Species group: Exotic Songbirds
Other common names: Yellow-Fronted Canary; Yellow-Eyed Canary; Green Singer
Scientific name: Serinus mozambicus
The Green Singing Finch is one of the most popular small finches because the males are confident singers with a good voice. They are easy to care for and not too difficult to breed, which makes them a decent starter bird for the novice breeder. There are 10 or 11 subspecies of this diverse, widespread bird found throughout much of sub-Saharan Africa, although not in the most arid habitats or in the very highest mountains.
If you get your male and female from two different sources, you may have a job making sure you have mated subspecies to subspecies, although at least one breeder warned that if you try to mate a large subspecies with a smaller one, then the birds probably won't go along with the project. On rare occasions, Green Singing Finches have hybridized with domestic canaries, so you should also avoid housing these birds together.
Despite the name “green,” the Green Singing Finch catches the eye because of its golden underparts, eyebrow, and “moustache.” Females wear a necklace of dotted black in a band around their neck. Young birds of both sexes also display this necklace, but once you see clear yellow breaking through a youngster's neckline, you know that you have a male who will one day present a clear yellow throat.
13 grams (0.5 oz.)
12 centimeters (4.7 in.)
10 - 15 years
Behavior / temperament:
Although the Green Singing Finch is not a bird that usually learns to fly to your hand, they are bold and happy pets as long as they have the security of their own territory. The male is generally a strong, reliable singer. If the bird is not singing, then he may be quiet because he's molting. However, a prolonged lack of song demands attention. If the house is too quiet, just try playing music or canary song very softly, and you could be astonished at how fast your bird perks up. Make sure he's getting enough protein and access to either some daylight or full spectrum lighting as well. If they feel the territory is too small, they can team up and get aggressive against any other birds in the flight. Never ask a pair of Green Singing Finches to share a small canary cage with any other birds.
Green Singing Finches exercise by flying, not by climbing or hopping, so they require a cage longer than many of the so-called finch cages offered in pet stores. A pair should have a secure powder-coated metal or stainless steel flight of a minimum size of around 2 x 2 x 2 feet with a ½ “ bar spacing. Don't consider placing two males together, as they could fight until one of them is destroyed. A single singing male will be happier alone than he will be caged with a rival. Have a screen of bird-safe greenery or even of millet sprays to give them some privacy. Some people have even attached artificial ferns or greenery just outside the cage, to give the birds the illusion of being somewhat in the bushes.
Always provide a shallow dish or bath to allow them to bathe. When you are ready for the birds to breed, at around 1 year of age, offer them a mesh basket containing a selection of soft, unsprayed grasses. The female will probably do most or all of the nest building. The male's job is to defend the territory with his beautiful song. Many people report that they've had success with breeding Green Singing Finches in large walk-in mixed species aviaries, but you do need to keep a close eye on the situation, since it's possible for Green Singers to get aggressive toward other birds – or for some other species to get aggressive toward them.
The backbone of the Green Singing Finch diet should be a high quality canary mix that includes niger/thistle. However, these birds cannot survive on an austere diet of hard seed alone. It is very important to soak or sprout fresh seed, so that you can offer healthy sprouted seed, including sprouted millet sprays, on a regular basis. They particularly enjoy greens, which they should receive several times a week. Chopped spinach, broccoli, kale, chickweed, dandelion, and other greens from pesticide-free sources will be cleaned up regularly. Shredded apples and carrots can always be added to the salad.
Green Singing Finches demand some protein food, especially if you expect to breed them. You can prepare an egg-food based on grated hard-boiled egg, but many breeders recommend that you offer livefood such as small mealworms, especially as you approach and then continue through the breeding season. A high quality finch pellet, if accepted, is another excellent source of proteins and vitamins. All finches should have access to grit, as well as clean cuttlebone or another source of calcium.
Written by Elaine Radford
brilliant yellow breast, lively little birds, famous song, melodious singing abilities, low maintenance
chatty birds, fattest flock, inherently nervous nature, timid behavior
large flight cage, early morning sun, silk plants, bath water
A wild canary with a charming song and lots of attitude
I received a pair of Green Singing Finches as a gift. They charmed me from the start, with the female's beaded black necklace and the male's gift for song. At first, I had them in a standard finch cage, and I would exercise them in a bird-safe free-flight room, but it didn't really work out, since they would often choose to fly to the top of their small cage and sit there looking sad, like they didn't know how to get back in. So then I did the smart thing and had a nice long flight cage built for them, so that they could fly all they wanted without ever leaving the flight.
Because they are tiny birds, much smaller than their relatives the domesticated Canaries, I had the wrong idea about them. For awhile, I had some other finches in the flight cage with them since it seemed like so much space and green plantings just for these two little guys. During the breeding season, even though she was tiny, the female Green Singer turned into a rampaging harpy who chased the other finches into a nestbox and tried to hold them there, away from the food. Fortunately, I discovered the behavior and rescued the other finches in time.
It's pretty simple: Give them a large flight cage all to themselves, because they are territorial birds, and apparently they have the wherewithal to intimidate other finches their own size or even slightly larger ones. So don't take a chance. Also, if you learn the bird-safe plants you can use, it's a lot of fun to rotate green plants in and out of the flight cage, to make a nice show. I also liked to sprout millet sprays for them to snack on.
Don't let my bloopers cause you to turn away from the Green Singing Finch. Kept in the proper circumstances, they are absolutely wonderful birds and no trouble at all. The male is a good singer except during the molt, so they add life and song to the home, yet they have a wild look to them, that the domesticated Canary has lost. If you're looking for something special and a little different in a songbird, a pair of Green Singing Finches could be the right choice..
From peachfront Jun 30 2012 1:02PM
Adding sound and color and beauty to life
A finch is a great way to spice up your home. The green singing finch adds a flash of color and liveliness. Their chirping is fairly steady, but it is low in volume and pleasant in tone. After a while you hardly notice it, except as a sort of pleasing wildlife background noise. The green finch does not squawk or holler in a raspy tone, the way some larger birds may do. The sound of the green finch is probably about the same as it might be to live next to a river or waterfall where the refreshing sound just becomes a constant in the background.
Finches are infinitely pleasing to look at. Ours were an especially charming blend of an almost canary-yellow chest plumage and bottom half, with a lime green top half. They add a flash of color and liveliness wherever their cage sits. They are small birds that could be cupped in the hand. Although I have heard of people who let their finches free in the house (after carefully closing all doors, windows, and ventilation vents) sadly I never did. I was never confident that these lively little birds would get back into the cage, and I always had a lingering fear that they would find some unnoticed gap and escape.
Finches are very social animals. Our finches were always busying themselves amongst themselves, chirping away at each other. They are very docile and harmless creatures. You should get the biggest cage you are able, not only because having finches is a “the more the merrier” kind of proposition, but because it would be just plain cruel to lock up such a bright and chirpy animal in a smaller space. It is hard to tell by communicating with them, but they seemed to enjoy equal parts being left out on the veranda, to catch the fresh air and sun of the day, and being brought indoors to be near their owner.
Owning a finch is quite simple. They are among the most low-maintenance of birds, eating pellets interspersed with the occasional carrot or celery stick to munch on. The cages do need to be cleaned frequently, for basic hygiene purposes, but the finch is a neat and tidy little bird- he’s no seagull or pigeon, leaving white splotches and a mess everywhere.
If you are an artistic type, as I am, you might find that the pleasant chirping of the finch in the early morning sun puts you in a peaceful and creative mood. It is hard to be worried about the national debt or problems in the Middle East or any other thing, when these bright, beautiful creatures are chirping away in the sunshine. Just as they have done for thousands of years and hopefully will continue to do for many more..
From DoggieTail May 12 2015 6:00PM
Elegant and beautiful birds... if you ever get to see them.
In my 6ft tall aviary full of petite, gentle African waxbills, an over-abundance of bath water, plenty of feeders to keep even the fattest flock of finches happy, and plenty of silk plants to hide in if they should feel like it - there should be nothing to stress about for any new resident I decided to add. But Yogi and Booboo, the Green Singing boys, found a way to be miserable anyway.
They were the most skittish, flighty little birds I've ever met, regardless of having been indoor-bred and exposed to people their whole lives. I'd hoped that the timid behavior was temporary, and would go away after having them for at least a few months - but this was not the case at all.
I later ended up rehoming these birds due to their inherently nervous nature, and, without exaggeration, it was as though the entire cage collectively breathed a sigh of relief when they were removed. Everyone else resumed being calm, peaceful, and happy as can be. I never truly realized just how drastically all of the anxiety pent up inside these two little birds directly affected the other aviary residents until they were gone.
I would definitely not recommend these birds to someone interested in a friendly bird for the indoor environment, but if outdoor aviaries are more your speed, then go for it. They're beautiful, and have a nice voice, if you ever actually get the chance to see them stay put for more than a few seconds at a time..
From sambrooke May 15 2015 12:24PM