Identification: The beautiful Black-headed (Damara) canary (Serinus leucolaema) is a species, genus Alario as Alario alario, of finch from Africa. The Black-headed canary is a medium-sized canary with chestnut upperparts and tail. The male has jet black head to side of neck, chin, throat and centre of breast which may show some white tips in fresh plumage.
It’s lower nape across the side of it’s neck to side of breast is white to whitish-buff. The upperparts (including median and greater upperwing-coverts are a rich chestnut-brown. The tail is a deeper chestnut with fine black centers near the tip of it’s feathers. Their legs are a pale brown to slate-grey or black. The head and face to upper mantle on females are a dull grey-brown with an indistinct narrow pale stripe which runs from the base of the bird’s beak above its eye.
It’s side of neck to side of breast are greyer and her back and scapulars are a rich brown, streaked darker brown or blackish. Her tail is also chestnut with blackish shaft streaks. Her chin and throat are darker grey with the sides of her lower breast and flanks a warm buff-brown and a whitish-buff on the center of her belly and vent.
It’s natural habitat is lowland and lower montane dry rocky outcrops, hilly semi-arid scrubs and open grassland with scattered bushes, edges of cultivation, fallow fields, bushes and scrubby areas along streams; also suburban areas, including gardens.
Geography: Africa; Lesotho, Namibia and South Africa
Song / Call: Click to hear the Black-headed Canary
Size / Weight: 5″ / 11 – 13 gms
Sexing: Easily sexed when in adult plumage. Difficult to sex when birds are young.
Temperament: Black-headed canaries forage on the ground and in lower levels of shrubs and bushes. They make regular short-distance flights to drink. During the non-breeding season you can find them gathered in large flocks of up to 200 individuals.
Breeding: Black-headed canaries are loosely colonial. Nests are built by female while the male accompanies her by collecting material. Nests are a deep cup of thin, dry grasses, animal hair, plant down, wool and some feathers and is placed low down within 1 m of the ground in small bush or shrub, and often in overhanging rock faces or the sides of ditches. They lay clutches of 2–5 white or pale bluish-green eggs that are sparsely blotched or spotted with reddish-brown.
Incubation is handled by the female who is fed on the nest throughout incubation by the male. Incubation period is 13–14 days.
Diet: A mix of seeds; Goldfinch Seed, Classic Finch Seed, Millet, Dried Egg Food, Mineral Grit, Crushed Egg Shell, Herb Salad, meal worms