Hand-raising canaries is not something many people would choose to do. Hand-raising birds helps them bond with humans; however, hand-raising canaries is hard work and time consuming, and doesn't always have a happy ending. Birds this small need food every two hours when they are babies and are highly susceptible to infections. The good news is that you can hand raise canaries if something happens to the parent birds, and hand-raised canaries become tame.
- Skill level:
Things you need
- Box or tank
- Heat pad or hot water bottle
- Two or more towels
- Baby bird formula
- Cotton wool
- Face towel
Set up a box or tank for the canary chick by putting the heatpad or hotwater bottle in the bottom and cover with a towel. To begin with, baby canaries need to be kept warm, at 32.2 to 37.2 degrees Celsius. Once the chick shows a good covering of feathers it will survive at room temperature. If using a hotwater bottle, replace the water inside regularly and check the temperature with a thermometer.
Make up formula in cup according to instructions and warm in a microwave or bowl of hot water.
Test the mixture on your own wrist to ensure it isn't too hot.
Give formula to the canary chick every couple of hours with a syringe. When it stops taking food or stops begging, it has had enough. Don't feed the chick more than it wants. Also look at its crop -- the pouch on its throat. It will be visible when full and should be nearly empty before the next feeding. You don't need to feed the chick from midnight to dawn.
Clean off excess formula from around the chick's face and beak with damp cotton wool.
Keep the canary chick and its box clean. Use a slightly damp face towel or more cotton wool to gently wipe the chick as necessary and wash the box towel every day. Replace the used towel with a clean one so you do not have to wait for the old one to dry.
Increase the time between feedings after a week or 10 days. Start feeding the chick once every 3 hours.
Wean the chick at three weeks old. The chick now has a good covering of feathers and will be exploring. Transfer to a birdcage if you haven't done so already and supply regular canary food. Continue the hand feeding for a further couple of weeks.
Tips and warnings
- Choose a baby bird formula suitable for finches if you can't find one specifically for canaries. Canaries are a kind of finch.
- Hand-rearing small birds is difficult. Consult a vet who specialises in birds for expert advice and assistance.
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