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Crithagra flaviventris (Yellow canary) 

[= Serinus flaviventris

Geelkanarie [Afrikaans]; Nsense, Kandingo (generic terms for canaries) [Kwangali]; Tšoere (generic term for canaries and siskins) [South Sotho]; Geelbuiksijs, Geelbuikkanarie [Dutch]; Serin de Sainte-Hélène [French]; Gelbbauchgirlitz [German]; Canário-de-barriga-amarela [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 flaviventris (Yellow canary)  Crithagra flaviventris (Yellow canary) 
Yellow canary male, Veldrif, South Africa. [photo Trevor Hardaker ©] Yellow canary female, Heerenlogenment, South Africa. [photo Trevor Hardaker ©]
Crithagra flaviventris (Yellow canary)  Crithagra flaviventris (Yellow canary) 

Yellow canary male, Sani Pass, South Africa. [photo Trevor Hardaker ©]

Yellow canary female, West Coast National Park, South Africa. [photo Trevor Hardaker ©]

Distribution and habitat

Near-endemic to southern Africa, occurring from south-western Angola through Namibia and Botswana to much of South Africa, largely excluding the provinces in the east. It generally prefers open Karoo shrubland (especially along drainage lines), alpine shrubland, semi-arid savanna, arid fynbos, dune vegetation, strandveld, weedy road verges and gardens.

Distribution of Yellow canary 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.  

Predators and parasites

It has been recorded as prey of Falco peregrinus (Peregrine falcon) and its eggs are eaten by Dasypeltis scabra (Common eggeater).

Movements and migrations

Resident and nomadic, sometimes migrating out of its usual distribution in drought years.


It mainly eats seeds supplemented with nectar, flower, insects and small crustaceans, doing most of its foraging on the ground. The following food items have been recorded in its diet:

  • Plants
    • seeds
      • grasses
        • Brachiara glomerata (signal grass)
        • Eleusine coracana (goose grass)
      • forbs and shrubs
        • Arctotheca calendula (African calendula)
        • Atriplex lindleyi (Blasiebrak)
        • Bidens pilosa (Common blackjack)
        • Salsola kali (Russian tumbleweed)
        • Cannomois (Restionaceae)
        • Chenopodium (misbredies)
        • Cliffortia
        • Diascia
        • Dorotheanthus (carpet-weeds)
        • Dicerothamnus rhinocerotis (Renosterbos)
        • Erica
        • Eriocephalus (Karoo rosemaries)
        • Gazania
        • Gnidia
        • Melianthus (honey-flowers)
        • Osteospermum (daisies)
        • Rumex (docks)
        • Salvia
        • Senecio (groundsels)
        • Stoebe (zig-zag bushes)
        • Mesembryanthemaceae
    • fruits
      • Lycium (honey-thorns)
      • Aloe barberae (Eastern tree aloe)
  • Invertebrates
    • insects
      • termites
        • Trinervitermes (snouted harvester termites)
        • Hodotermes mossambicus (Northern harvester termite)
      • beetle larvae (Coleoptera)
      • fly larvae (Diptera)
      • ants
    • beach hoppers (Talorchestia)


  • Monogamous, territorial solitary nester, with nests spaced few and far between.
  • The nest is built solely by the female in about 3-4 days, consisting of a cup of dry plant stems, rootlets, soft weeds, tendrils, rootlets and strips of Lammerlat (Gomphocarpus filiformis) bark. The interior is lined with softer material, such as the fluffy seeds of Karoo rosemaries (Eriocephalus) or milkweeds (Asclepias), wool and sometimes a few feathers. It is typically placed in a shrub, such as Scholtzbos (Pteronia pallens) and Gombossie (Pteronia viscosa), honey-thorn (Lycium) or a small tree.
  • Egg-laying season is almost year-round in arid areas, peaking from July-October in the Western Cape and from August-April elsewhere.
  • It lays 2-5 eggs, which are incubated solely by the female for about 12-16 days.
  • The chicks are fed both parents, leaving the nest after about 16 days.


Not threatened.


  • 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.