Fife Canary
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Food and Feeding Methods


Healthy Canaries Need Healthy Food

Young Fifes Eating Seeding Dock


Like most seed-eating birds the Fife canary has very basic diet requirements:

Seed Mixture

There are many good quality canary seed mixtures on the market today. Although some fanciers prefer to mix their own I find Haith’s Super or Deluxe canary mixture an ideal basic diet. Most fanciers when mixing their own use plain canary, rapeseed and a little niger seed, and many add pinhead oatmeal. At certain times of year this will vary and sometimes certain Fifes are best placed on a diet of plain canary seed. Top quality seed mixes have all the vitamins, minerals and enzymes necessary to maintain a Fife in top condition.

Condition Seed

In addition to the basic canary mixture of plain canary, rape, niger, hemp and linseed there are other good conditioning seeds to be used prior to the breeding seasons such as maw, lettuce, gold of pleasure, teazle and perilla. All have beneficial qualities but the easiest method of supplying these invaluable seeds is by purchasing such a mixture.


Do not use additives in the water during hot weather as they will ferment very quickly and could make the birds ill.

Greenfoods and Vegetable Matter

Greenfoods are essential to maintain any bird in tip-top condition. Canaries, just like humans, need fruit and vegetables to provide additional vitamins, minerals and roughage.

The most popular and valuable greenfoods for the Fife are listed below, although I have tried other fruits such as half oranges.

Apple Curly Kale
Broccoli Spinach
Carrot Sprouts
Chicory Rape
Cucumber Watercress

Soft Foods

Soft foods and soft seeds are particularly important when young are being reared. For more information see the Breeding page.

Wild Foods

Chickweed is easily collected in large amounts in the spring and early summer. It is the ideal conditioner for all finch-type birds. However, be careful to avoid fields that have been recently sprayed, if you collect from farms. This can make the birds very ill. I grow my own patch in the corner of the garden to ensure a plentiful supply.

Dandelion is the other favourite of the bird fancier. Leaves and diced roots can be given in spring, the seeding heads when the flower is turning white. There is no better conditioner. 

Most wild plants that produce a seed can be given once the seeds ripen. Sow Thistle, Meadowsweet, Coltsfoot, Shepherds Purse and Groundsel can all be used as long as plants with mouldy leaves are avoided.

Food Supplements

Much is made these days of food supplements for cage and aviary birds. I prefer not to use them, as a good wholesome diet of quality seed mixtures, fresh greenfoods and fruit in addition to a rearing softfood is adequate for any small bird such as the Fife. Some additives are given sparingly to assist the moult and to sick birds.

There is a danger of overdoing the supplements, so I prefer to avoid them. However, vitamin supplements and probiotics do have a place if a complete diet is not available and any fanciers now use a probiotic to keep the gut clean.

There are natural supplements to a bird’s diet that have been used for many years. These are:

Cuttlefish Bone which provides extra calcium, particularly for hens in the breeding season, although liquid calcium is now available as an alternative.
Grit although there has been much debate over the years as to its benefit. I prefer oystershell grit to mineralised grit. It is thrown on to the flight cage floor after cleaning, particularly in winter…
…along with a handful of granulated Charcoal.

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(c) Terry Kelly & SL