Island/Common Canary

Serinus canaria

The island canary (or Atlantic canary), is a small songbird native to Portugal, Spain, and the Canary Islands (for which the species was named). Wild birds are found in a variety of habitats and primarily eat seeds. Canaries are gregarious, usually nesting and feeding in small groups.

The common canary is the domesticated form of the island canary. It is a common household pet, popular for its bright color and sweet singing voice. Common canaries are usually vibrant yellow but they have been bred for many different color variations.

Did You Know?

Island Canaries have been successfully kept as pets since the 13th century.


Does the harvest for wildlife trade or captive breeding of this species harm wild populations?

Little Cause for Concern

Populations of island canaries appear to be thriving in the wild. There is some evidence that wild canaries are trapped for the pet trade, particularly on the Canary Islands.

Canaries are extremely easy to breed in captivity. As a result, the vast majority of canaries sold as pets are captive bred.

EcoHealthy Recommendation:

Only purchase a common canary from a reputable breeder or distributor to ensure that you are not buying an illegally wild-caught and/or imported animal. Additionally, ask for proof that your animal was captive-bred; PetWatch strongly recommends only purchasing captive-bred birds to ensure that wild populations can continue to thrive.

Invasion Threat

Does the release or escape of this species into the wild harm the environment and/or economy?

Little Cause for Concern

Canaries have established self-sustaining populations outside their native range on Hawaii, Bermuda, and other islands. Their tolerance of different habitats and high reproductive potential make it easy for canaries to colonize new sites; there is little evidence, however, that this species has had negative impacts on native communities.

EcoHealthy Recommendation:

Before obtaining any non-traditional pet, check that it is legal to own one in your state of residence and check for permitting requirements. Only acquire a pet that is from a reputable breeder or dealer to ensure that you are not buying an illegally imported or wild-caught animal. Always keep your pet inside a safe and secure enclosure. Never release a pet into the wild.

Ease of Care

Does harvest, captive breeding, transport, or being kept as a pet harm individual animals?

Little Cause for Concern

Ease of care of many non-traditional pets depends on the individual owner’s years of experience and knowledge caring for a particular species. For the purposes of this website, we have geared information toward the benefit of the beginner.

Island canaries have been successfully kept as pets since the 13th century. The domesticated common canary is easily bred in captivity and continues to be a popular and resilient household pet. In general canaries require less one-on-one attention compared to other pet birds. They are relatively easy to maintain.

EcoHealthy Recommendation:

When purchasing a pet canary, ask for proof that the animal was bred by a professional with a permit to sell the animal. Be sure to research its specific care requirements. Talk to your veterinarian about the proper diet and how to maintain a healthy weight for your pet.

Health Threat

Does this animal pose a health risk to native wildlife, humans, livestock and agriculture?

Some Cause for Concern

Canaries can be carriers of bacterial or parasitic infections, such as atoxoplasmosis and other coccidia that can be transmitted to other birds. Canaries may carry bacteria of concern to humans such as Salmonella and Campylobacter.  Canaries and other passerines can carry and transmit Chlamydophila psittaci, which causes psittacosis, but less commonly than parrots and often only after being housed with an infected parrot.  Although less common in the U.S., this disease is potentially life-threatening for humans.

EcoHealthy Recommendation:

When purchasing a pet bird, ask the seller if the animal has been checked by a veterinarian and for a list of any medical treatments the animal has received.

EcoHealth Alliance works at the intersection of ecosystem, animal and human health through local conservation programs and develops global health solutions to emerging diseases.
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