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Birdrooms and Cages


Housing Your Canaries To Keep Them On Song

Terry Kelly's Purpose-built Bird Room


Most Fife canaries are kept in wire cages as household pets, in an aviary collection or in a birdroom as part of a serious breeding programme.

Cock Fife canaries make ideal household pets because of their diminutive size and they are quite at home in all-wire budgerigar-type cages. They should not be given any toys but should be provided with two perches as far apart as possible so they can have good movement within the cage. They should be kept only one to a cage.

A birdroom is a solid construction, usually wooden, in which birds are housed within cages rather than having the free flying facility they enjoy in an aviary. Most Fife canaries are kept in birdrooms, with each bird having an individual cage for much of the year. Being tough little birds, Fifes can be housed outdoors in a shed or brick-built birdroom all winter. I have a stone building with double glazing so that the water will not freeze in winter and the birdhouse will not get over-heated during the hot summer months. Alternatively, the cages can be accommodated in a spare bedroom in the house. The room should not be allowed to become too warm and the electric light should not be left on too frequently, as these have the effect of bringing the birds into false breeding conditions.

Mesh-Covered Windows Keeps Out VerminCanaries make a colourful display in an outdoor aviary. An aviary is an outdoor enclosure, usually made of wood covered with wire mesh. Their song makes them ideal aviary inmates and they are unlikely to be aggressive with other species of birds. Always have more hens than cocks to keep any squabbling in spring to a minimum. One disadvantage is that birds are liable to get dirty when kept in an aviary.

Cages should be of the normal double breeder design. Double breeders have been described as ‘Orange Boxes’ as they are essentially wooden boxes divided into two with a wooden partition to separate the cock from the hen at various times and a wire cage front. Treble breeders would be of similar construction, but larger, and able to be divided into three for a cock and two hens.

If Fifes are purchased in the autumn it is as well to keep the cocks separate from the hens over the winter period so that the hens can be conditioned and prepared for the following breeding season.

Adjoining external aviaries can be used to good effect provided that all necessary precautions have been taken to prevent vermin from burrowing under the main frames and cats from causing mischief on the sides and the roof, particularly at night. They can be used for the hens in winter to keep them fit and slim ready for breeding in the spring and for the youngsters.

The most important requirements for Fifes are good ventilation and good lighting.


The Fife fancy canary fancier will need six types of cages:

  • Breeding cages These are the wooden box type with a wire front, two perches and a feeding and drinking point.
  • Flight cages These are long cages, usually 6ft or more in length, for wintering stock or housing youngsters during the summer. Most fanciers use partitions to divide these into four or five breeding cages.
  • Show cages These are used to exhibit Fifes at shows.
  • Weaning cages These are small cages used for a few days only to wean the youngsters away from their mother before they are transferred to a flight cage.
  • Training cages These are used to condition Fifes for showing. They are hung on to the flight cages and are often old show cages.
  • Hospital cages These are used to house sick birds. However, I normally use training cages placed in warm spots for this purpose.

Fifes Enjoying the Winter Sun

Weekly Maintenance

Most fanciers like to clean out the cages weekly and I am no exception, mainly as I work during the week. The weekly routine does not apply to hens incubating eggs, who should be disturbed as little as possible, or to newly weaned youngsters, who are cleaned out every day. A weekly clean keeps the birdroom sweet and the bird’s feet clean and, most importantly, stops the birds from eating any stale softfood or greenfood.

This is also a good time to offer the Fifes a bath. After a week almost all birds will take readily to a bath. Any that do not should be watched as this is often an early sign that a Fife is off colour.

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(c) Terry Kelly & SL