What Is a Red Factor Canary?

red-factor-canary Credit: David Carroll/Flickr/CC-BY-2.0

Red factor canaries are a unique species of canary in which the color of the bird depends upon its diet. Born a pale peach or orange, the red factor canary must be fed a diet of red pigmented food to maintain and deepen its color.

Canaries originated in the Canary Islands. Though wild canaries are green, careful breeding produces a larger variety of colors in captivity. Canaries are very gentle, timid birds. They do not like to be handled, but enjoy the company of humans.

Male canaries are prized for their singing, though the red factor canary is not a noisy bird. Happiest in pairs, a male and female should be placed in as large a cage as possible. Care should be taken with the spacing of the bars, ensuring that the small birds will not be able to squeeze through them.

Specially formulated color-food can be purchased from a pet supply store, or a natural color diet of carrots, paprika, cherries, cayenne pepper, beets, yams, and other orange or red food can be prepared by the owner. Since color only appears on new feather growth, color-feeding should begin when the bird molts, which is the process of losing feathers and growing new ones.

Inspect the bird periodically for mite infection and canary pox; both ailments require treatment.