Canary (Serinus canaria)


[order] PASSERIFORMES | [family] Fringillidae | [latin] Serinus canaria | [UK] Canary | [FR] Serin canari | [DE] Kanarengirlitz | [ES] Canario | [NL] Kanarie


Genus Species subspecies Breeding Range Breeding Range 2 Non Breeding Range

Physical charateristics

About 10% larger than Serin, with noticeably less stubby bill, proportionately shorter wings, and more attenuated rear body and tail. Small (not tiny), rather long-tailed finch; ancestor of larger domestic canary but resembling only its ?mule? variant, being far from wholly yellow and looking less green, more grey than Serin. Wing markings brightest of west Palearctic Serinus.

wingspan min.: 20 cm wingspan max.: 23 cm
size min.: 12 cm size max.: 13 cm
incubation min.: 13 days incubation max.: 14 days
fledging min.: 15 days fledging max.: 14 days
broods: 1   eggs min.: 3  
      eggs max.: 4  


Africa : Canary Islands, Azores, Madeira


Resident on several west Palearctic Atlantic islands, at all altitudes from sea-level to 760 m or more in Madeira, to c. 1100 m in Azores, and even above 1500 m in Canary Islands. Sometimes in stands of pines, Eucalyptus, or in laurel forest and thickets of tamarisk, but more usually in open countryside with small trees, gardens, vineyards, orchards, and even on sand-dunes. Attracted, especially at nesting time, to banana trees bearing green clusters, camellias, and orange trees, and to shrubs such as heath and broom, as well as to cultivation of tomatoes and other crops, and to hedges. Vigorously aerial, especially in display, perching on highest treetops. Contrasts with other Fringillidae inhabiting the same islands in being highly adaptable and able to succeed over almost the entire range of available habitats.


Canary Islands: eggs laid January to July. Madeira: March-June, mostly mid-April to end of May. Azores: eggs laid end of March to July, peak May-June. 2-3 broods.
Nest is built in tree or bush in woodland or hedge, commonly evergreen or species coming into leaf early; usually well hidden on fork or at end of branch, or in top of small tree. Nest consists small, compact, often deep cup; foundation of twigs, stalks, rootlets, grass, moss, or lichen, lined with much plant down, also hair, feathers, or soft leaves.
Clutch: 3-4(-5). Incubation period 13-14 days and fledging after 15-17 days (14-21).

Feeding habits

Seeds and other plant material, occasionally small insects. Forages mainly on ground.


Although this species may have a small range, it is not believed to approach the thresholds for Vulnerable under the range size criterion (Extent of Occurrence <20,000 km2 combined with a declining or fluctuating range size, habitat extent/quality, or population size and a small number of locations or severe fragmentation). The population trend appears to be stable, and hence the species does not approach the thresholds for Vulnerable under the population trend criterion (>30% decline over ten years or three generations). The population size is very large, and hence does not approach the thresholds for Vulnerable under the population size criterion (<10,000 mature individuals with a continuing decline estimated to be >10% in ten years or three generations, or with a specified population structure). For these reasons the species is evaluated as Least Concern.
Serinus canaria is endemic to Europe, where it is confined to the Canary Islands,
Madeira and the Azores. Its population is relatively small (<100,000 pairs), but was apparently stable between 1970-1990. Trends were not available for any of the species's populations during 1990-2000, but there was no evidence to suggest that its status deteriorated.
Canary status Least Concern


Resident, with local movements. Tends to wander in flocks outside breeding season. Extent of inter-island movement apparently varies. In Canaries, not recorded from eastern islands. In Madeiran group, part of population leaves main island of Madeira in autumn; apparently rare in summer but common in winter on Porto Santo; birds arrive occasionally last week of August, but chiefly September-October, departing February-March. Inter-island movements also reported from Azores.

Distribution map

Canary distribution range map

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