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Do Canaries Make Good Pets?

Amy Pollick
Updated May 21, 2024
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“I tawt I taw a Putty-Tat!” So says the world’s most famous canary — Tweety Bird. Tweety is a yellow canary for a good reason: they are popular pet birds and known for their singing abilities. But are these birds really good pets? It all depends on what the owner wants from a pet bird.

Canaries are a type of finch, but unlike many finches, they are not particularly social animals. They usually only get together in the wild to mate. Because of this trait, it is unlikely that an owner will be able to “tame” the bird to sit on a finger or to really bond with the bird. Depending on the owner, this may not be a bad thing. If an owner wants a nice pet bird that doesn’t require much attention, canaries are good candidates. However, the trade-off is that the owner will probably not have the bird for a companion, unlike members of the social parrot family, who depend on their human owners for love and companionship.

These birds do well in a household of working people, since they do not require a great deal of interaction. Again, because of their solitary natures, canaries are happy being “only birds.” On the other hand, some finches, such as society or zebra finches, prefer being in flocks.

Another advantage of canaries is that they do not require large cages, as do parrots. Cages that allow them to fly back and forth, rather than up and down, are best, but they need not be very large. Canaries exercise by flying, and so should not have their wings clipped. These birds, also unlike parrots, do not need “outside” time from their cages. As small birds, they feel safest and most secure in their cages, and being outside tends to stress them.

Canaries require a regular sleep schedule that syncs with the sun, but this can be adjusted somewhat with electric lights and cage covers. However, even with a covered cage, the birds should always have a quiet place to rest at night, away from noise and bright lights. This is essential in maintaining the bird’s health, and with good care, a canary may live up to ten years.

A prospective owner should consider buying a pet canary from a local breeder. This ensures the owner will have a guarantee of the bird's health and a guarantee it will sing. The owner should be careful to buy a bird at least two years old, since it can be difficult to sex younger birds. Only the male sings, so if an owner wants a songbird, he should choose a male.

Canaries do not talk like African Grey parrots, but can often mimic a few notes of music and perhaps a word or two. Owners say that talking and whistling to their pets, as well as playing music for them, improves their singing abilities. Some breeders do some “training” with their male canaries before they are offered for sale, and this helps guarantee they will sing in their new homes.

Feeding canaries is relatively simple, as well. Their food is readily available, and they also eat most fresh fruits and vegetables safe for human consumption, except avocados, which are poisonous to them. A prospective owner should purchase a book about her new pet, and a wealth of feeding and care information is available online. She should also make sure she knows of a veterinarian in the area who treats birds. Breeders can usually give references for good vets in the area.

Canaries are certainly good “first” birds, but the question remains: are they good pets? If an owner is looking for a relatively low-maintenance bird that can sing, but doesn’t scream or vocalize like larger birds, then yes, they are very good pets. If the owner wants an animal that doesn’t require constant attention and is fairly inexpensive to maintain, canaries are perfect pets.

Frequently Asked Questions

Are canaries good for first-time bird owners?

Yes, canaries are excellent for first-time bird owners due to their relatively simple care requirements. They are independent, not demanding constant attention, and their upkeep involves regular feeding, cage cleaning, and providing fresh water. Their pleasant singing and vibrant colors make them a delightful addition to any home.

Do canaries require a lot of space?

Canaries do not require a lot of space, but they do need room to fly. A cage that is at least 20 inches wide and 24 inches long is recommended. This allows them to get adequate exercise, which is essential for their health. The cage should be placed in a well-lit area, away from drafts and extreme temperatures.

How social are canaries? Do they like to be handled?

Canaries are generally not as social as some other bird species and often do not like to be handled. They are known for being content in their own space. Interaction with humans can be limited to singing back and forth or simply enjoying their presence. They are more for observation and listening pleasure than for tactile interaction.

What is the lifespan of a canary, and how does care impact it?

Canaries have an average lifespan of 10 years, though with optimal care, they can live up to 15 years. Factors that impact their longevity include proper nutrition, clean living conditions, adequate space for exercise, and mental stimulation. Regular veterinary check-ups can also help in identifying and treating any potential health issues early on.

Can canaries be kept with other birds?

Canaries can be kept with other birds, but caution is advised. They are generally peaceful but can be bullied by larger species. If housing with other canaries or finches, ensure the cage is spacious enough to prevent territorial disputes. Always monitor their interactions to ensure a harmonious environment.

What kind of maintenance and care do canaries need?

Canaries require daily feeding of a balanced diet consisting of seeds, fresh fruits, and vegetables. Their cage should be cleaned weekly to prevent disease, and they need a supply of fresh water for drinking and bathing. Regular nail trimming and occasional wing clipping may be necessary, depending on your preference and the bird's living situation.

All Things Nature is dedicated to providing accurate and trustworthy information. We carefully select reputable sources and employ a rigorous fact-checking process to maintain the highest standards. To learn more about our commitment to accuracy, read our editorial process.
Amy Pollick
By Amy Pollick , Former Writer
Amy Pollick, a talented content writer and editor, brings her diverse writing background to her work at All Things Nature. With experience in various roles and numerous articles under her belt, she crafts compelling content that informs and engages readers across various platforms on topics of all levels of complexity.

Discussion Comments

By anon997306 — On Dec 12, 2016

All canaries that I have seen for sale here in the states are at least $120.00 each. I guess that's cheaper than a puppy but still ridiculous to me, for a bird.

By anon326835 — On Mar 24, 2013

The favorite game of my yellow canary is to peck my finger when I out in side of cage. He will call me (single tweet) to his cage in the evening to play this way. He often chooses pecking my finger over food. If I stick my finger in water, he nibbles the water off. He also sounds an alarm if anyone gets close to his cage except me.

I am the only one who can come near his cage when he is taking a bath in a water cup, which he sometimes does up to three times per day.

When I come home, he start singing after being silent for hours. I read my Bible in the early morning in front of his cage. He likes to come to side of cage just to watch me and sometimes play by pecking my finger. He likes to sing to ABBA and Christian music.

By anon276979 — On Jun 27, 2012

I have a pet canary who lives together with my finches in the bird cage and they're getting along fine, so I would say that Canaries make good pets.

By anon276192 — On Jun 22, 2012

The confusing thing is that every book you read gives different information. That does make it difficult, so the way we coped is to try things and see what works best. Ours sings best to jazz and electronic music like Tangerine Dream.

He prefers to be with us in the lounge as well. If we put him on his own he gets depressed.

The issue of how many canaries to have is really difficult. Some books say one on his own other books say company is good. It's a difficult question with no definitive answer.

By anon272845 — On Jun 03, 2012

I take my canaries and give them, night and day, a hug and kiss every day if not more.

By anon193688 — On Jul 05, 2011

You don't play with canaries period. Only talking and singing to them. No touching. Mine hates being touched.

By anon153476 — On Feb 17, 2011

i am getting a canary soon and i was wondering how long do you play with them for? thanks.

By anon112524 — On Sep 20, 2010

i am so happy. I am getting my first canary tomorrow

I am going to go online every day and put some music or someone talking on so that it can pick words and sounds up.

I am also going to try and get it to learn fly on my hand i know it will take a year or two but that's what makes a good owner also got a budgie who likes to say Pi*S off now i wonder where he learned that from. lol probably my mate. lol

By anon89837 — On Jun 12, 2010

I've had a few canaries in the past - they are delightful, vivacious creatures, totally lovable - but in the end after they passed away I decided not to get any more. The very fact of keeping birds indoors and caged is actually quite depressing and I think birds need to fly in the sky and in the trees to be truly happy. Caged birds are a sight that make me feel sad, lovely though they are.

By anon60400 — On Jan 13, 2010

Blondie, separate your canaries if they are males. They will fight if together in one cage. I have 2 male birds in one cage but it has a divider in the middle so they can't fight. The birds fuss at each other but it's really cute to hear them do that.

By anon54142 — On Nov 27, 2009

"I bought a book on canaries before buying my canaries. It said that it was cruel to have a lone canary. Today I bought one cage and two canaries. They are fighting like mad! What do I do? - blondie514"

You need to have both canaries in different cages for six months at the most. The male will sing to the female, then after that amount of time you may put them together and they won't fight.

By anon44984 — On Sep 12, 2009

I have a seven year old yellow Canary, and he talks all the time and speaks very clearly! I'm totally amazed at him. He says a lot too, from cheeky Mummy, I love you Mummy, I love you, where's Kim, it wasn't me, what are you doing, come here, and plenty more. he also does the phone ring! He didn't start talking for a few years but I have a lorikeet that talks all day, so he has listened to him and copied! I would like to know if anyone else has had a Canary that talks because I've never heard of one that talks before.

By blondie514 — On May 11, 2009

I bought a book on canaries before buying my canaries. It said that it was cruel to have a lone canary. Today I bought one cage and two canaries. They are fighting like mad! What do I do?

By rayway1 — On Oct 19, 2007

Hello I'm new to this, I would like to know if I may what I need to purchase with my canaries, e.g cuttlebone, toys, etc. Also can I leave cage outside or do mosquitoes get to them? I want singing ones which I'm told males sing, if I buy more than one male canary will they still sing or do I have to buy females too? thank you kindly

By anon2866 — On Jul 29, 2007

i want to buy two canaries and a cage, i have bought all the accessories but do you know how much it will cost altogether? thanks!

Amy Pollick

Amy Pollick

Former Writer

Amy Pollick, a talented content writer and editor, brings her diverse writing background to her work at All Things...
Learn more
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