The Canary (Serinus canaria) evolved on a group of small islands off the West African coast in the Atlantic - the Canaries (notably Tenerife, La Gomera and La Palma), the Azores and the Madeira islands. It’s also found in Morocco, and there are populations in Hawaii (where it was introduced in 1911) and Puerto Rico. Wild canaries are still fairly common, favouring mountains and woodlands, but adapting well to most environments. The total wild population is estimated at 110-160,000.
The Canary Islands are named after their famous native bird
The Canary has been bred by humans for so long that pet birds are classed as a separate subspecies - Serinus canaria domesticus. No caged Starling, Linnet or Goldfinch (popular European pets at one time) could come near its appealing musical mixture of melody and energy. This popularity was soon bolstered by the fact that selective breeding produced many wonderful shapes, sizes and colour variations amongst pet Canary populations, from whites, oranges and pinks to the iconic yellow that lots of people automatically associate with the bird.
Wild Canaries are still fairly common
The bird is known by a number of alternative names, including the Atlantic, Island, Common or Wild Canary. It nests in trees and bushes, away from other Canaries. They are largely solitary outside the breeding season, too, but come together in flocks for feeding. They forage on the ground and in weeds and grasses, where their safety-in-numbers approach lessens the chance of being caught by predators.