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Crithagra leucopterus (Protea seedeater, Protea canary) 

[= Serinus leucopterus

Witvlerkkanarie [Afrikaans]; Witbandkanarie [Dutch]; Serin bifascié [French]; Proteagirlitz [German]; Canário-d'asa-branca [Portuguese]

Life > Eukaryotes > Opisthokonta > Metazoa (animals) > Bilateria > Deuterostomia > Chordata > Craniata > Vertebrata (vertebrates)  > Gnathostomata (jawed vertebrates) > Teleostomi (teleost fish) > Osteichthyes (bony fish) > Class: Sarcopterygii (lobe-finned fish) > Stegocephalia (terrestrial vertebrates) > Tetrapoda (four-legged vertebrates) > Reptiliomorpha > Amniota > Reptilia (reptiles) > Romeriida > Diapsida > Archosauromorpha > Archosauria > Dinosauria (dinosaurs) > Saurischia > Theropoda (bipedal predatory dinosaurs) > Coelurosauria > Maniraptora > Aves (birds) > Order: Passeriformes > Family: Fringillidae

Crithagra leucopterus (Protea seedeater, Protea canary)   

Protea seedeater, Citrusdal, South Africa. [photo Trevor Hardaker ©]


Distribution and habitat

Endemic to the Western Cape and the western Eastern Cape of South Africa, generally favouring mountain fynbos, edges of forest patches, shrubs along rivers in fynbos and the border between Karoo and renosterveld with scattered Waboom (Protea nitida) trees.

Distribution of Protea seedeater in southern Africa, based on statistical smoothing of the records from first SA Bird Atlas Project (© Animal Demography unit, University of Cape Town; smoothing by Birgit Erni and Francesca Little). Colours range from dark blue (most common) through to yellow (least common). See here for the latest distribution from the SABAP2.  

Movements and migrations

Generally resident and sedentary, although it makes local movements in response to fire and the flowering and fruiting patterns of fynbos plants.


It mainly eats the seeds of fynbos plants, doing most of its foraging on the ground in the foliage of shrubs and trees. The following food items have been recorded in its diet:

  • Plants
    • seeds
      • Protea
        • P. neriifolia (Narrow-leaved protea)
        • P. nitida (Waboom)
        • P. repens (Suikerbos)
      • Restio
      • Senecio
      • Cliffortia
      • Diosma
      • Elegia (golden curls)
      • Erica
      • Eriocephalus (Karoo rosemaries)
      • Maytenus (silky-barks)
      • Othonna
      • Rhus (currants)
      • Cliffortia cuneata
    • foliage and flowers
      • Aspalathus
      • Chenopodium
      • Cullumia
      • Euryops
      • Gymnodiscus
      • Protea
      • Ursinia pinnata (Magriet)
      • Zygophyllum
    • flowers
      • Halleria elliptica (Rock tree-fuchsia)
      • Erica plukenetti (Hangertjie)
    • buds and flowers of Cliffortia ruscifolia (Climber's friend)
    • fruit
      • Kiggelaria africana (Wild-peach)
      • Olea europea (African olive)
      • Asparagus
      • Diospyros
      • Maytenus
      • Oftia
      • Pollichia
      • Rhus
    • nectar
      • Erica
      • Halleria
      • Salvia
      • Protea, such as P. repens (Suikerbos)


  • Monogamous solitary nester, with males calling from favoured perches in its territory.
  • The nest is a cup of everlasting (Helichrysum crispum) stems and leaves, sparsely lined with Narrow-leaved protea (Protea neriifolia) down. It is typically placed in a forked branch inside a Protea bush, or occasionally in a Cluster pine (Pinus pinaster).
  • Egg-laying season is from August-October.
  • It lays 2-4 eggs, which are probably incubated solely by the female for roughly 17 days.
  • The chicks are fed by both parents, leaving the nest after about 14 days.


Not threatened, as the conservation status of mountain fynbos is good, so it is well represented in protected areas.


  • Hockey PAR, Dean WRJ and Ryan PG 2005. Roberts - Birds of southern Africa, VIIth ed. The Trustees of the John Voelcker Bird Book Fund, Cape Town.