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Canaries & How They Get Along With Other Birds

Updated February 21, 2017

Canaries are a familiar type of pet bird, known for their bright yellow feathers. These birds are actually members of the finch family and are native to the Canary Islands. Many bird owners wonder whether their canaries can be housed with other species of birds, or if they must be caged alone. Learning about canary interactions with other birds can help pet owners make the right decision for their birds' health and happiness.

Temperament

Canaries are relatively small, docile birds. They show little aggression toward one another, or to other birds, though males may squabble during breeding season. These gentle, brightly coloured birds are unlikely to bully others in a mixed aviary, but may be the target of aggression from larger or more active cage mates.

History

Canaries have been kept for hundreds of years and have gradually developed into a form that resembles the wild bird very little. Wild canaries are greenish yellow with some yellow patches, while captive canaries come in a wide range of bright colours, including the familiar yellow, bright orange, scale patterns and many other interesting varieties. Modern canaries may also sing with their beaks closed (rollers) and mimic simple sets of notes.

Mixed Aviaries

Canaries may be kept together with other types of birds, but some types are more appropriate than others. As canaries are a type of finch, they are most likely to do well when kept with other finches, such as zebra and society finches. Canaries do much less well when housed with parrots and other hookbill birds, due to their size and diet differences.

Warning

Parrots and their relatives may bully canaries, biting off toes and even killing the smaller birds. Even parakeets can kill canaries, despite their relatively similar size. Canaries are physically inferior to hookbill birds and should never be housed in the same aviary with them. Some birds, such as zebra finches, may also toss canary eggs out of the nest during breeding season. Watch nests carefully if you choose a mixed aviary.

Considerations

House canaries only with birds that share a similar diet. While canaries and finches are both finch-type birds, most finches require more calories and higher fat in their diet. Canaries housed with finches may soon become overly fat. Canaries housed with more energetic birds may also be agitated. Watch your bird's physical condition to make sure your mixed aviary is working out.

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About the Author

G.D. Palmer is a freelance writer and illustrator living in Milwaukee, Wis. She has been producing print and Web content for various organizations since 1998 and has been freelancing full-time since 2007. Palmer holds a Bachelor of Arts degree in writing and studio art from Beloit College in Beloit, Wis.