There are three types of canaries: color canaries, song canaries and type canaries.
The word "canary" often conjures up the image of a little yellow bird (canary yellow to be exact) whistling from its hanging cage and/or fluttering back and forth. They are a grandma's kind of bird (think back to those Tweety Bird cartoons) and add a lovely ambiance to any room or garden. However, as many BIRD TALK readers have discovered, there are more to pet canaries than meets the eye (or the ear).
The canary's song seems to win most of their owners over. "I had wanted a canary for a long time, mostly for the cheery song," said BIRD TALK reader Caitlin Lion of New Jersey about her 2-year-old bronze-factor canary named Pip. "I would recommend a canary, especially to anyone who's home a lot to appreciate and enjoy its song and little games. Even on a bad day, the joyous songs Pip bursts out make us smile and lift our hearts."
Cari Feldmann of Iowa, owner of 4-year-old male roller canary, Gizmo, relates that, "His song wakes me up in the morning and calms my soul throughout the day ... His voice is enough to make us all happy — no gifts, no tricks are required. What a gift he is to us!"
For many owners, canaries are much more than musical decor. Most who keep canaries as pets speak highly of the canary’s happy demeanor. Jasmine Metz of Illinois pointed out that if her 4-year-old male waterslager canary, Tinky, had a mouth instead of a beak, "I swear he'd have a smile all the time. He's the happiest living creature I've ever seen. Every bit of food I put in his cage he loves to try. He even likes the little toys I give him. He keeps busy all day eating and playing."
George Livernois described how Patch, his 11-year-old male canary, "no longer tries to sing and is arthritic in one foot, but it's such a joy to watch him enjoy another morning in his small way. He enjoys the small things in life, such as good food and sunshine."
Lion states that the positive characteristics of Pip, are so many that, "he's a joy to watch. Even if he didn't sing, he'd be a great pet."
Joan Hess of California writes about being inspired by her female border type canary, Twinky. "I have continued to be inspired by this gracious creature's inner joy that has shone through a long bout of chlamydiosis, a neurological disorder that left her head upside down for several weeks, without daunting exquisite optimism, nor her appetite for bread, and an ongoing, and nearly lethal, battle with feather cysts."
Likewise, many canary owners are pleasantly surprised by their canary's playfulness. Pip, "is very playful and quick to investigate any new toys. He rings bells, plays with beads and balls and likes to strum his cage bars with his beak — like a harp! He also shreds his cage paper and puts it in his water dish, like he's trying to make paper mache!"
Laurie Battles of Tennessee relates how her two male canaries, Sylvester and Spanky, both attack a two-sided mirror, sometimes at the same time, trying to poke the 'birds' they see in the mirror. And Californian Laura Minges' 3-year-old male canary, Nieve, demonstrates his acrobatic prowess with his "daring backward flips off the perch."
Although canaries do not speak to their owners like many parrots do, they have their own unique way of communicating. "He talks with his eyes," says Metz of Tinky. "Even though he doesn't say words, when I talk to him, he looks right into my eyes and sings a little tweedle-de-dee in answer.
Shara Kelsey of California bought her canary, Cyril, so that her jenday conure, Galan, would pick up its pleasant sounds. Instead, Cyril "picked up a softer version of Galan's whistles, calling a cab and the wolf whistle among others.”
Gary Smith of Massachusetts, owner of Wylie the 3-year-old male Gloster canary, recommends a canary to "anyone who loves the song of a small bird in your house to delight and make you smile!"