Protea canary, White-winged seedeater
Crithagra leucoptera (Serinus leucopterus)
Geographical distribution and habitat
The Protea canary or White-winged seedeater is an endemic Crithagra species (= a species that does not occur in other areas nor has subspecies) of the mountains in the south of Cape Province (South Africa). The name "White Wing" derives this rather large serin from the two narrow white bands on the wings. The other name - Protea canary - may be more applicable, because these birds live in areas where the Protea plant, or Sugarbush, grows. Some of these birds are known to eat the seeds of this plants. The King Protea, (Protea cynaroides) is the national flower of South Africa. In Europe, Protea is often used in bouquets. Crithagra leucoptera feeds on small seeds, fruits, nectar, buds and flowers of plants and in winter especially with the slightly larger seeds of various Protea species. (Some nice pictures can be seen in our photo album under "Crithagra leucoptera"). In nature it is observed that the Protea canary eats insects, such as termites.
Size: 15-16 cm (5.9-6.3 inch)
Description and subspecies
According to some bird books, both sexes are similar. However, according to pictures in some handbooks and studying various pictures of photographers of wildlife, some differences are noticeable. For instance, there are some differences in the brightness of the white spots on the throat and eyebrows that indicates the sexes.
Birdwatchers mention that strophes and calls of other bird species which are present in the same biotope, can be recognized in the song of these birds. The male sings his loud song with an open beak. The young in the nest are fed out of the crop. We have no indication that this species is present in European aviculture. This Crithagra species can be confused with Crithagra gularis - Streaky-headed seedeater - though this species has more pronounced, but more pale-white stripes on the head and eyelashes that extend almost into the neck. C. gularis has a less clear black mask and lighter underparts than C. leucoptera. Further confusing species Crithagra albogularis – White-throated canary - has a green / yellow rump where C. leucoptera shows brown feathers.