Also known as the St. Helena Seedeater or Yellowbelly Canary is a medium sized Serin from South Africa that is roughly 5-5 1/2 inches in length. It is found in some Southern coastal areas but mostly seen inland in scrub/bush to the dryer semi arid regions and also foothills of mountains. Usually seen in pairs or small groups usually foraging on the ground or on seed heads of flowers and also seen taking insects primarily termites. Males often go to a high point on a tree or bush to pour out their melodic song usually in concert with others nearby.
Males have a bright yellow lower forehead and long supercillium , lower ear coverts, throat,chest extending to pure yellow underbelly.Upper forehead to crown all the way to behind neck is a very luminous green as is mantle and back. Rump is bright yellow and flight and tail feathers blackish with yellow edging. Females are similarly marked but are off white beige in color where males are bright yellow. They do show some yellowish green on rump and some older hens get some light yellow on chest and face. Youngsters are similar to the hens but more buffish in color while some males show a yellow tint throughout their body making them easy to distinguish from the buffer gray hen juveniles.
Keeping and Breeding :
I have had good luck keeping pairs in double breeder canary enclosed box cages with wire and solid dividers. I usually hang their nest on cage front as they love alot of light and also camouflage it with some fake flowers or greeners so the hens feel more secure to sit tight on their nest. A standard canary nest is what I use with a grass or hemp liner and they do build a beautiful nest out of cotton and fibers. I have my pairs breeding from January - June here in the USA with the help of flourecsent lighting and foods. Hens start getting very tame when coming into condition and quite cheeky biting or nipping at you when trying to inspect their nest. Usually 3-4 blueish white eggs with some scrawls and markings are laid. At this time I divide the males with a wire divider as they tend to bother the incubating hens. Eggs hatch after 14days and I usually let the female raise the youngsters first 10 days of life and then reintroduce the male and watch him....if hes good let it be...if he starts pulling at the nest or chasing courting the hen he gets closed off again. Around 7 days of age I use a NFSS size "G" band and at 18 days of age they leave the nest and keep them together with mother until 30 days or so when they feed them self fine. Then you can put young on other side of divider and reintroduce the male for another round. One thing that has worked for me is using the drug Ronidazole during incubation and all the way up to 18 days of age, before this I was losing youngsters at 5-10 days of age with full crops and smelly nests.
I find they do best on a good quality canary diet with a treat cup of Chia seed once a while and a cup of Estrilid millet mix in another seed cup. During breeding season soaked and sprouted seeds and a commercial eggfood is given. They love dandelion greens and broccoli florets. Some give insects but I do not as I tend to see them become overly aggressive and never settle down the breed. Probably due to being in cages and not out in the wild where they can burn it off. Again importantly is the medication during incubation and hatching....Ronidazole
Not only beautiful amazing singers and good breeders these birds take to other Carduelan species quite well and produce amazing mules and hybrids but that is another article on its own!
Such a great species that I have enjoyed for some time now hopefully will always be in my collection. Up till now 2019 I have bred 7 captive generations successfully and if anyone local is willing to exchange other cage breds for different bloodlines feel free to contact me.