Species group: Canaries
Other common names: Color Canary; Colourbred Canary
Scientific name: Serinus canaria domesticus
Color Bred Canaries are bred for the beauty of their color, rather than for the perfection of their song. The first Color Bred Canary was the impressive Red Factor Canary, but these days breeders have produced a wide range of colorful choices, including Bronze, Ivory, Yellow, Onyx, Red Mosaic, Opal, and many more. Although they are bred for their beauty and their ability to show well, the males do sing, and for many people, a splendid Color Bred Canary is the best of both worlds.
In the 1920s, German and British breeders began to experiment with developing the first Color Bred Canary, the Red Factor Canary. To get the red color, breeders mixed an unrelated songbird, the Red Siskin (Carduelis cucullata) with their domestic canaries. The results were spectacular, but there was some bad feeling about the project, because it led to the pursuit and trapping of most of the Red Siskins remaining in the wild, and this lovely wild species is still highly endangered, decades after legal export of the siskins has been outlawed.
Today, there are many other options when you are considering Color Bred Canaries. Know your source, and take care to purchase only legal, close-banded birds from well-regarded breeders.
An alert smallish songbird,often orange or orange-red.
15 - 20 grams (0.5 - 0.7 oz.)
13 - 15 centimeters (5 - 6 in.)
7 - 12 years
Behavior / temperament:
Since they are bred for color, not song, don't expect your Color Bred Canary to out-sing professional songsters like the Roller Canary or the American Singer. That said, a male Color Bred Canary kept in the home should certainly sing, even if the quality may vary somewhat from bird to bird. The males are territorial, and the rule should be one male or one pair to a cage.
Many commercial cages sold for Color Bred 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.
Color Bred 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.
Color Bred Canaries mostly 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 Color Bred 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 for the Color Bred 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. Some people especially recommend chopped kale during the molt. 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 molting or breeding birds? 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.
Very important: At the first sign of molt, you should start feeding your Red Factor Canary a good canthaxanthin supplement in accordance with the package directions. Some people prefer Beta-Carotene supplements, but the new feathers may not come in as intensely colored as with canthaxanthin. It doesn't really hurt the bird if you fail to add the color food, but your pet will likely lose a lot of his beautiful color if you forget.
Written by Elaine Radford
great stress relievers, fabulous song, bright colours, sweet music, beautiful singing voices
fragile, dominance thing, extreme temperatures, loud shriek, Asthma patient
reputable breeder, cuttlefish bone, white undertail feathers, open flight
Canary, Lovely little birdy!
Chantle was a lovely bird (He was sexed wrong by the pet shop, hence the name) This is the only breed of bird that I have owned, but I loved her dearly. I noticed that he used to sing to the kettle, hover and even the tap running, so I decided to train her to sing to certain songs (he loved Destiny's Child, 'Survivor') and did little hoppy dances along with it. Super speedy to clean his cage and he bathed himself in a bird bath, which was super cute. Sadly he died of a stroke, the vets did what they could but he didn't pull through. He was very easy to handle but I think that if I had of been more confident with him I could have socialized him more to enable him more free flight inside in our living-room, which he enjoyed..
From KateRoe Nov 21 2014 12:32PM
Beautiful color and lovely song
This particular canary was sold to me as a Gloster Consort Red Factor. I’m going to review him as a color bred rather than a Gloster because even though he did have the stature of a Gloster, Glosters don’t actually come in the red factor color, which I didn’t know at the time that I bought him.
That’s one thing about pet store canaries - you can never be sure what you’re actually getting. He may have been a cross between the two, but was a beautiful red factor regardless of parentage.
My color bred canary was a petite bird, but other color bred varieties can be larger. They are fairly active birds that do well in a roomy cage.
Canaries of any sort can also be kept in an aviary with other similar sized, non aggressive species. It does, however, have to be a large aviary if your want to keep more than one male together. In a cage situation, a single male works best.
The highlight of these birds are their unique color. Mine didn’t have the most spectacular song, but it was still pretty and he was very entertaining to watch. If you want a canary for its song then a canary bred for singing is by far preferable. My red factor mostly stopped singing after five years or so.
Canaries in general need high quality food and this is even more important for red factors than most. If not color fed, a red factor’s vibrant red can fade to a pale pink.
Their color can be kept up with vegetables high in beta-carotene, spirulina and foods specially formulated for red factor canaries. Just be careful to check the ingredients since some color formulas use chemicals that aren’t otherwise beneficial and may even be harmful to your canary.
While they’re not necessarily the best singers, if you want a bird with a pretty song as well as a lovely color than color bred canaries are a wonderful choice..
From gardenfairy Sep 25 2014 12:41AM
Tweety, The Bird That Couldn't
During my childhood, my family seemed to think that a bird in the home was needed to keep the kids happy. I didn't mind, I liked our canary.
Trouble was, Tweety didn't much like us. The poor fellow was constantly besieged by kids wanting to feed him and pet him and making all sorts of horrible noises in his room.
Suffice it to say, Tweety #1 lasted a year or two before the poor dear died of nervousness. I didn't know about that back then, but I do know the symptoms now - chewing on the toes, feather pulling. it's like a human that's at the end of his or her rope - we chew our finger nails and pull our hair.
Tweet #2 did much better, now that the kids were older and quieter.
We actually heard him singing in the light of the sun on a lazy Sunday morning, and that was wonderful.
Canaries are more high-strung than parakeets, cost more, and are often more messy, but for a musician, their song is absolute joy.
After working in a pet store taking care of them, I find them to be wonderful little creatures that I'd like to have again..
From MandyV Mar 27 2015 11:31PM