red-factor canary

The red-factor canary’s body-type appears to be just like the other canaries, but with one special trait – when fed a special diet, this canary’s coloring can change.

Other Birds in this family
Quick Facts
  • Unlike other canaries, the red-factor canary needs to consume a special diet to attain its deep red or orange color; which is referred to as being color fed.
  • Diet & Nutrition: Canary food

Red-Factor CanaryThe red-factor canary is an example of a color-bred canary, or a canary that is bred and prized for its color, rather than its song. These birds’ body-types appear to be just like the other canaries, but with one special trait — the owner can influence the color of their bird. You may have heard that flamingos are white unless they are fed brine shrimp or other pigmented foods — this is true, and the same holds for the red-factor canary.

Native Region / Natural Habitat

The canary was named for its place of origin, the Canary Islands; the islands were named after the dogs kept by the islands’ residents, more specifically after the Latin designation for dog, canis. The original canary was nothing more than a greenish-colored finch, nothing out of the ordinary — except for its song. Europeans fell in love with the canary’s song, and began importing them in the late 1500s. Eventually, the Europeans began breeding these birds and capitalizing on small mutations, developing canary breeds that hardly resemble each other today, and certainly don’t resemble their wild ancestor.

Care & Feeding

Your canary will probably not get a lot of free time out of the cage, so it’s important that you buy him as large a cage as your space and budget can afford, and be sure that the bar spacing on the cage is right for canaries. You will also need to take the time out to chop and grate fruits and vegetables for your canary, who will relish a fresh diet which will keep him healthy for many years. Keep in mind that color feeding can become quite messy, so be sure to place the cage away from light-colored carpeting, and try to clean your canary’s cage daily. Canaries also love to have music played for them, so make sure to turn on the radio before you leave the house.

Your red-factor canary, unlike other canaries, will need to be color-fed in order to achieve the deep red or orange pigment that is specific to this type. You can find specially formulated color-food, or you can try your hand at creating a natural color-diet on your own: carrots, paprika, cherries, cayenne pepper, beets, yams, and any other orange and red natural food will help to change your bird’s color. This natural way of color-feeding is purportedly better for the canary’s overall health. Color-feeding should begin around molting time, when the canary is producing new feathers — the color will not appear in feathers that are already on the bird’s body. If cared-for properly, red-factor canaries are reported to live for more than 10-12 years.

Lafeber food for Canaries

Personality & Behavior

Canaries are gentle birds, and will not bite when you handle them. However, unlike most companion birds, they will not enjoy your close contact — this bird is best for the person who wants to add a bit of singing and beauty to their home. Even though your canary will not want you to hold him, he will recognize you as his owner, and may become quite fond of your company.

Speech & Sound

All male canaries will sing, but the red factor is not known and bred for its singing — you may want to invest in a song canary if you want your house filled with beautiful song. Even though this canary is not “formally” trained to sing, it does have a pleasant song, and is not a noisy bird, like many companion birds can be. Canaries are quite happy in pairs, and you may want to consider a male and a female you make your selection. You can try your hand at breeding if you have a very compatible pair!

Health & Common Conditions

Canaries are susceptible to mite infection, namely: air-sac mites (which are found in the bird’s respiratory system), scaly mites (which show as scaly buildup around the bird’s beak, eyes and/or legs), feather mites and red mites (nocturnal mites that crawl out during the night and feed on the bird’s blood). Mite infection is treatable if caught early on, so be proactive in seeking out treatment as soon as you suspect that your canary might have mites. Canary pox is a virus transmitted by mosquitoes that poses a serious threat to canaries, especially those housed outdoors (which is why many people recommend housing these birds indoors) with higher infection rates occurring during summer months.

Get a Red-Factor Canary

Expect to pay around $60 to $90 for a red-factor canary, which is typically available for sale at large pet stores, avian-specialty stores as well as direct from bird breeders. Your best bet in finding a red factor that you really like is to go to a breeder or a bird exposition or show – that way you can get the pick of the clutch.

When hatched, the red-factor canary is is a pale peach or orange. It owes this original color to the red siskin, which was introduced to the canary line in the late 1920s. Most of the red factors, however, are color-fed, meaning that the owner feeds a special diet to create a bird that is a deep orange or red, much like those flamingos. You can recognize a red-factor canary by this color.