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Domesticated canary (Serinus canaria f. Dom.)

Domesticated canary ( Serinus canaria f. Dom.)

Family : Finches (Fringillidae)
Subfamily : Goldfinches (Carduelinae)
Tribe : Carduelini
Genre : Giraffe ( Serinus )
Type : Canarian girlitz ( Serinus canaria )
Subspecies : canary
Scientific name
Serinus canaria forma domestica
( Linnaeus , 1758)

The canary ( Serinus canaria forma domestica ), also Kanarie , South German and Austrian Kanari , comes from the Atlantic Canary ( Serinus canaria ab). The domestication of the Canarian girl to the canary began after the discovery and conquest of the Canary Islands and the discovery of the Azores and Madeira by the Europeans in the 15th century.

Today there are many breeds and colors of canaries that differ in their song (singing canaries), in their shape and feather texture (posture canaries) or in their color (color canaries).

Singing canaries are the only pets that have had their voices and sounds changed by breeding. The singing canary breed Harzer Roller achieved world fame in this regard.

Lightened yellow mold
"The Yellow Singer"


The canary is slightly larger than its wild ancestor, the Canary Girlitz . Singing and color canaries are about 13.5 cm to 14.5 cm tall. Posture canaries are 11 cm to 23 cm in length.

The most famous color of the plumage of canaries is "canary yellow". However, today there is a multitude of very different plumage colors (e.g. white, red, brown, light brown). Around 1920, hooded siskins were crossed with the then yellow-ground canaries. Since then there have been canaries with red plumage . Some breeds also wear a hood or have special plumage hairstyles.


The canary is the only subspecies of the canary girl . The closest relative is the girlitz . Other close relatives are, for example, the hooded siskin , the birch siskin and the goldfinch .


The well-developed hearing ability of the canaries is closely related to the song. The optimum sensitivity ranges from 3200  Hertz (Hz) to 4000 Hz. The lower hearing limit is 1100 Hz and its upper limit is 10000 Hz. The canary can also differentiate between tone sequences, store them in memory and reproduce them. Therefore he can learn the native and cultivated singing. He can imitate tones and tone sequences of other birds and also incorporate strange noises into his singing.

A canary song begins with a variable, quiet entry of a few syllables and culminates in a very loud tour of hard descending elements. In contrast to the Harz Roller , however, wild birds lack the deep phrases that can be traced back to breeding selection. The Kanarengirlitz can master up to 400 elements and thus sings more diverse than the cultivated forms. Nevertheless, in both cases the variety of sound units must be learned, which can be extended for a lifetime.

Development of singing

As soon as the canary has hatched, it makes its first sounds. After 30 to 40 days, the males begin to study singing. This first phase of learning (subsong) lasts until shortly before the juvenile moult. Before the juvenile moult begins, the bird is silent for about two weeks. Only between the 70th and 90th day does the second learning phase (plastic singing) begin, which lasts up to about 150 days of life. After the juvenile moult, the third phase of singing begins (juvenile autumn singing), which lasts up to around 250 days of age. During this time, the talent can already be guessed, so that the singing canary can go to the so-called singing school .

At the reproductive time of the following year, around the 300th day of life, the canary has finished its apprenticeship and reached the full song that it maintains throughout the breeding season. The sound repertoire is stable and usually comprises 30 to 40 different individual elements (syllables, i.e. notes per second). The male sings for a long time, melodies built up from many tours (tour: connected sequence of syllables, i.e. stanzas) or phrases (phrase: independent conclusion of a piece of music). There is little variation in the duration of the breaks: it ranges from 0.02 s to 0.7 s, but is generally in the range from 0.08 s to 0.16 s. The tour duration of adult males is usually 0.8 s to 1.1 s, but it can also be 2 s.

A part of the song is innate in the canary, but there is also individual learning. The singing scheme and the verse with certain tones and rhythm are genetically determined. The fine structures (syllables) are open to learning processes, and experience is gained by listening to the singing of the species. The example of the father is very important, but the young learn from other males and young birds of the same age. This ability to learn is particularly encouraged in the Singschule. Some syllables are formed without any recognizable role models, so the canary can improvise.

The females rarely sing in their first year of life. The quality of their singing corresponds most closely to the sub-song of the males, sometimes the plastic singing. During the breeding season, the females sing only exceptionally. When their last brood is over, around July, they spontaneously sing summer song. From autumn until the beginning of the next breeding season, they sing the autumn song. The females sing most of the time in October.

After the first breeding season is over, the males sing less and less and finally stop singing altogether (refractory period). After the annual change of plumage, the moult, he sings the autumn song. This is far more plastic than full song, that is, without a fixed temporal structure, but the individual elements are also much more variable. The pauses are of different lengths and the ratio of tours to syllables is strongly shifted in favor of the last. In winter and spring the song then begins to stabilize again until it reaches the full song level again in the next reproductive period. Interestingly, the singing has changed a bit compared to last year. Some syllables stayed the same, others were forgotten. For this he created new melodies.

Singing behavior

The male canary sings from a singing tower early in the morning. He lets his singing most often during courtship time to defend his territory against conspecifics and to woo a female. Sometimes the singing is also used to accompany the nest building.

Social behavior and body language

Canaries are diurnal animals. They leave their sleep almost at the start of the day, and look for it again at sunset. The activity phase is often interrupted by rest and cleaning phases. Canaries are peaceful and compatible birds outside of the breeding season and can be kept as a group in an aviary during this time. Initially, a ranking in the group is fought for. Once the ranking is established, disputes rarely arise. Mostly there is a dispute about coveted food or a preferred seat. Often the argument is limited to mutual threats, after which the loser gives up. Other conspecifics are threatened with beak open and wings raised. If the conspecific does not react to it, the beak is hacked at it and ultimately violently attacked. Sharpening the beak on a branch can be used to appease aggressive conspecifics. If one of the rivals surrenders, he crouches with tight plumage. Canaries always pay attention to an individual distance from one another, which mated partners also keep and defend consistently.

During the breeding season, the roosters form territories and often defend them vehemently, there are beak fights and chases that can be bloody. Therefore, several males may not be kept in one aviary during this time.

Canaries communicate by calling and singing. Canaries react to the warning sounds of other birds, so they understand strange sounds. This is e.g. B. the case when predators approach. This can lead to panic in an aviary or in a cage, as there are often no hiding spots in nature.

The canary has a distinctive body language. With an open beak, drooping and trembling wings, people beg for food. In courtship this behavior also serves to form pairs. When canaries want to show mutual affection, they bill each other. Extensive mutual grooming, as we know it from finches, for example, is not pronounced in canaries.


The canary breeding season begins in spring. The males amplify the singing and also carry out chase flights and beak fights. However, canaries can breed and breed in the house at any time of the year.


The female often lets out its trilling call and flaps its wings. It's always on the move. If the female is eager to breed, she takes nest building material in her beak and looks for a suitable nesting site (nest building ceremony). The pairing takes one to two seconds.

Nest building and egg laying

Brooding female in the nest

The female builds the nest in nest pads in the form of baskets or half-open nesting boxes. Canaries use all the materials that the bird keeper offers them to build their nests. Materials from nature ( blades of grass , moss , animal hair, wool , feathers , etc.) or nest building materials specially designed for ornamental birds, such as coconut fibers , wood wool (for the nest substructure) and Scharpie (for lining the nest) are suitable . While building the nest, the male sings persistently and feeds his female.

As soon as the female has finished her nest, she lays the first egg , almost always in the early morning . Usually the hen gets up when squeezing the egg and stands with its beak open in the nest. Then she sits down, exhausted, and rests. The clutch is complete with three to five eggs. The eggs are pale sea green and show reddish-brown spots on the blunt pole. Two to three broods in a summer are common.

The canaries often start breeding as soon as the first egg is laid. This leads to the fact that the young hatch one after the other and laterlings have little chance of survival. That is why the laid egg is replaced with a plastic egg every day. After the fourth egg is deposited, the breeding female gets her own eggs back. Thus, all the young hatch in one day and have the same development opportunities.

Breeding season

With canaries it is common for the female to breed alone and not be detached by the male. It leaves the nest several times a day to pass feces and drink. The rest of the time the male provides the female with food from his crop. The females usually sit very firmly and persistently on the eggs and, with calm handling, are only slightly disturbed in the breeding business. The breeding season lasts 13 to 14 days, depending on the hen’s breeding experience. It may take longer for an inexperienced hen than for an experienced hen because she is not yet firmly seated on the eggs.

In pairs that harmonize well, most of the eggs in the canaries are fertilized. After about 6 days, the embryo of fertilized eggs can be seen as a dark spot if the egg is held up to the light of a light bulb or flashlight . Unfertilized eggs are clear and translucent.

Development of the young

Chicks a few days old

On the day of hatching, the young live on the yolk sac, they are huddled by the female and only fed the next day. In the first days of the young's life, the male takes over the procurement of food and hands the food from his crop to the female. The female chokes this food out of the crop and feeds the young with the twice pre-soaked food pulp. In this phase the young birds also need animal protein. The female keeps the nest clean by eating her children's droppings. After four to five days, the male is already feeding the young directly with the food that has been obtained. After about a week, the young lift themselves up and deposit their droppings on the nest edge. After the 14th day of life, the urge to flee is stimulated, so that if danger is imminent, the young can jump out of the nest in fright and injure themselves. On the 16th day the young leave the nest, but are still fed by their parents until the 30th day. Often times the male looks after the young alone and teaches them to look for food and to eat independently. Meanwhile the female starts the second brood.

After three to four months, the now independent young birds have completed their juvenile moult, in which only the small plumage without wing and tail feathers is exchanged, and are sexually mature. The life expectancy of the canary is 6 to 10 years. The record is 34 years.

History of Domestication

Brown canary

Whether the native inhabitants of the Canaries kept the Canary Girlitz as a cage bird is likely because of its beautiful song, but is controversial. Since the conquest of the Canary Islands at the beginning of the 15th century, the Spaniards brought the Canary Islands to Europe . The conqueror of the islands, Jean de Béthencourt, gave birds to John II of Castile and León and later to the French royal court, where Isabeau de Bavière was particularly enthusiastic about aviculture. Conrad Gessner was the first to describe the birds in his Historia animalium (1555) and reported that they were called "sugar birds", whether because sugar also came from the Canaries or because birds, like sugar, were luxury goods is unknown. Because of their singing and liveliness, they quickly gained great popularity and became a symbol of luxury and sophistication.

Due to the increasing demand, they had to be shipped in large quantities. As the monasteries expected a large income from the trade in Canary Islands girls, the monks began breeding canaries. Above all, the Cádiz monastery showed great success here. In order to maintain their monopoly , the Spaniards only sold the males, who, because of their beautiful singing , were extremely popular with the ladies of the nobility and the wealthy citizens. Spain sold the canaries to Portugal , England , France and Italy . Around 1550, however, the Italians came into possession of female canaries and started their own breeding. The Spanish monopoly collapsed.

Around 1600 , canaries began to be raised in the Kingdom of England as well. Queen Elizabeth I was enthusiastic about the canaries and hired servants to care for and breed these small birds. Even then, the British attached great importance to the external appearance. The first crested canary was bred in England around 1650 and the first frisé and posture canary around 1700. When artisans and workers could afford canaries, breeding took on professional features.

Towards the end of the 16th century, canaries were also farmed in France . The French paid particular attention to the coloring.

The first mutations appeared in breeding before 1600 . At first there were yellow spots in the plumage, which were soon bred to pure yellow birds. The Tyrolean singing canaries were also mostly yellow. In 1667 pure white canaries were reported in Germany . Previously, paintings of white piebald canaries were on view. Gray, gray piebald and brown canaries were also mentioned in books from the 17th and 18th centuries. The agate birds, which were first mentioned in Holland, also fall during this period. The mutations of the white, gray and agate birds disappeared because the rules of inheritance were not yet known at that time.

The Tyroleans were breeding canaries as early as 1600 and after a few years founded a breeding and trading center. Soon they had raised yellow and white canaries. They also came up with the idea of ​​using nightingales as a lead singer for the young roosters. In Imst am Inn , a company for shipping all over the world was founded. The Tyrolean bird traders traveled all over Europe with back frames on which canaries were carried in small wooden cages . Around 1700 the canaries reached Germany and the Netherlands via Tyrol . Innsbruck , Nuremberg and Augsburg are named as trading centers. Until the end of the 16th century, only singing canaries were bred. After that, emphasis was also placed on color and finally on posture. The heyday of canary breeding was the 18th century. Breeding began in the Harz Mountains at the beginning of the 19th century , as many Tyroleans had emigrated there due to higher wages. Here one concentrated on the singing and improved the singing quality. The Harz scooter became world famous within a relatively short time. From 1842 canaries were exported from the Harz to the USA . Sales rose to 15,000 per year in 1860. In 1882 120,000 canaries were transported to New York . Harz breeding reached its peak towards the end of the 19th century: over a million Harz rollers were exported.

Canaries also served as a gas warning system for the Harz miners.

Color canary breeding only became popular at the beginning of the 20th century. The mutations that were then extinct reappeared and others were added. With the knowledge of the inheritance mechanisms ( Mendelian rules ) it was no longer difficult to consolidate the mutations that had occurred and to build up stable breeding lines.

Probably the biggest event in color canary breeding was the realization of the red canary by crossing the hooded siskin . It was a long way to stabilize the red, however, as only a small percentage of the canary-hooded siskin mixed breed males were fertile. In the period between 1915 and 1925, some German breeders - especially Bruno Matern , who lives in East Prussia - succeeded in consolidating the red canaries. Even if the color canary breeding got the most important impulses in Germany, this breeding was carried out much more diligently in the Netherlands and Belgium .

It was not until the end of the 20th century that breeders began to specifically create new breeds and to standardize known breeds. For example, dwarf forms of some breeds began to be bred in the 1980s. Great progress is being made in canary breeding, so that some breeds are so firmly established in their genetic material and internationally recognized. New breeds from distant countries are also discovered almost every year.


Canaries can be housed together in an aviary during the rest phase outside the breeding season. A canary is not a typical flock like the budgie, for example .


Canary while eating

Depending on the ambient temperature and the quality of the food, the canary takes in 10 to 20 percent of its body weight in water every day .

During the moult and egg formation there is an increased need for animal protein . There are balanced egg and soft feed mixes on the market that do not have to be added with a boiled egg.

There is an increased need for minerals during periods of growth, moulting and laying.


Canaries are by no means as tame as parakeets or parrots are known to be. Nevertheless, with patient handling, it is possible to tame the birds so much that they willingly respond to humans and sit on their hands or shoulders.


Moulting takes place in the months of August to October . Healthy birds change their plumage within six to eight weeks. Young birds only change their small plumage in the first year of life.

Birds that are not optimally nourished and kept can be particularly vulnerable and unstable in terms of health during the moulting season. Then there may well be a winter or spring moult. If a canary loses feathers during moulting but does not regrow new ones, deficiency symptoms and hormonal disorders may be the cause. The stick moult can also be shown by the fact that the canary takes an unusually long time to change its feathers.


Most often, canaries get sick from parasites . As a result of the weak immune system caused by stress, the bacteria present in the intestine ( salmonella , Escherichia coli ) multiply in such a way that bacterial inflammation of the intestine occurs. The sick canary has diarrhea and dies from dehydration within a few days. Further diseases are broken wings, legs and toes. But a cataract can also occur.

Another cause of disease is the canarypox virus. Infection occurs through infected birds or mosquitoes as a vector. The incubation period is three to 16 days. Characteristic for this disease are nodules on the horn parts and at the corners of the beak, severe breathing disorders and death from suffocation or survival as a virus carrier . Ornithosis , which shows no clear symptoms, is difficult to diagnose and reportable . Symptoms over a long period of time are symptoms such as shortness of breath, diarrhea, runny nose or slimy secretions. Canaries can also be infected with the atypical avian influenza (Newcastle disease). This disease is highly contagious for people who then develop conjunctivitis . It is transmitted through raw chicken egg shells or wild birds.


Canaries, along with budgies, are among the most common housebirds in the world. They are thus also the subject of case law. Many aspects that affect the canary, such as keeping and breeding birds or the position of the bird in nature, are the subject of legal texts. Animal protection laws in Germany, Austria and Switzerland, for example, have been regulating the general protection of animals and thus also of the canary for some time.


Canaries are bred for either song, song and color, or just color or stance.

While the German canary breeding focused on the refinement of the singing qualities, the English breeders concentrated on the breeding of canaries with different shapes as early as the 18th century. On the European mainland, besides the breeding of singing canaries, there was also the breeding of birds of different colors. This is how the three major breeding directions of song, color and posture emerged.

Singing canaries

Singing canary

In song breeding, the now well-known canary bird song was developed through constant selection from the song of the wild Canary Girlitz. After the singing was divided into different parts (tours), the "German standard scale" was fixed in Kassel in 1922 , in which the value divisions and point assignments are laid down. In 1959 the song was divided into two tour groups, the value tours and the missing tours. The nine value tours - hollow roll, knorre, water tour, hollow bell, Schockel, whistle, mother hen, bell and bell roll - are rated in three stages depending on the performed variation, the timbre, the range, the euphoria and the purity. Recognizing and correctly classifying the tours requires years of experience and specialist knowledge in breeding.

The canary song is not constant, but is subject to constant change. In addition to the bird's talent, it is also influenced by the environment, i.e. by the season, age, mood and cage location. While the simple sounds (lures, warning and threatening sounds) are innate in birds, they have to learn the complicated, sonorous songs first. However, these are also determined by genetic predispositions.

Singing school

Singing canaries are specially trained to sing. Around the age of six months, they are taken to the so-called “singing school” to live individually in a cage for a few weeks. There they are not distracted by turf wars. During this time, they only hear their conspecifics, but do not see them. A good lead singer (also known as a Tudor), known as a “professor” in Belgium, serves as a role model for the young canaries. After learning several stanzas, more are added. Canaries are able to learn new stanzas throughout their lives.

The Harz roller , also known as the noble roller , was created in the Upper Harz in the 19th century , but is now also bred in other places. The "rolling" song - a certain melody - helped the canary with its yellow, green, yellow-green piebald, white or, more recently, red plumage to become famous. The Harz Roller sings very pleasantly melodic, varied and apparently with a closed beak.

The Belgian water hammer is slightly larger than the Harz roller and is light yellow. The song of this breed is more "striking" in contrast to the rolling, soft song of the German bird.

The Spanish Timbrado is similar in appearance to the wild Canary Islands girl. His singing is reminiscent of a bright church bell ringing .

The American Singer was bred in the USA in an attempt to combine the merits of all breeds. The American sings beautifully, has bright colors and soft feathers, and a good posture.

The Russian Canary was bred from canaries that had been sold by German traders to the court of the Russian Tsars. Its singing no longer reminds us of the canary we know, but rather sounds like the beating of a great tit. Russian championships are held annually in Moscow by the club located there. This breed is still largely unknown in western countries.

Color canaries

Currently over 400 color varieties are recognized in the breeding organizations.

The color of the canaries is made up of three main components: The basic color ranges from yellow to fire red or white. The yellow and red of canaries are made up of carotenoids (also called lipochromes or fat color). For this purpose, provitamins A or finished carotenoids are taken in with the food. Depending on the genetic requirements of the canary, these carotenoids or provitamins A are converted to the body's own carotenoids (lipochromes) or used directly to color the feathers. The lipochromes are deposited in the keratin pen and are thus firmly anchored in the pen. The yellow to red basic color can be weakened pastel-like by a mutation (Ivoor factor).

Birds that are genetically incapable of building up and converting the carotenoids offered in their food remain colorless, i.e. white. There are those that basically do not convert carotenoids and are therefore completely white (recessive white), and birds that have too slow lipochrome formation and the genetically existing factors for red or yellow no longer have an effect, apart from minor ones Color deposits in the large plumage (dominant white).

The second component, the melanin color, includes all dark color components, such as black or brown. They stem solely from melanins, eumelanins and pheomelanins . These are deposited in the pen and cause the canaries' own drawings - dark stripes or dotted lines on the top of the body. A multitude of melanin mutations changes the color of the melanin and sometimes also the pattern.

The so-called Inos (Alb inos - white, Lut inos - yellow, Rub inos - red) are a specialty of the color canaries . Inos are so-called Phaeos of the agate or Isabel series, i.e. H. the diluted classic melanin colors. Melanins can no longer be seen in these color shades. The eyes of all Inos are red, as melanins no longer occur there either. However, the term albino is misleading because the melanin deficiency is not due to a genetic defect, as is the case with albinos in other animal species, but rather the albino appearance of canaries is actually only faked.

The third component is the so-called spring structure. A distinction is made here between intensive, mold and mosaic. With the intense feather structure, the carotenoids penetrate into the tip of the feather, so that the birds show the fat colors much more vividly than the birds with a moldy structure. The feathers of the "gray birds" have a narrow, colorless (and thus appearing white) feather edge. They look like they are covered with mold, as the basic color is not as bright as with the "intensive birds". The "mosaic birds" should only show the basic color on five parts of the body - head, chest, rump and the two cuffs. The rest of the plumage should be chalky white. Male mosaic birds have larger colored areas than female specimens.

The plumage of the canaries always contains one of the primary colors yellow, red or white and a plumage structure: intense, mold or mosaic. In addition to the basic color and the feather structure, "melanin birds" also have a melanin mark. The basic color and the melanin color can be changed in terms of appearance using additional color factors (optical blue factor, lemon factor, ivoor factor, lipochrome density factor ...).

All colors can be divided into two groups:

  1. "Lightened" ones show one of the basic colors and one of the feather structures, but no melanin markings.
  2. "Melanin canaries" show one of the basic colors, one of the feather structures and additional melanin colors. The classic melanin colors are black, agate, brown and isabel. These colors can be combined with the following non-classic melanin colors: pastel, gray wings, onyx, opal, topaz, eumo, cobalt, satinet, phaeo, jaspe.


  • “Satinet” and “Phaeo” are currently only permitted in brown, so the associated classic melanin color is not mentioned;
  • Color varieties with the mutation "Jaspe" have been approved as show classes by the breeding organizations since 2014;
  • In the case of white canaries there is no mention of the plumage structure, only whether the color is inherited as dominant or recessive.

Posture canaries

This form of cultivation continues to this day and is not only operated in England , but now all over the world. The breeding of new pose birds continues to this day, as the relatively young breeds Fiorino, Makige, Rhinelander, Mehringer etc. show. At the moment 29 posture breeds, which are again divided into different color varieties, are recognized.

The names of the pose birds show their origin, as they are derived from the regions in which they were bred. The "Great Bird of Ghent", which was bred around 1600 in the Flemish coastal areas of the Kingdom of the United Netherlands, is the progenitor of many, especially the English pose birds.

All curved posture birds probably go back to the Bossu Belge with its typical Belgian character, which has its origins in the "Great Gent's Bird" and is considered an independent breed from around 1800.

The origin of the coiffed pose birds is in the Rococo period (1720–1780). The playful forms were a fashion at this time that continues to affect today's breeding. In 1758 a canary with "downy feathers" is mentioned for the first time, the description of which referred to the plumage structure. Nowadays these feathers are known as curls or hairstyle feathers. The origin of all coiffed pose birds is considered to be the Parisian trumpeter, which was not bred in Paris but in the Dutch-Belgian provinces. Since the "Great Gent's Bird" was widespread in this area at that time, it can be assumed that it was also involved in the breeding of the coiffed breeds.

At the beginning of the 20th century, the curved, coiffed breeds were bred for the first time. Their ancestors are probably the coiffed (Parisian trumpeters) and the curved (Bossu Belge) tribal breeds.

When it comes to posture canaries, breeders primarily value the shape (posture). In contrast to the color breeds, the color of the birds is secondary in most posture canaries. Therefore, pied canaries can also be found in this area of ​​breeding. The posture canaries are divided into:

  • Small smooth pose birds
Gloster Fancy Consort Lipochrome
    • Deutsche Haube - German positional breed with a hood; All canary colors except piebalds are permitted
    • Gloster Fancy - English posture breed with hood (Corona); the smooth-headed partner is called a "consort"
    • Fife Fancy - English posture breed
    • Border Fancy - English posture breed
    • Raza Espanõla - Spanish posture breed
    • Lizard - English posture breed with distinctive drawing patterns
    • Harlequin - posture breed with a triangular hood
    • Irish Fancy - Irish posture breed
  • Large smooth pose birds
    • Norwich - English posture breed
    • Crested - Crested English posture breed; the smooth head partner is called "Crestbred"
    • Bernese - Swiss positive breed
    • Lancashire - Crested English posture breed (Coppy); the smooth head partner is called "plainhead"
    • Yorkshire - English posture breed
    • Llarget Espanõl - Spanish posture breed
  • Smooth keeping canaries
    • Japan Hoso - Japanese figurine breed
    • Rhinelander - German figure breed
    • Munchener - German figurine breed
    • Scotch - Scottish figurine breed
    • Bossu Belge - Belgian figurine breed
  • Frisé canaries
Fiorino smooth head
    • North Hollanders - Dutch Frisé breed
    • Fiorino - Italian crested frize breed
    • Mehringer - German Frisé breed
    • Paduan - Italian Frisé breed
    • Parisian Trumpeter - French Frize breed
    • AGI (Arigante Gigante Italiano) - Italian Frisé breed
  • coiffed keeping canaries
    • South Hollanders - Dutch / Belgian / French figure-frize breed
    • Gibber Italicus - Italian figure-frize breed
    • Schweizer Frisé - Swiss figure Frisé breed
    • Makige - Japanese character frize breed
    • Giboso Espanõl - Spanish character frize breed
    • Melado Tinerfeno - Spanish figure frisé breed


After the breeding season ends, exhibitions usually take place every fall and generally begin in October and November. There are many canary shows around the world. The World's Fair (COM) is held in Europe every year and attracts thousands of breeders. More than 20,000 birds, including canaries, are brought to the competition.

At bird shows, breeders exchange knowledge about the inheritance of traits and compare offspring with each other and with the standards specified for the individual breeds. Furthermore, they present their own results from the current breeding year and have them assessed by specially trained judges. The canaries are exhibited either as song, color or posture canaries. For clear identification, they wear foot rings with a band number on their legs, which name the year of birth and the breeder. The exhibition takes place in standardized cages individually or as a so-called collection (consisting of four birds).

The color races are primarily assessed according to their plumage color, even if the shape and size are also assessment criteria. In the case of pose birds, on the other hand, it is primarily their body shape and posture that is assessed. In any case, a maximum of 100 points can be awarded. Prizes can be won at some exhibitions.

The following evaluation criteria apply to color canaries:

  • Melanin: In the case of dark birds, the color and shape of the melanin markings and coloring is assessed here.
    Canary agate - opal
  • Lipochrome: The so-called fat color (red, yellow) or white is assessed here.
  • Category: This is where the intensity or the mosaic factor is assessed. In addition to the mosaic birds, there are intense and gray birds. In the case of the intensive ones, the grease color extends into the tips of the feathers, with the white birds the feather edge is lined with white.
  • Plumage: The quality of the plumage is assessed here.
  • Shape and size: The shape and size (13.5 - 14.5 cm) with 15 points is also the maximum evaluation criterion for color canaries.
  • Posture: The posture in the show cage reveals good show training.
  • Overall impression: Here the individual positions are taken into account again. The cleanliness of the cage is also assessed.

Other evaluation criteria apply to the evaluation of the individual posture races. The evaluation positions of a Parisian trumpeter are an example :

  • Support spring, coat, chest hairstyle: The main hairstyles of the bird (flank, back and chest) are rated here.
  • Plumage: The quality of the plumage is assessed here.
  • Size: The height of a Parisian trumpeter should be at least 19 cm.
  • Posture: The posture in the exhibition cage is assessed here. The bird should sit upright and not flutter back and forth.
  • Head: The head hairstyles are rated here.
  • Rooster feathers: Some posture breeds must show longer feathers that protrude right and left at the base of the tail.
  • Wings: They should be long, closed and close fitting.
  • Tail: It should be long and wide, but closed.
  • Legs: matching the bird. Corkscrew claws, as was common in the past, are allowed to show the birds, but do not have to have them.
  • Neck: The neck hairstyles are rated here.
  • Overall impression: Here the individual positions are taken into account again. The cleanliness of the cage is also assessed.

Use in art and culture

Georg Philipp Telemann's Canary Bird Cantata from 1737 is funeral music for a deceased songbird. Carl Zeller's operetta The Bird Trader tells of the time of Tyrolean canary breeding in the 18th century. In Friedrich Rückert's songs for the death of children , one line reads “The canary atone”.

Wilhelm Busch shows in the drawing Monsieur Jacques à Paris during the siege in 1870 (1870) in the Fliegende Blätter (1859–1871) a man with his canary. The Belgian painter Luc Tuymans has brought together a canary and a flower pot as a motif in one of his works. Even Johann Aldabert Angermeyer puts him in the painting Still Life of Flowers canary in a similar context. Zdenka Brock dedicates herself to the animal in the abstract picture “Our canary sings so beautifully”. Leif Trenkler captured the complexity of electronic pop music in his meter-long, bizarre picture of Hyde Park with a red canary . The New York Dadaist Elsa von Freytag-Loringhoven used her body as a canvas and shocked the public when, for example, she wore a brassiere made of tomato soup cans with a bird cage with a canary dangling from it, and a glowing light bulb mounted on her bottom. In 1732, the Meissen Porcelain Manufactory created the design of a yellow canary, which they carried out between 1947 and 1954.

Johann Wolfgang von Goethe mentions a yellow canary as Lily's pet in Das Märchen , the last story from the series of novels Entertainments of German Emigrants from 1795. He is killed by a hawk and, together with his lover, is resurrected by the serpent's self-sacrifice . In Wilhelm Hey's fables The Canary and The Canary and the Hen , this bird is the focus. In Michael Ende's novel Momo and the film adaptation of the same name, the heroine makes a muted (yellow) canary sing through patient listening. In the children's book The Blue Hat and the Yellow Canary by Martin Ebbertz , the title character is a talking stuffed animal. In Michel Houellebecq's novel Elementary Particles , the adult Michel Djerzinski finds his canary, with whom he has had a more intimate relationship than anyone else, dead in the cage after returning to his apartment.

S. Aden wrote (under the pseudonym S. von Adelung) Piepser, the Canary, Schnurr, the Kitten, and Little Mariechen , a colorful picture book with funny rhymes. Peter Schössow describes in his picture book Is that so ??! The story of Elvis how a child deals with the death of his canary. Antje Reetz wrote the children's book A Canary Sings Again .

The plays The Mute Canary and The Cat and the Canary , the latter of which was filmed , have this bird symbolically in their title. In the television film The Rooster is Dead (2000), the main character Rosemarie holds a canary. In the mid-20th century, cartoons showed domestic cats hunting canaries, with Warner Brothers ' Sylvester and Tweety having the greatest success.

Norwich City , an English football club, is also known as The Canaries , so a yellow canary on a green background adorns the club's crest as a mascot. The reason for this is that Norwich used to be a famous breeding and trading center for these birds and these breeding animals were the former pets of the city's weavers' guild.

Fenerbahçe Istanbul , the Turkish soccer record champions, is also known as Sari Kanarya (Yellow Canary). This name is also often used among fans and in the press . The reason for this is probably the yellow color of the birds. The club colors of Fenerbahce Istanbul are yellow and navy blue , with the color yellow clearly dominating.

The Norwegian football club Lillestrøm SK is known as the Kanarifuglene . The club colors are accordingly predominantly yellow (with black). The LSK supporter club is called Kanari-Fansen .

Use as warning birds in mining

Canaries have been used in coal mines as warning birds against lack of oxygen since 1730. As long as they were chirping around the mine, everything was fine. However, they stopped their singing when the concentration of toxic mine gases increased, the toxicity being based on the one hand on the displacement of oxygen in the breath (so-called matt weather ), and in the case of carbon monoxide on the displacement of oxygen by carbon monoxide on the hemoglobin , the oxygen transport protein in the blood ( carbon monoxide poisoning ). In this way they served as animal warning systems in English coal mines from 1911 to 1986. The Harz roller was bred by miners in the Harz Mountains as a particularly beautiful warbling warning bird from the Canary Islands .


  • Lutz Bartuschek: Canaries . Gräfe and Unzer Verlag, ISBN 3-7742-5584-9 .
  • Horst Bielefeld: The canary . Ulmer Verlag, ISBN 3-8001-6866-9 .
  • Hugo Busch: From table makers and bird dealers. Grünenplan and Alfeld 1993.
  • Hans Claßen, canaries . Ulmer Verlag, ISBN 3-8001-3184-6 .
  • Otto von Frisch: Canaries. Animal guide . Gräfe and Unzer Verlag, Munich, ISBN 3-7742-2066-2 .
  • Harald Fuchs: Born to sing. The song of the birds using the example of the canary . Rainar Nitzsche Verlag, ISBN 3-930304-24-4 .
  • Markus Hübl: Canaries . Ulmer Verlag, ISBN 3-8001-3553-1 .
  • Stefan Luft: Your hobby, canaries . Bede Verlag, ISBN 3-933646-14-6 .
  • Michael Monthofer: Cheerful canaries . Kosmos Verlag, ISBN 3-440-08971-1 .
  • Sigrun Rittrich-Dorenkamp: The canary. My pet . Gräfe and Unzer Verlag, Munich, ISBN 3-7742-2637-7 .
  • Norbert Schramm: The color canaries. Genetics, breeding, keeping, exhibition . Books on Demand, ISBN 978-3-8370-6871-9 .

Web links

Wiktionary: Canary  - explanations of meanings, word origins, synonyms, translations
Commons : Canary  - Collection of images, videos and audio files



  1. Sound sample Russian singing canary (MP3; 2.2 MB)

Individual evidence

  1. ^ Antonio Arnaiz-Villena, El Origen de los canarios ( PDF, Spanish)
  2. jaspe
  3. 1986: Coal mine canaries made redundant. BBC, accessed April 28, 2015 .
This version was added to the list of articles worth reading on June 10, 2005 .