We all have to make a start
We all have to make a start, and while there is no teacher so good as "experience" we know that experience has to be bought, and we think we are all of us anxious to buy even experience in the cheapest possible form. Again many a workingman may think he might like to indulge in the hobby, but he is afraid of the expense. So we will ask the established fanciers to forgive us talking of "Cheap" canary breeding and to remember that many who start in the way we will advocate will be sure to continue and, naturally, will become keen on~ having good stuff sooner or later.
It must be remembered that a canary of any sort is worth money. A singing cock bird is what most people want. The great majority of canary buyers do not study the looks of the bird; they want it to sing, and if it sings, they are quite satisfied.
Now let us suppose that the beginner is fortunate enough to posses a room which can be set apart for the birds. In the very first place before introducing cages, appliances or birds, let the room be cleared and fitted up in such a style as to make it peculiarly adapted for its appointed purpose. Make it a point to observe the good housewife's adage of having a place for everything, and everything in its place, and the work of looking after the stock will be immensely simplified.
The first thing that is needed is the breeding cage. Remember that canaries themselves do not care a rap about the appearance of the cage. Of course, if your pocket will allow, go for the best; but if economy is the object, get what you can. We no begin to look for a pair of birds. In this, as in other things, we may suit our pockets. All that is needed is a hen and a singing bird. We say singing because the word means more than mere song; it means to a novice the way in which he can be sure of getting a male bird. And you must hear him sing before you can say he is a likely breeder.
Well , we have a hen and a cock. Place them together in the breeder any time you like after the beginning of March. You may find at first that the lady is very unkind to cock. But do not be alarmed, Probably she will be cross with him for three or four days. Then you will see him feed her with little tit-bits now and then. When this happens you may know they are paired, and if only moderately lucky, you can be sure of seeing the family arrive later on.
When they are ready to nest
To test when they are ready to go to nest, place a few nesting material in the cage. ii the hen only plays about with it, then she is not ready. But if you see her carefully arranging the material in the nest pan, give her nesting material until the whole nest is complete. Pet outlets stock ready made nesting material. Don't use loose wool as it might entangle in the claws and will cause damage.
Now let us assume the hen has laid her first egg. One word of advice to the beginner, never handle eggs until you have gained experience. Let the hen sit and disturb her as little as possible. Twice a week while she is sitting place soft food in the feeder and if on the fourteenth morning you see some broken shells outside the nest, shake hands with yourself. But keep your hands off the hen. On the fourth day give them a well washed lettuce leaf and soft food and keep on doing it daily.
When the chicks are three weeks to a month old, they will be safe enough with the cock, but not with the hen as she will want to nest again. We must find some way so that the father can keep on feeding them but Mrs. C cannot upset them by plucking out their feathers. The simplest is a small cage hung on the front of the breeder. In this the young are placed and the cock bird feeds them through the wire while Mrs. C starts nesting again. With regards to soft food, again all pet outlets stock various brands of the staff Some breeders prefer one brand, others prefer another. Yet all of them have proved to suit their purpose. Established breeders most commonly use lettuce and apples, properly washed. Give just what they can clear in one day and replace all leftovers daily. Remember also that it is imperative to change the drinking water daily as well. Obviously, clean all food containers before refilling, clean cages at least weekly. Also replace floor covering and check whether there are red mites as these might ruin your efforts.
With a few "Don'ts" we will close and we hope those who read this will never be afraid to make a start however cheap and common the birds. When later you will be breeding show birds, at least you will not have to learn at their expense. Don't be afraid of a home-made breeding cage; don't let it be too small, for exercise is very important to Mrs. C, and the more room the better; don't ever buy a cock bird unless he is singing; don't ever buy an old hen; don't overfeed for a hungry bird is a healthy bird; don't breed in a draughty room; don't buy any but the best seed; don't every give stale food; don't handle eggs or disturb a sitting hen.
The Bird Breeders' Association COM Malta, provides useful information to anyone who is planning to embark in this hobby. Everyone devises his own management system. However, we trust that most ideas expressed by expert breeders, members of this association will provide a beneficial foundation for the beginner.
Many breeders know their success to expert advice freely given to them by fellow members who are always pleased to pass helpful hints. Remember, no one is an island and no matter how much you know, there is always something to be learnt. Bird breeding is fascinating. Our advice would be, start with only a few pairs. Once you have started, never give up no matter what, if you persist sooner or latter you are bound to succeed. Once you breed the first chick you will become a devoted fancier.
Donated by the Birds Breeders Association Club visit BBA club website