HAMILTON & DISTRICT BUDGERIGAR SOCIETY INC.

THE CANARY


LOSS OF SONG:
Most Canaries that sing, can do so by the age of approx. 6 weeks. The quality of their song can be related or improved by their listening to parents at a young age.

Sometimes a bird will be perfectly healthy and then cease to sing during the summer months. This is not too unusual, for some birds stop singing during the molting season, probably because they feel there is nothing to sing about when half their plumage is gone. The only problem then is to be sure that the bird is well treated so he will sing again. The best way to ensure return to song is to feed the song food every other day during the molt. Also be sure that plenty of wheat germ is offered and that greens and dandelions are available. Sometimes the addition of a little honey to the drinking water helps too. Add some flax seed to the regular seed occasionally. Be sure that fresh, clean seed and fresh water are offered every single day. This is a very delicate time for the molting canary. When a bird loses its song when it is not molting, it is a sign that something is wrong. Check the droppings, hold the bird to your ear to check for respiratory difficulties, and see whether you can ascertain just what is troubling the poor canary. If it seems perfectly healthy, try a heavier feeding of song food and add a little honey to the drinking water.

Sometimes keeping the bird covered with a black cloth for five days does the trick. If your Canary falls silent don't be surprised if your bird suddenly stops singing during molting season. Growing a new plumage consumes so much energy that little or none is left over for singing. Sometimes this break in singing lasts longer than the molt. Occasionally a bird falls permanently silent. Canaries are highly talented singers. Their song is among the sweetest produced by birds. This happened to a family I know, who had bought a canary cock that sang ravishingly for a whole year with only brief breaks associated with molting. But then, from one day to the next, it stopped singing and made only soft "peeping" sounds. There was no reason for this change. The bird was perfectly healthy and happy; it had simply given up singing. Some birds resume singing after a period of silence, but others don't. Don't be sad and disappointed if your canary should be of the latter kind. After all, the birds in your yard don't sing continuously either, but vocalize only during the reproductive cycle. And even then some sing persistently and loudly, while others do so only intermittently, briefly, and softly or--in some cases--not at all. For me, birds are individual creatures, not singing machines.

What you can do:
Here are a few tricks that may put your bird back into a singing mood.
Play tapes and records with canary song for your bird.
Play music on the radio as most canaries will try and drown it out therefore singing as loudly as they can.
If you have more than 1 male, keep them in different cages where they cannot see each other.

How Canaries Sing:
Perhaps you have noticed that your canary assumes a certain posture for singing. It raises its head high and swells its throat. These actions have to do with the fact that the sounds are produced in the windpipe. As far as we know, birds can produce sounds only when exhaling. Yet the song of a Roller Canary sounds as if it goes on forever without pausing for air. One reason is that a bird can inhale a lot of air. What breaths it takes are so quick that they are hardly noticable.Songbirds can take about 20 breaths per second. Another feat of the respiratory system of birds is that fresh oxygen can be absorbed not only during inhaling but also during exhaling.
Female Canaries sing rarely and so softly that they are often not heard at all but they do have the necessary organs and physiology for singing. All they lack is the male sex hormones.

How Canaries Learn to Sing:
The call notes and songs of many birds are totally inborn or instinctive. Other birds are born with a certain repertoire of songs but learn new ones during their nestling days and shortly thereafter, normally imitating the male parent, which is near the nest. Canaries belong to the second group. This means that a male canary can sing perfectly well--even if it is kept singly--provided that it listened to its father's singing at the crucial early age. If this was not the case, the canary will still sing in typical canary fashion, only perhaps with not quite so much variety.

Musical training:
Once the young cocks are old enough, breeders keep them in largish cages or flights, where they start practicing their songs, eagerly trying to outdo each other. Then, after the post-juvenile molt, the young males are placed singly in song cages, where each can "study" and improve its song privately. This phase of achieving final perfection lasts two months, during which the singers don't see, but do hear, each other, a situation that intensifies their competitive spirit. Breeders often place the young birds near a good teacher whose songs they learn. However, this is not absolutely necessary. A canary's song can develop into mature purity without human aid.

E-Mail: berniehansen@sympatico.ca

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Hamilton & District Budgerigar Society Inc.