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At the end of the summer we helped out a friend whose mother was going into a respite facility for a few months. We decided to foster her eleven-year-old canary. How demanding, we thought, could that be?

Taking Time to Read-up on Proper Care

It turns out…Tweet is a wonderful house guest both smart and curious. I’d lived with a budgie for a few years in my twenties and thought I had a good grasp of bird care…fill the seeds and water, change the paper, add gravel, cover at night. Well…I was wrong on so many levels. Thankfully, there’s the Internet to help bring us up to speed!

  • First off, I was smart enough to know canaries don’t come out and fly around for the day. So we kept his cage closed. I was mistaken with his feeding and bedtime regimen, however. I bought some fresh canary seed and a little bag of crushed egg biscuit as a treat. After cleaning his cage, I sprinkled a little bird gravel over the paper and called it complete. Wrong. Read on. [Update: Jan 2015 – I’ve recently read Canaries can very well fly around the house if they’re trained well and start in a safe environment where they can’t fall behind furniture. So…now when Tweet bounces in front of his door…we’ll start thinking about it.]
  • Canaries love their seeds (some kinds more than others I found), but they love their vegetables more! Who knew I’d soon be serving broccoli, kale, and slices of carrots (peeled to avoid pesticides on the skin) and chopped sugar snap peas. Not only that…but the bird goes mad for hard boiled egg! (Just a little please….canaries can get fat and have heart disease!)
  • I messed-up with bedtime, too. Our budgies always sat up with us in the evenings. We’d bring their cages into the living room or provide a perch for them to fly to. (Unless they preferred sitting on our head or shoulder.) We thought Tweet might be a little homesick, so we did the same for him…and he started to molt off-season. Canaries wake up with the sun and need a tuck-in time close to sundown. Which means they stay up longer in the summer…and that’s their usual molting season.
  • I also learned not to put gravel on the floor or use sandpaper covers on the perches…all new information since the days I lived with a bird before. I found a wonderful website called www.robirda.com that is THE go-to place for canary owners, I’ve since learned. What a wonderful help she has been.

Your Bird is a Cherished Family Member

Since Tweet is a most curious little fellow, always sitting at the edge of his cage to see what we’re up to, we try to bring him out to the living room when we can (only until his much earlier bedtime now!), avoiding deadly drafts, and letting him enjoy a little company. After a few months we bought him a much larger cage as well, so he can now flit and fly in almost three times the space. He loves to fly. (We had a horrible feeling we’d never get him from his comfy little home into the new cage so we left them side by side for the day while we fussed with the new one. By the time we put the cages together with the doors open, the smart little fellow had flown into the the new one almost before I was ready!) “Why the delay, guys? I’ve been looking forward to this all day!”

Tweet has become as much a member of the household now as any beloved dog we’ve grown to love. He has his crazy ways of singing (more like a rendition of jungle birds than a sweet canary song)…and his shy ways of not eating or singing if we watch…but curious fellow that he is, he always comes right over to see us when we stop by. Should the day ever come that we have to give him up, we’ll be more than sad to lose our friend. Hopefully, he’s found his forever home with us.

Until next time!