Species group: Canaries
Other common names: American Singer
Scientific name: Serinus canaria domesticus
The American Singer Canary is the only American breed of canary that was bred, first and foremost, for spectacular song. Today, it is one of the most popular pet canaries found in the United States. The original breed was developed by several Boston, Massachusetts area women in the 1930s, who aimed for a bird that is approximately 2/3 German Roller and 1/3 Border Canary.
According to the American Singers Club (ASC), "The American Singer Canary is a cross between the German Roller and the English Border Fancy. It takes approximately 4 to 5 years of systematic breeding to develop a strain of American Singers from its Border and German Roller ancestors."
“American Singer” is now a copyrighted name and your canary is not a genuine American Singer unless it is banded with a closed, registered American Singer band. Because this talented canary captured the imagination of a nation, many people may claim that they hold this breed, so check for the proper band and registration. That said, many of the unofficial descendants of American Singer Canaries can make good pets that sing well, even if they aren't eligible to compete in shows.
If you want a singing canary, then you should seek out a breeder who will guarantee that the bird is male and who is willing to exchange the bird if it doesn't sing.
Because it's bred for song, not looks, the American Singer Canary may appear in a variety of plumages. It tends to be a medium-sized canary whose throat puffs out fully when it sings.
15 - 20 grams (0.53 to 0.70 oz.)
14.6 centimeters (5.75 in.)
8 - 10 years
Behavior / temperament:
The male American Singer Canary is a splendid, confident singer who can fill the home with song. They can truly sing hour after hour, if they are kept as a single pet, in a confortable cage, where they can fly, play, and feel confident in the home. Be aware that the very best singers do receive song training. Purchase training recordings of prize-winning singers, and allow your bird to listen regularly, so that he can learn from the best.
Although an American Singer Canary who has never sung at all, yet otherwise seems healthy, is probably a female, then there are some good reasons why a healthy male might stop singing. They need to feel strong and full of testosterone to sing, so your bird is unlikely to sing much or at all while he's molting. If the bird is being terrified or teased by another pet, such as a cat watching the cage, or a parrot heckling the canary, then you would need to put a stop to any situation that frightens the canary. If the house is much too quiet, then the bird may fall silent too, just because it's a natural instinct to assume that a predator must be lurking if everyone has gone quiet You might be surprised at how quickly your canary tunes up if you put on some classical music playing very, very softly.
Many commercial cages sold for American Singer Canaries are too small. Take the time and trouble to find a cage that is at least 24”wide by 18” deep by 24” high. These birds cannot exercise by climbing. They need to fly, and the cage needs to give them space to do that. Placing the bird's cage high should also help your pet's confidence. You need to provide adequate perches, of varying widths to allow the bird to change its grip and prevent wear on the feet. You can include toys like bells and swings. A mirror is a bad idea if it persuades a singing male that he has now won his mate and he needn't bother to sing so much. They also like food treats. A favorite foraging toy might be a millet spray, especially if you have soaked the spray for a few days in order to let it sprout.
American Singer Canaries, like all canaries, must be protected from mosquitoes, which can carry the deadly and disfiguring canary pox, in addition to other dangerous diseases. There is a vaccine for canary pox and if you live in an area where it's a reality that mosquitoes may get into your home from time to time, strongly consider asking your vet for this one-time vaccine.
Although the American Singer Canary breed is less than 100 years old, its domestic canary ancestors have been kept in captivity for hundreds of years, and these hardy birds thrive on a relatively easy-to-provide seed-based diet. The backbone of most Canary diets is a high quality canary seed mix formulated especially for canaries, with a high proportion of canary, rape, flax, linseed, sterilized hemp, thistle, and not too much millet. Some high end seed mixes also contain freeze-dried fruits and vegetable bits, and anise may give the mix a wonderful aroma.
You should regularly test the seed for freshness by soaking and sprouting the seed. If the seed doesn't sprout, it's too old and stale for your canary. You can also buy special seeds that are easy to sprout in the home. These so-called soaking seed blends may include sunflower, safflower, and wheat that would otherwise be too large or too difficult for a Canary to crack by itself, yet once sprouted, they will gain in vitamins and become soft, delicious treats that your bird will love.
However, seed alone just isn't enough, even for the sturdy American Singer Canary. Chopped fresh greens like unsprayed chickweed, dandelion greens, and oregano are highly recommended, but any healthy greens such as the flowering heads of broccoli or chopped fruit like apples, apricots, and so on, will add vitamins and flavor to the diet. You should also be able to find some pellets formulated especially for Canaries. Some people report that their Canaries first learned to eat their pellets after they sprinkled them with a little apple juice.
What about protein for the American Singer Canary? Many people make a classic eggfood which consists of a hard-boiled egg chopped up well, with about 1 teaspoon of brewer's yeast (NEVER baking yeast) stirred into the mix. Don't leave eggfood sitting around. Remove what's left in the bowl after a couple of hours. It's especially important to provide the eggfood to molting or breeding birds.
Written by Elaine Radford
lovely singing voice, fabulous singer, melodic, beautiful voice, beautiful sound
incessant racket, cleaning, early riser
higher metabolisms, toys..especially their mirrors, open flight time
My Canary, The Predator
My mother got a canary when my 3 kids were very young, with their ages ranging from 1 to 8 years old. As I recall, Chippy was presented as a birthday gift to my middle daughter who was 6 yrs old at the time. The children were ecstatic as Chippy was a beautiful bird who sang magnificent melodies and was very easy to care for. His cage had a bottom which pulled out easily so his bedding changes were simple and his food was inexpensive. He loved the treats we dangled from the bars of his spacious living quarters - he was truly the King of his castle.
Now, Chippy on the whole had a wonderful personality, full of life and capable of learning neat tricks to impress us, and always offering his beautiful songs to our thankful ears, however, Chippy had a dark side. A dark side we grew to refer to as Choppy.
Chippy enjoyed his "free time" where he was allowed to fly wherever he wanted in our large home. Perhaps that is where we went wrong. It was apparent early on, Chippy would not be using his "fly time" for good. No, Chippy became Choppy soon after his "free time" started.
It didn't happen every day but sometimes, after Chippy was released from his cage he would fly to a corner of whatever room we were in and wait. He'd just wait, taking in the sounds, the sights and breathing in the activity around him. When our attention was no longer on him, he'd strike.
Choppy would swoop down at high speeds and skim the top of our heads with such speed you knew something had just grazed the top of your head but what exactly, you never saw. It startled us when he first started doing it and as he got older and stronger, it was thrilling to know he'd be striking at any moment and it became a game to see if you could spot him while he was doing it. It didn't hurt really, just scared you for a second.
Our friends would laugh, "He's just a canary! how fast can can he be?"...and then he'd prey on their heads and make his move resulting in them pleading with us to put him away for their visit as they couldn't take the "not knowing" of when he would strike.
He wasn't aggressive in any other way. He'd do tricks on your finger, he'd come when called, he even flew out the window one day but came right back. Why Chippy suddenly became Choppy at times was always a mystery but we loved them both for each quality they possessed inside of that one canary.
I guess if I had to sum up the review of my sweet but demented canary, I'd say beware for even a beautiful songbird can mask an unpredictable villain but he was definitely worth owning.
After a few years we were on the move so much we weren't able to give Chippy a lot of attention so Chippy went to live with my recently retired Grandmother. He enjoyed his life with Grandma P and lived well with her. Choppy didn't appear to her often but when he did, he executed a much gentler strike...almost as if he knew she was a more fragile creature than our young rambunctious family.
We visited Chippy fairly frequently and when Choppy showed up we enjoyed his high speed trips across our hair. We missed them.
I think owning Chippy wowed us and was a pretty memorable pet owning experience - to think a little bird could have so many facets to his personality. He was quite a Canary!.
From cherylanne1028 May 19 2015 9:31PM
Canary ups and downs, but mostly ups.
Our canaries were the first experience I had with songbirds. Their bright yellow color and melodious songs could brighten up even the most dreary February day. Having said that, however, I do have some tips for people that would like to provide these wonderful little birds a loving home.
Cage size seems to be fairly important, at least in my experience. My canaries were housed in a beautiful cylindrical cage that measured approximately 14 to 16 inches across and perhaps a little over 2 feet in height. Experience showed that this was perhaps a tiny bit on the small side for two canaries, and a larger cage would have stressed the birds a little less. Per the recommendation of the people in a local pet store, we purchased a male and a female canary. The thought was that this would provide incentive to the male to keep him singing. That was mostly true, but it seemed there was always just a very slight amount of tension in the cage which resulted in the mail and female birds singing less than would have been expected. There also seemed to be an occasional marital problem between the birds which resulted in a short-lived physical confrontation. It is my thought that a cage that is as large as would be appropriate for the room size would have solved some of the issues. Like many adults, I think I birds needed to be able to get away from each other occasionally and even though the cage was the recommended size, a larger one probably would have been better.
The female birds seem to take very good care of herself and washed at least once or twice a day in the bathing dish. The male apparently felt no such responsibility for bathing, and would attempt to stretch baths out to no more than once a week. I know many little boys that would do the same thing if you would let them. All of the canary manuals that I read said that you could clean the birds gently in the sink. There really needs to be additional details added to that. I'm quite sure that they meant to say is a you can hold them gently in one hand while just barely squirting them with the squirter attachment that comes with most sinks. I am absolutely positive that what they did not mean was to hold them under a stream of warm water. Whoops, my bad. The male did survive that, but it was very, very apparent that he did not enjoy the experience and wanted very little to do with me thereafter. I can't blame him.
The only other piece of good advice that I have is to ensure there is some barrier within the cage which prevents their food from being strewn all over the room. They do enjoy eating and tossing seeds about, and that will make quite a mess on the rug.
Despite a few setbacks, I would whole heartedly recommend canaries as a pet with the proviso that you do not have expectations that they will one day become your snugly playmates..
From CarlF Aug 17 2015 2:43PM
Musical, beautiful but not friendly
If you have children, do not get this bird. Great with owner and only owner. Not even good with members of owner's family. Will peck when you feed it, if let out it will perch on your shoulder and bite and peck at your ear and then fly away before you can catch it. Beautiful songs but will sing for a few hours at night even when cage is covered. Though covering the cage is the only way to train the bird to stop singing..
From chrissy_89 Jan 15 2014 10:34PM