A tuneful, sweet-voiced canary bird is one of the most desirable and charming pets a sophisticated woman can have. It provides much refined pleasure and entertainment, and it more than repays the care required to make it a hardy, happy, and melodic member of the home.
The easy guidelines for caring for canaries provided here will be valuable to all canary enthusiasts.
Choosing the Birds
Don’t be picky about color; dark or mottled birds are typically the finest vocalists. Avoid birds with red eyes; they are sensitive and difficult to keep in tune. Tameness is not a sign of superiority; a bird that is somewhat timid and spry is more likely to succeed. If the canary is for a private home, look for harmony and sweetness rather than strident, loud tones. Make sure the bird’s legs and feet are clean and flawless, and when you acquire a bird, take it home with you rather than leaving it for the dealers to mail. As a result, you will be certain to receive the one you want. Get a male bird for singing. By comparing the birds in a brood that includes both male and female birds, the sex may be ascertained. The male has brighter plumage than the female; his head is broader and longer; his body is more slender; his neck is longer; his legs are longer and straighter; and the feathers around his temples and eyes are brighter than elsewhere on his body.
Carry your bird cautiously and gently home. Prepare its cage by providing seed and drink. Allow it to walk out of the temporary cage and into its new habitat on its own. Place a light in front of the cage, and chirp or whistle to encourage the bird without getting too close or seeming to observe it. It’s likely that it’ll start singing right away. If it sulks a bit at first, that’s OK; but if the shyness persists after the first day, capture the bird and submerge it in its bath-tub’ then let it alone. It will forget its homesickness and make itself at ease by drying and straightening its feathers.
For singing birds, a wire bell-shaped cage is ideal. Brass is preferable than painted wire. In addition to the bath-tub and seed-cup, the cage should feature two or three circular and smooth perches made of cane or hard wood. These should be arranged across the cage in such a way that one is never directly over the other in order to capture the litter. Keep the perches clean by cleaning them often with yellow soap and water, and never return to the cage until they are completely dry. The bottom of the cage must be removed and cleaned at least twice a week, and the bottom must be covered with fine sand or gravel. Always avoid using salt water sand. Never hang the cage in a draft of air (such as an open window) or in the scorching sun without providing shade for the bird on the windy side and at the top. In damp conditions, never hang the cage outside. Never leave the cage in a room without a fire in the winter. Don’t entrust your bird and cage to staff.
Allow for daily water changes. Canaries will not bathe in unclean or stale water. The bath-tub should be large enough to fit through the cage entrance and should be removed as soon as the bird has showered. If you have a wire cage with a hook-on bottom, fill the bath tub and place it on the floor or an old table. Then detach the cage’s bottom and lay the cage with the bird inside over the bath-tub. The bird will quickly descend from its perch and take a bath, and when the bottom is replaced, the cage will be clean and dry. After the bird has completed bathing, dry up any splashes of water in the bath tub.
Food and Water
Songbirds prefer a simple diet over dainties like cake, sweets, and other “goodies.” A rape and canary blend with a hint of hemp seed (less of the latter in summer than in winter). If the bird is still young, the hemp seed should be broken before use. During the summer, the cage should be fed green foods such as cabbage, turnip tops, chickweed, plantain stems, celery, watercress, and so on. Use a little delicious apple and a trifle of boiling carrot or cauliflower without salt in the winter. Birds also appreciate floating bits of water cracker or pilot bread in their cages, and especially a cuttle-fish bone, which contains lime. The seed box in the cage should be replenished at night since the bird’s day is from dawn to sunset and he wants breakfast before you get up. Make sure the cup is always full. After scattering and wasting the water, birds usually suffer from unbearable thirst.
Breeding cages should be made of polished wood with wire on one end and one side. Oilcloth or stiff paper should be used to cover the floor, which may be removed, cleaned, and re-sanded as needed. A tiny box for nests should be put at the wooden corner of the cage about halfway up, and nest material, such as soft moss, wool, feathers, fresh cotton, or hair, should be tied loosely to the wires where the bird can obtain them.
Canaries mate at the middle of March or early April. Choose a robust, attractive couple and place them in the cage after keeping them in separate cages within sight of each other for a few days. Place the cage in a bright, airy environment with uniform temperature and no chilly drafts. If the hen abandons her nest after laying her full number of eggs and begins to sit on them, dismantle the nest and replace it, and give her a fresh start. Canaries typically lay four to six eggs and sit for thirteen days.
While the bird is sitting, she should have plenty of food; and on the day the hatching is anticipated, add a little grated bread soaked in water and squeezed dry, as well as a little of a finely chopped hard-boiled egg, into the cage. These are treats for the baby birds. They should be put in the cage at night or early in the morning, and they should be changed often enough to avoid becoming sour.
Young birds that are healthy will be red, and their crops will be full. If they seem pale and malnourished, it is necessary to suspect vermin and move the nest immediately, smoothing it out before placing the newborns in it by rolling a heated hen’s egg around in it. When the young canaries are twelve days old, they begin to gather their own feathers and assist themselves, and when they are a month old, they can be moved from the parent cage to another close by and within sight.
Green food should always be available in their cage. The finest nourishment for them is fresh hard-boiled eggs and grated bread soaked in water and squeezed. Allow them to wash every day; if they refuse to go into the tub, softly spray them with water from a brush; and expose them to as much mild (but not too hot) sunlight as possible. While in the light, the cage should always have a shaded area — a leafy branch or two casting a wavering shadow is ideal. Allow them to eat lots of green food as well as insects, ant eggs, and so on.
When the young birds are two weeks old, their parents often begin to prepare for the next brood; and if such signs are noticed, a fresh nest box and ingredients should be placed in the breeding cage. While the mother is busy preparing for a family expansion, the male will look after the young birds.
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