Main Page | See live article | Alphabetical index



Domesticated Canaries
Scientific classification
Kingdom: Animalia
Phylum: Chordata
Class: Aves
Family: Fringillidae
Genus: Serinus
Species: canaria
Binomial name
Serinus canaria
The canary (Serinus canaria) is a small songbird which is a member of the finch family.

This bird is native to Madeira and some of the Canary Islands.

Its habitat is semi-open areas such as orchards and copses, where it nests in bushes or trees.

The wild bird is green, but it is larger, longer and less contrasted than its relative the serin, and has more grey and brown in its plumage.

The song is a silvery twittering like the Goldfinch.

Canaries are a popular cagebird, and they have been bred in many different shades. Modern pet canaries vary in colour from virtually white through pale cream, gold, bright yellow, orange to an orangy pink.

The keeping of canaries for their appearance and song is a tradition that dates back centuries.

Canaries were once regularly used in coal mining as an early warning system. Toxic gases like carbon monoxide in the mine would kill the bird before affecting the miners. Because canaries tend to sing much of the time, they provided both a visual and audible cue in this respect. The use of canaries in British mines was phased out as recently as 1986.

Canaries are often depicted in cartoons from the middle 20th century as being harassed by domestic cats; the most famous cartoon canary is Warner Brothers' "Tweety Bird".