Interesting Facts about the Russian Canary
The lovely, melodic sounds of native song birds can be brought indoors by having just one bird as your pet: the Russian Canary. Although the bird is somewhat rare in the United States and most other countries at this time, they are quickly gaining in popularity.
A long history accompanies this tiny bird. Over 300 years ago, canary breeders in Germany transported their precious song birds from Tyrol where they had been bred and introduced them to the Russians in Moscow. It was love at first song for the Russians, who had previously only caged songbirds such as the warbler, buntings, goldfinches and other native birds. They enclosed their new find with the native birds, and soon noted that not only did the canary sing its own amazing songs, but also began to clearly imitate the songs and sounds of the other birds. The birds made perfect mimics, albeit loud ones. Their little lungs produced big sounds; very big sounds indeed.
The breeders realized that, with the newly named Russian canary’s ability to readily imitate other song birds, they could temper the bird’s loud voice by exposing them to a softer, gentler influence. Choosing birds that exhibited beautiful, trilling voices to sing in the presence of the canary soon had the tiny canary producing the same songs at the same volume. The breeders took the experiments even further by playing recordings of music using flutes, bells and other melodic instruments to train the songbird.
Resulting from such dedicated training, the true Russian canary was born. Currently, these smallest and frailest of the canary family are bred specifically for their songs, each of which can last up to 60 seconds. The music they produce will generally consist of 10 to 15 high tone tours; ranges that will identify the song according to the type of bird it exemplifies. For example, the bunting tuners or forest tuners were names associated with birds that perfected the songs of buntings or birds of the forest such as sandpipers, tits and woodlarks.
With the canaries now able to produce melodic tunes that were a delight on the ears of the Russian breeders, competitions involving the little birds were established. The cities of Petersburg, Nizhiny Novgorod and Pavlovo-on-Oka became renowned for such contests and also developed into prodigious breeding grounds for the canary. Over the past 300 years, the songbirds adapted the beautiful sounds they once only mimicked as their own melodies.
Russian immigrants to the United States have been able to introduce their prized songbird to the country’s breeders and admirers. Americans and others around the country have been showing increased interest in the canary because of its uncanny song memorization and singing ability. The bird is one of the smallest canary varieties, with a thin frame. Coloration of the canaries can vary from snowy white to sunlit yellow, with many birds displaying combinations of the two colors.
Male canaries have a more developed voice for song, and make a better choice for singers. Healthy birds can live as long as 10 to 12 years, delighting their owners with their beautiful songs on a daily basis. A good diet, proper care and maintenance and special attention to events such as molt and breeding can keep a caged bird in the best of condition. Canaries are not birds that usually enjoy being handled; they are happier left to their own devices and enjoyed for their beautiful song.
While the Russian canary may prove to be hard to find, they are available in the US from reputable breeders. If a songbird is your choice of company, this small bird could add just the right note to your home atmosphere.