Here’s what you need to know to get ready for your new singing canary! By Christine Dalecki

When I was a child, my grandmother had a canary. I loved the song. When I was an adult I was injured and could not go to work for a while. I discovered the love of canaries again and started breeding them.

I learned, usually the hard way, how to properly care for a canary both as a pet and as a breeder. This article gives an overview and introductory information on finding and keeping a healthy canary. By photographing the steps, these instructions can enable the young and the old alike to grasp a basic view of canary ownership.

A canary can bring joy into a home by their beautiful song. The place where he lives, what he eats and how he is cared for will determine his health and happiness. Breeders differ on the general care of canaries, however most is a matter of opinion.

Here are the basics gained from years of experience with both canaries as pets and as an aviary owner. These instructions are for the new canary pet owner. They prepare you to have everything ready so your new canary can go straight to his new cage home. These are the basics to get started.

Canary Cage and Accessories

Materials Needed

  • A cage with 1/2” wide bars or smaller.
  • A cage at least 24″w x 24″d x 24″ht.
  • At least three feed dishes.
  • 2 Water dishes.
  • Two perches wide enough for the canary to grasp.
  • A swing is optional (most love a swing).
  • Papers for bottom of cage (paper towel or old magazines).
  • Bowl for bathing.
  • A cover for nighttime (it can be a round table cloth).
  • Cuttlefish bone or finely crushed oyster shell.
  • Quality Canary seed mix.
  • Canary nuggets.

Selecting Your New Canary

  • Stand quietly at a distance and observe. If the bird is ill it will puff up and its tail will bob up and down but it will try to appear well if it knows it is being watched. Don’t buy him. You will be buying a sick bird.
  • Stand close and listen. If it breathes with a clicking noise, do not buy it. It could be infested with lung mites. This condition can be fatal.
  • Have the owner or pet store clerk pick it up and turn it over. If there are droppings on the vent (the opening where the droppings come out) or anywhere under the canary’s body, do not buy it. It could have an intestinal problem which often is fatal.
  • If it has a band on, check for the date as is their birth year. The life span of a canary is about 10 years.
Malinois Canary bird perched
Image Credit: slowmotiongli, Shutterstock

Setting up the Canary Cage

1. Wash cage, feed dishes, water dishes and perches with soap and water. Dry well.


2. The cage has a slide out bottom. Slide the bottom of the cage out and measure it.

3. Cut several layers of paper to fit inside the slide out part.

4. Put the paper layers into the bottom compartment. This way when you clean the cage, you can remove the soiled top paper and have others ready and in place for the next day.

5. Slide the bottom back into the cage.


6. Place the perches at different levels on either side of the cage so the canary is able to fly.

7. If you bought or made a swing, attach it to the top of the cage in the middle.

8. Fill one feeder with canary seed and one with the canary nuggets. The third can be used for the crushed oyster shell. Put feeders in cage. Do not place feeders under the perches.

9. Fill one water dish with fresh tap water and put it near a perch. Keep the other dish for the next day so you will always have a clean dish ready. Change water daily.

10. Cut a wire 10” long. Wrap the wire around the cuttlebone with the soft part toward the inside of the cage.

11. Twist the wire behind the cuttlebone, then attach to the bars and twist the wire around them until secure. Wire should be toward the back, outside the cage for safety.

12. Attach the cuttlebone to the cage near the perch if it comes with an attachment. If one is unavailable, use a needle nose plyer to break two slots on either side of the cuttlebone.

13. Place the cage in an area free of drafts or sudden temperature changes.

14. Put your new canary in his cage and at night cover the cage so he can sleep.

Facts About Canaries and Singing

singing canary inside the cage
Image Credit: Pit Stock, Shutterstock
  • Canaries come is many colors and shapes, not just yellow. In the wild, most are green.
  • Males canaries sing, they are called “Singers”, the hens chirp.
  • Canaries sing better if alone and are happy to have music or even the vacuum to sing with.
  • Canaries do best with cold water baths, daily is best (I put ice water in and they love it).
  • Canaries need a quarter size of dark greens weekly (they love chickweed and spinach).
  • Usually it is best not to have a mirror. Often the canary will quit singing.
  • Canaries do not like to be held.
  • A long cage is preferred over a tall one so they can get flying exercise.

Featured Image Credit: achris, Pixabay