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Crithagra sulphuratus (Brimstone canary, Bully canary) 

[= Serinus sulphuratus

Dikbekkanarie [Afrikaans]; Indweza (also applied to Streaky-headed seedeater), Indweza Eluhlaza [Xhosa]; Zwavelkanarie [Dutch]; Serin soufré [French]; Schwefelgirlitz [German]; Canário-girassol [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 sulphuratus (Brimstone canary, Bully canary)

Crithagra sulphuratus (Brimstone canary, Bully canary) 

Brimstone canary, Duiwekloof, Baviaanskloof Nature Reserve, South Africa. [photo H. Robertson, Iziko ©] Brimstone canary, Greyton, South Africa. [photo Trevor Hardaker ©]
Crithagra sulphuratus (Brimstone canary, Bully canary)

Brimstone canaries, Duiwekloof, Baviaanskloof Nature Reserve, South Africa. [photo Duncan Robertson ©]

Distribution and habitat

Occurs in patches from Uganda through southern and eastern DRC, Tanzania, Angola and Zambia to southern Africa. Here it is fairly common in Zimbabwe, Mozambique, Swaziland and eastern and southern South Africa, from Limpopo Province south to KwaZulu-Natal and west to the Western Cape. It generally prefers thickets, edges and clearings in coastal forest, montane shrubland, old croplands, gardens and edges of alien tree plantations.

Distribution of Brimstone 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 biarmicus (Lanner falcon).

Movements and migrations

Resident and sedentary, although it may make local movements in Winter.


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

  • Plants
    • seeds
      • Acacia
      • Pinus (pine)
      • Clutia pulchella (Warty-fruited clutia)
      • Euphorbia triangularis (River euphorbia)
      • Tribulus terrestris (Devil's thorn)
      • Emex australis (Dubbeltjie)
      • Chenopodium (misbredie)
      • Ehretia rigida (Puzzle-bush)
      • Eriocephalus (Karoo rosemaries)
      • Euryops
      • Othonna
      • Ursinia (Asteraceae)
      • Protea
      • Stellaria (chickweeds)
      • Raphanus (wild mustard)
      • Pelargonium
      • Psoralea (fountain-bushes)
    • fruit
      • Cassytha (false dodder)
      • Scutia myrtina (Cat-thorn)
      • Chrysanthemoides monolifera (Bushtick-berry)
      • Cotoneaster
      • Diospyros (jackal-berries)
      • Ehretia (stamperwood)
      • Ficus burtt-davyi (Scrambling fig)
      • Lantana camara (Cherry-pie)
      • Ligistrum (privet)
      • Lycium (honey-thorns)
      • Olea (olives)
    • nectar
      • Aloe marlothii (Mountain aloe)
      • Erythrina latissima (Broad-leaved coral-tree)
    • leaves
      • Arctotheca calendula (Cape marigold)
      • Senecio pleisthocephus (groundsel)
  • Insects


  • Monogamous, territorial usually solitary nester, although it may breed in loose colonies of up to 6 nest spaced 5-20 metres apart.
  • The nest is built solely by the female, consisting of a cup of grass, fine twigs, weed stems, tendrils from everlastings (Helichrysum), leaf petioles, roots and hair and lined with plant down, wool, seed appuses and other soft material. It is typically placed in the fork of a bush or tree with sparse foliage, such as tall Euphorbia and alien pine trees (Pinus), anywhere from about 1-6 metres above ground.
  • Egg-laying season is from July-March, peaking from August-October.
  • It lays 2-4 eggs, which are incubated solely by the female for about 12.5-17 days, while the male regularly feeds her at the nest.
  • For the first four days the chicks are fed by the female with food provisioned by the male, after which both sexes feed them. The young eventually leave the nest at about 14-21 days old, remaining dependent on the adults for food for some time afterwards.


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.