The Yellow-fronted canary is a beautiful little bird, about 12 cm in length, which has been quite extensively persecuted by the cage bird brigade (where it is often called a Green singing finch), not just for its looks, but also for its clear and musical song. The fact that it breeds well in captivity adds to its appeal as a cage bird.


In its natural habitat the Yellow-fronted canary is found throughout most of sub-Saharan Africa and within the Southern African region its range is limited to the north and east; it is absent from the drier central and western parts of the region. Its preferred habitat is open savanna, gardens and parks. Because of its multiple talents it has also been introduced into other parts of the world, for example to some of the Hawaiian Islands.

The adult male Yellow-fronted canary has a grey crown and nape; yellow cheeks; dark, almost black, malar stripes; an olive-green back; streaked brown wings and tail; yellow rump and under parts. Eyes are brown; legs and feet pinkish-brown. The adult females are similar, but are generally paler and less colourful.

Generally found in family groups during the breeding season, the Yellow-fronted canary becomes more gregarious when not breeding and may gather in much larger groups. Their song is a melodious, warbled series “zee-zereeee-cheree”, quite typically a canary’s song.

Yellow-fronted canaries forage mainly on the ground, where they eat grass seeds and other small seeds, as well as some insects.

They are monogamous and build a deep cup-shaped nest of grass and other plant material and lined with finer rootlets and the like. The females lay a clutch of three or four white eggs that hatch after an incubation period of about 14 days.

The scientific binomial for the Yellow-fronted canary is Crithagra mozambica; Crithagra from the Greek for a “barley hunter”; and mozambica from the Latin for “from Mozambique”. Thus the name describes a bird from Mozambique that eats barley. You would think that such a pretty little bird could have a more descriptive name than that.

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