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Home > Birds > Why Is My Canary Puffed Up? 4 Vet Reviewed Reasons

Why Is My Canary Puffed Up? 4 Vet Reviewed Reasons

Yorkshire Canary

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Reviewed & Fact-Checked By

Dr. Lorna Whittemore

Veterinarian, MRCVS

The information is current and up-to-date in accordance with the latest veterinarian research.

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There isn’t anything quite as cute as a pet bird puffing itself up, becoming a little round ball of fluff. But what is the reasoning behind this strange yet adorable behavior?

Puffing up is a normal physiological event your canary may display several times throughout its day. Though it can be a standard behavior, puffing up could indicate health issues if your bird is doing it constantly.

Keep reading to find four reasons why your bird may be turning itself into a puffball of feathers.


The 4 Possible Reasons Your Canary Puffed Up

1. It’s Cold

If your canary is puffing up its feathers during the cooler months of the year, it is likely cold. Feather fluffing is a way for birds to try to thermoregulate their internal temperatures. If you keep your canary in an outdoor aviary, consider moving it indoors when the temperatures drop to help keep it comfortable. If your canary is kept inside, ensure its cage isn’t near a window or vent, as drafts can enter through these areas and chill your pet.

Lizard Canary
Image By: Fernando Zamora Vega, Shutterstock

2. It’s Sleeping

Canaries normally fluff out their feathers when they’re going to sleep. This allows their feathers to cover their bodies better while ensuring the body temperature stays at a comfortable level.

3. It’s Preening

Canaries, like most birds, have a structure known as the uropygial gland. This gland, also sometimes known as the grooming gland, helps birds distribute oils from the glands through the plumage by preening. This oily substance also helps waterproof the feathers. The gland is located in the dorsal area at the tail base.

If your canary is fluffing up at the same time it is touching its dorsal area, it could be distributing the glands’ oils.

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

4. It’s Sick

If your canary is puffing up constantly and you’ve determined the reason is none of the above, it may mean your pet is unwell. This is especially true if your canary is puffed up, motionless, or standing on one leg. You may notice other signs of illness, such as:

  • Watery eyes
  • Red eyes
  • Droppings in unusual colors
  • Droppings in unusual consistency
  • Not eating
  • Sleeping excessively
  • Eyes closed or half-closed most of the time
  • Nasal discharge
  • Sneezing

You may also not notice any other signs of illness at all. Like many other prey animals, birds often try to hide their illness as a defense mechanism. Wild birds do what they can to ensure their predators don’t notice any signs of weakness that would make them easy prey.

Remember, canaries puff up throughout their day for various reasons. If your bird isn’t exhibiting any other signs of illness and is only occasionally puffed up for a few seconds or minutes at a time, you likely have nothing to worry about. If you are at all concerned about the health of your canary, speak to your veterinarian soon.


A canary will puff up during a normal day while preening, sleeping, or when it’s feeling cold. Though puffing up can signify illness, a fluffed-up bird shouldn’t automatically be assumed to be sick. Of course, if you have any concerns about your canary’s behavior, you should reach out to your avian vet right away for advice. You know your bird best, so if it’s exhibiting worrying behaviors and remaining puffed up throughout the day, a visit to the vet should be in order.

Featured Image Credit: Fernando Zamora Vega, Shutterstock

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