Canary (Serinus canaria).
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Island group and autonomous community (pop., 2005 est.: 1,968,280) of Spain located in the Atlantic Ocean 67 mi (108 km) off the northwestern coast of Africa. The islands comprise two provinces, Santa Cruz de Tenerife and Las Palmas, with an area of 2,876 sq mi (7,447 sq km). The capital is Santa Cruz de Tenerife. Known in ancient times as the “Fortunate Islands,” they were written about by both Plutarch and Pliny the Elder. Believed to be the western limit of the world, they were visited in the Middle Ages by Arabs, Genoese, Majorcans, Portuguese, and French. They were taken by Castile (see Castile-León) in 1404, and their indigenous inhabitants, the Guanche and Canario, were gradually conquered during the 15th century. The islands became a stop on the usual route for Spanish trading vessels with the New World. Today agriculture is an economic mainstay, as is an expanding tourist trade.
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The Canary (Serinus canaria), also called the Island Canary, Atlantic Canary or Common Canary, is a small passerine bird belonging to the genus Serinus in the finch family, Fringillidae. It is native to the Azores, the Canary Islands, and Madeira. Wild birds are mostly yellow-green, with brownish streaking on the back. The species is common in captivity and a number of different colour varieties have been bred.
It occurs in a wide variety of habitats from pine and laurel forests to sand dunes. It is most common in semi-open areas with small trees such as orchards and copses. It frequently occurs in man-made habitats such as parks and gardens. It is found from sea-level up to at least 760 m in Madeira, 1100 m in the Azores and to above 1500 m in the Canary Islands.
It has become established on Midway Atoll in the north-west Hawaiian Islands where it was first introduced in 1911. It was also introduced to neighbouring Kure Atoll but failed to become established. Birds were introduced to Bermuda in 1930 and quickly started breeding but they began to decline in the 1940s after scale insects devastated the population of Bermuda cedar and by the 1960s they had died out. The species also occurs in Puerto Rico but is not yet established there.
The eggs are laid between January and July in the Canary Islands, from March to June with a peak of April and May in Madeira and from March to July with a peak of May and June in the Azores. They are pale blue or blue-green with violet or reddish markings concentrated at the broad end. A clutch contains 3 to 4 or occasionally 5 eggs and 2-3 broods are raised each year. The eggs are incubated for 13-14 days and the young birds fledge after 14-21 days, most commonly after 15-17 days.
This species is often kept as a pet; see Domestic Canary for details. Selective breeding has produced many varieties, differing in colour and shape. Yellow birds are particularly common while red birds have been produced by interbreeding with the Red Siskin. Canaries were formerly used by miners to warn of dangerous gases. The bird is also widely used in scientific research. Canaries are often depicted in the media with Tweety Bird being a well-known example.