A canary was a type of Earth bird native to the Canary Islands.

According to Jonathan Archer, "miners used to take canaries into the tunnels with them. If the canary didn't die, the miners knew the air would be safe to breathe, and they could proceed." This analogy was made in reference to a Sphere-Builder who was discovered in a transport pod as part of an experiment designed to monitor his exposure to normal space. (ENT: "Harbinger")

Thadiun Okona once joked, "Life is like loading twice your cargo weight onto your spacecraft. If it's canaries and you keep half of them flying all the time, you're alright." (TNG: "The Outrageous Okona")

Upon describing how Jahn was to steal a bunch of communicators from a USS Enterprise landing party, the final draft script of the Star Trek: The Original Series episode "Miri" characterized him as having a "a cat-eating-the-canary look on his face" once he managed to seize the devices.
"Yranac", the name of a character in TNG: "Gambit, Part I", is "canary" spelt backwards.

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