How to care for red factor canaries

Written by melissa lewis
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Bred for its bold scarlet feathers, the red factor canary relies upon specific nutrients to maintain a colourful plumage. Such breeding is referred to as colour breeding, and colour-bred birds usually require special feeding (referred to as colour feeding) to maintain their vibrant colours.

In general, care of red canaries is exactly the same as for any type of canary. However, red factor canaries have additional dietary needs to maintain their colourful plumage. The three main chemicals required to successfully colour feed red canaries are canthaxanthin, beta-carotene and other orange carotenoids.

According to Marvin Walton, a canary breeder at The Canary's Nest, the method by which beta-carotene and other carotenoids are introduced into a red factor's diet is strictly a matter of the owner's preference, and canthaxanthin may or may not be used as a supplement.

Skill level:
Moderately Easy

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Things you need

  • Foods rich in beta-carotene and other carotenoids
  • Commercially available supplements designed for red factor canaries

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  1. 1

    Always colour feed prior to a moulting period. It is crucial to colour feed red factor canaries during this time, or new feathers will likely grow in yellow.

  2. 2

    Colour feed your red factor canary naturally. Beta-carotene and other carotenoids can be found naturally in carrots, sweet potatoes, squash, beets, tomatoes, cherries and a variety of berries. Offer these to your red factor canary regularly.

  3. 3

    Add commercially available supplement to your red factor's diet. These supplements come in the form of a liquid concentrate to be mixed with water. Keep a steady supply of this enriched drinking water available to your red factor canary at all times.

  4. 4

    If you are breeding red factors, pure canthaxanthin and beta-carotene can be added to the nestling canary food.

Tips and warnings

  • Though colour feeding is said to be necessary only prior to moulting, adult canaries benefit from being colour fed at all times. Constant colour feeding ensures that any odd feathers that might be lost will grow back in the proper colour.
  • If you add supplements to your red factor canary's drinking water, consider mixing up enough for a week and storing it in the refrigerator.
  • Chemical supplements can be harmful to the overall health of your bird. Colour feeding by natural sources is the healthiest option.
  • Colour feeding results may vary, since each canary will have different eating habits. A colour-fed canary with a healthy appetite will generally show more vibrant plumage.

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