Atlantic Canary Fact File

Serinus canaria

Credit: Alastair Rae from London, United Kingdom, CC BY-SA 2.0 <>, via Wikimedia Commons








Wild 8-10 years

Captive 15 years



Seed, Insects

Conservation Status


Least Concern

The Atlantic canary is a small bird which has become well known due to being one of the first songbirds to be domesticated. They are now kept globally as pets due to their call.

These birds are the wild ancestor. They have a greyish yellow body with brown, streaked with yellow, across the back and wings. In captivity they are regularly breed to be entirely yellow.

They feed primarily on plant matter such as seeds and buds with small amounts of insects also consumed.

Domesticated birds were used in coal mines to monitor carbon monoxide and warn miners if they were at risk.

Read on to learn more about these beautiful birds.


What does the Atlantic canary look like?

Across the body of the Atlantic canary they have mostly yellowish-green feathers. Across the head they have greyish feathers streaked with yellow. Females tend to be less yellow than males and young are browner.

At the end of the body is a short tail with a straight-edge. This allows for greater manoeuvrability when in flight.

Their short beak is colored pale pink. The legs are colored brown.

An average Atlantic canary will measure just 12.5cm long with a wingspan of between 20 and 23cm (8.7 and 9in) across. Their weigh is a tiny 15-20g (0.5-0.7oz).


What does the Atlantic canary eat?

The Atlantic canary is an omnivore. They primarily feed on seeds, buds and fruit but may also occasionally eat insects.

Studies have shown that these birds rely on gravity to swallow. When taken to space they were unable to sallow and passed from dehydration.

Atlantic Canary

Credit: Haplochromis, CC BY-SA 3.0 <>, via Wikimedia Commons


Where can you find the Atlantic canary?

Atlantic canaries are a native of Spain where they live on the Canary Islands. They also occur naturally on islands controlled by Portugal.

Their name is taken from their occurrence on the Canary Islands. The birds were named after the islands not the other way round.

Introduced populations of this species occur in Bermuda, Puerto Rico and Hawaii.


What kind of environment does the Atlantic canary live in?

The Atlantic canary is found in lowland and submontane forests. They will also move in to urban areas where they live in parks and gardens.

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How does the Atlantic canary produce its young?

Males call during the breeding season to help attract a mate.

Egg laying can occur from January to June.

Their nest is a cup formed from vegetation in a tree or bush. It is lined with small leaves, animal hair and feathers. They will nest in an area with other pairs.

The female will deposit between 2 and 5 eggs which will be incubated for 13-14 days. Their eggs are colored pale blue or blue-green. Violet or reddish markings are present. Females complete the incubation on their own and will wait until all eggs are laid to start sitting. This means the chicks hatch closer together.

Young fledge after just 12-14 days.

These animals are able to produce between 2 and 3 broods each year.

This species has been recorded to produce a hybrid with the white-rumped seedeater.


What does the Atlantic canary do with its day?

During winter these birds will form mixed flocks with Linaria species.

These birds produce a call which is described as a silvery twittering.

Atlantic Canary

Credit: Jörg Hempel, CC BY-SA 3.0 DE <>, via Wikimedia Commons

Predators and Threats

What is impacting the survival of the Atlantic canary?

Populations of the Atlantic canary are considered stable. These animals have a breeding population which is estimated at 3,000,000 to 5,000,000 mature individuals.

At present no major threats to this species are recognized.

Large populations of this species have been domesticated to be kept in the pet trade. They were one of the first songbirds to be domesticated.

Disease is an emerging threat to this species.

An unusual threat to the canary was their use in mine sites. They would be taken in to mines where they would succumb to carbon monoxide poisoning before the miners allowing them to escape.

Quick facts

They are also known as the Island canary or wild canary.

Captive canaries around the world are descended from these birds. Domestication has affected their singing ability.

This species was first described for modern science by Linnaeus in 1758.

Along with the Canary Island date palm these birds are considered the natural symbol of the Canary Islands.

Atlantic Canary

Credit: Alastair Rae from London, United Kingdom, CC BY-SA 2.0 <>, via Wikimedia Commons


Alderton, D. and Barrett, P., 2019. The complete illustrated encyclopedia of birds of the world. Lorenz Books.

Christiansen, P., 2019. Birds. London: Amber Books Ltd.

BirdLife International. 2018. Serinus canariaThe IUCN Red List of Threatened Species 2018: e.T22720056A132137153. Downloaded on 08 November 2021. 2021. Atlantic canary (Serinus canaria) - JungleDragon. [online] Available at: <> [Accessed 8 November 2021].

Bird Baron. 2021. Atlantic Canary Bird Facts and Profile - Bird Baron. [online] Available at: <> [Accessed 8 November 2021].

DBpedia. 2021. Atlantic canary. [online] Available at: <> [Accessed 8 November 2021]. 2021. Atlantic Canary Facts You'll Never Forget. [online] Available at: <> [Accessed 8 November 2021].

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