The fast growers of the animal kingdom; canaries

Serinus canaria

Last week, I’ve been able to finish another series for Development; the growth of a baby canary into a real bird. It’s hard to imagine, but at only three weeks old, these little guys already look just like an adult bird and it’s hard to tell who are the parents and who are the chicks. It’s really remarkable how fast they grow. To make sure I could capture every phase of their development, I had to adjust my schedule and plan a photo session every three days.


Before I started, I visited the breeder to make plans. I could take a look inside their cage, where the female was on her nest and eggs and we determined where we would built the mobile studio for the photo shoots. It was still a bit edgy if and when we could start with the first session, because this was the female’s first nest and they don’t always get it right the first time. Fortunately, she was a natural born mother and a few days later, two baby canaries hatched.


Because baby canaries are tiny and very fragile after hatching, it was a bit tense whether everything would go well at first. To disturb them as little as possible, the breeder decided to take them out of the nest with two little spoons that were used as a sort of scoop. Before the actual photo shoot, we made sure that everything as ready and tested, in order for us to bother them as short as possible. After only a few minutes, I had all the shots I needed and they could return to their mum.

Rapid changes

With every photo session, I was surprised how much they had changed since I last saw them. There were only three days between the shoots, but it felt like weeks. What started out as a strange looking little thingy, got its first feathers within a few days and was a fully functioning wing only a few days later. The canary’s behavior changed very quickly as well. The first few times he just lay on the cloth, not really moving much, but as he got older he became more alert every time I saw him. To our surprise, he was very well behaved and didn’t try to walk or fly away. The breeder told me that there was a noticeable difference between this chick and the other ones he had raised before. Our ‘model’ seemed to be much more at ease around humans and came to greet him when he was feeding them or cleaning their cage. Even though we had no reason to expect his behavior would change, we were still prepared for the worst case scenario and always had a net at hand just in case. The only time he decided to explore the living room, was at the last photo session. He has now three weeks old and big enough to leave the nest. A new very big space, with lots of new things to discover turned out to be too much temptation and after a few minutes, he decided to go and explore. At first we were a bit worried, but fortunately it was pretty easy to catch him and in the end it was quite easy to get the shot I needed.

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