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Thread: Male Canary Removing Nest Material

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    Question Male Canary Removing Nest Material

    Hi Everyone:

    I am a first-time bird owner to a pair of red factor canaries, both aged one. When we brought them home, we put them into the same cage, unaware that they might need mating prep time before being housed together, esp. since this is their first breeding season.

    After a few days together, the pair seemed to be going through mating motions and I attached a basket in the upper corner of the cage. Both birds inspected the basket and hopped in and out of the basket playfully. A few days later, the hen started to gather the nesting material I placed in the cage. When she would bring it to the basket, the male would hop over and toss it out!

    I came home from work one day to find an empty, cracked egg on the bottom of the cage with orange stain streaked throughout the cage and in the basket. I was excited that she had laid an egg, but wasn't sure if it was unfertilized or simply cracked because there was no nesting material in the basket, since the male kept removing the material.

    I contacted the man who gave me the canaries and he told me to separate them because of the male's behavior. Almost a week has passed and the hen has neither laid any additional eggs nor continued to build her nest seriously. She gathers material and places it in the nest and even sits in her nest periodically, but NO EGGS. She removes her own nesting material now! The male canary has been pacing, singing for, and staring at the hen in her cage since then.

    So, I have TWO QUESTIONS:

    1. Is it possible my hen's clutch is concluded (with only one egg)?
    2. When should I rejoin my canaries?

    Thank you kindly!

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    Re: Male Canary Removing Nest Material

    1- They are showing a behavior either natural or of personality. This is defined as - Naturally- they don't like the position of the nest, and he is instinctively saying not here. It must be where they feel they will be safe to overcome the strong flight response canaries have do to being instinctively a prey creature. Personality is defined as it is simply a personality trait and yes one the female can pick up from the male. Not good but no real big deal.
    2- The egg was fertile if you saw the orange. Canary hens can carry fertile sperm for a long period and chose when to let it work. Meaning, she can hold it until she feels are is safe or right to lay.
    If you want them to mate and rear a clutch, look up NEST PADS, for canary's. Every breeder uses them for this and other specific reasons. No matter what the pair does, remove the nest material or make a bad nest, the nest pad is there to protect the eggs no mater what. It keeps the eggs safe, give her room to sit, and then protects the young later. Get a nest pad, they are cheap, usually in packs of 4 depending on what kind. Use double stick tape, and stick them to the nest. Then place the nesting material in the nest for them, and use whatever you have to make a good circular center, old style light bulbs work great. Place the nest material in, and the use the light bulb to push down while turning it and you'll make a perfectly round nest. He could be saying, you suck at making a nest, do it over. That may sound funny but in canary words it is can be true.

    So to directly answer your questions:
    1- No one knows but her
    2- Yes if you follow what is above, doing it soon and watching. If he is a pestering male, he can be a problem. Put them together, let them mate again, and then remove him and she will do fine on her own raising the young. It is always preferable to have the male assist in feeding, but not necessary. Also if you want the birds to be red factors, read about color feeding now and quickly. The young will not be red factors, or appear to be if you do not color feed them. They will be yellow most likely. This will also be the case of the parents later. When the parents molt later, they will molt out yellow unless you color feed them as well during the molt. If you want red factor young, you usually start feeding color feed during when the hen is sitting on the clutch, but you can wait until the young start their first baby molt, but for deep color you feed it from the second the egg is laid all the way until the baby has molted out, which is about 4 ,months worth.

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    Re: Male Canary Removing Nest Material

    Update:

    When I separated the pair, she didn't lay any more eggs and they seemed to miss one another--I couldn't even put her cage on a separate surface in the same room without them crying repeatedly for one another. Since I've reunited them, she's laid only egg, which I found cracked on the bottom of the cage by the time I returned home from work.

    My female canary finally made a few successful and beautiful nests, but each time, by the end of the day, I would find the nest torn apart and left on the bottom of the cage. I don't know who was responsible for the nest destruction, but I suspect the male...

    My male canary's behavior has become more bizarre. Over the past few days, he's been cozying himself in the nesting cup (he looks like the hen when she's nesting!) and hogging the nesting supplies. He imitates the female's behavior, like gathering grass, straw, cotton fluff, etc. in his mouth and carries it to the nesting cup. The male and female now squabble back and forth about nesting territory throughout the day!

    I'll probably separate them again. I don't really know what else to do! Lol

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    Re: Male Canary Removing Nest Material

    OK, not saying for sure, but you're describing the actions of two females in a cage instead of a male/female pair. One makes a nest, the other destroys it and wants to make their own. Nest space power struggle. Remember females can and will lay eggs, even if no male present. They will still lay the eggs, they are just infertile. Usually the big clues are in order of how we usually see this event is::
    1- Two birds in the same nest
    2- Nest destruction by one or both
    3- 6, 7 or 8 eggs in one nest. (Usual numbers are 3 or 4 eggs, some can indeed lay up to 6 individually, but that is rare).

    Also remember some females can sing very well, which throws off even the most seasoned canary breeder. That fact got me twice this year, with two hens who sang like males but were indeed females. The reverse happened to me as well, one very timid male who never sang at all and acted completely like a female until, oops his male ways showed up later.

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    Re: Male Canary Removing Nest Material

    There are a few reasons why I don't think I have two hens.

    I caught them in the mating act once. I know they're mostly private maters, but they didn't expect that I'd wake up, and simply look up from bed, and catch them in that very brief act!

    My male is dominant and aggressive, which I assume is pronounced more in mating season? If you would see them in the cage, you would immediately suspect that he is male, especially compared with his demure mate. The only time I've seen my hen become aggressive is recently, when the male took his stalking a step further by imitating her nesting habits. Also, when I let them roam outside the cage, she is the only one who actively seeks out nesting material (i.e.: my hair on the floor, threads on a fabric, carpet fiber, a bird feather that fell to the ground, etc).

    He also nips at the hen, which could be his attempt to groom her. He especially likes to nip the ends of her tail and sometimes he gets close to her face, but ends up nipping her head. I haven't seen her approach the male in this way.

    Even after I separate them, the male continues to stalk the female with his eyes and by mirroring all of her movements in her cage. For example, if she goes to eat a piece of broccoli in her cage, he will also go and eat his broccoli.

    What do you think, Rudi?
    Last edited by Stefiyyah; 05-27-2016 at 09:41 AM.

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    Re: Male Canary Removing Nest Material

    Sorry to say, still describing female behavior from both. Now again, you're with them I am not so of course you will know more. Many a dominant female will take on a male role, and act like a male, specifically in the description "Hen Pecking" when you described the nipping. In the absence of a male a female will take on the role of flock leader, even if their are only two birds. The aspect of mounting, you will see that in almost all species of animals. It does not need to be the opposite sex for this to occur, it is a asserting dominance thing. I have scene many a female mount another, as I have scene many a male mount another male, and most times it is not in a full aggressive manor, just a simple mount to assert dominance and done. I have even heard people type on forums or in person, "I have a gay bird", no they don't, you have a bird who is demonstrating their dominance over others. Now again, I cannot say for sure here, only you will be able to know, I am just saying watch and they will let you know sooner or later. Truth is, as long as they are healthy and happy, all is ok.

    If you know a breeder close, ask them if you can borrow a stud bird. Studs are kept for their genes only. They are not used to mate with one bird but to be used for stock purposes to mate with as many hens as he can to pass on his great genes. These birds know their role and accept it. They are beyond cocky, and when removed from a cage they know exactly what they are being asked to do. When they are introduced into a hens cage, they immediately go to work, do their business, and are done. They then are taken out and put back in their own cage, and this is repeated in a half hour. The hen is then left to raise her brood on her own. These birds are no partner, nor do you want them to be. They are just stud males for one reason, to pass on great genetic qualities. Most all hens recognize a stud bird immediately and bow down to them immediately. In your case, this type of bird would immediately mate with both of your if they were hens. If the one is in deed a male, well a full chase and fight would be on. Now that sounds harsh, but with you right there, you can intervene. If he pins yours down to the cage floor after a chase and demonstrates he wants to harm it, you'll know make right away. If he chases and mounts it, then its a female.

    Now I do not expect you'll do such a drastic thing, but to be sure, sometimes it is the only way. I say this because I am better versed than most, and can see things most can't, simply from experience, not from being smart. This weekend, I had two, not one, but two, birds show they are completely opposite of what I thought they were. A bird I was sure was a male, laid an egg on the cage floor, another bird I was sure was a female is in deed a male, a weak/timid male but a male. Singing and behaviors are never a certainty. If they lay an egg, well that is a certainty, we know that bird is a female. Otherwise, like mine this weekend, when I sexed them it was before full breeding, thus I went strictly by behavior. Now that they are in full breeding condition, physically it shows. Hens in breeding condition have what is called a breeding patch on their stomachs. A clean featherless spot to allow for direct contact with their warm skin and higher temperature for incubation. A male will have a more prominent, well male part and no breeding patch. Look up both on line for images. Otherwise if birds are not in breeding condition they pretty much look the same. Sorry this got long, but maybe just more time watching will bring more answers, and again as long as they are healthy and ok, its just getting to know your birds better, and all really is ok.

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