Buying & equipment

Tips for buying canaries

Canaries are social animals, although they live in quite fluid flocks. They can easily feel lonely if kept alone, so it is best to buy them in pairs. The best combinations for keeping them as pets are two females or an opposite-sex pair. It is, however, also possible to keep several males together if you have a sufficiently large cage.

Cock or hen? 

Canaries can be bought from almost any pet shop or directly from a breeder. Specialists refer to the males as "cocks" and females as "hens", although they differ little from each other in their external appearance. One key characteristic used to determine the sex of these birds is, however, the cock's highly developed singing ability.

Signs of a healthy canary:

  • Lively behaviour 
  • Smooth plumage
  • Clear eyes 
  • A clean beak
  • A clean behind 

Checklist for initial equipment: 

  • A large birdcage with vertical bars for climbing
  • Perches of different sizes for foot exercises
  • Untreated branches for climbing
  • Water bath for daily refreshment
  • Bird sand, such as Premium SANDY with calcium carbonate and essential minerals
  • Food bowl or automatic feeder filled with main food, such as Menu canaries
  • Water bottle with fresh drinking water or  Vita Fit® Aqua drink
  • Mineral stone, e.g. Vita Fit® Mineral or Vita Fit® Sepia cuttlebones to provide added minerals and help care for your bird's beak
  • Kräcker® sticks to care for your bird's beak and provide variety

Your canary cage

An attractive, spacious birdcage with plenty of perches and room to hop around is ideal for canaries. It is also important to provide untreated branches. Since branches do not always grow horizontally in nature, those in your canary cage should also be placed at an angle to provide essential exercise for the muscles in their feet.

The right spot for your canary cage

Canaries are happiest in a quiet, well lit location. It is best to place the canary cage at eye level so that the canaries have a good view of the room, which gives them a feeling of security.

  • Canaries cannot tolerate draughts or heat. They are also sensitive to large fluctuations in temperature. 
  • Kitchens, in particular, can be hazardous places (hot hobs, washing up water etc.) and are not recommended.
  • You should place the cage at least three metres away from electrical devices, such as televisions, microwaves or PCs, as birds can hear frequencies that we humans cannot.

Caring for your pet

The more flying, the better!

Canaries are lively birds and need to exercise by flying around outside their cage as much as possible. As well as ensuring that your birds have fun, regular flying is also good for their muscles and promotes healthy circulation. You should, however, wait until your canaries have settled in before letting them out of the cage for their first free flight.


Canaries have a preferred perch for sleeping and will retire to this on an evening. Before going to sleep, they will puff themselves up a little, rest their head on their back and sometimes stand on one foot. They place their beaks deep within the plumage on their backs.


Canaries preen their plumage several times each day and do not require any human assistance. They should, however, be provided with the opportunity of taking a daily bath, especially when moulting.


Canaries need particularly high levels of vitamins, minerals and other nutrients when moulting. Moulting aid for canaries and woodland birds and tasty Kräcker® sticks – designed specially for moulting – provide your bird with the additional nutrients it needs at this time.

Beak care 

To care for their beaks, canaries need a beak stone, such as Vita Fit® Mineral or Vita Fit® Sepia cuttlebonesfrom Vitakraft.

Cleaning your birdcage

You should replace the bird sand at least once or twice each week, depending on the number of birds and the size of the cage. Rinse out the bottom of the cage with hot water once each week and fill with new bird sand. While doing this, you should also clean the perches and other accessories, such as food and water bowls, using hot water.

The cage also needs a thorough clean once every month: This involves rinsing the cage itself in the bath or shower. However, you must never use strong household detergents!


The perfect diet

On the Canary Islands, where canaries originate, their staple diet comprises the seeds from countless different plant species. They also eat fresh greenery in the form of grasses and herbs, as well as berries and fruit. The food given to pet canaries also needs to reflect the variety enjoyed by their wild cousins.

Vitakraft's varied range of food products has been designed to cater for the specific dietary needs of canaries, and provides an ideal basis for ensuring your birds enjoy a long and healthy life. To reflect the specific dietary requirements of canaries in the wild, Vitakraft food contains selected high-grade seeds from the canary's native habitat together with vital nutrients and other beneficial ingredients.

Food types

Main food: 
A main food such as Menu canaries, covers your canary's basic nutritional requirements

Tasty Kräcker® sticks have a number of functions in one: Birds have to work for their food like in the wild. This helps prevent boredom and is a natural way to occupy your canary. Picking at the nibble stick also helps keep your canary's beak healthy 

Natural Snacks: 
VITA NATURE®. Tasty treats that cater to the birds' natural instincts, e.g. picking seeds from natural millet spikes

Snacks, such as Bisquiti provide variety, serve as a reward and help to tame your pet and create a bond

Nutritional supplements: 
Pet food supplements, such as Vita Fit® Mineral or Vita Fit® Multivitamine, strengthen your bird and promote well-being. They help meet the specific nutritional needs that can arise during certain stages of life, e.g. during periods of growth, after illness or when laying eggs. They may also be beneficial for particularly active animals.

Feeding tips

  • Remove the empty grain casings from the food bowl or dispenser on a daily basis and top up with new food 
  • Kräcker® sticks should be placed in your canary's cage to nibble and peck on. This is a natural way to keep your bird occupied and exercises its beak
  • Provide a varied diet 
  • Provide fresh drinking water every day
  • Provide fresh fruit

Behaviour & familiarisation


The spirited nature and cheery song of a canary cock is sure to enthral the entire family. These birds can become very trusting if you treat them with affection. Canaries are also ideal for families with children: interacting with canaries helps young children learn responsibility and consider the needs of others.

A new member of your family 

Taming canaries and familiarising them with humans requires patience and intuition. It is best to hold back to begin with so that your bird has the opportunity to initiate human contact. It can, however, be helpful to use treats such as Kräcker® sticks to attract the bird in the first place.

Canary song 

For canaries, singing is primarily a male pursuit. The singing instinct is triggered by male hormones and it is therefore rare for females to sing. Male canaries use their elaborate songs to lay claim to territory and find a partner during the breeding season. Once it has mated and eggs have been laid, the male tends to fall silent again and focuses instead on providing its mate with food.

The master singers of the canary world are song canaries: breeds that have been cultivated with an emphasis on producing a particularly melodious and varied song. The "Harz Roller" breed, for example, can sing in four different registers (called "tours"): hollow roll, bass roll, flute and hollow bell. Other breeds, such as the Belgian waterslager, have a singing range that includes as many as 17 different tours!



Alternative Title

The scientific name also refers to the wild ancestor of our domestic species, the Atlantic Canary.

Scientific Title

Serinus canaria


Selective breeding has produced many varieties, differing in colour and shape. Size: 12 to 23 cm (depending on variety), average clutch size: 4 eggs, incubation: approx. 13 days, the babies fledge at around 25 days.


The Atlantic Canary is native to the Canary Islands, being particularly common on Tenerife and Gran Canaria. Wild birds are mostly yellow-green, with brownish streaking on the back. They tend to live in flocks, and in pairs during the breeding season. The canary is known for its beautiful songs. It has been bred and kept domestically since the fifteenth century. Canaries were first brought over to Europe by Spanish sailors. Over time, breeding increasingly focused on a brighter coloured plumage and talent for singing. Although the appearance and behaviour of the modern domestic canary may differ from its wild ancestor, they still have a great many traits and needs in common.


The canary’s popularity is not only down to its voice – this bright, lively bird is also a docile, sociable creature that enjoys companionship. For their well-being, they should not be kept alone. Canaries like plenty of light. If kept in an environment that is too dark, they sing less and lose their appetite. 

Special features

In the wild, canaries do not start incubating their eggs until the final one has been laid, meaning that all the eggs hatch at the same time and there is no disparity in chick size (ensuring that none are placed at a disadvantage). This is not the case with domestic canaries, which usually start incubating immediately. For this reason, experienced breeders tend to replace the first eggs with dummy eggs and then return the real eggs once the clutch is completed.