Budgie parakeets > Canary care > Canary food

Canary food


The food requirements of canaries are very simple. The prime requisite is a supply of canary seed to which is added a small quantity of rape seed and a little hemp seed. Persons having only a few birds usually buy this seed ready mixed from dealers.

The seed should be clean, well matured, and not old. If canaries do not seem to thrive it is well to examine the seed supply and crack open a few of the seeds to make certain that empty husks alone are not being fed. Too much hemp seed should be avoided, as it is very fattening.

In addition to this staple diet, lettuce, chickweed, or a bit of apple should be placed between the wires of the cage frequently. Bread that has been moistened in scalded milk, given cold, is also beneficial at times. If supplies of moist food are not kept strictly fresh and clean, bacterial diseases may result. In feeding moist foods. special dishes with holders that slip in through the wires of the cage are recommended. These are sometimes known as food holders or slides. Soft foods must not be made too wet. In the case of bread, enough liquid to soften the food, but not to run or to render it a paste, is sufficient. Perhaps once a week egg food may be given. This is prepared by mincing an entire hard-boiled egg and adding to it an equal quantity of bread or unsalted cracker crumbs. Care should be taken to use this egg food only when fresh.

Cuttle bone should always be available to the canary, and at times it is well to give prepared foods that may be secured from dealers. During the breeding season egg food can be given daily as soon as the birds are paired. It may be discontinued or given at intervals of three or four days when the female is incubating. The yolk of hard-boiled egg only may be given for the first day after the young hatch. Bread crumbs are added to this gradually, until on the third day egg food as ordinarily prepared is supplied. The usual seed supply should always be present, no matter what other food is given. Attempt should be made to regulate the supply of egg food or other soft food so that all is eaten without waste. The actual quantity will vary with individual birds.

When the young are four or five days old green food may be fed, but egg food must be given until they are fully grown and able to crack canary seed for themselves. Meal worms occasionally are good for birds that are not thriving. For delicate birds, rape seed soaked in water over night and carefully drained until dry is beneficial. When the old birds are caring for well-grown young, feeding cracked hemp seed will lighten their labor.