Help - canary babies get legs bitten off!


New member
May 13, 2022
Hi everyone.

I am new in this forum and I am Danish so I apologize if I have posted this in a wrong place and for any spelling mistakes etc.

My farther has a big bird cage outside with many canaries and three cockatiels. My dad has had birds for 20 years and every year the canary birds get offspring which usually is a very nice and sweet happening. My dad also sell birds regularly so there are not too many birds in the aviary.

Last summer something very unpleasant began; Every time a new canary baby-bird came out of its nest it somehow got one of its legs bitten off by an unknown bird-culprit (we think??) resulting in some of them very sadly dying. At first, we thought it could be the cockatiel who at the time was alone because his mate died - and so we thought he could be in distress and be the one biting the legs of. We tried to get two new female cockatiels and hoped the problem would stop.

This summer however, it is happening again. We have tried to separate the cockatiels completely but it still happens which means that it must be one of the other canaries doing it. The problem is that they all are the same color and look the same, so how will we ever know which bird is the culprit even if we put up a camera?

Now since the issue began in the summer of 2021 and never ever happened before this, I have suggested that we try to separate the canaries that were born in the summer of 2020 (my dad gives ring-bands in different colors to new birds every year to tell how old they are etc.) since my theory is that it might be one of these birds. It cannot be birds born in 2021 since the issue began in the spring of 2021 and since it has never happened before, it is most likely that is is a new bird haven been born in 2020 (and not an older bird, because why would it suddenly begin doing this??)

My dad will now try to gently nudge the birds born in 2020 into the indoors aviary that connect with the outdoor one and separate the birds completely, just to see if this will help. But since we are not bird experts and cannot find any info about this online, we really do not know how to find the bird who does this.

Some additional information: The amount of birds has not changed significantly over time so it is not because they have too little space - the aviary is very big and I think there are in total 15 or 20 birds.

Has anyone ever heard of this behavior before or know what we can do to figure out which bird does this? It is all the baby-birds, no matter which nest they come from, that this happens to, so I do not think it is any of the other parents who does it to for example enhance the chances of their own offspring.

We are very saddened by this :-(

Thank you in advance for any answers and for your help.

Kind regards,
Annika :)
Last edited:


Well-known member
Aug 2, 2018
Full house
I'm sorry to hear this.
I know rats and mice will bite off Avery bird legs and feet . So if that a possibility you will have to see how you can rodent proof. A second cage fencing about 6 inches out from the first should help. So they are basically double caged.

Or in a crowed cage, ( whether on not you think it is) parents or other birds will. Possibility set up a camera to see what going on during the day and the night


Staff member
Super Moderator
Nov 6, 2013
Spruce Grove, Alberta, Canada
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Are your canaries banded? If so, you can tell them apart that way. If not, I'm wondering how you know who is breeding with who. If any babies are kept and allowed to breed, there could be inbreeding which can manifest in a lot of different ways.


New member
May 13, 2022
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Thank you both for your answers. I think you are right in that it might be because there are too many birds whether we 'think' so or not, so in the fall my dad will try to sell some to get the numbers further down - hopefully it will then help. :) It might be that we have too many males or something like that.

The birds are banded, so I do not think it is inbreeding but it is a good theory! And we have never seen mice or rats and we also have a cat outside + the birds like to sit high and it happens during the daytime, so it is probably one or some of the other birds, sadly. :-(

But thank you again for your replies! :)


Well-known member
Apr 12, 2022
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I wouldn't be surprised if the cockatiels had something to do with this. You really should not be co-caging them.

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