DESCRIPTION 4 to 8 inches (10 to 20cm), depending on the breed. Some have been developed for body type, some for coloration, some for singing ability. The variety of forms and colours bred from the wild greenish-coloured species is considerable because it is impossible to produce birds of all types in three different ground colours: yellow, white and buff. Ground colour of the wild bird is yellow and, like the other two colours, is divided into two feather textures, known as yellow and buff. Feathers of the yellow are shorter, firmer and richer than those of the buff, the feathers of which are longer, softer and appear less deep in shade. Feathers of buff have paler edging, usually more noticeable on the back of neck and head. Whites are more tightly feathered than the buff. Yellow should be paired with buff. If two yellows are mated, feathers become tight and birds are too slim. When two buffs are bred it results in fluffy, over-feathered offspring. Immatures smaller with shorter tails. Cocks distinguished from females by song.
NATURAL DISTRIBUTION Does not occur in the wild. Descended from Wild Canaries (5. C. canarius), found on islands off northwestern coast of Africa, including the Canary Islands. Wild canaries introduced to Europe, and may have been crossed with native songsters, such as the Serin (S. serinus). Early in the 16th century, yellow and white variants were recorded and selective breeding began in earnest, which has given rise to wide variety of breeds today. Best known of singing Canary category is Roller Canary, which originated in Germany around the Harz Mountain region.
HABITAT Cages and aviaries.
DIET Canary seed mixture, with plain canary seed and red rape, plus other seeds such as niger, and greenstuff.
SPECIAL NEEDS If interested in a singer, obtain a cock no matter what the breed. Housing two birds in separate cages in same room often stimulates competition, encouraging both to sing for long periods. Do not house two cocks together because they are liable to fight.