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Home > Birds > Do Canaries Talk or Just Sing? The Interesting Facts

Do Canaries Talk or Just Sing? The Interesting Facts

red factor canary perching

Everyone knows about Canaries thanks to their childhood relationship with Tweety bird, but owners appreciate the sweet birds because of their ability to sing beautifully. While Canary birds are full of sounds and beautiful singing voices, they do not talk but do really well at singing. This is one of the primary reasons people love to have a Canary as a pet, although some will end up with a Canary that doesn’t sing at all, and there is a good reason.

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What Sound Does a Canary Make?

While the Canary can’t mimic the human voice, they make various sounds. These birds use their vocalizations to communicate, so by understanding and learning the sounds it makes, you can understand what your Canary is trying to say.

The sounds will depend on the bird’s gender, breed, and age, but many of their sounds will appear similar. Canaries can make sounds such as chirps, shrills, chattering, warbling, squeaking, and singing.

canary bird on branch with flowers
Image by: Terentieva Yulia, Shutterstock

Male and Female Canaries

Canaries portray different sounds based on their gender. It is said that the region of the Canary’s brain responsible for song production, the telencephalic nucleus1, is bigger in males than in females. This explains why male canaries have a wider variety of vocalizations. Some female canaries can only chirp, but some can sing. The females that can sing usually have a small vocal range or can only sing short songs.

Different breeds of canaries excel at a particular vocalization. For example, the American Singer has a high-pitched singing sound, while the Waterslager sings more with chattering notes.

Singing Phases

Canaries also go through three singing phases as they grow up. The first phase starts at around 3 months of age. As you can imagine, the singing isn’t very good and is mostly made up of small chirps and warbles as the Canary learns to sing. Most females stay at this phase while the males move on and progress. After 6 months, the Canary will grow in confidence and experiment and try new sounds. By 8–12 months during the last phase, the Canary is an experienced vocalist.

The season will also determine how much a Canary sings. During the summer, which is molting season, Canaries will quieten down to conserve their energy. This can often be mistaken for sadness by an owner, but it’s only a pause in their singing.

Yellow canary in a cage
Image Credit: rafarabassa92, Pixabay

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Why Do Canaries Sing?

The males do most of the singing to attract females. When a Canary begins to sing, it is a sign that the bird has reached sexual maturity, typically at 6 months of age and older. However, canaries don’t sing all year round because there are some seasons and circumstances when they won’t sing.

A Canary fed a properly balanced diet will typically sing more frequently throughout the day. They will usually sing more during the warmer temperatures. Once the molting season begins, the frequency of canaries singing will reduce.

Canary birds learn to sing by listening to older other birds that are around. Some Canary owners say that talking, whistling, and playing music improves their singing, and most breeders will train their males to help guarantee that they will sing.

yellow canary sitting on the twig in the cage
Image by: Mysikrysa, Shutterstock

Why Has My Canary Bird Stopped Singing?

There are several reasons why your Canary may have stopped singing. While it is unusual for them not to sing at times, some reasons may require attention.

  • Your Canary may be a female. The two sexes can be hard to differentiate, so you can easily make a mistake when purchasing a Canary. The males’ singing progresses as they mature, and while some females can sing, they lack a lot of the variety that the males have, which may lead the owner to believe that their Canary has stopped singing.
  • Canaries molt annually for about 6–8 weeks. A Canary might find this time stressful and uncomfortable, and it won’t sing.
  • If your Canary stops singing, you should check its diet. Seed mixes don’t usually include everything a Canary needs and don’t provide optimal nutrition. A high-quality Canary diet consists of high-quality Canary pellets, fresh produce, and vitamin, mineral, and calcium supplements.
  • The movement of objects around a Canary stimulates it to sing, so if it is in a lonely, quiet room, consider moving it to an area of the house with more activity.
  • Canaries that are ill won’t sing. If your Canary seems withdrawn, sleepy, and acting out of the ordinary, you should consult your vet.
  • Canaries become quiet and stop singing when hurt, bored, or stressed. They need to concentrate on healing because, despite how effortless they make it seem, singing requires effort and focus.
Yellow and red fife canary
Image by: Greg Mann, Shutterstock

A Canary that sings every day is a sign of a happy Canary. So, to keep your Canary happy, healthy, and singing, here are some tips you can follow:

  • It is essential to feed it a balanced diet that contains all the necessary nutrients for the bird’s growth and development.
  • You can encourage your Canaries to sing by giving them treats and seeds that they enjoy eating, along with fresh vegetables and organic fruits.
  • Feed a Canary a high-protein diet consisting of cooked beans, meats, and seafood to keep it as comfortable as possible while it is molting.
  • When molting, a Canary can benefit from hemp and flax seeds sprinkled over its food.
  • To keep your canaries happy and entertained, ensure they are comfortable and have access to their favorite toys.
  • Depending on the space you have to work with and the number of birds you intend to house together, pick a cage that is the right size for your Canary. A happy Canary will have a roomy home for them to fly around and spread its wings.
  • Make sure your Canary has a water dish and always has access to fresh water.

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Canaries are known to be songbirds, but they’re incapable of talking. The male predominantly does all the singing to attract a female, while the female makes gentle chirps and warbles. Some factors will determine how much a Canary sings, such as the age, breed, gender, season, and health of the bird. A healthy male Canary will usually sing every day, but if it stops singing abruptly, it’s best to visit the veterinarian.

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Featured Image Credit: Chris Allen, Pixabay

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