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Caring for a Finch or Canary

Whether you have zebra finches, gouldians, or singing canaries - the care is roughly the same. If you are looking for species specific information, feel free to call us with more in depth questions.

Lifespan: 5 - 10 years (depending on species)

Housing: Always choose a cage with plenty of open space for flight, as finches and canaries are not hookbilled and cannot climb the bars of the cage to move around. Choose a cage with bar spacing of 1/2" or less for safety reasons, as wider spacing could allow the bird to escape or become stuck. Wider space is always preferred to tall space for flight reasons. You should fix at least two perches at different heights in the cage to mimic normal branching patterns in trees. Finches and canaries both enjoy toys, especially ones with strings, beads, or mirrors. A few toys are recommended to keep your bird from becoming bored. Keep in mind that although you want multiple toys, if you have multiple birds you will want to make sure you do not compromise the flight space. Line the cage bottom with corn cob or newspaper for sanitation and clean the bottom of the cage completely once per week.

Diet: Your bird's diet should consist of quality seeds, pellets, and a variety of fresh foods such as grated carrots or chopped greens. You will need two dishes in the cage minimum (one for food and one for water) but more may be necessary if you have multiple birds. Fresh, clean water should be available daily for both bathing and drinking. Treats such as spray millet are a great snack to keep on hand.

Cleaning: Other than changing out the bottom liner of the cage weekly, you should be disinfecting the entire cage monthly. Always rinse and dry completely before placing the bird back into the cage. 

Health: Unlike hookbill birds (such as parakeets and cockatiels), finches and canaries should never have their wings clipped because it severely restricts their movement and health. However, some grooming may be required especially as your bird enters old age. The most common health problems for older birds are overgrown beaks, overgrown nails, and respiratory infections. The beaks and nails can be maintained healthily with the use of cement perches and cuttlebones, but in the event that the bird stops self grooming they may need to have their beak or nails trimmed by a professional. Signs of other illnesses include sneezing, droopy or sleepy eyes, plucking feathers, fluffed feathers, excessive sleep, or changes in droppings.

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