House is for the birds

February 19, 2016

It is easy to believe that someone who loves animals has a good heart. If the animals are outside the realm of the relatively easy for which to take care, then I think that person is even more attached to the animal(s) she or he has chosen as a companion. The thought also crosses my mind that the person mught a little quirky, in a good way. But then some people think I am quirky for loving to care for dogs and cats. So there you go.

When I did psychic readings at Dare to Dream, a metaphysical shop on Harvey Ave. behind Arby’s, Linda, the owner had two canaries in the store. There is something very uplifting, including in a spiritual way, to enter a shop and here the emphatic heart-felt songs of birds.

They were in a cage, of course, so some shoppers were opposed to this. Linda said that the joy most people derived from the warbling throats of these little yellow creatures enormously outweighed those of the minority who frowned on the canaries’ confinement.

The following is an article about a passionate bird-lover:

Gravelbourg Gazette

Wedsnesday, January 26, 1983

House is for the birds

by Tanya Lester

If you happen to be near John Fink’s house in Lafleche and hear a lot of chirping noises, don’t worry about your ears playing tricks on you.

What you are hearing are the songs of some 15 pairs of canaries.

Mr. Fink started raising canaries two years ago. “I always liked birds and two years ago, at Christmas, my kids bought me one so I thought if I had one I may as well have more,” he said. “To me it is very satisfying. I have something to get up for, and it could develop into a profitable business.”

Mr. Fink, who is retired after working 45 years as a teacher, can also “get up” to the songs of the canaries. He has an intercom in his house which is connected to the room off his garage that houses the canaries in cages. Listening to the intercom can alert him to any problems the canaries might be experiencing as his ear is tuned to calls for help if a baby bird, for example, falls out of the nest. Mr. Fink said the males are the singers.

But Mr. Fink spends much of his time actually out in the canary shed tending to his birds. They are fed carrot tops, apples and dandelions or a cake baked with carrots and eggs. Small pieces of white gravel help the birds digest their food.

Mr. Fink finds the breeding of the birds to be fascinating work.

They are bred to develop better colours, song, posture, and virility. The canaries make their nests out of a type of cotton baton which Mr. Fink puts in their cages. Each canary will lay from two to six eggs that hatch in 13 to 14 days.

When one egg is late, Mr. Fink will remove it and replace it with a “dummy egg” made of plastic until the female bird is finished laying all of her eggs. When she is done laying all the eggs are put back into the nest. Then, the bird will sit on all of the eggs for the same length of time so they will hatch together.

Mr. Fink said this is done so all of the young birds will be the same size for feeding. If one of the young canaries is bigger than the other babies that one will tend to eat the majority of the food which the mother supplies. The others will get weak from under nourishment.

The female canary feeds the babies but if this is not possible then the male adult will take on the responsibility.

Canaries were originally imported from the country that is their namesake — the Canary Islands off the west coast of Africa. The birds became popular in Europe and were sold by peddlers travelling from town to town.

A wild canary is an olive green colour with greyish brown stripes. But in captivity, they are cross-bred to produce yellow, green grey, white, frosted, red orange and marble effects.

Mr. Fink houses his canaries in fairly large cages which include two perches each, and a water and food tray. They are clean birds and like to bath occasionally. Next summer he plans to build on to the housing area so the canaries will be able to go out into a sunlit area. As well, he is starting to breed budgies.

Often when Mr. Fink is travelling, he will stop at the local pet shop in a town and buy new canaries to help develop new colour combinations when bred with the birds he already owns. As a result, his birds are often more brightly coloured but yet lower priced then those found in pet shops. He has learned to raise the birds by reading books and through his own experiences with them.

Mr. Fink had always had a knack for raising birds. When he taught school at Bateman, he converted the old school barn into a chicken coop and raised 300 to 400 chickens a year. “I liked to raise chickens and the closest I can come to chickens in town is (raising) canaries.” Mr. Fink said.

Mr. Fink prefers raising birds over any other type of hobby. “There’s life there,” he said. “If I had some other hobby, there wouldn’t be any life to it.”


You can read more posts from Tanya’s blog at and

Tanya does psychic readings — tea leaf reading and tarot as well as psychic channeling, mediumship and Russian gypsy card readings–, housesits and writes. She is also a reiki master. To access her services, contact her directly at or call 250-538-0086 or go to her web: or pages at Facebook, LinkedIn, Google or Twitter.

Tanya’s book are Confessions of a Tea Leaf Reader (which can be purchased from the author or at, Friends I Never Knew, Dreams and Tricksters, and Women Rights/Writes. These book are available in some library systems and the last three are in the Legislative Library of Manitoba.



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