Guest Author - Mavis Metcalf
Canaries are fascinating little birds. They come in various colours, various feather shapes and the males can sing beautifully. If you have a pair of canaries and you want to breed them – whats the best way of going about it?
Canaries need to have the lights adjusted from a winter stage, with lights on for only about 9 hours at the start. This period should last for about a month, but should have been arrived at gradually.
After the month of winter, you can start increasing the time of light at ½ hour increments every two weeks or 15 minutes increments every week. Don’t rush it or the birds will not be conditioned properly. The best way to do this is to have your lights on timers. I use a small table light on one timer that comes on about 15 minutes before the bigger full spectrum lights go out and this light stays on for about 15 minutes after the other lights go out. This gives the birds a warning that darkness is approaching & gives them the opportunity to grab a quick bite to eat before heading for a sleeping perch.
While you are increasing the lights, the birds (especially the hen) should have some flying time to condition them physically and the food should begin to be more plentiful and have more variety as would happen in the springtime naturally. The hen requires extra calcium at this time so her eggs will form properly. The calcium can be provided by way of cuttlebone, crushed eggshells and/or powdered vitamins sprinkled over her fruits & greens.
When the lights are on for 11 hours a day, you can introduce the birds together. You must watch to see how they get along, because sometimes the female will reject the male completely. If they get along, you can introduce a nest and some nesting material at 11 ½ hours and by the time the light has reached 12 or 12 ½ hours, you may possibly have eggs arriving. Continue increasing the lights at the same rate until the birds have 16 hours of light.
Canaries always lay their eggs early in the morning and there will be one egg each day. If the eggs are allowed to hatch at this rate, the youngest one or ones will probably not survive, because the largest one who begs the most gets the food. Most canary breeders will take each egg as it is laid & replace it with a dummy egg. On the morning that the 4th egg is laid, all the rest of the eggs are replaced back into the nest and should all hatch at almost the same time about 13 days later.
Both parents should feed and look after the babies. Make sure there is plenty of food available for the parents and the birds will do the rest.
Take the Canary & Finch Quiz to see how much you know about these birds.