Waterslager Canary

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Is the Waterslager Canary right for you?

Species group:

Other common names: Belgian Waterslager Canary; Malinois Canary; Water Singer Canary

Scientific name: Serinus canaria domesticus

The basics:
The wonderful Waterslager is one of the most beloved of the song canaries, with a wonderful repertoire that can contain all sorts of songs that suggest running water, as well as bells, flutes, and trills. These amazing canaries have the widest range, so that they can produce both the deepest and the highest notes of any song canary. If they can't produce the watery song among their other melodies, they will not be rated as a true Waterslager. The song of the nightingale influenced early breeders, and you can still hear a hint of the nightingale in one of the notes, called the Tjokkenrol.

Worth noticing: Just when you have decided that it's a bird that sings with its beak closed, it will open up and sing with an open beak.

The Waterslager Canary may be one of the oldest song canaries, since it was first described in a travelogue written in 1713, when a French traveler passing through Malinois, Belgium noticed a number of refugees from Spanish-occupied Holland who had fled their homes with their canaries. Apparently, the gentleman noted the sound of water in their song in his diary. Over the centuries, breeders have continued to develop birds with a wide repertoire of song – making it likely that the Waterslager must be considered the most versatile singing canary of them all. However, these birds still retain the beautiful water notes.

The Waterslager is bred for its voice, not for its appearance, and looks are not especially important in selecting your birds. However, in general, it's a good-sized sturdy-looking yellow canary, perhaps with some white or brown “ticks” in its plumage. A mostly white Waterslager may also be slowly gaining acceptance.

18 - 22 grams (0.6 - 0.8 oz.)

Average size:
16 - 17 centimeters (6.5 in.)

8 - 12 years

Behavior / temperament:
Song canaries, including the highly aware and alert Waterslager, learn songs in part because of the songs they're exposed to in their youth. You must be willing to work with other breeders in order to develop a good ear and to obtain the best tutors for your young birds. However, if you are just seeking a good single song bird, all you have to do is listen to your breeder's birds and select a song you like. It would be hard to go wrong with this tuneful variety. Even a bird not of top show quality will make a fine songbird for the home.

Many commercial cages sold for Waterslager 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. It is true that these hardy birds have bred successfully in smaller quarters, but more room is always better. 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.

Waterslager 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 backbone of the Waterslager Canary diet 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. Test the seed for freshness by soaking and sprouting the seed. If the seed doesn't sprout, it's too old. 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 Waterslager. 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.

Written by Elaine Radford


beautiful canary song


small hobby breeder, common household sounds, babbling brook, decent sized cage

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