The domestic canary, often simply known as the canary, is a domesticated form of the wild canary, a small songbird in the finch family originating from the Macaronesian Islands .
Canaries were first bred in captivity in the 17th century, having been brought to Europe by Spanish sailors. This bird became expensive and fashionable to breed in courts of Spanish and English kings. Monks started breeding them and only sold the males . This kept the ...
birds in short supply and drove the price up. Eventually, Italians obtained hens and were able to breed the birds. This made them very popular, resulting 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 voices.
From the 18th up to the 20th centuries, canaries and finches were used in the UK, Canada and the US in the coal mining industry to detect carbon monoxide. In the UK, this practice ceased in 1986.
Typically, the domestic canary is kept as a popular cage and aviary bird. Given proper housing and care, a canary's lifespan ranges from 10 to 15 years.