Protea canary

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Protea canary
Illustration by William Matthew Hart, 1888
Scientific classification edit
Kingdom: Animalia
Phylum: Chordata
Class: Aves
Order: Passeriformes
Family: Fringillidae
Subfamily: Carduelinae
Genus: Crithagra
Species: C. leucoptera
Binomial name
Crithagra leucoptera
Sharpe, 1871

Serinus leucopterus

The protea canary (Crithagra leucoptera), also known as the protea seedeater, white-winged seedeater or Layard’s seedeater, is a small passerine bird in the finch family.


The protea canary was formerly placed in the genus Serinus but phylogenetic analysis of mitochondrial and nuclear DNA sequences found that the genus was polyphyletic.[2] The genus was therefore split and a number of species including the protea canary were moved to the resurrected genus Crithagra.[3][4]


The protea canary is 15–16 cm in length with a large pale bill. The adult has grey-brown upperparts, a black chin, white throat and two thin buff wing bars. The underparts are buff with light streaking. The sexes are similar, but young birds are more heavily streaked below than the adults.

The call of the protea canary is a trilled tree-lee-loo or a sweet. The song is a loud medley of warbles and trills, with much mimicry.

Distribution and habitat[edit]

It is an endemic resident breeder in the Western Cape Province, South Africa. This species is found in mature protea scrub, tangled valley thickets and forests in the mountains of the Western Cape Province. Its range does not reach the coast.


The protea canary builds an open cup nest from thin stems and other plant material and lined with plant down. It is placed in a dense bush.

The protea canary is less gregarious than other canaries. It tends to be found singly or in pairs, or occasionally in small groups. It is a shy and retiring bird which stays in thick vegetation. When it flies, it soon dives back into cover. It feeds on seeds, (particularly those of proteas, Othonna amplericaules and Rhus anarcardia) and some fruit, nectar and shoots. Insects are occasionally eaten.


  1. ^ BirdLife International (2012). "Crithagra leucoptera". IUCN Red List of Threatened Species. Version 2013.2. International Union for Conservation of Nature. Retrieved 26 November 2013.
  2. ^ Zuccon, Dario; Prŷs-Jones, Robert; Rasmussen, Pamela C.; Ericson, Per G.P. (2012). "The phylogenetic relationships and generic limits of finches (Fringillidae)" (PDF). Molecular Phylogenetics and Evolution. 62 (2): 581–596. doi:10.1016/j.ympev.2011.10.002. PMID 22023825.
  3. ^ Gill, Frank; Donsker, David (eds.). "Finches, euphonias". World Bird List Version 5.2. International Ornithologists' Union. Retrieved 5 June 2015.
  4. ^ Swainson, William (1827). "On several forms in ornithology not hitherto defined". Zoological Journal. 3: 348.
  • 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 by ISBN 0-7136-8017-2

External links[edit]