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Song Canaries

Of all the finches, it is the Canary that claims the top prizes for song. Other species have been bred for colour and other features, and although this is also the case with the Canary, it is song that has elevated them to the top perches in the world.

Singing Canary
The Canary is renowned for its singing

Different Types of Canary Song

Those responsible for setting rules and targets at bird shows have categorised Canary song into three basic ‘movements’. Certain varieties will excel at one of these factors in particular, and a bird that combines all three will scoop trophies as he goes. The three types are Rollers, Warblers and Choppers.

  • Rollers are the most popular singers, due to their low volume. They sing with closed or partially-open beaks, muting the sound, and their songs are low, soft and melodic.
  • Warblers have a wide repertoire, and a bit more volume than the rollers.
  • Choppers are the loudmouths of the gang, opening their beaks wide for maximum volume (although that’s still quiet by, say, parrot family standards). Lots of ‘Type’ Canaries (i.e. ones bred for shape rather than song) are Choppers. Border, Norwich, Yorkshire and Fife Canaries are all in this category.

Canary Bird Singing

Canaries do not sing for pleasure, much as our sentimental human judgement would like to think so. Pleasurable as it is to our ears, the birds have evolved their song skills for the purposes of courtship and proclaiming territory. Domestic birds, after hundreds of generations of selective breeding, might well sing for most of the year, even with no hen to court, but deep down they are doing what songbirds have always done - singing for a mate, and telling rivals to get lost!

Canaries only begin to sing after eight months, so if your bird is younger than that there is a certain amount of potluck involved. By speaking to the breeder and listening to birds in full song you will, however, get a good idea of how your pet will eventually shape up as a songster.

Yellow Canary
Songs for Pleasure? Not as far as the bird is concerned...

One of the great assets of Canary song, in addition to its melodious and liquid beauty, is its volume. Unlike certain members of the parrot family, Canaries sing quietly, and your neighbours will have to put their ears to the wall and listen hard if they want to hear it.

When do Canaries Sing?

Pet ‘song’ Canaries are in full voice for much of the year, with a peak from late summer to the end of autumn. Unlike their wild Canary cousins, they don’t need a hen to impress (i.e. the best singers are males), or a territory to shout about. They sing in the same way a chicken lays eggs - they’ve been selectively bred to do it.

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