Exercise is very important to every bird, but especially the hen, because the same muscles that are used for flying also help to push eggs from her body. If these muscles are weak from lack of exercise, she can become eggbound. Eggbinding is a dangerous situation and can be fatal if not treated immediately.
Flight cages are just what the name implies: a cage to allow for horizontal flight. The longer the cage the better. Most of our flight cages are three feet and four feet wide, twenty inches high, and eighteen inches deep. We build them ourselves. For instructions, click here.
We keep three females to one flight cage or approximately five or six young. When the young are getting on to a year old, we separate the males into individual flights. There is the occasional female that is particularly dominant and will chase the others to the point of wearing them out or plucking their feathers and causing bald areas. In that case, she will go into her own flight cage also.
You might want to use an aviary to give your hens the exercise they need. This is a good idea. Canaries can be compatible with many other species of birds, but care must be taken to observe closely for the first week or two after being introduced into a mixed aviary. I would definitely avoid putting both the male and female together in an aviary, even though much larger than a flight cage because the male can be very territorial and become aggressive towards the female. During the non-breeding season, the males can become aggressive enough in guarding their territory that they can and will kill any females as well as other males.
However you choose to keep your canaries, please be kind and give them all the room you can afford to give them, always keeping in mind that horizontal length is much more important that height for flying room.
About the author:
Christine hails from East Tennessee and and has many years experience breeding both Finches as well as Canaries.