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Crested canaries are one of the earliest varieties developed. During its earliest days in the 1800s, it was known as the turncoat. Its scientific name is Serinus canaria, a separate species from the common and closely related yellow canary.
The bird was bred for its desirable crest without much regard for color or song. The crest that it is named for appears as a tuft or rosette of feathers that stick up at the top of the bird’s head. There are similar varieties of canary that have the same crest, but different physical attributes. They include the norwich, stafford, lancashire and gloster canaries.
Physically, the bird is both broad and stout. Its body is deep and wide, and its neck is short. It has a much denser appearance than other varieties of canaries, due to its thicker and more abundant feathers. Because the crest gene is lethal dominant, there are two versions of the crested canary. The dominant version is the crested, while the recessive version is the crest bred. Cresteds must only be bred to crest breds and never to another crested, as two copies of the gene will kill a developing embryo.
Crested canaries are active birds that prefer large amounts of room, and they do best in a spacious cage with lots of horizontal space for flying and moving about. The cage should have vertical bars instead of horizontal to encourage climbing and foot exercise. There should be many small perches with varied sizes placed throughout the cage, and a single perch high in the cage to act as a roost for the canary to sleep on. Canaries prefer a high cage that gives them a view and allows them to look down upon their surroundings. Their diet should consist of a pellet mix specifically formulated to meet the dietary needs of canaries. Fresh vegetables and fruits should be chopped finely and offered on a daily basis. Canaries also appreciate a cuttlebone, which will act as a source of calcium and also provide them with a way to groom their beak. A bird bath with some bathing powder will be appreciated by most birds, and maintenance outside the cage should not be more difficult than the occasional nail cutting.