Canary (Serinus canarius)


Class: Aves
Order: Passeriformes
Family:    Fringillidae
Size:    Length: 5 inches (12.7 cm)
Weight: Unknown
Diet: Plants and seeds
Distribution: Azores, Madeira, Cape Verde and Canary Islands
Young:  3 to 5 chicks, two to four times per year.
Animal Predators:  Unknown
IUCN Status: No special status
Terms: Young: Chick
Lifespan: Up to 15 years or more



·     Canaries were once taken into coalmines to test for poisonous gases.

·     Canaries were named after the islands, not the other way around, as many believe.

·     For a short time each year during moulting season, the male canary loses his ability to sing.



The Canary Islands gained their name from Mauritania’s King Juba II, who visited them and wrote of the many large dogs on the islands. He thought they were native to the islands and did not realize that they had been brought there from Spain. He called the islands the Canariae Insulae (“Islands of the Dogs”). Therefore, the little finches that are native to the island gained their names from these dogs. Wild canaries are not as brightly coloured as the ones who have been bred as pets. In the wild, they are grey-brown interspersed with a greenish yellow. 



Wild canaries are found only on the islands of Azores, Madeira, Cape Verde and the Canary Islands in the Atlantic Ocean. Similar birds can be found in other parts of the world, including the Saffron finch of South America, the American goldfinch of North America, and the European greenfinch of Europe.


Feeding Habits

Canaries eat plants and seeds and need to drink fresh water every day. They have a high metabolic rate and will not survive if they go longer than 24 hours without water. 



Males attract females by perching on branches and singing to them. When a male has successfully attracted a female, they fly off together. The male brings the nesting material, including moss, feathers and hair, back to the female, who constructs a cup-shaped nest in a small, bushy tree. When the eggs, which are blue-green with reddish brown markings, are laid, the female alone incubates them, while the male brings food back to the nest for her. The eggs hatch in 14 to 16 days, and both parents feed soft, half-ripe seeds to their chicks.



Both in the wild and in captivity, these birds are treasured for their sweet singing ability. Canaries usually live in flocks until they pair off during mating season.  



Canaries are not considered a conservation concern at this time. 



Canary Wildlife Fact File, IM Pub, US