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The Lemon-breasted Canary

Lemon-breasted Canary

(Serinus citrinipectus)

Unsuccessful breeder? bring it on!

The Lemon-breasted Canary (Serinus citrinipectus) was believed to be a natural hybrid of the Yellow-fronted Canary and the Yellow-rumped Seedeater as the ranges of both of these African Serins overlap but is currently considered to be a full species. Its range is Southeast Africa and where the Lala Palm trees are so is the Lemon-breasted Canary. It has an unusual habit of nesting in the center of these Palm trees as it conceals their nests from predators. The nests are built from palm fibers, flower petals and cobwebs and is neatly lined with long Palm frond tendrils. It is currently being trapped in Southern Mozambique for the bird trade. The current population is on Red Data status as healthy breeding populations of these Serins rarely occur outside the protected areas within the region.


Males have a deep gray head and dark moustache stripes with two whitish/yellow spots on each side of the forehead and also on the ear coverts. the back area is grayish with black streaking,wings are blackish with two thin pale colored wing bars, tail is short and squared at the end with whitish tips. From the chin to the breast area is bright yellow in adult males and has a bright yellow rump area. Belly is whitish and flanks are a warm brown color. The female is a duller version of the male without the yellow chin and breast areas as they are replaced by a warm brown but retains the bright yellow area on the rump. I have found juveniles to be sexed easily. They are a warm brown all over resembling the female but young males have a slight yellow wash to the chest area while young hens do not. The bill is small canary like grey in color with a little black towards the point, legs and feet a pinkish brown.


Their call is a typical Serin like call that is quite loud resembling the Yellow-rumped Seedeater and Yellow-fronted Canary . The song reminds me of the Yellow-rumped Seedeater but of the Black-throated variety, very clear loud canary like that is sustained with repeated phrases almost like a very joyfull warbling and quite persistent.


Although known as an unsuccessful breeding species and first time imported to the U.S. I have found my own pairs willing to breed! I said willing but not exactly successful! They take to small 4inch canary nests and weave a beautiful tight cup made from fine hairs, jute and cotton fiber. The clutch consists of 3 cream colored eggs and is incubated by the hen . During incubation she gets very tame and is not startled at all while I inspect the nest. I have found the males to be troublesome when the young hatch as I have found newly hatched young scattered on the floor of the cage cold and stiff , major heartbreak! I did manage to save a couple eggs by transferring them to a Green Singer foster mother and let the hen Lemon-breasted Serin try again. I produced 8 chicks in 2008 with only 2 making it to the sticks after the molt and banded with NFSS size "C" bands. I find that these small Serins stress very easily when taken away from the parents even when self supporting and when settled do not like to get moved around until after the molt.


I have found this small African Serin to thrive on a canary mix (more grass seeds) with a little a dded variety of millets .They also take to dry commercial eggfood quite readily and do enjoy some millet spray and take apple and broccoli florets readily.


This African Serin has challenged me and I have not given up hope! Its a calm and cheery little bird with a marvelous voice and although being imported twice in 2008 people have to realize it is a rare bird that its habitat is shrinking and as many imported should be preserved through captive breeding as no one knows how long this first time import will ever be available again. Whoever has the pleasure of keeping this Serin will realize sooner or later that this is one..."Special Bird" !

Charles Loukeris

NFSS member # 4161