individuals with a crest, or feathers with specific waves. The birds have rather thin, but tenacious limbs with long claws. To date, it is customary to distinguish more than a hundred species of decorative poultry. Each species has specific external features, body size, color.
Where does the canary live?
Today, the canary is a domesticated, decorative bird. The ancestors and ancestors of this species were wild birds – Canary finches. Their natural habitat was considered the Canary Islands. On the territory of the islands, the most favorable climatic conditions for the year-round habitat of birds. Under natural conditions, birds most often live in forest areas in mountainous areas. They can often be found near human settlements, as well as in small settlements, rural areas. Canarian finches tend to lead a sedentary lifestyle. They choose a certain territory where they spend almost their entire lives.
Canaries are completely undemanding to the conditions of detention. At home, they do not require almost any special care. To keep them, you will need a cage in which the birds will have to spend most of their time. For keeping a bird at home, it is best to choose a spacious metal cage, since it is very easy to wash and, if necessary, can be disinfected. In the cage, be sure to install a mirror, a swing, a drinking bowl and a feeder. Mandatory attributes include perches and crossbars, which should be placed at different levels.
What does a canary eat?
The canary is considered an unpretentious bird that does not sort out food. However, those who decide to start it at home should remember that proper, balanced nutrition is the key to the health and life expectancy of a bird. The main food base of birds is food of plant origin – seeds, various types of vegetation. During the nesting and breeding period, birds can feed on insects, larvae, caterpillars, etc.
When living at home, birds are advised to buy food designed specifically for feeding canaries. At the same time, it is worth paying attention to a certain stage of life for which this food is created. For example, for the molting period, or the breeding period, a type of feed is intended that contains the optimal amount of vitamins and minerals for this period. The average rate of dry food for one adult is 2 teaspoons per day.
What serves as a bird food base:
- cereals: oats, millet, barley, wheat, corn , buckwheat, rice, canary seed;
- seeds of various types of succulent vegetation: quinoa, dandelion, plantain;
- sunflower seeds;
- ripe fruits – grapes, apricots, cherries, sweet varieties of apples, peaches;
- dried fruits: figs, dried apricots, raisins, prunes, dates;
- fresh vegetables.
In the cold season, it is recommended to supplement the diet with sprigs of various varieties of trees and shrubs – maple, cherry, raspberry, hawthorn, mountain ash, beech, willow, elderberry. Sometimes songbirds can be pampered with various products of animal origin – low-fat cottage cheese, a small amount of honey, boiled eggs, insects. There is also a list of products that are contraindicated for these birds.
Products that are contraindicated:
- parsley, dill;
Interesting fact: Birds tend to lead an active, mobile lifestyle. However, individuals that are kept at home are limited in space and may be obese.
Now you know what to feed the canary. Let's see how the songbird lives in the wild.
Character and lifestyle features
By nature, canaries are endowed with a calm, peaceful character. It is worth noting that males are somewhat calmer and more friendly towards humans than females. Accordingly, males quickly and easily adapt at home, get used to people. Those who plan to acquire this small but very melodious bird are advised to have young individuals. Mature birds are distinguished by quarrelsomeness. It is difficult for them to get used to a person. In some cases, they tend to be aggressive.
Birds that come to a person are no longer young, lead a familiar lifestyle. They are not inclined to change their habits, adapt to people. To change some habits, you will have to make an incredible amount of effort. If a young individual enters the house, at first it is necessary to disturb her less. She needs time to adapt. When communicating with birds, you should try to avoid sudden, impulsive movements and loud sounds.
Birds that are direct relatives of the domestic canary, Canary finches are considered to be very inquisitive and sociable birds. Under natural conditions, they really need the company of their relatives and exist exclusively in packs. Flock size may vary. Most often, these birds fly at a low altitude, not rising high. Flocks fly from tree to tree, or from bush to bush in search of the required amount of food. In the process of moving, they constantly communicate with other individuals of the pack.
With the onset of darkness, small flocks of birds unite into large flocks and look for a suitable tree for spending the night. In this composition they spend the night and at dawn they are again divided into noisy flocks. Bird breeders should remember that the canary is a songbird, so it will make a lot of noise in the house.
Social Structure and Reproduction
In birds living in natural conditions, the breeding season begins with the onset of spring. Warm weather and sufficient food indicate that the time has come for procreation. At home, canaries can breed year-round in the presence of suitable conditions.
Mostly birds breed at the age of one and a half to four and a half years. One adult sexually mature female is capable of making several clutches in one life cycle. When kept at home, it is better not to allow her to do more than two, in order to prevent excessive stress on a small body. It is best to equip several nests in the form of a sphere for the canary and attach a perch close to it.
After two individuals converge, after 10-12 days the first egg may appear. After that, every day the female lays one more egg. Their total number does not exceed 4-5 pieces. Canary eggs are small in size and weigh no more than 2-3 grams. They are light, with a bluish tint and small dark patches.
After laying the eggs, the female incubates them. She practically does not leave her post until the chicks hatch from the eggs. They appear in the same order in which the eggs were laid. Among the birds that were born, competition immediately arises. The older and stronger take food from the younger and weak. Often because of this, weak individuals die from lack of food. Because of this, when kept at home, artificial eggs are placed in canaries instead of laid eggs. After all the eggs are laid, they are returned to the bird, and she begins to incubate all the eggs at the same time.
After the birth of the chicks, the female feeds them for one month. A month later, the chicks learn to fly and gradually prepare for independent living. The period of puberty is reached by one and a half years. The average life expectancy is 10 years. When kept at home and well cared for, life expectancy can increase up to 15 years.
Natural enemies of canaries
When living in natural conditions in the Canary Islands, canaries have quite a few enemies. Predators lie in wait for them even in the dark. The threat awaits not only them, but also nests with eggs, and defenseless chicks. Canaries are very nimble and mischievous birds that constantly scurry back and forth, thereby giving away the location of their nest.
During the period of flights during daylight hours, they often become the prey of other large raptors – owls, royal kites, hawks. With the onset of darkness, they are hunted by bats, which are predominantly nocturnal and perfectly orientated in the dark.
On the surface of the earth, small birds also have many enemies. These include rats, members of the cat family. Cats and rats eat the chicks that are born and destroy their nests. In addition, rodents are carriers of dangerous infectious diseases. One individual can infect an entire flock in a short time, which subsequently dies.
Population and species status
Today, canaries are domestic birds. They exist exclusively at home. They are successfully bred in various parts of the world. Wild birds are called Canarian canary finches. They inhabit exclusively the Canary and Azores. Scientists have found that the approximate number of canaries in the Canary Islands is 90,000 pairs, in the Azores – 65,000 pairs.
Canary finches inhabit Madeira in a small number. However, their numbers there are significantly lower – no more than 5,500 pairs. Canaries have repeatedly tried to start in Bermuda or the Hawaiian Islands. In 1933, scientists brought several pairs of canaries to these islands, but after 25 years, all individuals in this region became extinct. A small number of birds are also found in Puerto Rico.
Today, according to scientists, the birds are not threatened with extinction. The canary is a small, mobile, lively, and very bright bird. This species has a huge variety of subspecies. An amazing feature, thanks to which birds have become known all over the world, is their incredible melodiousness. For those who like to enjoy the singing of birds, such a pet will bring a lot of pleasure and positive emotions.