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Ask Dr. Michael Salkin Your Own Question
Dr. Michael Salkin
Dr. Michael Salkin, Veterinarian
Category: Bird Veterinary
Satisfied Customers: 28513
Experience:  University of California at Davis graduate veterinarian with 45 years of experience
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My male Canary is sitting in his feed cup like it's a nest

Customer Question

My male Canary is sitting in his feed cup like it's a nest and he's been like that for two days. What should I do? He doesn't eat as much, is barely chirping, he's very quiet, this is not natural.
Submitted: 2 years ago.
Category: Bird Veterinary
Expert:  Dr. Michael Salkin replied 2 years ago.
I'm sorry that your question wasn't answered in a timely manner. This may seem like a silly question but are you certain that Larry is a male? The behavior you've described is typical brooding behavior - that which precedes egg laying. If Larry truly is a male, he's likely to be quite ill because these birds don't act ill until they're quite ill. This is a protective mechanism because ill-appearing birds are attacked by other birds in the wild. The behavior doesn't identify the type of illness, however. Are you seeing any signs of illness such as sneezing, nasal discharge, an increased respiratory rate, regurgitation/vomiting, etc? We're necessarily constrained by how much testing we can do for such a little bird but an avian-oriented vet (please see here: can be quite helpful in determining the best manner in which to address an ill canary. In most cases a broad spectrum antibiotic will be prescribed with which you would dose Larry directly into his beak twice daily. Until he can be attended to, please heat up his cage to 80F by means of a 100W bulb shined into his partially covered cage (not at night when he needs to sleep) or by taping a heating pad set on its lowest setting to the outside of his cage. Remove his perches and place his food and water along with him at the bottom of the cage. Add a water soluble vitamin such as Oasis brand to his water at half of the recommended dose so as not to make his water distasteful. Add a calcium supplement such as Calciboost or Calcivet which is available in pet/feed stores. Offer hard-boiled egg yolk, dairy products, and the tops of fresh greens. Too many ill pet birds are nutrionally imbalanced - particularly birds on primary seed diets. Please respond with further questions or concerns if you wish.