Spanish sailors were said to have first brought Canaries to Spain back in the 15th century. They soon proved to be very popular amongst the general public. When Spain conquered and claimed the Canary island in 1500, the trade boomed. The popularity of these birds was so big that by the 16th century they were already being bred on the Spanish mainland and the birds were being traded with Italy and Switzerland, with monasteries holding a monopoly on the canary business. As money-minded as any modern-day entrepreneur, the monks would only sell male birds. This was because male birds were the best singers, which is what the public wanted, but it also meant that there was no Canary breeding going on outside of monastery walls.
During the beginning of the 19th century Canaries were being kept by people in many European countries, . The Harz mountains of Germany became a famous canary breeding area. The speciality bird, the Harz Roller, or Harz Mountain Roller, was prized for its beautiful singing.To this day is is still a most popular bird among canary enthusiasts
The Harz birds – were so prized for their song, people were said to have saved for a whole year just to buy one bird. The pure “canary yellow” birds were the most expensive a single canary might cost several weeks of a working mans salary . Queen Elizabeth II (reigned 1570-1605), loved her canaries so that she employed a team of royal Canary keepers to help her in the hobby.
During this time canaries were promote, bought and sold by “canary peddlers” who attended fairs and markets taking up residence in towns, advertising their presence in the local press and waiting for the customers to come to them. It was said you could hear the singing of these beautiful birds from a great distance.
Due to three key factors there are tens of millions of pet Canaries kept all over the world today and enjoyed by people from every walk of life. These are: a very diverse gene pool which allows for innumerable colors and shape varieties , their ease of breeding and of course the canaries incredible singing voice.