Hand-rearing a Baby Canary

By Connie Soto

2008 ©


Hand-rearing a baby canary usually happens out of necessity and requires a great deal of commitment. Providing the basics will change your lifestyle and the babiesí timetable becomes your schedule. Experience brings the odds of success to your favor as it is not always easy to rear baby birds. Your first time could feel like a nightmare but with a little patience and understanding success can be achieved.


After the baby has reached independence and if you want your canary to be tame spending time with your canary is important. It will ensure the bond that you have created continues into adulthood. Canaries are very smart and can be taught very easily to understand the boundaries you require of them. I provide a dish towel on my lap and it becomes their playground. It is best to keep them familiar with only one room and always keep the door closed. It is not ever safe to leave them out on their own. They are allowed to fly the room and return only to land on me. This is utmost important for their safety and it also helps for the cleanliness of your home. Be mindful of the hazards in a room there are too many to mention them all. Some examples include mirrors, windows, fans, hot or cold water sources, nooks, and crannies. They look forward to this play time and it is also where I give them some veggies, fruits and their bath.


If you do not prefer to continue finger training once the baby has become independent they can be quite happy in a cage without human touching. Canaries do not like petting although most finches like to have their necks gently scratched. Canaries and finches are warm and loving and have ways to show you how they feel.


Temperature for Hand-rearing


The baby canary needs a warm place where the temperature does not fluctuate and is always free of any drafts. Temperature becomes less critical for the baby canary once the babies feathers grow in.


As a general rule of thumb a brooding temperature is about 95 degrees. Some people actually use a thermometer to check the temperature for the baby canary which works for them. Knowing how warm helps you to gage the babiesí environment and a brooder properly set up, a little common sense will ensure the baby is warm enough.


A Canary Brooder Can Be Quite Simple


Items you need to make a brooder include


Place a heating pad in a small corrugated cardboard box and keep the temperature setting on low heat. I do not use a shoe box for two reasons first it is to long in shape and the second reason is that I do not feel it is thick enough to do a good job at maintaining the correct temperature. Tape the top of the box back and tape the sides open with the heating pad cord confined in the corner. Be cautious when using a heating pad and adhere to any manufacture warnings for fire hazards.


I use a small plastic nest as the wire and wicker nests can cause problems with toes getting caught or the wicker nests cannot be cleaned sufficient for reuse. Tie wrap the rope insert to the plastic nest to keep it from moving.


Add some cotton batting to the plastic nest on top of the rope insert making sure that you do not use too much. The baby needs to snuggle down into the nest which makes them feel safe, it will also ensure that they do not fall out of the nest. The baby would get to hot directly on a heating pad and could die under those circumstances.


Wrap the nest with a thick wash cloth lined with tissue and set it on top of the heating pad. A tiny baby will have droppings in a sack which is quite easy to remove which I do with each feeding. As the baby grows the sack will disappear and the baby will naturally use the edge of the nest for its droppings and the tissue will catch them making it easy for clean up.


Cover the babiesí brooder with a hand towel, as the baby grows the hand towel can be raised depending upon the amount of feathers that the baby has and the actual room temperature. This outer covering keep drafts out and provides layering to help with the heat control.


Medicine or Bug Control Concerns for Nestlings


What a person can use on nestlings always raise concerns for the health of the baby canary. My personal experience is provided here for guidance in what I have learned as I am not a Veterinarian. Medical advice should be obtained by your personal Veterinarian.


I typically use three things for nestlings and have had complete success with no ill effects.


For the nest I spray Pyrethrin between the rope insert and the cotton batting at the start of hand-rearing. This is usually all they need for the duration until they no longer need a nest. Let me caution you about Pyrethrin that is not warned on the manufactures label that I feel is very important. I have cats and Pyrethrin is derived from extract of chrysanthemumís which is VERY TOXIC TO CATS. I love my cats and I use a much diluted Pyrethrin on my birds that is still effective and never in the presence of my cats. I even take precautions for any residue that I may touch so that they are never exposed to any amount of Pyrethrin. The manufacture label does provide warnings for fish and they do not provide warnings to gardeners who may need to know that it is toxic to honey bees. It does not harm nestlings including if used as a direct spray of 12-14 inches away which may be necessary for example if you encounter red mites.


I use a bug repel for all my birds that is made up of a high quantity of essential oils that is completely non toxic. There are many types available and they are typically made from orange, lemon, cinnamon, peppermint etc. I prefer to use the ones that state they are safe for babies, dogs, horses, cats and can be used directly on your skin. These are safe for baby and adult canaries and are quite effective for the control of many types of insects.


The last item I would use directly on a nestling would be Moxidectin if needed for scaly face or air sac mites.


Any insect problem or illness needs to be rectified as soon as possible for a baby canary as they can quickly succumb to the malady.