The male canary is known for his exuberant lilting song. Only male canaries sing, so often when a new pet canary won't sing it's because the bird was misidentified and is really a female. It's impossible to tell the sex of a canary by sight, and females are often accidently sold as males. Male canaries will also stop singing during moulting season and sometimes are reluctant to sing again when moulting is completed. And some young birds may need to be taught to sing. There are steps you can take to encourage your male canary to sing.
Determine the age of the bird. Most male canaries won't sing until they are 6 months old. If the bird is young, be patient. If the bird is new to the environment, it might take it a couple weeks to be comfortable enough to sing. Many birds will also stop singing when they get to be 10 years or older.
Move the canary to an individual cage. Male canaries are more prone to sing when they are housed alone. Some will sing almost continuously when kept in an individual cage. The cage should be at least 16 by 16 inches in size.
Place the cage up high in a well-lit room.
Keep the bird cool and limit exposure to artificial light at night. Canaries moult once a year, usually in the summer. The male canary will stop singing when moulting and won't begin again until all its feathers have been replaced --- usually after about two months. Moulting is triggered by heat and longer periods of daylight. Some birds will moult more often and out of season. This is usually caused by heat and artificial light. Keep the canary in a cool room and cover its cage at sunset, especially in the winter, to prevent excessive moulting.
Play canary training tapes. Tapes and CDs of canaries singing can be used to encourage a reluctant canary to sing. The sound of other birds often stimulates song.
Play classical music on the stereo in the canary's room. Sometimes the sound of music will coax a canary into song.
Feed your canary extra protein. Egg biscuits can support the canary through the moulting process by supplying him with extra protein. Biscuits are available at pet stores. Soak biscuits in water before serving them to the bird.
Check your canary's weight. Gently hold the bird and feel its chest. If the rib bones are protruding, it's too thin. Canaries need more than just birdseed for optimum health. A too-thin bird will stop singing. Convert the bird to pellet feed supplemented with egg biscuits to help it gain weight.
Check the bird for a respiratory infection. A respiratory infection will keep the bird from singing. These infections can be caused by a virus, fungus, bacteria or by parasites. An avian veterinarian will need to determine the cause of the infection for proper treatment.
Check the bird's toenails. Canaries' toenails can grow too long, making it painful for them to perch. An avian vet can trim the nails to make the bird more comfortable.