This article can be summarized in a very short manner. There is no “cage” (or flight) that is too big for your canaries to enjoy as long as it is of safe materials and escape-proof!!
My birds are housed in LONG FLIGHT CAGES which are simply big long cages, so they have enough room for some flying exercise and enough room to play a little. Unobstructed flight patterns from one end of the cage to the other gives them the most room to fly before landing.
For an indoor size, 4 feet long, 3 feet high and 2 feet wide is about perfect. If you have a long enough wall space, more length would be great, but to go higher gets hard to “service”, and deeper than 2 1/2 feet makes it difficult to move through doorways very easily. I have found a company where these flight cages can be purchased with a wrought-iron stand on casters which is WONDERFUL for rolling to a different window for sunshine time, pulling out in a flash for cleaning behind, etc. It is the length of the cage from left to right which gives the birds the all-important distance for FLYING. To check out the cages I use and recommend, click the button at the top of the website that says “BEST CANARY GEAR.”
This flight room is very important for the health and also the happiness of your little birds. They simply love to take off from one wall and quickly dart back and forth several times to the far wall, and often several cage mates will join in the fun! Mine is just a 1/2″ bar spacing wire, double flight cage with a pull out trays at the bottom and two doors in the front. They are of great value for your little birds! They are not fancy wood ones, but they are MUCH easier to clean, and they look nice enough even in the house like ours are.
One note for multi-species owners, if you have finches housed with the Canaries, or perhaps a miniature stature canary such as the Fife, be mindful of the wire spacing – 1/2″ x 1″ wire, as the other available (1″ x 1″ or larger) is too large of wire openings for them, and they may escape or even get stuck trying to escape! The 1/2″ bar spacing is preferable for me. They are very safely enclosed and cannot escape nor get stuck in this size.
One more thing to consider is whether a kitty paw could be inserted after the birds. We have no cats, and so it is no problem for us. We know a great many people who have both cats and birds, and it works out just beautifully, but beware if you choose the larger sized openings. We would hate to see any mishaps in this regard! You can be sure who would lose. Use your own discretion.
All the information presented here is what works for us in our home, please consider all aspects of your own situation and decide for yourselves what is best for you! We want to help people to get the most out of these just wonderful little birds, and also to help the Canaries to have a great quality of life as they are quite intelligent and friendly, and just because they deserve it! We feel pets add a great deal to the quality of our lives and want to do the best for them in return. All our information is to be weighed by each of you and utilized or discarded as you choose. You may consider a trial of some suggestions to “test” whether this does, in fact, provide more enjoyment (or health!) for your special bird as to more room to play & fly and more importantly some toys to occupy themselves while they live their whole life in a CAGE. Give them a week or two to get used to the new objects and lose their fear as most of them will not ever have been exposed to toys etc.! Toys are even more important in the case of glosters or frills as the longer feathers attract cage mates to them and you don’t want them “plucked” for lack of something better to do!
The long length of flight cages allows for perch swings to be placed lengthwise down the middle of the cage top to provide good flight space on both sides of these center perches. Swings and perches are placed at the far ends of the cage from top to bottom to allow the most open area in the middle for flying, and also PLENTY of swing toys, string toys and spinner toys around the top for all to play with! We hang swings off of swings and these are invariably the favorite place to land! They are just darling to watch playing and love to entertain themselves (and you in the process!)
One thing we have found here is that simple, removable ACRYLIC PANELS attached around the outside of the cages really helps to contain hulls, feathers, etc and so cleaning can be more at your convenience. This counts in our busy house! Eagle Hardware and similar large stores have these panels fairly cheap and they will cut the panels to size. We use the S-shaped metal hooks and drill holes in the acrylic to hang it on the outside of the wire. Then they can easily be lifted off and washed occasionally. On our flight cages, we go up about 6 inches or so in the front to the bottom of the door, about 1/2 way up each end and about 3/4 of the way up the back side of the cage so as to prevent “fly-bys” on the wall, but still allow for plenty of good air circulation. As the panels are clear, they do not cut out any of the viewing ability while watching the birds.
Plastic perches are cleaner and healthier for your bird and should be of various diameters to help keep the feet and legs healthy. I use a CEMENT PERCH at my drinker station as they frequently wipe their beaks after drinking, and they are all there several times a day, so beaks (and toe nails too) get a natural trim! If you must use wood perches, APPLE OR WILLOW BRANCHES ARE THE BEST overall as they graduate in diameter size and the birds just love them. Make sure they have NO PESTICIDE OR HERBICIDE SPRAY on them!
Situating these at an angle will cause the most gripping by the Canaries and will naturally exercise their feet and legs. This is very beneficial to them. If you have a small cage (a minimum of 24″ long is recommended), just buy the perches that are two inches or so deeper than the depth of your cage, and then place them in at an angle with one side having the front tipped down, and at the other side of the cage, the second perch having the front tipped up. This will exercise their feet and legs evenly.
Place your perches so that their tails are not brushing the bars of the cage, but so that you still have the maximum distance between the perches for flight room.
They should ALWAYS have a SWING WITH SPINNERS ON THE SIDES. These newer style plastic swings are just a WONDERFUL innovation for these little birds as they are ever so playful and can manipulate and turn these little “spinners” on the sides of the swings as they are within reach. They will spend hours turning these little spinners each day, and seem most fascinated with them!
They may perch on these or other flat toys to roost for the night. Our birds will hold on at the oddest angles sometimes and sleep all night that way as their feet have a natural locking mechanism in them which does not let them fall off. They will roost all night holding on.
Place your perches so that their tails are not brushing the bars of the cage, but so that you still have the maximum distance between the perches for flight room.
Place swings, dishes, and perches so they are not directly above and below each other to cut down on the cleaning of the lower perches.
I don’t think there is such a thing as too many, toys for your canaries as long as they are not obstructing the flight areas! These birds surprise a great many people with their great capacity for play and interaction and if not given sufficient positive items and playthings to keep them busy, will invariably invent other not-so-positive things to do to keep themselves busy, such as fighting amongst themselves. Toys can also be rotated in and out to provide fresh enjoyment (sound familiar, Moms & Dads?!).
They are surprisingly intelligent and get bored out of their brains with nothing to do but sit on a single perch all day. This is a terrible way to spend 10 years or so of life. We have spent many, many hours watching our birds here as they are all raised in our living room throughout the year. They like to have things that they can manipulate or turn, such as the little knobs in the middle of the plastic toys that spin on the rings. They usually have a mirror on the back of them. Be aware that mirrors can intimidate male canaries and if this happens to yours he will not want to sing! This is only a small possibility, so if you are going to use mirrors, just observe how your male birds react. I’ve never had any problems, but have read stories of people who claim their male birds were acting “weird” once mirrors were placed in the cage.
Another favorite toy is fluffy clumps of STRING on blocks, or sometimes they just look kind of like big dog bones made of string. These are great to hang down in the middle of 6″ wood swings to separate the swing into two separate “sitting areas”. Then both birds can reach the string, and be able to pluck and pull on them from each side. I hang these in the middle of my perches too so as to make two individual perches out of one perch, and then the birds will pull on the strings and not on each other’s feathers! They love to “fuzz” them all out.
BELLS are great and the smaller ones they will literally pick up and shake to ring them. It looks very funny and will frequently attract a cage mate who would like to get in on the fun!
They like MIRRORS too. Some of the new ACRYLIC TOYS with bells and mirrors etc. they like quite well.
Swings that hang down crooked off of other swings or perches are great fun for them. They seem to like to go for a “ride” when someone else lands up above them on a higher part. Be sure they are securely fastened together first!
One all-time favorite “toy” is just a shoe box, or baby wipes box, or even a large cool whip container which is open and filled 1/3 of the way with CORN COB BEDDING which can be found at most pet stores. They love to jump in and out and pick around in the cob. I sprinkle the old seed hulls and sometimes a little fresh seed in on top and they just love to peck around in there scavenging! BIG FUN! This way, they will also pick out all the good seed left for you so you don’t have a need to “sift” through the empty shells, and it also gives them a great deal of entertainment doing this “chore”. They just love it.
I have switched to using NEWSPAPER on the bottom of these flight cages with a new aviary bedding called “Care Fresh” over the top of the newspapers. When you go to change the bedding, just roll up the newspaper and it takes the bedding with it. This new bedding only has to be changed every two weeks or so due to the far superior absorption of waste and odors. It relieves cleaning interruptions on hens with new clutches etc. and has been just excellent for the new babies and all of my birds love to play in it! It is not recycled newspaper and so does not have ink to ruin show baby feathers or irritate feet. It is also sterilized to 3 times the heat of cob and is much safer germ-wise. With the box of cob in the cages, they have the pleasure of the cob to play in but we have the ease and convenience. It is a great compromise. Sand paper, and for that matter, sand paper perch covers, should never be used as they will injure the birds feet and subject them to disease and trouble which is easily avoided.
CLEANLINESS is very important for these little guys. Keep your perches and dishes clean and disinfected (no phenol products though!) as the birds will rub their faces on these every day after their bath, and also while eating. No cooties allowed please!
Locate the cage NEAR A WINDOW if possible as they love nothing more than to check out the neighborhood throughout the day. The cage needs to be able to get a percentage of SUN (about 2/3 of the cage), and about 1/3 of the cage should be behind a curtain, or draped with silk foliage or even a towel, etc. to form some kind of SHADE for them. This of course needs to be a draft free area as drafts are very bad for them. There are now FULL SPECTRUM LIGHTS on the market which can be laid on, or attached to, the flights for your birds to enjoy, and are just great in addition to a window location! These are VERY beneficial healthwise, especially in frequently cloudy areas like our Puget Sound region. Automatic timers make them easy to utilize and you don’t even have to be home to do it! Be sure and set them to follow the outside light cycle as canaries are extremely sensitive to the light cycle for regulation of their breeding cycle, molting cycle, winter rest cycle etc. Cover the cage when it is dark outside, it’s as easy as that! 🙂
When the sun is on them is when the birds most love their bath time. They need to have a COLD WATER BATH every day. The covered baths are nicer for YOU as they can’t throw water all over the place, but not nearly as much fun to watch them in as an open pie tin etc. is. Invariably, they will all join in and take a bath as soon as the first one starts. They just love this part of their day! They are very beautiful, and to watch them all wiggle around cleaning themselves and then be all puffed out preening and drying is very entertaining for our family to enjoy. Some have longer feathering than others and look like little dripping rag mops when they first get out. Too funny! The baths are very important for them from a health standpoint as well as from an enjoyment standpoint. Warm water is not recommended, nor enjoyed by the birds as much. Go figure?!
The cage should be located so there is NO BLOWING AIR in their direction. Especially cold air. In front of heat vents or next to an air conditioning unit is not good at all. They like an indirect breeze on a hot day like any halfway intelligent creature, but cannot do with cold drafts of steady duration. They can be taken with colds and respiratory problems, for which there are good antibiotics on the market, but why subject them, and you, to this route. Place them away from doorways and air vents of either kind and they will do very well. They are very hardy little birds!
HEIGHT equals security to a canary, the same as most birds, so put your cage up on a very sturdy stand or table of some kind if possible. They are easier to service this way, and kids and other animals are less of a concern too. VIBRATION of any kind (refrigerators etc.) are not good for birds and the kitchen area should be avoided if possible. They are very susceptible to FUMES and certain kinds (overheated Teflon pans for one) can be deadly for your little friend. Take care with smoke etc. around them. I have a portable air cleaner I run every day that I swear by! It’s better for the birds and better for the family. There are many cleaning fumes, automobile fumes, and other air pollutants it seems these days. We’ve noticed a big difference since we’ve have had our air cleaner!
A COVER placed on the cage during the natural (outside) darkness hours is helpful to keep your bird happy and healthy. This is following their natural cycle through the year and is beneficial to them. Our artificial lighting til 11:00 at night is not good for them. If you live in Alaska etc. please do not leave the cover off 3 hours a day as this is equally bad (worse?). Use your judgment. They need at least 8 hours sleep each night year around, and more for the resting cycle over the winter. Gradual changes in light hours is obviously best. In winter here in Washington State, I don’t cover before about 5:30 p.m. and let the sunlight come up naturally. In the summer, the lighting follows our schedule so well we don’t cover at all.
These little birds are so much fun and have given us so many hours of pleasure just watching them play. And of course, listening to that unbelievable singing! I used to think I really liked the wild birds we would feed outside until I had my own little singers right in the house to enjoy. Just wonderful! We still like to feed the wild birds in the winter, but of course, we like these that stay with us all year around even more!
Please check back with us occasionally and drop me a note! I love to talk birds and would love to meet more owners and breeders out there, and know what things they do for their canaries! Anyone with any questions regarding care, sources, ailments, worries, suggestions, or anything at all, please use the “flock-talk” form, and I will respond as soon as possible!