According to Webster Dictionary: a-ri-a. (ä΄rēַə), noun, 1. an elaborate melody sung by a single voice 2. a striking solo performance [Italian, from Latin ǎera, literally means air]
The easiest way to hold your canary is as shown in this photo, with his head positioned between your index finger and your middle finger, and his body securely held in your palm. This frees up your thumb and index finger to hold the leg while you are working on it. With your fingers forming a loose cage, you don't have to have a firm grip to keep him under control.
Anytime you need to take the bird out of his cage, either to examine him or place him in another cage during cleaning, be sure you have the doors and windows of the room shut and any pet dogs or cats out of the room. This is a preventative measure to spare you the tragedy of the bird escaping or being captured by one of your pets.
I tell you this from experience, as when I was cleaning my first canary's cage, I placed my hand in the cage to remove a perch. The canary flew out of the cage through the opening where my hand was inserted and was "caught" by my border collie, Bo..... little yellow feathers poking out from the dog's mouth. I pried open the "jaws of death" and placed the slobber coated little fellow onto his cage floor, thinking I was witnessing his final moments. He laid on his side on the cage floor with his eyes closed, breathing rapidly. As I watched him, my dog was sitting beside me, wagging his tail, thinking he did a "good thing" by capturing something that was so important to me that I kept it in a cage.... he didn't let it get away!!! To make a long story short, the bird popped his head up and started looking around after about ten minutes, and after another ten, had rolled up into an upright position. After about a half hour, he was back sitting on his swing, though he didn't sing for the rest of the day. I tell you this to let you know that accidents happen, and we need to think ahead to what can possibly go wrong.
Have you ever wondered how much a canary weighs? Well, the average sized canary weighs about 20 grams, which is about the same as the weight of seven pennies. I keep 7¢ on a shelf in my bird room. When I get a visitor, especially a child, I place the coins in their hand to let them feel the weight.
Whenever you handle your canary, take a moment to feel along its breast bone. You should be able to detect it, and the flesh of the breast muscles should come up to the same level as the ridge of the bone. If the bone feels sharp, with the flesh of the bird's breast sunken, the bird is underweight, which is not a good thing. An underweight canary isn't long for this world, as he is starving. You need to treat any illness he has and increase the calories in the food you are providing him so he can recover. If the bone is lower than the flesh on its sides, the bird is overweight. This is not a crisis, but you should try to provide him with more exercise or less treat foods in order to help him be at a healthier weight. Something as simple as moving perches so he has to fly to get to his food dish (rather than just hop on a perch) may do the trick.
Canary Health and Happiness
Keeping a canary healthy and happy should be the goal of every person who has a canary. They are dependent on us for every aspect of their life, and for supplying all of their needs. You need to learn and understand the nature and instincts of this particular species in order to be a good caretaker.
Canaries are contented to live by themselves and are perfectly happy without a large amount of interaction from other birds or their human caretakers. This trait makes them a great pet for a working person who doesn't have a lot of one-on-one time to devote to a pet.
If you do have a lot of time, it is possible to hand tame a canary. This takes patience, as canaries are instinctively cautious, and you look like a big predator to them. Slow movements, and soft spoken words will start the process of gaining their trust.
You can read many testimonials from folks who have hand tamed canaries, even allowing them to fly free out of their cages periodically. I do caution you on letting the bird fly around in a room, and I never do this myself. You need to minimize the risks in the room (i.e. ceiling fans, windows, mirrors, reflective glass in framed art, TV screens, hot stoves, hot light bulbs, loosely woven fabrics that can catch toes, dogs, cats, larger birds, toddlers and young children, mold or mildew, residue of cleaning solutions, etc.). Since canaries have a high metabolism, they also need to be able to find food and water in the area they are loose in. Finally, at the end of their free time, you need to have a way to get them safely back in their cage.
If you want more than one canary, you need to consider their housing needs. You can enjoy having more than one male if you cage them separately. When one starts singing, the other one will chime in to make his presence known, and you'll have endless duets. Keeping them in the same room is fine, but you should place their cages about the same height in the room. Never cage two males together, as they are very territorial and will fight, even to the death, when they come into breeding condition. Even a male and female cannot be caged together outside of breeding season unless they become a bonded pair, so if you purchase a pair, keep in mind that you will be safer with two cages for most of the year.
Keeping more than one hen in the same cage is usually fine, but choose a cage that is large enough for them. Each bird has a different personality, and you may have one that simply does not like the others. Watch their interaction and be ready to intervene if you see prolonged bickering. I routinely cage several hens together in one flight cage for most of the year and they all get along quite well. The key is to have plenty of room in the cage, a variety of perches, and be watchful of the food dish and water supply. If one hen is dominating those, the others will suffer. You can remedy this by having more than one food dish and more than one waterer in the cage. Keeping multiple hens is a nice way for someone to collect the different colors of canaries and enjoy them in one environment. Hens usually have sweet personalities, so don't overlook them if you're wanting a pet. During breeding season, they tend to become more agressive toward each other, so be prepared to separate them.
One KEY thing to know about canaries is that they have a pineal gland in their head that regulates their biological rhythms, and it is stimulated by the brightness and length of lighting in their environment. The gland influences the hormonal releases in their body, and natural processes of a normal and healthy annual cycle. Increasing daylight hours in Spring pushes them into breeding condition as higher leveles of hormones are released during this time. As daylight hours become longer in the Summer, the canary will molt. They totally replace their feathers during the molt, with new feathers pushing out the old ones. Males will usually stop singing during this time of feather re-growth because the energy in their body is being used to make feathers. As shorter days of Winter arrive, their body goes into more of a resting mode.
For your pet canary, using natural lighting from the windows in the room will be perfect, as it will change with the seasons and keep your canary on a normal life cycle. Be careful if the bird is in a room with a television or room lighting that is on in the hours before dawn or the hours after dark. This kind of lighting lengthens the day for the canary, and will throw off his system, possibly causing unseasonable molting. If he must be in this type of room, use a cage cover that is heavy enough to block light from entering the cage and try not to disturb his sleep. One of the most common reasons a canary stops singing is because a change in room lighting has signaled him to start molting.
Keep your canary out of direct sunlight and drafts. If the cage is positioned where light from a window falls into it during certain times of the day, be sure that part of the cage has some shade that the bird can retreat to if he gets too hot. Watch the location of air vents in the room. A rule of thumb is... if the air flow in the location of the cage will cause a candle flame to flicker, it is too drafty.
Toenails may need trimmed periodically, and this is very easy to do with fingernail clippers. Nip off the overgrowth, being careful not to cut too short. If you don't handle your canary often, this can be a bit stressful, both for you and the bird.