The Domestic Canary, often simply known as the canary, (Serinus canaria domestica) is a domesticated form of the wild Canary, a small songbird in the finch family originating from the Macaronesian Islands (Azores, Madeira and Canary Islands).
Canaries were first bred in captivity in 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. Monks started breeding them and only sold the males (which sing). This kept the birds in short supply and drove the price up. Eventually Italians obtained hens and were able to breed the birds themselves. This made them very popular and resulted in many breeds arising and the birds being bred all over Europe.
The same occurred in England. First the birds were only owned by the rich but eventually the local citizens started to breed them and, again, they became very popular. Many breeds arose through selective breeding, and they are still very popular today for their voice.
The birds are named after Spain's Canary Islands, that derive their name from the Latin Insula Canaria (after the largest island, Gran Canaria), meaning of "Island of Dogs," due to its "vast multitudes of dogs of very large size"
Canaries are generally divided into three main groups: Colorbred Canaries (bred for their many colour mutations - Ino, Eumo, Satinette, Bronze, Ivory, Onyx, Mosaic, Brown and Red Factor etc.), Type Canaries (bred for their shape and conformation - Border, Fife, Gloster, Gibber Italicus, Raza Española, Berner, Lancashire, Yorkshire, Mexicana, Australian Plainhead, etc.), and Song Canaries (bred for their unique and specific song patterns - Spanish Timbrado, German Roller (also known as "Harzer Roller"), Waterslager (also known as "Malinois"), American Singer, Russian Singer, Persian Singer).
While wild canaries are a yellowish-green colour, domestic canaries have been selectively bred for a wide variety of colours, such as yellow, orange, brown, black, white, and red. (The colour red was introduced to the domesticated canary through hybridisation with the red siskin, a type of South American finch.)
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