Animal Name: Cape Canary
Scientific Name: Serinus canicollis
Habitat: It generally prefers montane grassland with scattered shrubs an patches of Ouhout (Leucosidea sericea), open savanna, Protea woodland, borders between drainage line woodland and Karoo shrubland, coastal dunes, edges of cultivated land and occasionally alien thickets of Port Jackson (Acacia saligna) and Rooikrans (Acacia cyclops).
Distribution: Endemic to southern Africa, occurring in Zimbabwe’s eastern highlands and adjacent Mozambique as well as in Swaziland, Lesotho and South Africa, from Limpopo Province south to KwaZulu-Natal and west through the Free State and the Eastern Cape to the Western Cape.
Diet: It almost exclusively eats seeds, either taken directly from plants or plucked from bare patches of the ground.
Monogamous and usually a solitary nester, although it sometimes forms loose colonies with up to 12 nests in a few adjacent trees.
The nest is built almost entirely by the female in roughly 2-3 weeks, consisting of a thick-walled cup of tendrils, especially from everlastings (Helichrysum), also with lichens, leaf petioles, mosses, rootlets, small twigs, pine needles and sometimes pieces of rags, string, wool and cotton. The interior is lined with the hairy and downy pappuses of seeds, fluffy Karoo rosemary (Eriocephalus) seeds, other plant down, hair, feathers and wool. The rim of the structure is always made of rootlets, and is used by the chicks to deposit faeces (a unique behaviour of canaries). It is typically placed in a vertical fork or a horizontal branch of a bush or tree, which in the Western Cape is more frequently an introduced species rather than an indigenous one.
Egg-laying season is from about August-February, peaking from October-December.
It lays 1-5 eggs, which are incubated solely by the female for about 12-16 days, while the male regularly feeds her at the nest.
The chicks are brooded by their for the first two days of their lives while the male feeds all of them, after which the female remains on the nest to protect the nestlings from rain or sun by standing with wings outstretched. They eventually leave the nest after about 15-19 days and after two days or so are able to fly, after which they still remain dependent on their parents for some time.