Canaries, prized for their beautiful song and lovely colors, are a type of finch, and are soft billed. Although males are most often the singers, occasionally a hen will do a little singing. Except under rare circumstances, plumage is not an indication of gender; generally, if the bird sings it is considered a male, or singer; if it merely "tweets" and "peeps" it's considered a female, or hen



Canaries originally came from a group of islands west of Africa known as the Canary Islands. The islands were inhabited by fierce wild dogs (Canis) for which the Romans named them. The wild canary first captured the attention of the Spaniards during their invasion of the islands in 1473. The little green/brown birds soon became popular with the soldiers and sailors because they were quickly tamed, they became well adjusted to their cages and the males sang irresistible, cheerful songs. The Spanish soldiers and sailors often took these birds back to Spain as souvenirs for their own enjoyment and as gifts for their lady friends. This practice became so popular that the birds were nicknamed "little sugar birds." As the Spaniards recognized demand for these little sugar birds, they began exporting them. Over the past 500 years, careful selective breeding has provided the world with many beautiful colors and types of canaries.