Bird of the week – Week 53: White-throated canary

The White-throated canary is locally common within the shrubland and gardens in the drier eastern parts of the southern African region, to which it is a “near-endemic” (its range includes only a small part of south-western Angola) and its melodic canary-like song, usually given from a prominent perch on the top of a convenient bush, is a familiar sound to those wandering into its domain. The song is similar to some of the other canaries in the area, though, and a sighting of the bird is usually required for positive identification.
It is a small bird, around 15 cm in length, and is predominantly grey in colour. The diagnostic characteristics are the thick horn-coloured bill, the white throat and the bright yellow rump. The sexes are similar in size and in plumage, with the females a little duller than the males. They are usually found in pairs or small family groups, although bigger flocks are common at good water sources, which the birds visit frequently.
They feed on the ground or in the foliage of trees and shrubs, eating grass seeds, leaves, flowers, fruit and insects.
The White-throated canary is monogamous and the female constructs a loose cup nest of twigs and grass, usually about a metre above the ground. The female lays a clutch of three to five white or pale greenish-blue eggs that hatch after an incubation period of about 14 days.
The scientific binomial of the White-throated canary is Crithagra albogularis; Crithagra probably from the Greek words for a barley-eater and albogularis from the Latin for a white throat. Thus the name describes a white-throated eater of barley, which is pretty accurate, really.

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