Atlantic Canary

Atlantic Canary

Wild canary, Island canary, Common canary, Canary

Serinus canaria
Population size
3-5 mln
8-24 g
10-12 cm
21-23.7 cm

The Atlantic canary, known worldwide simply as the wild canary is a small songbird found in Europe. The male has a largely yellow-green head and underparts with a yellower forehead, face, and supercilium (a stripe that runs above the bird's eye). The lower belly and under tail-coverts are whitish and there are some dark streaks on the sides. The upper parts are grey-green with dark streaks and the rump is dull yellow. The female is similar to the male but duller with a greyer head and breast and less yellow underparts. Juvenile birds are largely brown with dark streaks.


Atlantic canaries are native to the Canary Islands, Azores, and Madeira in the region known as Macaronesia in the eastern Atlantic Ocean. They don't migrate and can be found in a wide variety of habitats from pine and laurel forests to sand dunes. These birds are most common in semiopen areas with small trees such as orchards and copses and frequently occur in man-made habitats such as parks and gardens.



Climate zones

Habits and Lifestyle

Atlantic canaries are gregarious birds that are active during the day. They typically feed in flocks, foraging on the ground or amongst low vegetation. Their song is a silvery twittering similar to the songs of the European serin and Citril finch.

Seasonal behavior

Diet and Nutrition

Atlantic canaries are mainly herbivores (granivores) feeding on seeds such as those of weeds, grasses, and figs. They also eat other plant material and small insects.

Mating Habits

13-14 days
3-5 eggs

Atlantic canaries are monogamous and form pairs. They often nest in groups with each pair defending a small territory. These birds build a cup-shaped nest placing it 1-6 m above the ground in a tree or bush. It is well-hidden amongst leaves, often at the end of a branch or in a fork. It is made of twigs, grass, moss, and other plant material and lined with soft material including hair and feathers. The eggs are usually laid between January and July in the Canary Islands, from March to June with a peak of April and May in Madeira and from March to July with a peak of May and June in the Azores. They are pale blue or blue-green with violet or reddish markings concentrated at the broad end. A clutch contains 3 to 4 or occasionally 5 eggs and 2-3 broods are raised each year. The eggs are incubated for 13-14 days and the young birds leave the nest after 15-17 days.


Population threats

There are no major threats to the Atlantic canary at present.

Population number

According to the IUCN Red List, the total population size of the Atlantic canary is 3,000,000-5,050,000 mature individuals. It is estimated that the breeding population of the species consists of 1,500,000-2,520,000 pairs. Currently, this species is classified as Least Concern (LC) on the IUCN Red List and its numbers today are stable.

Fun Facts for Kids

  • The Atlantic canary is the natural symbol of the Canary Islands, together with the Canary Island date palm.
  • The Atlantic canary is named after the Canary Islands, not the other way around. The islands' name is derived from the Latin name 'canariae insulae' ('islands of dogs') referring to the large dogs kept by the inhabitants of the islands. A legend of the islands, however, states that it was the conquistadors who named the islands after a fierce tribe inhabiting the largest island of the group, known as the 'Canarii'.
  • The color 'canary yellow' is named after the yellow domestic canary, produced by a mutation that suppressed the melanins of the original dull greenish wild Atlantic canary color.


1. Atlantic Canary on Wikipedia -
2. Atlantic Canary on The IUCN Red List site -

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