Black-headed canary

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Black-headed canary
Serinus alario -near Rooifontein, Northern Cape, South Africa -male-8.jpg
Male in Northern Cape, South Africa
Crithagra alario -Namaqua National Park, Northern Cape, South Africa -female-6.jpg
Female in Namaqua National Park, South Africa
Scientific classification edit
Kingdom: Animalia
Phylum: Chordata
Class: Aves
Order: Passeriformes
Family: Fringillidae
Subfamily: Carduelinae
Genus: Serinus
Species: S. alario
Binomial name
Serinus alario
Black-Headed Canary Range.png
Global range     Year-Round Range     Summer Range     Winter Range
  • Emberiza alario Linnaeus, 1758
  • Fringilla alario Linnaeus, 1766
  • Crithagra alario (Linnaeus, 1758)

The black-headed canary (Serinus alario) is a species of finch found in Lesotho, Namibia and South Africa. It is sometimes placed in genus Alario as Alario alario

Its habitat is dry open scrub and grassland, edges of cultivation and suburban gardens.


The black-headed canary is 12–15 cm in length. The adult male has rich brown upperparts and tail, a white hind collar, and mainly white underparts. The head and central breast are solidly black.

The adult female is similar, but has a dull grey head, and is dark-streaked on the head and upperparts. It has a rich brown wing bar. The juvenile resembles the female, but is paler, has streaking on the breast, and a weaker wing bar.

Male Damara canary

The Damara canary, Serinus leucolaema, is often considered to be a subspecies of black-headed canary. The male of that form has a strikingly different head pattern, with a white supercilium, and a white throat and fore neck with a black moustachial stripe. The black of the central breast is therefore separate from the black of the head.


This species is phylogenetically included within the group of Serinus syriacus now thriving around the Mt Lebanon and other Asian and African patches in winter, together with Serinus canicollis (African distribution) and Serinus pusillus (Asian distribution) Arnaiz-Villena et al., 1999


The Damara canary is a common and gregarious seedeater, forming flocks of up to 200 birds. Its call is a low tseett, and the male's song is jumble of unmusical notes.


  1. ^ BirdLife International (2012). "Serinus alario". IUCN Red List of Threatened Species. Version 2013.2. International Union for Conservation of Nature. Retrieved 26 November 2013.
  • Ian Sinclair, Phil Hockey and Warwick Tarboton, SASOL Birds of Southern Africa (Struik 2002) ISBN 1-86872-721-1
  • Clement, Harris and Davis, Finches and Sparrows ISBN 0-7136-8017-2

External links[edit]