Species group: Canaries
Other common names: Border Canary; Wee Gem
Scientific name: Serinus canaria domesticus
The Border Fancy Canary, so-called because it was developed by breeders on the border between Scotland and England, is a type canary bred first and foremost for its handsome shape and graceful form, rather than its song. Despite the nickname of “Wee Gem,” this popular bird is one of the largest canaries, and it does make a fine display. As a result, this variety is probably the single most popular show bird exhibited today. As a bonus, the males do sing, loud and long.
In the late 1700s and early 1800s, Scottish and northern English breeders developed the Border Fancy Canary from common or “chopper” canaries. At that time, they were rather small, earning them the Scottish nickname, “Wee Gem.” With time and attention, they became not just a bigger bird physically but also the single most popular canary in the British Isles.
One of the largest popular canaries. In addition to the traditional yellow, they may be white, buff, green, or cinnamon, as well as variegated or ticked in any of those colors. However, any Border Canaries that have a hint of red coloring must be disqualified from the show bench.
18 - 20 grams (0.6 - 0.7 oz.)
14 - 15 centimeters (5.5 - 5.9 in.)
8 - 12 years
Behavior / temperament:
The Border Fancy Canary is a round, well-shaped bird with an alert, attentive personality that shows well at exhibitions yet also adds plenty of beauty to the home. Although not bred especially for song, the males do possess a lot of talent. You should be playing recordings of good singers to your males from the earliest possible age, to encourage them to learn to the best of their abilities. The desire to sing is linked to testosterone and the drive to attract a mate and claim territory. Therefore, the males will not sing when they're at low energy, which usually occurs during the molt.
Many commercial cages sold for Border Fancy 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 fairly high should also help the bird'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.
Border Fancy 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.
The Border Fancy Canary has been kept in captivity for hundreds of years, and they 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 Border Fancy Canary's 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 Border Fancy 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? 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
entertaining, sturdy little creature, great companions canaries, sweet toned warble
constant loud whistling, cold temperature
happy splashing, cuttle fish bone, feminine canary behaviours, little yellow feathers
My mother had a pet canary named Pretty Bird which she adored but not having a lot of time to care for the canary, she asked me if I wanted him. Now mind you, I didn't know anything about caring for Pretty Bird but I agreed to take him home. He seemed contrary and would not sing as I thought canary's were supposed to do so I was worried that something was wrong with him.
I sat down at the computer and began to research about canaries and found out some interesting facts. Canaries live an average of 5 to 9 years and are small birds, averaging from 3 to 6 inches and weighing in at approximately 20 grams. They are one of the most popular small bird species in the United States and this is because of their great singing ability. Male canaries love to sing and can be found throughout the entire United States, South America, Australia and parts of Asia. Canaries come in many different colors and there are several different types available for sale in the United States. Canaries eat a lot of seed, but they also need fruits and vegetables to have a balanced diet and in their cage they need
a swing, bells, whistles, mirrors to admire themselves as well as a water bowl to bathe in and drink from.
After extensive research I still did not know why the canary was so sad because I had supplied him with everything he could possibly need. He didn't sing or bathe in his water bowl, he only sat on his perch and stared out of his cage.
Fearing the canary was sick, I took it to the vet who told me the bird was physically well and maybe the problem was an emotional one. The vet proceeded to ask me where I had gotten Pretty Bird and when I told him, he answered, "If you want to make this bird better, take him home."
When I got back home with Pretty Bird I called my mother and told her what the vet had said. Her response was, "I was about to call and ask if you would bring him home...I miss talking to him."
I took Pretty Bird home the next day and that night when I called my mother, she informed me that the contrary canary was singing like a lark. I guess it is true...there's no place like home..
From stormsdestiny42 May 28 2013 6:03PM
Sweet voiced and sweet natured
I owned a yellow border fancy canary when I was younger, and found it an excellent pet. Canaries are very easy to keep as they're low maintainance and sweet natured birds.
They also don't need constant attention, and from my experience with Sonny he seemed very happy as a solitary bird.
Fresh water daily is a must, and seed can be blown on gently (to remove husks) and replaced regularly. A variety of foods is also really appreciated. Sonny loved green things, in particular cress or lettuce, and fruit such as chunks of apples or grapes - all really easy things to come across. He worked his way through most of the different fruits and vegetables in our fridge over the years, but those were his favourites!
A cuttle fish bone is needed for minerals, and seed treats and millet were extremely welcomed too.
Unlike Budgies, canaries don't seem to take to toys very much, although a mirror can result in a fair bit of curiosity. I found anything else was ignored, although perches or dry, clean twigs were happily hopped over.
Don't be tempted by a tall, round kind of cage. Canaries like to stretch their wings, so go for a nice long rectangular one with plenty of space for fluttering and don't clutter it with toys. Sonny absolutely loved his bath - one of the ones that clip onto the cage door. They're inexpensive but result in lots of happy splashing, and it's amusing to watch.
Health wise I found my canary a sturdy little creature and very low maintainance. Nail clipping was the main intervention needed, and I have to admit the very few times this was needed we took him back to the pet shop where they were happy to do it for me.
He was a regular singer too, particularly in the morning, and especially if bright and sunny. It was a very sweet toned warble of varying notes, really very pleasing to listen too.
He was prone to a moulting period towards the end of the summer, but this is normal. Just expect little yellow feathers to find their way everywhere for a few weeks!.
From Chairlady Sep 10 2014 12:33PM