Picture of a Northern Dutch Frilled Canary
Serinus canaria

   The pretty Northern Dutch Frilled Canary is often likened to the popular Parisian Frilled Canary, just a smaller version!  

   The Northern Dutch canary is a medium sized variety, just slightly smaller than the Border Canary. Though similar in appearance to the Parisian Frilled breed with the long swooping feather patterns, the frilled feathers on the Northern Dutch Canary are less dense, have smaller curls, and are more of a band just around the middle of the bird rather than all over.

   The Northern Dutch Canary is a “type canary”, bred for physical appearance rather than color or song. It is very pretty, nicely proportioned, hardy and vigorous. Frilled canaries do however, tend to be a little more high strung and nervous than other canary breeds.

   There are many different varieties of Frilled canaries including: French Frill, Fiorina Frill, Colored (Milanese) Frill, Gibber Italicus, Giboso Espanol, Japanese Frill, Parisian Frill, Southern Dutch Frill, Munich Frill, Scotch Fancy Frill, Swiss Frill, Roebekian Frill, Hunchback Frill, Brazilian Frill, and even crested varieties such as the Padovan Frill and the Florin Frill.

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

  • Kingdom: Animalia
  • Phylum: Actiniform
  • Class: Elasmobranchii
  • Order: Passeriformes
  • Family: Fringillidae
  • Genus: Serinus
  • Species: canaria

Scientific Name:

Serinus canaria domesticus


   Frilled canaries have been around for a very long time. Though not much is known about the frilled mutation, it is generally agreed that the first frill was the Dutch Frill dating back to the 18th century, originating from the old Dutch Fancy Canary. Developments in different parts of the continent then resulted in several distinct breeds. Some of the frilled varieties seen today are newer, developed in more recent years in Italy.


   The Northern Dutch Frilled Canary is a medium sized, nicely appointed, attractive canary. They reach a length of about 6 1/2 to 6 3/4 inches (16.5 to 17 cm), just slightly smaller than the Border Canary.
   The primary feature of all frilled canaries are three distinct patterns of curled feathers. These consist of the mantle, the jabot, and the fins. The mantle feathers are on the back, they part down the center and curl symmetrically over the shoulders forming what looks like a cape. The jabot are wavy undulating feathers coming from each side of the breast, curling inward to form a ruffle that meets in the middle. The fins come from the thighs, long well-frilled feathers that rise upward around the wings. The main focus of the frills is on symmetry rather than volume. Though they should be full, they also need to be crisp and defined.
   The frilling for the Northern Dutch is primarily around the middle of the canary and should be nicely balanced and symmetrical. The head, neck, belly and thighs are smooth with no frilling similar to regular canaries. They have a normal canary stance, but do not stand quite as erect as the Southern Dutch Frilled variety.
   Coloration in frilled canaries is of little importance. They may be buff, green, clear, ticked, or variegated and occasionally a few dominant whites. Yellow is usually more rare except in the the case of the Gibber Italicus.

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 About Canaries: Housing and About Canaries: Care and Feeding for more information.

Social Behaviors:

   They are good-natured social creatures that do well when kept in cages or in aviaries. They are timid birds though and should not be housed with parakeets, lovebirds, or other hookbills that tend to be more aggressive birds by nature.
   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. In a spacious aviary canaries can generally be housed with other canaries, finches, and other hardbills.


   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.
   To show well, being steady and holding themselves up well before a judge, frilled canaries do need a certain amount training.
      See About Canaries: Handling/Training for information on taming and training.


   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.
   Frilled canaries are not usually difficult to breed with some strains being quite vigorous and free breeding. The challenge is in developing them to the exact standards of their type for showing. It is best to pair birds that conform most closely to the required breed standards, though even imperfect parents can still produce excellent young. Frilled Canaries don’t need to be color fed and even though they have feathering that is longer than any other type of canary, they appear to be free from feather cysts. As with most canaries, there can occasionally be individuals with a tendency to be poor feeders.
      See About Canaries: Breeding/Reproduction for more information on breeding.

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.
   See About Canaries: Potential Problems for information on health.


   Availability and pricing of Frilled Canaries is variable. Pricing has a wide range starting at about $50 or more for the Dutch Frills and about $125 or more the Parisian Frills. Others varieties start at about $100 or more.
   The Parisian and the Dutch are the most common frilled canary breeds available in the United States. Frilled varieties are most often available through breeders, but may also occasionally be found through bird shows, bird clubs, and on the internet.

Featured Image Credit: Fernando Zamora Vega, Shutterstock