Family Finches (Fringillidae)

Least Concern

Brimstone Canary (Serinus sulphuratus)


French: Serin soufré German: Schwefelgirlitz Spanish: Serín Azufrado
Other common names: Brimstone Serin, Bully Canary, Bully Seedeater

Loxia sulphurata


, 1766,

Cape of Good Hope, South Africa


May be part of the superspecies formed by S. donaldsoni and S. buchanani. Proposed races loveridgei (described from Lumbo, in NE Mozambique) is synonymized with sharpii, and languens (from Manhica, in S Mozambique) with wilsoni. Three subspecies recognized.

Subspecies and Distribution
  • S. s. sharpii Neumann, 1900 – C, SW & E Angola, NE & SE DRCongo E to WC & S Kenya, NE & S Tanzania, Zambia, Zimbabwe and N & C Mozambique.
  • S. s. wilsoni (Roberts, 1936) – S Mozambique, Swaziland and E South Africa (E Limpopo S to KwaZulu-Natal and Eastern Cape).
  • S. s. sulphuratus (Linnaeus, 1766) – S South Africa (S Western Cape and W Eastern Cape).
  • Descriptive notes

    13·5–16 cm; 20·3–35·3 g (South Africa), 22–30 g (wilsoni), 15–26·5 g (sharpii). Medium-sized to large, stout-billed finch with... read more


    Song, by both sexes, usually from prominent perch, a series of slow sweet or musical phrases,... read more


    Lowland, coastal and submontane open woodlands and bushes with scattered trees, including acacia (... read more

    Food and feeding

    Variety of seeds, leaves, flowers, berries, buds and ripe fruit; also termites (Isoptera). Seeds include those of Olea, ... read more


    Breeds throughout year within range, mostly Mar–Jan in E Africa, and in South Africa mostly Jul–Nov in Western Cape and May... read more


    Resident and partially nomadic; an erratic dry-season visitor to parts of Zimbabwe and Eastern Cape... read more

    Status and conservation

    Not globally threatened. Common to locally common, and widespread. Estimated population in S Mozambique 50,000 individuals and in Swaziland 5000 individuals.

    Recommended citation

    Clement, P. (2010). Brimstone Canary (Serinus sulphuratus). In: del Hoyo, J., Elliott, A., Sargatal, J., Christie, D.A. & de Juana, E. (eds.) (2014). Handbook of the Birds of the World Alive. Lynx Edicions, Barcelona. (retrieved from on 30 November 2015).