The Wild Canary Bird...
The Wild Canary--Serinus Canaria--is a small green or grayish-brown bird similar to a common sparrow in size and markings.
The Serinus Canaria belongs to the family Fringillidae--Finches.
It's natural habitat is in some what open areas like orchards and copses with some open ground. The Wild Canary nests in bushes as well as trees.
Wild foods for the canary include canary grass seeds and other native seeds, fruits and berries, and insects.
Even these natural canaries sing beautiful songs...as a matter of fact that's how they came into our homes.
The Wild Canary bird was first kept as a caged pet by the natives of Madeira and a group of islands off the west coast of Africa called...
The Canary Islands.
Well...actually they weren't named "Canary Islands" until the Romans found them many centuries ago.
The Romans named the islands Canaria Insula.
"Canaria" is derived from the Latin word "canis", or "dog", after the large dogs that roamed the island. Get it?...
So...your pet "canary bird" is really a "Dog Bird" ;-)
The Wild Canary
It wasn't until Spain wrestled the Islands from the strong hold of the island
natives in the late 1400s that the canary became such...
A Fascination for Europeans.
The Spaniards kept a monopoly on the intriguing singing canary bird and
sold ONLY male birds. This kept their monopoly in check. Prices for wild
canaries were inflated for many years...only the rich could afford a
Sometime in the early to mid 1500's a Spanish
commercial ship loaded with the wild canary wrecked off the coast of Italy's
Island of Elba. Many birds were released from the shipwreck and took up
residence on the island.
Italians, eager to breed and sell the wild canary entered the trade and the
canary bird spread quickly throughout Europe.
The French and Dutch were well known for breeding canaries but it was the...
Germans Who Took it to the World.
Germans bred the bird to improve the canary's
song and became the main suppliers of canaries to the world well into the 1800s.
So much so that canaries were known by many as-->"German Birds".
The wild canary was bred and bred and bred...
...Each locality breeding for different
variations. Eventually clubs formed and shows were organized and many varieties
of canaries were produced...getting farther and farther away from the wild
Some bred canaries to improve song, some
for color, and some for type--or physical
characteristics other than color.
These canary types were often named for
Locality of Origination.
- Belgian Waterslager
- German Roller
- Spanish Timbrado
- Fife Fancy
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For more on how the wild canary developed into the
three domestic Canary Types click here.