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Why is my canary sitting on the bottom of the cage?

Canaries, as with most birds, dislike being on the ground. If your canary is not flying or hopping around its cage, there is a reason for it: the bird thinks it’s trying to avoid something.

Canaries rarely like to stay on the low ground because they are preyed upon by other animals if they’re found on the floor. Usually, a canary who is sitting on the bottom of its cage is either sick or frightened, but there are several other reasons why it may be lying low.

Read on to find out what is causing your canary to sit on the bottom of its cage.

11 Reasons Your Canary is Sitting on the Bottom of its Cage

#1 Sickness

Canaries don’t have great resistance to sickness. So, if your canary is sick with any bacterial or viral infection, then it is most likely staying low because it feels unwell. In this case, you need to see your vet as soon as possible. The illness will cause the bird to lie on its side and have puffed feathers.

#2 Old age

As birds age, they lose muscle mass which makes flying – let alone hopping up high – more challenging for them. This eventually leads them to the bottom of their cages, which are out of the way (this applies mainly to flighted, red-factor canaries).

#3 Spooked by other birds

If there are no predators around, then there’s usually nothing to be afraid of. However, suppose your canary is scared by another bird or an Emu running towards its cage (a common sight in the outskirts of Alice Springs). In that case, it may hide on the ground to avoid flying and further agitate its heart which causes it to stop working properly during times of stress.

This will cause the canary to lie down on its side with puffed feathers when stressed or frightened. Your canary would also refuse food during this time. If this persists for more than a day, you should contact a vet immediately. If a canary fails to eat for one day it can cause laryngotracheitis (LTr). This disease spreads like wildfire and is deadly to canaries.

#4 Escape

I know I said that birds don’t like being on the ground, and they don’t. But if they’re on the bottom of their cage trying to escape, then you should be worried. This needs to be fixed immediately because escaping from their cages isn’t safe for them – especially in cold weather conditions – plus it will only lead to death (either by predation or starvation).

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If this happens, you need to keep an eye out during the night with a flashlight, so you can find your canary before a predator does.

birds don't like being on the ground

#5 Laying Eggs

Canaries, like most birds, lay their eggs on the ground or in a low spot in their cages. If your canary is constantly sitting at the bottom of its cage, then it’s probably trying to lay eggs that need to be moved up immediately so that they don’t get broken by the bird’s weight resting on them.

You should also make sure that they have nesting material to prevent them from eating feathers to make a nest (which would cause a crop impaction).

#6 Eating feathers

This may seem bizarre, but some canaries eat their feathers – and sometimes even other birds’ feathers. They also eat their feathers if they’re being bullied as a form of coping with the stress.

This is commonly done by flightless canaries that are kept in cages, and it’s almost always seen in males because they’re usually more aggressive than females. If your canary is eating feathers, you should speak to a vet about how to help them stop.

Eating feathers can eventually lead to death if left unchecked (the crop will get filled with so much food and other stuff that it’ll impact and block the bird’s stomach from emptying).

#7 Nesting

If your canary has become broody, even though they shouldn’t be able to – or if they’re laying eggs, then one of two things may have happened.

Either they’re planning to turn their nesting box into a nest (in which case, you should immediately remove the eggs and nesting material before they do so), or they’ve fallen off their perch.

If this happens, it’s best to provide the bird with higher perches; if your canary is broody, you should contact a breeder because there’s likely an infertile egg in its system.

#8 Hunger

It may seem ridiculous, but if your canary is sitting on the bottom of its cage, then chances are that it’s trying to conserve energy since it hasn’t eaten anything yet.

Usually, birds sit high up – where they have plenty of light so that they keep themselves warm – so when yours is sitting on the bottom, it’s probably because it hasn’t gotten food. If it does this, then you should know that something may be wrong with your bird – whether it’s sick or if its perches are too low.

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#9 They’re Cold

If your bird is sitting on the bottom of its cage, then it’s probably because they’re cold, which means that you need to either provide more light or a heat source in their cage.

If you don’t, then your bird might get sick and not eat anything – and if it doesn’t eat anything for one day, then there’s a high chance that it will become laryngotracheitis (LTr) which will be fatal if left untreated for more than just 24 hours. If this occurs, you should contact a vet immediately since LTr can spread to other canaries.

#10 Bacterial infections

Canaries are very sensitive to viruses and diseases. If yours is sitting on the bottom of its cage, then it may have a bacterial infection that causes weakness and lethargy. If this occurs, you should take your bird to a vet as soon as possible since they’ll be able to give it medications that will help them get better.

#11 They’re Weak

weak canaries

If your canary is exhibiting symptoms such as being slow and lethargic, laying on their side because their balance is terrible, or puffing out their feathers – even though they shouldn’t be doing so – then there’s a good chance that they have become weakened. This is probably due to something going wrong with them internally.

Weakness often leads to death in captive birds such as canaries if it’s not treated properly. If any of these symptoms are present, then you should take your bird to a vet right away.


As you can see, there are several reasons why your canary may be sitting on the bottom of their cage – and every case is different.

If none of these apply to your situation, then it could simply mean that your bird wants to sleep or is feeling sleepy (in which case you should let them sleep without disturbing them), but in most cases, if this occurs when they shouldn’t be doing so – such as when they’re in a brightly lit room – then something isn’t right. If you’re worried about your bird, then it’s best to take them to a vet, where they’ll be diagnosed and treated accordingly.