• Sun. Jun 23rd, 2024

Crested Canary: Pictures, Care Guide, Temperament & Traits


Feb 9, 2023
Yellow crested canary in bird cage


Yellow crested canary in bird cage

While some domestic canary types are bred for their song type or its colors, the crested canary is a “type” canary. Type canaries are bred for their form or shape, and in the case of the crested canary, it is bred for the tuft of feathers around the top of its head. It is this tuft that gives the breed its name. It is a popular canary because of its unusual tufted look, and crested variants of Lancashire, Norwich, and Gloster canaries are readily available from breeders as well as pet shops.

Available in a range of colors, the crested canary has similar care requirements to other canaries.


Species Overview

Common Names: Crested canary
Scientific Name: Serinus canaria domesticus
Adult Size:  5 inches
Life Expectancy: 10–15 years

Origin and History

The feathers of the crested canary are a mutation, and this mutation first appeared in the late 18th Century. It was bred with other canaries to recreate the mutation and to produce a line of birds with the same crest. By the 1800s, the crested canary had become very popular and gained the nickname of the “King of the Fancy.” However, ideal examples of the bird, which at the time had clear yellow bodies and dark crests, attracted very high prices, as a result of this popularity. This meant that typical owners were unable to afford the birds, and numbers dwindled.

True crested canaries are difficult to come by, but the smaller crested Gloster canaries are widely available, and so too are crested variants of the Lancashire and Norwich canary.


Canaries tend to be shy and timid birds. They prefer to be left alone, in their cage, rather than handled, and attempting to handle a canary can lead to stress. However, some owners do report successful handling if they start when the bird is young and regularly handle the canary. If you do want to try handling the bird, ensure that all doors and windows are closed before opening the cage door, or your canary will likely escape.

Although they are quite shy, canaries do like the company of their owners. They will watch their humans go about their business and will sing for them. Some do prefer solitude, however, and if your bird gets anxious when you are in the room, you may need to look for a quieter area to ensure that they do not get stressed or anxious.

You can let a canary out of its cage for exercise. This should only be done if the room is fully secure. Close doors and windows and make sure there are no other pets in the room. You should also cover windows and mirrors to prevent your canary from flying into them.

Canaries can be kept individually, although some owners do report success in housing two or even more canaries in the same cage. Housing two males together may lead to fights.

  • Sweet and playful
  • Can have a very pretty song
  • Tufted head feathers are somewhat unusual
  • Crested variants of different canary species are available
  • Need a large cage for the size of the bird
  • Don’t usually enjoy being handled
  • True crested canaries can be difficult to find

Speech & Vocalizations

Crested canaries are not bred for their song or vocalization. This means that you may get one that is relatively quiet or one that sings whenever you’re in the room. The song is tuneful and pretty, with male canaries more likely to sing than females. As well as singing, canaries also warble, chatter, chirp, and squeak, so there is a good variety of song types.

Crested Canary Colors and Markings

True crested canaries are not bred for their particular markings or color, which means that they can take on any color. However, these true crested canaries are rare. Crested variants of Gloster, Lancashire, and Norwich canaries are more commonly found.

  • Crested canary – Crested canaries tend to be quite large and stocky, and although the original preference for colors was a pure yellow body and dark tuft, this is not necessarily the case any longer. They can come in a variety of colors.
  • Gloster canary – Glosters tend to be smaller than true crested canaries, but they too can come in any of a variety of colors.
  • Lancashire canary – Although they can come in different colors, the Lancashire canary tends to be yellow. It has a small body but a long tail.
  • Norwich canary – Norwich canaries have round bodies, and they tend to come in the original orange and red, as well as white, clear, and variegated.

Caring for the Crested Canary

First and foremost, canaries need space. Their cages appear large compared to their size as you need to provide something that is at least 2 to 3 feet tall and has multiple horizontal perches. They need food and water bowls, mirrors and toys, as well as a water bowl in which the canary can bathe.


Most owners feed canaries a commercial pellet diet, following the manufacturer’s guidelines for feeding amounts. You can also feed vegetables including kale, beans, and the herb parsley. Always ensure that your canary has access to fresh water for drinking and separate water for bathing.


Canaries do benefit from regular exercise. Even if you have a flight cage, which offers more room for your bird to spread its wings and take flight, you can open the cage door and allow them to fly around the room. When doing so, ensure there are no other pets in the room, close all windows and doors, and cover windows and any mirrors. Your canary will likely seek the comfort of their cage or perch when they have had enough exercise.

Common Illnesses

Respiratory illness can be quite common in canaries. Ensure that you keep yours in an environment that is free from toxins and smoke, so ideally not in a kitchen. Airsac mites can also be transmitted from infected birds, initially leading to an otherwise vocal bird stopping singing and eventually leading to coughing and sneezing. It can prove fatal. Some fungal diseases and bacterial infections are also common in canaries.


Where to Adopt or Buy a Crested Canary

True rested canaries are rare and can be difficult to find. Most buyers get their crested canaries from known breeders. Check with specialist breeders and look online to find a reputable and reliable crested canary breeder.

Other types of tufted canary, such as Norwich and Gloster canaries, are more common. They can often be found in pet shops as well as from breeders. Search online, visit a local pet store or bird store, or ask fellow keepers where they got their crested canaries to find a reliable source.



Crested canaries are bred for the tufted crown of feathers on the tops of their heads. This feature means that they stand out from other types of canary, but pure crested canaries are difficult to find, typically being found at specialist breeders. Crested Gloster, Norwich, and Lancashire canaries have the same crested feathers but are more readily available from breeders and can even be found in some pet stores.

Featured Image Credit: Emmily, Shutterstock

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *