Holding Your Canary Bird. Is it a Death Sentence for Your Bird?

"Your canary bird doesn't like to be held. But sometimes it's an absolute necessity"

canary holding

Question and Answer

“Hi Darren,

Thank you for this site, very helpful.

A few hours ago, I took my baby canary (about 1 year) out of its cage for

some photos. This lasted less than five minutes.

I held him in my palm trying not to squeeze his chest. Afterwards when I put him back in the cage he

was traumatized, gasping for air as if I almost had tried to strangle him.

And he was slow and quiet for a good hour after that.

What did I do wrong? Is he going to be ok? I really had no intention of hurting my bird. I really love that little creature.

Would really appreciate any comment you would have on this.

Seattle, WA

Recommended Pet Canary Supplies...

Hi Menna,

Good to hear from you.

Canaries hate to be held. Your canary thought you were going to eat him. He was frightened and went into a mild shock. In other words, “he was scared stiff”.

Some canaries, after being released, will lie on the bottom of their cage for several minutes...as if they're playing dead. Then they'll hop up and be perfectly normal. But they’re not playing...

Something biological and instinctual kicks in and they become motionless to avoid predation. Kind of like when an Opossum plays dead ("playing ‘possum") or when humans are attacked by a bear. We’re told to curl up in a ball and lie perfectly still (easier said then done I’m sure).

In extreme circumstances, a canary bird may even have a heart attack or stroke and die. This is not typical though, and usually indicates some kind of pre-existing problem.

Of course, this doesn't mean you should never hold your bird. Occasionally you'll have to hold your canary bird to...

• check for health problems
• administer medication
• cut nails.

In these cases it's a good idea to make the ordeal as short and sweet as possible...catch your bird as quickly as possible, do what needs to be done, and release him back to his cage immediately.

Some canary bird owners will hold their canary every day for a few seconds just to get him used to being held. I wouldn’t recommend this...most canaries just never get used to it.

Catching your canary is somewhat of an art in itself. And holding him requires gentle hands and an alert mind.

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