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Sunday, 1 December 2013


Canaries are found wild in the Canary Islands and Madeira.

The wild canary builds its nest of moss, feathers, and hair in thick high shrubs or trees, and produces two to four broods in a season.

A popular Roman hangover cure was deep-fried canary.

Canaries have been bred as cage birds in Europe since the 17th century. They were brought over by Spanish sailors to Europe. This bird became expensive and fashionable to breeding in courts of Spanish and English kings.

In its wild state the plumage is green, sometimes streaked with brown but many domestic varieties are yellow or orange as a result of artificial selection.

Some canaries were used in mines as detectors of traces of poison gas in the air.

Canaries have been depicted in cartoons from the middle 20th century as being harassed by domestic cats; the most famous cartoon canary is Warner Brothers' "Tweety Bird".

The temperature at Ulysses S. Grant's second inauguration was just 16 degrees. About 100 canaries that were brought in to enliven the festivities with song instead froze to death.

The American President, Calvin Coolidge had a cat called Timmy who would allowed his pet canary to sleep between his paws.

Dorothy Parker had a pet canary, which she called Onan because he spilled his seed on the ground.

The British Government announced on December 30, 1986 that they were phasing out the use of canaries in coal mines. The birds are very sensitive to toxic gases and had been used to warn miners of danger.

The canaries sent down into mines to detect gas weren't sacrificed but placed in a device to revive them when they succumbed to the dangerous gases.

The English football team, Norwich City,  is nicknamed 'The Canaries' due to the city once being a famous centre for breeding and export of the birds. The club adopted the colours of yellow and green in homage.

Sources Daily Mail,  Hutchinson Encyclopedia © RM 2013. Helicon Publishing is division of RM, Wikipedia

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