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Thread: Aggresion in canaries

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    Aggresion in canaries

    Aggression in Canaries
    The question has come up as of late multiple times so I thought Iíd address it simply because it appears a lot of people are not aware of this aspect or the reasons behind it.
    Aggression is twofold.
    1- Canaries are simply, solitary creature. In the wild or native land, they only come together for mating period. Canaries sing to attract a mate and to establish a territory. They do flock, but only as individuals then they go their own way. They pair up to mate then apart again. For years, even centuries, people caged canaries in small cages because they sang more. This is again, establishing territory and attempting to attract a mate. People/humans must stop thinking about canaries as needing a mate or partner. This is human thoughts not canaries. They are perfectly happy alone and prefer it. You will be their flock and placed where they can see the goings on in the house is perfect, as long as it is close enough but not intrusive to the birds need for safety and feelings of being safe. Again, singing is to announce, I am here and this is my territory, stay out, or if youíre female, hear my strong song, come hither. Any others who enter will do so knowing there will be a fight.
    2- The other aspect is genetic. Here I am speaking of canaries only, although I assume all birds this holds true, but I am referring to specific scientific studies done on canaries. Each egg laid, one a day, gets between 2-6% more testosterone added, via the hen. She will internally add the testosterone a little at a time, proven in regard to environmental stresses and the ability to sustain the species. This is simply because, the last egg to hatch the chick will be smaller and thus have to fight harder for food, against his/her larger siblings, again simply to fight for food and survive. The hen through evolution has built in a safety for the smaller chicks by adding a small amount of testosterone. Now think about it, the forth egg may have as much as 10% more testosterone than the first, when it hatches. For breeders this is easy to follow. We see the last to hatch, keep records, and when banding the birds usually band largest to smallest or even must revisit the smallest to place a band on it. Defined as, the larger ones legs will hold and the smaller will not, so we must wait a day or two for it to catch up. So for those who ask, ďThe parents are so calm, why is this bird so aggressive compared to all the restĒ? Well I just stated the answer, and if you purchase your birds from good breeders, they can say, this is the youngest of the clutch. Purchase anywhere else, no one will know or be able to tell you. Good thing is, these birds are great for breeding, and also as singers, bad part is they are no good for community living or aviaries. Again you take a bird that has a higher testosterone level and a bird pre-disposed for solitary living, you get a little rascal. Now does this fact enter into if 4 eggs are laid and only one hatches, answer is yes, again each egg gets a little higher dosage, even if the others do not hatch. Well unless itís the first laid, but I donít know of anyone who marks eggs, they just follow chicks. If you have an aggressive bird, this is why, it was born this way and knows no other way to be.

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    Re: Aggresion in canaries

    Rudi, you are a genius! Thank you so much for this post. It is very educational. Would this 'testosterone" uptake also apply to parrots (cockatiels, budgies, lovebirds) etc. etc., because as far as I know all of the parrot family, ducks, geese, chickens, etc. lay their eggs every other day.

    Is it any wonder we never can determine how a bird we get at a pet shop, or from a bird mill breeder, or a person who has no knowledge of breeding, but goes ahead, breeds birds and then rehomes them, will adjust to our homes, or what behaviors they might end up having. I think chronic egg laying is one of those problems that comes along with birds such as these as well.

    I often wondered through the years why I would only see one canary in a cage of some homes I have visited. I never asked, because I assumed they were content with just one canary. Now that you have written this very informative post, I fully understand the reason why.

    Thanks so much for sharing all about canaries. I have thoroughly enjoyed reading this post.

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    Re: Aggresion in canaries

    As I stated, I am not sure about other species, but would assume it would be the same case. Birds by nature have been around for much longer than we have, so thus have evolved further to adapt. I have bred Lovebirds and Cockatiels before and it does hold true there. Every parrot and conur I have had were individuals as pets so I never bred them. I have a problem with large breeds being bred to much simply because simple math dictates a problem breeding to numerous a species whose life span is so long, meaning rehoming or problems inherent there creates to many rescues or thus orphans in shelters. I do know raptors, this same aspect is involved so again I would assume it carries over to most all species. Chickens I am not sure about, since they do not rely as heavy on the parents, but us, thus being domesticated for so long through out history, they have relied on us not their parents. Just using logic here, not any true knowledge or scientific back up. This question was asked 3 times in my own bird club in the last week. Canary breeding season is closing and moving into the molt, thus lots of young are now on hand and people are seeing it and dealing with lousing issues.
    I always laugh or give a lot of flack to people who over do it, meaning start with to many and alla, get to many and then because they never listened now have housing issues. Show people know, breed for the best, not the most. This means start with your best, breed the best and then have the space available for the young when in hand. Meaning to breed the best, you must think about your birds you will be showing. To raise a show bird, that bird must have space of its own. Over crowding creates stress and thus health issues and many others. You never place a show bird in a cage with another bird. Simply put, they will pluck each others feathers and thus fight for food and anything else. You want to spend time training it and dealing with each one individually, thus it needs its own space. You must wash them by hand and handle them a lot, as well as hands on training. This takes time and space, so to many again means you have defeated yourself and also put your birds in harms way. The aspect of a bird which has more testosterone because it was genetically received is a big piece of information a breeder needs. As stated before it creates a more aggressive bird, thus one who will sing and breed better. Yes, can be a little beast, but I apologize but for no better way to explain it, It wants to breed with everything that moves and the added testosterone means a better chance of fertility. Again, good for breeding and a solo pet. bad for everything else.
    You are also correct in regard to bird mills and chronic egg laying. Only idiots and the dregs breed in the fashion we all know exists. When money is involved and no other reason, well greed creates these problems. Dogs, cats, birds you name it all suffer, and thus the people who purchase animals from this type of environment don't realize they perpetuate the problem. I strive very hard within my own clubs to scream at every given chance, don't do that. You won't get rich and you won't make money. If you want to do what you say you want to, take care of your birds and watch after them. They will return your care by giving you what you are actually after, Fewer birds, but much higher quality and healthier ones, which means less cost to take care of. Healthy canaries cost less to feed and take care of, they simply do not get sick and do not eat as much. Never ever go more than two clutches a bird, and always remember 1 pair can mean 8 chicks, be ready for this. If you get 4 instead of 8, and they are healthy, good you are the right path. You start with 20 pairs and have room for 40 birds, well you may get 100, what now. I hope you like spending 3 hours a day taking care of them. This type of scolding or direct talk with people goes unheard or accepted. You usually can tell in 30 seconds if it hits the mark or goes unheard.
    Thanks again, the more I learn the less I find I know. One answered question leads to 4 unanswered ones. I really crack up sometimes when someone says to me, "how do you know all of that"? I laugh and say, I read and watch and learn constantly, thus truthfully, I personally think I don't know squat. More than most, but who cares about us, my worry is always what the birds need, and everyday something proves I don't know as much as should to take care of them as they deserve. But truthfully I learn the most from my birds. No whisperer, just love to observe, ask questions and figure out the why's. Yes it drove my parents nuts when I was a kid, and maybe people here now, HA, plus I can not seam to write a short thread. sorry

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    Re: Aggresion in canaries

    This thread was created and I went looking for more information. The following articles in the below links are very good reads. The first one is on the original study about the testosterone increases, published in the NY Times in 1994. It alludes to another aspect about regeneration of brain cells and thus learning all over again. This was published in 2002 alluding to studies by the same group of researchers. It has prompted researches who are looking for cures to paralysis and Alzheimer’s as well as autism, and the push in the right direction came from studying birds, which they found to regenerate or re=grow brain cells each year in conjunction to song learning.

    http://www.nytimes.com/1994/01/25/sc...ted-equal.html
    http://www.smithsonianmag.com/scienc...ough-64765165/

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    Re: Aggresion in canaries

    These articles are excellent reads. I am a supporter of stem cell research, as well as any research in the field of science. I commend all scientists for their dedication and determination to find ways to treat and cure both human and animal diseases, including the studies of behavior.

    This study about canary egg laying is just one example of the beauty of Nature.

    Many thanks, Rudi. Keep these articles and your expertise coming to us.

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    Re: Aggresion in canaries

    I wonder if my little Bailey was the youngest then... He sings his little heart out all day from when he gets up to when he goes to bed. He's definately stroppy... Some mornings when I put my hand in his cage to remove old food bowls he lands on my hand and pecks me. At the weekend, I was cleaning the bars of his cage with a cloth and he kept lunging and trying to grab the cloth. He's definately full of attitude!!!

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    Re: Aggresion in canaries

    That's funny. Personally, I love the ones like this, opposed to flighty ones who seem scared of everything. Singing is a very strong indicator of testosterone or maybe better said a strong viral male. Since singing is to not just attract a mate but more so to let every other male for as far as he can sing out to know, my territory, stay out or you'll have a fight on your hands. Strangest thing about canaries is everyone's idea or concept is they are timid little songsters. When the truth is they are some of the most aggressive bird species by nature. Granted as you know from Bailey attacking your hand, not much a threat, but to another canary, some are true killers. I have always told people about specific finches as well. Since Zebras are so inexpensive, so many people buy Zebras and Society's and put them together, simply because $50 can get you 4 birds some places. Anyway, the society's are sweet birds and some zebras will try and kill their shadow. But yes, get around any male with an abundance of testosterone and well, you the know the rest of that statement.

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    Re: Aggresion in canaries

    This is so fascinating....wow! I really had no idea!
    My Pumpkin was very non-aggressive to the finches....they would all cuddle together. Not sure if it was because he was sick when I got him (although he didn't seem that bad when I did) or if he was a first born. Totally non-aggressive but insanely flighty with me....he was panicked every time someone walked by his cage....he would even stop eating! Until the end of course as you know....where he would allow me to bath and blow-dry him in my hand....

    Thanks for the cool info. I guess that would mean I'd want a last born....? Are they more likely to be tamed/social?
    Just a girl with some animal friends! A fluffy Himilayan cat named Theodore Mittens, a bearded dragon named Miphy, a canary named Fringe (Miss you sweet Pumpkin!), two penguin zebra finches named Jasmin and Prince Pen Pen (Miss you sweet Lacey!), a tarantula named Mystique, four chickens named Audrey, Ellie, Buffy and Dolly....hermit crabs, and a betta fish!

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    Re: Aggresion in canaries

    When describing Pumpkin, you described a normal canary, meaning how a normal canary would act when approached or seeing someone coming. Most people fail to realize, one aspect of their genetic make up is the inherited, deep and real awareness of their environment. They are small and thus prey. Everything in their natural world will eat them, this is a part of their DNA. One on One they are aggressive, not all but by nature, they are territorial. In the wild they are also food for many, so they will always act in a way, stop, look listen, evaluate, then no threat means stay and watch to make sure or oops we need to get out of here. I will admit, its just me and people laugh at me, but I always ask my birds permission to stick my hand in the cage. Like they understand. I think its polite to ask anyone before entering their house. Truth is all they see is the Jolly Green Giant shoving his big paw in their space.

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    Re: Aggresion in canaries

    Ha ha! Awww! I'd love to hand tame one though....I've seen some pretty incredible videos on youtube....it must have taken them a long time to gain their trust....
    Just a girl with some animal friends! A fluffy Himilayan cat named Theodore Mittens, a bearded dragon named Miphy, a canary named Fringe (Miss you sweet Pumpkin!), two penguin zebra finches named Jasmin and Prince Pen Pen (Miss you sweet Lacey!), a tarantula named Mystique, four chickens named Audrey, Ellie, Buffy and Dolly....hermit crabs, and a betta fish!

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    Re: Aggresion in canaries

    Quote Originally Posted by 5borders View Post
    Aggression in Canaries
    The question has come up as of late multiple times so I thought I’d address it simply because it appears a lot of people are not aware of this aspect or the reasons behind it.
    Aggression is twofold.
    1- Canaries are simply, solitary creature. In the wild or native land, they only come together for mating period. Canaries sing to attract a mate and to establish a territory. They do flock, but only as individuals then they go their own way. They pair up to mate then apart again. For years, even centuries, people caged canaries in small cages because they sang more. This is again, establishing territory and attempting to attract a mate. People/humans must stop thinking about canaries as needing a mate or partner. This is human thoughts not canaries. They are perfectly happy alone and prefer it. You will be their flock and placed where they can see the goings on in the house is perfect, as long as it is close enough but not intrusive to the birds need for safety and feelings of being safe. Again, singing is to announce, I am here and this is my territory, stay out, or if you’re female, hear my strong song, come hither. Any others who enter will do so knowing there will be a fight.
    2- The other aspect is genetic. Here I am speaking of canaries only, although I assume all birds this holds true, but I am referring to specific scientific studies done on canaries. Each egg laid, one a day, gets between 2-6% more testosterone added, via the hen. She will internally add the testosterone a little at a time, proven in regard to environmental stresses and the ability to sustain the species. This is simply because, the last egg to hatch the chick will be smaller and thus have to fight harder for food, against his/her larger siblings, again simply to fight for food and survive. The hen through evolution has built in a safety for the smaller chicks by adding a small amount of testosterone. Now think about it, the forth egg may have as much as 10% more testosterone than the first, when it hatches. For breeders this is easy to follow. We see the last to hatch, keep records, and when banding the birds usually band largest to smallest or even must revisit the smallest to place a band on it. Defined as, the larger ones legs will hold and the smaller will not, so we must wait a day or two for it to catch up. So for those who ask, “The parents are so calm, why is this bird so aggressive compared to all the rest”? Well I just stated the answer, and if you purchase your birds from good breeders, they can say, this is the youngest of the clutch. Purchase anywhere else, no one will know or be able to tell you. Good thing is, these birds are great for breeding, and also as singers, bad part is they are no good for community living or aviaries. Again you take a bird that has a higher testosterone level and a bird pre-disposed for solitary living, you get a little rascal. Now does this fact enter into if 4 eggs are laid and only one hatches, answer is yes, again each egg gets a little higher dosage, even if the others do not hatch. Well unless it’s the first laid, but I don’t know of anyone who marks eggs, they just follow chicks. If you have an aggressive bird, this is why, it was born this way and knows no other way to be.
    I just learned so much more about why my birds seem to be such jerks all the time! But it makes sense. I've heard a lot that the youngest baby in a clutch can die, just from lack of food. Sad thought =( But this makes a lot of sense overall.
    Thanks for the insight!
    Last edited by kristina.h; 02-03-2015 at 10:20 AM.

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    Re: Aggresion in canaries

    Kristina, I have a very good sense of humor, but honestly never knew canary's could do that. You might want to proof read you responses and not trust spell check, but it did make me laugh.

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    Re: Aggresion in canaries

    Ha, wow. I did not catch that when I posted. Sorry!

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    Re: Aggresion in canaries

    Aw, the first one was funnier! It truly made me laugh. It happened to be the same day as when I sent an internal email to a colleague at work. My email was nothing more than, "I am just getting ducks in a row", but the I and U are right next to each other, and he had a great sense of humor, and did the same thing as I did to you. When I read it, I just broke up and couldn't stop laughing. Innocent mistake, no worries.

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