The domestic canary is a small domesticated songbird from the Canary Islands. they were brought to Europe by Spanish sailors in the 17th century, and originally only the very rich could afford them. Today, canaries are popular for their voice and their simplicity to look after. A canary's diet is central to keeping it healthy, the inclusion of fresh vegetables being essential.
Canaries eat a wide variety of fruits and vegetables, including apples, oranges, cantaloupes, grated carrots, broccoli, endives, dandelion greens, kale and cucumbers. Lettuce (excluding romaine) has hardly any nutritional value for birds, however darker leafed vegetables are beneficial. Owners should feed their canaries fresh vegetables in moderation, keeping these to about one-quarter of the canary's daily intake, as overfeeding can cause loose stools. It is important to clear the cage of leftover vegetables to avoid canaries consuming rotten food.
Owners should wash all vegetables well, to avoid canaries consuming chemical residues, and cut them into small, manageable pieces. Canaries may refuse a vegetable for the first time but eat it another day. Providing canaries with a variety of foods will benefit their health, shown by brighter, tighter feathers. They will also sing more frequently, and produce more young if bred.
Seed should make up the main part of the canary's diet, and should be present in the cage at all times. A good quality seed mix consists of about 80 per cent canary seed and 20 per cent rapeseed (canola seed). Seed designed for finches contains high levels of millet and fat, and so is not suitable for canaries. Owners can keep seed fresh by freezing it, bringing it back to room temperature before feeding to their birds.
Treat food, such as song food, is high in fat, calories and protein and can cause obesity and health problems in canaries. Owners should only feed it to their canaries a couple of times a week, and in small amounts. For extra calcium, birds can eat finely ground eggshell and cuttlebone. Adding vitamins to water not only decreases the amount of vitamin contents after the first half hour, it also creates a suitable environment for bacteria to multiple. Sprinkling vitamin supplements on fresh vegetables is a far more effective method for feeding canaries extra vitamins. This is not necessary if the canary seed already contains additional vitamins.
Foods To Avoid
Canaries always need to have clean, fresh water, free of contaminants such as bacteria and chemicals. Owners who feel apprehensive about the quality of their tap water should give their birds bottled water. Canaries should never eat avocado, as it is toxic to them. Owners should also avoid feeding home-grown seed, as this can contain bacteria.