Three factors influence the start and end of the canary breeding season: temperature, daylight, and food abundance. The Atlantic or wild canary (Serinus canaria) begins the breeding season in nature in their habitat, the Madeira, Azores, and Canary Islands, in late winter (February) or early spring (March), and it continues until early summer (June or July). The domestic canary (Serinus canarius domesticus), which lives in temperate climates in our aviaries indoor, are no different if their keepers let them sleep at sunset and wake up at sunrise.
Your canary maintains its yearly cycle (breeding, molting, and resting) without interruption by sleeping at sunset and waking up at sunrise. Exposure to volatile temperatures or extreme swings in daylight or receiving consistent daylight hours can cause the cycle to break. Interrupting the cycle can cause health issues and other unwanted problems, such as molting out of season and breeding all year long or inability to breed.
Therefore, the experienced canary breeder can manipulate the cycle in ways that make the canary breed at any time the breeder wishes, and for as long as he wishes. He can achieve this by manipulating the length of daylight, temperature, and food quality. However, if you are a beginner, just let your canary follow the natural rhythm of the daytime, and it will do fine.
Why does the canary breeding season begin in the spring?
Mild temperatures, longer daylight, and food abundance all converge with the commencement of spring in March, creating the ideal conditions that trigger most canaries to breed during this month. These factors do not happen or intersect instantly or suddenly, but rather gradually until they reach the right levels that bring the canary into breeding condition. Let’s discuss each factor now individually.
The influence of daylight
Daylight has the shortest hours on December 22, marking the shortest day of the year. From there on, it gradually increases until it reaches 12 hours with the commencement of spring on March 21, and for canaries to breed, they must obtain at least 12 hours of daylight. So, you should expect your female to lay her first egg on March 21 as a reference point. However, some birds will lay earlier in late February or early March, and others will lay eggs later in April. In other words, the exact timing of breeding depends on the individual bird, and the geographical area in which it lives, and the environmental conditions surrounding it in the breeding room, such as light and temperature.
The influence of temperature
As daylight increases, temperatures increase, too, reaching mild levels in spring. Hence, insects and plants thrive, making food readily available and abundant for birds to take care of their youngsters. So, in captivity, the canary breeder must mimic nature. He can do so by letting birds sleep at sunset and wake up at sunrise as already mentioned, and by leaving birds to go through winter without artificial heat, and by gradually improving food quality and options at least one month before the start of the breeding season.
Note: canaries can withstand cold temperatures even below zero as long as they are well-fed, and the indoor aviary is not damped or drafty. However, You can improve temperature levels moderately or mildly during cold winters if you are concerned about the well being of your birds (Anywhere from 10 to 15 degrees would suffice).
Tip: the ideal indoor temperature for breeding is 15°C. With higher or slightly lower temperatures, your birds will do fine. But I would not generally recommend that indoor temperature increases above 25°C during the breeding season. Remember that red mites thrive during warm conditions, especially when temperatures reach 25°C and higher.
The influence of nutrition
Improving food quality is essential if you want your canary to perform well during the breeding season. An inadequate supply of food can result in low fertility and hatchability. Birds need more fats, protein, vitamins, and minerals during the breeding season. So, make sure you provide supplements or foods not limited to seeds only.
If you want canary males and females to reach their sexual peak, and increase fertility and hatchability, you must improve food quality at least one month before the start of the breeding season (Start in the middle of January and add supplements if deemed necessary).
The end of the canary breeding season
The canary breeding season ends when daylight starts to gradually decrease after reaching its peak length on June 21. This date marks the longest day of the year and the end of spring and the beginning of summer. So, by the end of July or at some point during August, most domestic canaries start molting, marking the end of the breeding season. The gradual decrease in daylight and the increase in temperatures during hot summers trigger the molt.
The canary can molt out of season if sudden changes in daylight or temperatures occur. So, if you want to force your canary to molt for some reason, just make sudden changes to the length of daylight. For example, decrease daylight from let’s say 14 to 8 hours for a week and then bring it back to normal and current daylight length.