Family Finches (Fringillidae)

Least Concern

Brimstone Canary (Crithagra sulphurata)


French: Serin soufré German: Schwefelgirlitz Spanish: Serín azufrado

Loxia sulphurata


, 1766,

Cape of Good Hope, South Africa


Proposed races loveridgei (described from Lumbo, in NE Mozambique), frommi (S & SW Tanzania) and shelleyi (Uganda and NW Tanzania) are all synonymized with sharpii, although it has been recently suggested that re-evaluation might be required#R, and languens (from Manhica, in S Mozambique) is treated within wilsoni. Three subspecies recognized.

Subspecies and Distribution
  • C. 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.
  • C. s. wilsoni Roberts, 1936 – S Mozambique, Swaziland and E South Africa (E Limpopo S to KwaZulu-Natal and Eastern Cape).
  • C. s. sulphurata (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. (2020). Brimstone Canary (Crithagra sulphurata). In: del Hoyo, J., Elliott, A., Sargatal, J., Christie, D.A. & de Juana, E. (eds.). Handbook of the Birds of the World Alive. Lynx Edicions, Barcelona. (retrieved from on 29 February 2020).