Ask Lafeber


January 11, 2019

feeding canaries mixed diets

I am a retired canary breeder of 50 years. I have kept one little bird as a pet to enjoy. Over the years that I raised these birds, I was instructed by more experienced breeders that the basic diet for canaries is always 60% canary seed, mixed with 40% sweet rape seed. Other seeds may be mixed into this basic mix in small quantities. No pellets were available then, so they were not fed until more recent years. Now I am finding only mixed canary and finch seeds, which are somewhat alike, but are not 100% the same. Canaries have fallen out of favor in the last 10 years, for the most part, and it is difficult to find correct basic food for them in smaller quantities – and I feel that I shouldn’t be mixing other food types into their basic diet. My present bird is a picky eater, and will not take pellets at all unless I put them in a food processor and make them smaller. Then he will eat a few. He was raised on 60/40 canary/rape seed, along with natural foods (cooked carrots, fresh greens, and a home made dry food which I make in the food processor with dry oatmeal, shredded wheat, corn meal, LaFeber dry vitamins, and wheat germ. He is trim and healthy now, but I would like to add a little fruit to his diet (which he now refuses to eat). He also takes washed and baked eggshell for calcium, and sometimes a little grit on the cage floor.

Please respond with suggestions for the proper foods to give to a single bird, which will not bring him into breeding condition in the spring.


Hi Mary,

I do understand about the seed mixes that are available these days. And unfortunately they offer little nutrition because the seeds simply are not fresh enough. Have you tried offering him our Finch granules? They are similar to grinding the pellets and many canaries prefer these over the pellets.

Finch Granules

As he is a male, I wouldn’t be too concerned about whether he comes into breeding condition. Other than behavior, this is not an issue as it is with a single female who might lay too many eggs. But the best way to avoid this is to not offer any fresh greens or veggies during this time. If he will eat the granules, these are balanced but you can still offer chopped veggies and leafy greens. I’m not surprised about the fruit – he would not encounter fruit in the wild for the most part, so if he doesn’t want any, I don’t see a need to keep trying. The leafy greens and veggies are better for him. As far as seeds go, we do not offer any loose mixes, but he might like our Nutri-Berries for smaller birds if you crumble them. These are made with fresh hulled seeds and other healthy ingredients and are nutritionally balanced the same as a pellet. And the good news is if she likes these, we make other flavors that include dried fruits and veggies.

Parakeet Nutri-Berries

If he does start eating the finch granules, you won’t need to keep offering the dry vitamins. These foods are enough to provide some variety as well as the nutrition he needs. Both the granules and the Nutri-Berries can be stored in the freezer – never the refrigerator – to keep them fresh. Take out about a week’s supply at a time.

Thank you for asking Lafeber,


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