Border Fancy Canary

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Is the Border Fancy Canary right for you?

Species group:

Other common names: Border Canary; Wee Gem

Scientific name: Serinus canaria domesticus

The basics:
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.)

Average size:
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

Helpful Border Fancy Canary Review

Border Fancy Canary

From stormsdestiny42 May 28 2013 6:03PM


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