Animal-World > Birds > Canary Varieties > Waterslager Canary

Waterslager Canary

Belgian Waterslager Song Canary, Malinois Canary, Water Singer

Family: Fringillidae Picture of a Waterslager CanarySerinus canariaPhoto © Animal-World: Courtesy Richard Rolloff, Western Waterslager Club
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Please can someone tell me why my waterslager has stopped singing,  Diane

The unique and beautiful quality of the Waterslager Canary's song is reflected in its name, the word 'waterslag' literally means 'water beat'!

The popularity of the Waterslager Canary has been ongoing throughout its history and continues to grow as it has many desirable traits. Though it is not particularly social and does not like to be handled, this melodious little bird it can make a wonderful companion to be enjoyed for its song.

The Waterslager Canary has a beautiful full song, likened to the sound of bubbling water with a distinctive nightingale accent. Their repertoire also includes bell and flute sounds unlike any other bird. Though not as loud as some canaries, being of a soft to medium strength, they are renowned for having the widest range of all song canaries.

The Waters lager Canary is one of several well known "song canaries", those bred solely for song rather than physical appearance or color. Shows for these birds are of a different nature than shows for other canary types. Basically being entered into singing contests these canaries are bred with the goal of achieving winners with the best balance between quality and variety of song. Each breed has a distinctive song and a well-defined song standard. Some of the other well know song canaries include: the Roller Canary, the American Singer Canary, the Russian Singer Canary, and the Spanish Timbrado.

For more information about the care of Canaries see:
Guide to a Happy, Healthy Canary

Geographic Distribution
Serinus canaria
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Data provided by
  • Kingdom: Animalia
  • Phylum: Actiniform
  • Class: Elasmobranchii
  • Order: Passeriformes
  • Family: Fringillidae
  • Genus: Serinus
  • Species: canaria

Scientific Name: Serinus canaria domesticus

Distribution: One of the oldest breeds of canary, the Waterslager Canary is also known as the Belgian Waterslager Song Canary, Waterslager Song Canary, Malinois Canary, and Water Singer. Like the term Waterslager, all these common names are different representations of this bird and its characteristics. The term 'water' describes the distinct sound its song is noted for, while 'Belgian' indicates its country of origin, and 'Malinois' is drawn from a French named town in Belgium where dedicated fanciers developed this breed (in English it is Mechelen, Belgium).

Originating in Belgium, one of the earliest accounts of this breed were included in a French travelogue in 1713 where the author describes observing this canary while stopping at the town of Malinois, Belgium. It has been most popular throughout its history in Europe, and is growing in popularity in the United States and Canada.

Description: The Waterslager Canary is bred for its song rather than its physical appearance or color, but it is a fair sized bird reaching lengths of about 6 1/2 inches (16.5 cm). It has some distinctive traits to its head such as a larger more cone shaped beak and a sharper bite than other canaries, shiny bright black eyes, and when excited the feathers on the back of the head rise up giving it a bit of a crest. This canary has soft feathers and their colors are yellow and white, though in varying shades from pale to quite strong. Dark ticking is common and is usually accepted for show as long as it does not cover over a quarter of its plumage.

The wonderful song of the Waterslager Canary is distinct and melodic. Like the Roller Canary it will mostly sing with its beak closed, but will also open it for pronounced sounds. Its song can be described as having the sounds of 'water' as well as the sounds of a nightingale. The water sounds are a mimicking of water flowing, water dripping into a pool, or a babbling brook. The Waterslager must make these "water notes" or he will not be accepted as a true Waterslager. They also have the lowest and highest range of notes for all song canaries.
Canaries of both sexes can begin to sing a weak song as early as four weeks, but females usually don't sing after about six months and won't have the full long song of a male.

Care and feeding: Canaries like wide open spaces so provide a roomy cage. Provide a cage with vertical bars and small perches of different size for foot exercise. Have at least 1 perch set high in the cage for the canary to roost (sleep). The cage should be placed high, so the canary can look down on us so to speak.

Canaries eat mainly canary seed and rape seed. Vitamin coated canary seed mixes are readily available at a pet store. Greens are also enjoyed and can be offered daily along with a little calcium in the form of a cuttlebone.
They do like to bath, so should be offered a bird bath.Cage cleaning and toe nail trimming is about all the maintenance canaries need. See Canary Care for more information.

Social Behaviors: Canaries in general are good-natured social creatures that do well when kept in cages or in aviaries. However, the Waterslager Canary is not prone to being as sociable. They do not like to be handled and they do not particularly like the company of other canaries in the same room. All canaries are timid birds and should not be housed with parakeets, lovebirds, or other hookbills that tend to be more aggressive birds by nature.

The Waterslager Canary shown above is a good show bird. The one shown below is also a pretty Waterslager Canary, but if you are looking to show your canary, here's what the folks in the know say: "A Waterslager Canary... ideally should not be variagated",... Richard Rolloff ~ Western Waterslager Club ~
Picture of a Waterslager Canary
Waterslager Canary
Courtesy Denise Taormina

Male canaries should be kept in a cage by themselves to ensure quality singing. Males can be territorial and pairing up with two male canaries in a cage can cause fights. Older males do not even do well in flight cages or aviaries and are best housed separately.

Canaries do not require toys, mirrors or any other form of entertainment, a swing is all they need to keep themselves occupied. Most of the time, canaries are simply enjoyed for their beauty and singing. However, some canaries are allowed out of their cage to perch or are show canaries and therefore require taming or training.

For singing contests the Waterslager Canary requires training. They are trained to sing well defined song segments, called 'tours. They can be trained either from listening to another perfect adult singer or from a recording. As they are also quite adept at mimicry, If they develop any faults in the song they must immediately be removed from any other birds being trained.

Breeding/Reproduction: Most canaries breed easily and readily if provided with quality food, lighting, secure surroundings, and conditioning. They are best bred in breeding cages.They lay their eggs in a nest. The female will lay 3 to 6 eggs, one per day. It is best to allow a hen to have only two clutches.

The Waterslager Canary is a more difficult bird to breed, though the males are often better parents than females. In general these birds have a hard time settling down especially if there are other birds around. They will not always sit the eggs, are not always good feeders, and can be prone to severely plucking their young.

Potential Problems: These birds are hardy and healthy if provided with a good environment and a good diet. Avoid an environment that is wet, cool, and drafty.

Availability: Waterslager Canaries are most often available through breeders, but may also occasionally be found through bird shows, bird clubs, and on the internet.

Authors: Clarice Brough, CAS
Additional Information By: Denise Taormina
Lastest Animal Stories on Waterslager Canary

Diane - 2015-07-21
Please can someone tell me why my waterslager has stopped singing,

  • Clarice Brough - 2015-07-23
    Male canaries will often stop singing while they molt. Other possibilities are that it could be a female or it may be ill.
  • Lori Swanston - 2016-11-08
    If your bird stopped singing due to molting and it happens to be more severe than other times, adding some egg food to their diet will help them get through it quicker and return them to normal.
Gerald Fraser - 2016-03-14
WATERSLAGER PETSHOP WARNING, REVIEWS, SCAM Never EVER buy a pet from Amman, Jordan. I purchased a parrot from Waterslager Pet Shop Amman, Jordan, their address is: First Circle jabal amman 9th Shaban Street Building No. 31، عمان 11190, Jordan Phone number: +962 7 9566 2667 Owner name: Mohammed Ziada Before I made the purchase I asked the owner if he can provide me the necessary documents that I need in order to take this parrot with me outside of Jordan to Canada and the owner Mohammed Ziada confirmed to me that he will be able to provide me with these documents, when I made the purchase he did not provide me with any papers and he said he will provide it to me later because he has to first obtain it from the seller who sold him the pet, and he never provided me with any receipt or invoice and I asked him why and he said because if he provides me with the receipt he has to pay the government taxes and he doesn't want to pay any taxes to the Jordanian government. When I took my pet to the vet, the vet advised me that it will be impossible to travel with my pet without a paper called Certificate of Origin in which I have to obtain this from the seller who in this case is Waterslager Pet Shop Amman. And when I spoke to Mohammed Ziada, he disagreed and he said I can get this paper from another place, I spoke to so many places and everyplace I've spoken to all advised me that the only place I can obtain this paper from is the actual seller which is Waterslager PetShop Amman. I called the owner again Mohammed Ziada and then advised him of what I had been advised off and he advised me that he told me from the beginning that he will never be able to provide me with this paper, I disagreed and I told him that from the beginning he promised me that he will provide me all documents that I need in order to bring this Pet outside of Jordan to Canada, he said I'm sorry there's nothing I can do. Mohammed Ziada told me that he is selling a book supposedly he is supposedly the author of it, the name of the book is Book of secrets of the African grey, when I looked into this further I learned that this is a complete lie, all he did was that he took an English Book that talks about the African gray and then he translated the book to Arabic and he started selling the book pretending that he is the actual author which is against copyright laws. I advise you never EVER to buy ANY pet from Amman, Jordan at all because all of these pet shops are crooks, scammers and liars, they want to sell you a pet just because they want the money so quick, the pets you buy you may never be able to travel with it and the pet could have many illnesses and if you have to buy one never buy it from Waterslager Petshop. I also advise you NEVER to believe positive comments posted about the shop at all because the owner can post positive comments himself to make his Pet Shop look good. Thank you for taking the time to read my story and I hope you don't make the same mistake that I made. After a year the bird had died and the doctor was 100% right when he first said and advised me that the pet parrot will die and the owner lied.

Katie - 2015-12-29
Hello, I am interested in purchasing a waterslager singing canary. Can you please provide me with direct contact information for ordering?

Sanaullah - 2015-12-10
Hi I wants to by waterslager please send me ur mob no. In dubai

Katie - 2015-12-29
Hello, I am interested in purchasing a waterslager singing canary. Can you please provide me with direct contact information for ordering?

Sanaullah - 2015-12-10
Hi I wants to by waterslager please send me ur mob no. In dubai

K S Dickey - 2015-07-14
I am interested in purchasing a male Waterslager canary for a pet. I live in Sherwood, Arkansas. I would appreciate someone contacting me with price and ordering information. Thank you so much.

Jahn - 2015-04-23
Hi sir , i need waterslager canary .thanks