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why do male and female canaries fight?

Are My Male And Female Canaries Fighting or Mating?

Last Updated on: 15th June 2022, 12:05 am

It’s possible to misread canaries’ behaviors, particularly if they seem unfriendly or aggressive. Although canaries are small and docile, they’re not social birds by nature.

So, you may notice a male canary attacking a female canary and assume they’re fighting. However, male canaries exhibit aggressive behavior toward females when they’re trying to mate.

When canaries want to breed, the female performs the mate selection. The male will sing more melodiously and loudly to impress the female.

Consequently, when a male canary is denied access to mating by a female, he can become aggressive and start fighting with the female.

Can I Keep A Male And Female Canary Together?

Male and female canaries can be kept together throughout the year. However, this arrangement works best if both canaries have calm personalities.

In most instances, sexually mature male canaries are domineering and aggressive toward females with whom they share cages, especially if the females refuse to mate with the males.

So, most owners keep male and female canaries separate until they’re ready to breed.

Why Do Male And Female Canaries Fight?

Male and female canaries can fight for a wide range of reasons, including:

Territorial Aggression

Canaries aren’t social birds, so they like to be left alone. However, male canaries are more aggressive about their need for space than females.

So, if you keep a male and female canary in a shared cage, the male might attack the female in an attempt to stamp his authority on the space.

Regular fighting between canaries can be stressful and detrimental to both their health.

Therefore, if you notice your male canary is displaying signs of aggression towards the female, put each bird in its individual cage, as this will create a peaceful environment.

Sexual Aggression

Male canaries can get aggressive toward females when denied access to mating.

Therefore, if you’re planning to breed canaries, it’s recommended to keep the male and female in separate but adjacent cages until they’re ready.

This allows the canaries to get acquainted with one another sufficiently to breed.

You need to know when your canaries are ready to breed before putting the male and female birds in a shared cage. For males, it is easier to tell since they exhibit certain behavioral cues, such as singing loudly and more frequently to attract females.

The Journal of the Acoustical Society of America shows that male canaries often sing special songs for longer in the presence of a female compared to when they’re alone.

This indicates that singing in canaries is a form of inter-sexual communication that sets the tone for future mating. Likewise, male canaries may display visual cues, such as kissing the corners of their feet, to draw the attention of the females they desire.

Female canaries that are ready to mate will exhibit nesting behaviors, such as:

  • Building nests
  • Responding to the male’s singing with chirping of her own
  • Crouching down to assume a mating position

If you notice any of these signals, your female canary is ready to mate.

canaries fighting in cage

Stressful Environment

Canaries are prone to stress, which can trigger self-destructive behaviors, like feather plucking and aggression toward other objects in their environment.

So, if your male and female canaries are stressed, they can direct their pent-up frustrations toward their cage mates and get embroiled in fights.

Common factors contributing to stress in canaries include:

  • Inadequate nutrition
  • Cramped or overcrowded cage
  • Sudden changes to their environment, such as relocation of their cage
  • A noisy or chaotic environment
  • Inadequate sleep
  • Lack of mental and physical stimulation (boredom)
  • Presence of a threat, such as a predator

In some instances, you only need to provide enough food, water, and toys for each canary to keep them well-fed and entertained. In other cases, you might need to keep each canary in a separate cage.

Why Do My Male And Female Canaries Keep Fighting?

Usually, fights between opposite-sex canaries are instigated by males, who tend to have more confrontational personalities.

So, if you keep your male and female canaries in a shared cage, the male might become hostile toward the female to mark its territory and dominate the female.

Male canaries may become aggressive toward females during the breeding season if they feel rejected. This is why you should only keep opposite-sex canaries in a shared cage once you are certain that they’re both ready to mate.

Why Is My Male Canary Chasing My Female Canary?

The main cause of a male canary chasing a female is to get her to mate with him. Once male canaries are ready to mate, they’ll attempt to woo female canaries.

Females respond to this mating behavior by:

  • Mimicking the chirps of the male
  • Accepting the offered food
  • Assuming mating positions

According to Animal Behaviour, mate selection in female canaries is largely determined by the outcome of male-male singing interactions.

Canaries have been shown to prefer mates whose singing overlaps with their opponents’. Consequently, when a female canary that’s ready to breed settles on a male to mate with, she’ll respond positively to his courtship behavior and be more eager to mate with him.

However, when a female canary isn’t ready to mate or hasn’t become comfortable enough with the male, it might decline the male’s mating prompts. This often causes the latter to become aggressive.

So, if you notice your male canary is ready to mate, but the female isn’t, you should refrain from keeping them in a shared cage. Instead, put the canaries in two separate cages close enough to each other to interact.

Alternatively, you can partition the cage using a grill so that each bird has its own compartment. This allows the birds to get to know each other so that they are more amiable towards one another once they’re both in peak breeding condition.

Fighting between different-sex canaries isn’t always motivated by mating urges. Sometimes aggressive male canaries chase their female cage mates to stamp their authority over their space.

Therefore, if you observe that your male canary is constantly bullying the female, you should put them in separate cages and provide each with its own food, water, and toys.

Do Female Canaries Fight?

While male canaries are more aggressive and territorial, female canaries are also capable of aggression if they feel threatened or when competing for limited resources, such as food and space.

For this reason, it is best to give each of your canaries its own cage, along with its own feeding bowl and any other enrichment items it requires to be comfortable and happy.

The best way to stop your male and female canary from fighting is to keep them in separate cages until they’re ready for breeding.

However, if you only have a single cage, you can minimize fighting by installing a grill partitioning. This ensures that each bird has its own compartment with all its necessities.