Crithagra citrinelloides (Serinus citrinelloides)
Geographical distribution and habitat
Crithagra citrinelloides, African citril, has two distinct living areas in eastern Africa: the highlands in central Ethiopia and Eritrea and south and southwest of Kenia. Opinions differ about the presence of Crithagra citrinelloides in southern Sudan. This Crithagra species lives in moist areas that are vegetated with trees, shrubs and many different herbaceous plants. The birds have an irregular migration pattern that is determined by the beginning of the rainy season. In nature, it has been observed that the African citril feeds with seeds that are taken from seed-bearing ears and buds (including thistles, amarants, sunflowers and suchlike). Additionally, they are seen catching flying ants and other insects, pecking leaf buds and eating fruit. The nests are found throughout all seasons of the year; breeding season varies from area to area.
Length: 12 cm (4.7 inch)
Description and subspecies
Sexes differ, males have more black in the mask that is extended under the beak where the females have dark and sharp strikes coming from the throat and breast up to the beak. Two subspecies are described: Crithagra citrinelloides citrinelloides found on the highlands of Central Ethiopia. Crithagra citrinelloides kikuyuensis occurs in southeastern Kenya. C.c.kikuyuensis, has much more distinct and pronounced yellow supercilium, the mask is deeper black in color, sharper pronounced. The African citril can be confused with Crithagra hyposticta (Southern citril), Crithagra Frontalis (Western citril) and Crithagra Koliensis (Papyrus canary). There is some confusion regarding “African serins” showing a black or black-grey mask and a more or less pronounced pointed beak. In the popular "Finches & Sparrows" as well as in other books, we find listed subspecies of Crithagra citrinelloides that are later determined as independent species, see: James F. Clements Checklist. In taxonomy, regional differences in color and drawing of species are encountered and differences in male and females in rest and breeding periods. Fry & Keith (2004) consider C. citrinelloides and C. hyposticta to be two different species, based on the existence of clear gender differences in C. citrinelloides, which would not occur in C. hyposticta. They also regard Western citril as a separate species based on i.a. distinctive forehead onto supercilium, and in pure yellow underparts lacking any streaking. It seems that all species in question appear in relatively different habitats. It has been found that, in areas where the distribution areas overlap, there is no hybridisation of species. There are observations of males C. citrinelloides and C. hyposticta singing in the same regions. It is mentioned that there are some differences in the song of the males of these Serin species. Crithagra koliensis (Papyrus canary) has a specific habitat with marshes, grown with papyrus.
The differences between the African citrili (C.citrinelloides) and the from appearance slightly more pale Southern citril (C. hyposticta) -which has black of the face pattern replaced by more or less (dark) grey- are not always very clear on current birds present in European aviculture.