Saturday, January 18, 2014

Creature Feature #92: Canary

The wild, or Atlantic Canary is a small songbird who makes his home in the Canary Islands of Spain. The name "Canary" is derived not from the bird to the island, but from the island to the bird. Canaries were first brought to mainland Europe in the 17th century, by Spanish sailors. They became popular in court, and were bred by monks who sold the males. Only the male sings. There are now various colour mutations and breeds, with bright yellow being the most popular. In his wild state, he is rather more dowdy, but still has the beautiful song. He is a gregarious fellow and feeds in flocks, although during breeding season he and his mate will define and defend a small territory. Canaries need gravity to swallow, and in outer space they will dehydrate and die. The poor canary has also been submitted to testing for gases in mines - being small and relatively vulnerable, he will die very quickly when exposed to carbon dioxide, monoxide or methane and thus alert the miner's to the presence of the toxins before they too submit.

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