Charlie's Song Birds



      NFSS Article - the African Citril
                    Africas unknown Emerald Gem of a Songster
The African Citril  (Serinus citrinelloides hypostictus)  is  an African Serin  thats  range  is  from  southern  Kenya , Tanzania  to  Malawi, Zimbabwe and northern Mozambique.Its a common and widespread species and is found at edges of lakes and forests,clearings,bush  and scrubland.   Usually   found  in  small  groups  even  in  the  breeding season.    In  the  wild  they  feed  on  the  ground  and  low  growing vegetation,  primarily  on  black  jack,  sunflowers, thistles,  various flowerheads  and  grass  seed.               

Both males and females  are  a  luminous greenish yellow with black streaking on  the  back  and  flanks, bright yellowish chest and belly and black wings  and  tail  that  are edged with thin yellowish/green outter  webs.   Both  may  have  a  thin  yellowish  line  over  the eye sometimes  absent.   Males  tend t o have a deep dark grey black face cheeks  and  chin area while hens have silver/grey green replacing the dark  grey/black  of  the  males.   Juveniles  resemble  females but are more  buff  with  a brownish wash to them. Bill is thin  and pointed, Goldfinch  like,  legs  and  feet  brownish  tinged  with  pink.                

Males  and  females  have  a  3-4  clean  piping whistle sounding like "tweee-ti-tu"  with the last note falling. Males in full song are quite loud and to my ear  resemble the European Goldfinch but conitnuous with many metalic and sweet trills combined.  Males usually sing in concert with one another  and during courtship males sing with head pointed  upwards  dancing with wings quiverring to the hens.  Young males start to twitter a  "baby"  mumbled  song once seperated from parents  and  are  easily  identified  from  the  silent  hens.
These  birds  are  usually  overlooked  in the  market as when kept in crowded  cages  look  rough  and  dull  and  usually  beat up by other bully  species.   They  are  peaceable among themselves and others.  I prefer  to  keep  them pairwise in 3 ft standard canary double breeder box cages as they feel more secure in a closed enclosure compaired to all wire cages.   These birds usually come into breeding condition by  late  December  all  the way through to March.  They are cup  nesters and  with a  little  camoflage ,   fake  pine, flowers, greenery  take to canary nests quite readily and weave a beautiful smaller cup in them using fine hairs,fibers and burlap. The females get very confiding and tame  at  this  stage  and  usually  lay 3-4  creamy white eggs with a few  small  beige  brown  dots  and  scrawls.
During  incubation  the  hen  is  constantly fed by the attentive male  and the young hatch at 14 days and are fed primarilly by the hen the first week with  the  male  joining  in after. I use size "E" nfss bands when  they  are  7  days  old  and  the  hens  do not take notice to the bands.  African  Citrils  are  very good parents and do NOT need any fosters  to  raise their young.  Usually the young fledge at 15-18 days of age and  are  self  supporting  at  30  days of age.  I  keep  them  in double breeders as mentioned before and seperate them at 30 days of age with  a  wire  partition  as  the parents are going for a 2nd round and  the  male  usually  feeds them through the wire divider for a few more weeks.  They  moult  slowly  in  the  course  of the year usually finish  by  4-5  months  of  age. The young are a little nervous at this time  but  settle  in  quickly  on  their  own.                

Through trial and error I have found my African Citrils to do well on a  good  quality  canary mixture with added millet spray and a treat cup of wild seeds/condition seed recomended for Goldfinches/Siskins. They take dry eggfood quite readily and relish soaked/sprouted seeds and also greens: romaine lettuce,broccoli and dandelion.  This  is one species  of  African  Serin  that  I  do  not give any live animal/insect protien  and  do  well  without  it.
This  is  one  type  of Carduelan finch that I suggest to other breeders as  its  a  very good natured bird, calms down very quickly,luminous coloring, easy to cater for, fairly easy breeder and a superb song that makes  you  stop  in  your  tracks  and  smile  every time you hear it. What  more  can  you  ask  for?    ...Im  hooked!
Charles Loukeris
NFSS  member# 4161



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