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Two or more Canaries in the same Cage? What's the answer?
by R C McDonald
www.robirda.com
Copyright 2004


During the late summer, fall, and most of the winter, it is possible for
some male canaries to share a cage relatively amicably. But no matter
how well they get along, only the more dominant canaries will sing much
- or even at all - in a shared-cage situation. You will get a little more
song in a large shared-cage than a smaller one, but not as much
song as you will hear if each bird has his own well-defined territory.

If you got your birds at a youngish age - say, 6 months or so old -
the gender will be uncertain, since with very little exception it's
impossible to accurately tell the gender of a young canary until it is
both physically mature and in full breeding condition.

Even song is not a reliable indicator, as a good proportion of canary
hens sing. A smaller sub-group of singing hens even exists that can
sing every bit as well as most males, and better than some!

A gender-mixed grouping might be likelier to get along better than a
group of all-males, during the winter - but no matter what the actual
genders, trouble can easily happen when the days begin to get longer,
and the birds start wanting to prepare for breeding season. Sometimes
everything goes smoothly - but more often than not, canaries in the
same cage will come into breeding condition at different times, and
the bird who is in 'higher' breeding condition will almost always
harass the bird (or birds) who are not.

Given these facts, what many of us who have had plenty of experience
keeping multiple canaries will do, knowing both the benefits for the
birds of being able to fly, and the potential for trouble when canaries
are housed in groups (especially during the breeding season) is
keep our canaries in flight cages during the summer moult, on
through the fall and early winter until mid-winter or so, when the
males especially begin to get more antagonistic. At this point they
are are separated into individual cages for the rest of the spring
and early summer.

Once midsummer has come and gone and the summer moult is well
underway for each bird, ensuring that they won't have a lot of spare
energy to spend harassing each other, they can usually be returned
to the flight cage for the rest of the year. Not always - some adult
males seem to live just to pick fights - but often.

What it adds up to, is that the odds are greatly against keeping any
group of canaries in a cage successfully all year round, especially
when you have multiple male canaries involved. Younger males are
more likely to get along with each other than adults, and some
canaries, once adult, will never willingly share a cage with another
male, while others don't seem to mind, and a few will even
happily socialize.

But male canaries that fit into the latter group are quite rare, and
also, the more pugnatious males also tend to be among the best
and most constant of singers, and so will definitely benefit from
having a clear territory to call their own, which encourages song.

I have seen some experiments at setting up a situation where the
birds had individual areas opening off a large shared flight area,
which actually did work reasonably well. They were rather a
nuisance to set up and clean, though, and setting up such a jury-rigged
arrangement to allow easy access to all areas for easy cleaning
and servicing is none too simple. Many such designs involve putting
cage doors together to create 'pop-holes', or cutting some small
access doors - pop-holes - into the sides of two adjacent cages.

The best design I've seen consisted of three large cages arranged
around each other - one large cage in the middle with two longer
but less tall cages attached to two sides of the larger cage, with
small pop-holes connecting all three. It also had a half dozen
smaller cages that could be attached to the larger cages. They
basically just hung off the side of the larger cages, with the smaller
cage's doorway opening into a pop-hole cut into the side of
the larger flight.

If you can manage such an arrangement, it might work with your
birds too - results vary depending on the personalities of the
individual birds involved. But this kind of a set-up has a better
chance of working than most, because given the chance to claim
a distinct territory of his own, most males will choose one and
stake it out for their own.

As long as this 'owned' territory is clearly separated, many males
have no problem with amicably sharing a common feeding-and-
foraging area with the rest of the birds in the aviary. Even then
though, there will usually be a fair bit of squabbling among the
males, and in most cases you will hear less song than you would
if the birds were caged separately.

Once breeding season approaches, everything changes. This is
the season - late winter until early summer - when it can be actually
dangerous to keep two canaries in the same cage, with one exception;
you have a true pair, and both were in full breeding condition
before being allowed to share a cage.

Successful breeding of your canaries is a complex affair, and there's
no room to go into it here. Suffice it to say, that if you have more
than one canary and aren't planning to breed, don't plan on being
able to keep your canaries together during the late winter through
til early summer or so, no matter what gender they are.

Within a few weeks after the passing of Midsummer's Day on June
21st, most canaries will stop trying to breed and will instead begin
their annual moult. Once the moult is underway, there is a lot less
energy to spare for squabbling, and many canaries will again share
a large flight or aviary reasonably well.

What this all means is that in the end, the real answer to the question
of whether or not canaries can successfully share a cage, is, "It
depends." On the birds, on the situation, on the time of year - and
most importantly, on the time the bird keeper is willing to devote
to his or her birds.

See some birdcages reviewed by Robirda at www.robirda.com/birdcage.html

by R C McDonald
www.robirda.com
Copyright 2004
Reprinted with Permission


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