The Grey Singing Finch From The 1800's

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default The Grey Singing Finch From The 1800's

Post  FinchG on Thu Oct 20, 2011 6:21 pm


Serinus leucopygiits, SuNDEV.

WITHOUT question the best performer among all Singing
Finches ; its melody is lively, vigorous, full of sweet notes
and deficient in all harsh or unpleasant ones. Compared with Serinus
leucopygius, the ordinary type of domesticated Canary is little better
than a discordant screamer : there is, in truth, as wide a difference
between the musical productions of these two Serins, as exists between

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the playing of a flute by a skilled professional, and the tooting on
a tin- whistle by a street urchin.

The Grey Singing Finch inhabits North-Bastern and Equatorial

The general colouring of the upper surface is smoky grey, with
dull brown centres to the feathers ; the runip white, separated from
the grey of the back by a blackish band; upper tail-coverts and tail
feathers brown, with greyer edges ; lesser wing-coverts ash grey,
remainder of wing brown, the feathers with paler edges ; crown of
head and front of neck pale smoky grey, distinctly streaked with brown ;
back of neck without streaks ; throat ashy whitish, browner on the
front of the chest, where there are a few dusky spots ; breast and
abdomen white, the flanks slightly greyish and streaked with brown ;
under wing-coverts and axillaries greyish brown, with whitish edges ;
flight feathers below smoky, their inner edges yellowish grey. Length
4, 3 inches. Beak and legs flesh brownish, iris brown.

The sexes appear to be absolutely alike ; but Mr. Abrahams un-
hesitatingly selected a pair for me, and his selection proved to be correct ;
he informed me at the time, that the only reliable difference was in
the white centre to the throat of the male, showing as a pure white
spot when the bird was singing, but not easy to distinguish at other

This pair of Grey Singing Finches nested in a German Canary-
cage, building a very neat little structure of scraps of moss, grass roots,
and cow-hair, on the floor of the cage ; unhappily the hen died with
her second egg. I subsequently picked up two additional specimens
for a few shillings, both of which eventually proved to be cock birds ;
so that nry chance of breeding this delightful singer was, for the time,
at an end : not so, however, the music.

The Grey Singing Finch, in his disposition, is a veritable Paddy ;
he fights incessantly with his own species, for the mere fun of the
thing, singing all the time and only pausing to give fuller vigour to
his melody. To see three of these little grey and white birds, all near
together, wagging their heads and pouring forth a volume of sweet
sound ; then darting off, all at once, and fluttering round one another
like butterflies, is a treat indeed.

After an apparently desperate encounter, in which the combatants
have perhaps lost several small feathers from the crown or neck, they
will be seen amicably feeding together from the same hopper : at
night, too, they frequently roost close together ; evidently being on
the best of terms with each other.


Dr. Russ thus speaks of this species : " Unassuming, grey, elegant
Songster. Already glorified by Vieillot as Senegali-chanteur and
designated as ' musica.' It was unknown to us among the bird
amateurs until 1868 ; it was sold in quantities erroneously as the female
of the Atlas-bird (Steel- Finch). Through my description in the
Gartenlaube, it quickly gained favour in the widest circles, and since
then has been naturalized in all bird-rooms, and also has been already
bred in many instances. First of all, Mr. Dorpmuller, the Architect
of Gladbach, reared it through several generations, and various amateurs
followed ; after me, Dr. Franken, of Badeubaden : Engineer Henschel,
of Innleitenmlihle, and others, have also reared crosses between it and
Canary hens ; Dr. Franken, the like, with the Mozambique Serin
(Green Singing Finch), and Angola Linnet (Yellow- rttmped Seed-eater)."

"Graceful, loveable and peaceable (yet not with its own kind and
the most nearly related species), in the bird-room, as in the aviary, he
earns the good-will and affection of all amateurs. Song uncommonly
powerful and melodious, reminds one of those of the Woodlark and
the Canary bird. Nest open, ornamentally formed of stalks, fibres,
little threads, cotton and the like. Laying four to five eggs, pale blue,
at times greenish, finely speckled and spotted with reddish or brown ;
incubated by the female only in thirteen days. Nestling down bluish
white. Young plumage only fainter and more washed out than that of
the old bird. The little beak white ; the feet flesh coloured. Change
of colour with the moult, so that the young bird in its new feathering
shows the adult plumage. Moult in our Spring months."

Dr. Russ adds that it is delicate when it arrives in Europe, but
when acclimatized, is vigorous and enduring : my own experience
would have led me to conclude that it was never delicate ; for the two
cocks which I have previously noted as picked up cheaply, were quite
newly imported and somewhat rough in feathering ; yet neither ever
showed the least indication of weakness ; but, from the beginning,
were as sturdy and active as at the present time. I have never known
this species to quarrel with any other; I found it always peaceful
towards the Green Singing Finch. I have, however, seen it pursued by
the White-throated Finch : which was unable to catch it, and I have
seen the Green Singing Finch dash after it once or twice during the
breeding season also, without being able to overtake it. My two last
males of this species were eventually killed by a male Pileated Finch,
and two other examples which I subsequently bought, in the hope
that they would prove to be cock birds, proved when in good plumage
to be both hens.

FinchG The Grey Singing Finch From The 1800's Birds_zps98e5f41b The Grey Singing Finch From The 1800's Dans-fleur_zpsc53bae9e
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