Many breeders make the mistake of thinking that breeding is very easy. They think "you just need a male and female canary, put them both in the same cage with a nest and let nature do the rest." Breeding good singers is not a matter of luck. The most important for successful mating is the genetic material.
Inheritance is the main factor for canary breeders, who strive to get canaries with pleasant song. Canaries inherit health, exterior and color, but also good hearing, good memory, and ability to pick up complicated song tours without any negative tours. If you consider inheritance, you will get a good result from breeding.
It's easy to judge a male for mating. Your senses will help you to choose a male canary. Good exterior and color can be proven by sight. A good voice and tembre are proven by hearing.
The trouble lies with our ignorance of the female's genealogy. The most important role in breeding belongs to female. Good female canaries a harder to spot. Female birds must be choosing carefully because their babies will inherit maternal skills and, what is most important, singing skills. So don't be suprised, singing skills are inherited from females. That's why females with unknown, questionable or impure strain should not be paired up.
So, the basis of success lies in a thorough knowledge of the birds we are breeding. Those who take breeding canaries seriously should keep a record of their canaries.
Preparing birds for breeding
I start to prepare my stock for breeding in mid of December (just after competitions in my native country), and pair up once the birds are in the best health and breeding condition. That time additional foods are required to bring the birds into breeding condition (see Canary Care). You also need to increase the length of daylight up to 14 - 16 hours.
Male canaries must have a firm bodies and singing. Male canaries, which sing with a partial voice or rarely sing at all, are not ready for mating.
It's easy to check if female canaries are ready for mating. Their behavior is similar to that of males. They will often pace in the cage and make shrill calls. If you throw any building material (string, small pieces of cheesecloth, etc.) into the cage, she will grab the material with her beak and try to build the nest. If the female is not trying to build a nest, she will not mate. There is one more method to distinquish if a female is ready for mating. Her abdomen should be featherless.
If you have chosen the pair (which should not be of the related stock), put them in a breeding cage, provide the nest together with some nesting material. Sometimes the male and female will fight and have to be separated into two cages. Once mating has been observed, the male can be removed from the cage. After that you should put the pair together for 15 - 20 min. twice a day until the female has laid the second egg. There is no reason to leave the male and female together for a long period of time. Being alone saves the male's song.
Five - seven days after the nest is completed the female canary will lay from two to six eggs. If the female started to lay eggs earlier, it's possible that some of them would be infertile. The average clutch consists of 4 eggs. Female canaries start to incubate normally when the fourth egg is laid, but some of them start to incubate right after laying the first egg. That is why I always remove eggs as they are laid and replace them with fake or infertile canary egg (one egg is enough). I store the real eggs in sand at about 65o Fahrenheit, and return them to the nest when four eggs are collected. The idea of this procedure is for all the eggs to hatch on the same day.
After two weeks of incubation the eggs will hatch. When the eggs would hatch the female will start to feed the babies. Fresh crushed hard-boiled egg should be present at all times to feed the babies. In one week you can add carrots, apples and greens.
Two weeks after hatching, the babies would have a coat of feathers.After a period of about 17-20 days, they will start to leave the nest. In a couple of days they will learn to feed themselves. When you see the babies feeding themselves, they can be moved into a separate cage to allow the parent birds to have another nest. For a quick second clutch put a second nest and material into a breeding cage when babies are 15 - 17 days old. The female will spin a second nest and be ready to go again by about 21 - 23 days. Provide babies with the same egg food that their parents fed them. Do not give them the normal seed mix until they are at least 6 weeks old.
Try to limit females to raise more then three nests in each breeding season to keep them in good health.