Grey singer, White-rumped seedeater
Crithagra leucopygia (Serinus leucopygius)
Geographical distribution and habitat
Grey singer or White-rumped seedeater (Crithagra leucopygia) is found in Central Africa on a long stretch from western Senegal to the east in Sudan. Over a distance from west to east of about 6000 kilometers. These semi-desert areas are located south of the Sahara, partly Sahel. The biotope is formed by savannas grown with trees, cultivated areas in the vicinity of villages and cities, parks and gardens. Another similarity of this habitat is; dry, sandy areas with very little rainfall. These birds forage on the ground and on some higher plants. Especially different types of millet seem to be prefered. Their breeding season is at the end of the rainy season, which may vary by habitat. In nature they are usually found in pairs or in small groups, most often with African astrilds and Green singers (Crithagra mozambica).
Size: 11 cm (4.3 inch).
Description and subspecies
Sexes alike, there is no difference in appearance in male or female. Young birds are usually lighter grey / brown in color on their wings and on the back. The wings also show light brown primaries. The breast and belly of young Grey singers show a slightly more white color and sometimes some vague striping. Determination by DNA and the singing the male birds is the only way to determine the sex. But if a bird not sings, one can only say with certainty that it's a female when eggs are laid, because some female birds also sing to a greater or lesser extent. Both the subspecies Crithagra leucopygia pallens and Crithagra leucopygia riggenbachi have some minimal differences from the nominal form, Crithagra leucopygia leucopygia. C.l. Riggenbachi has brownish colored striping on the underparts of the body, which is also more white and more contrasting, the head has more hammering than the nominal species. C.l. pallens has fine streaks on the throat and breast.
Grey singers have been favourite birds in aviculture for many years, thanks to the fantastic singing of the males. When they are kept in solitary, the males sing practically all year long: sometimes with a break of a few weeks. Breeding with these birds in European aviculture gets more and more popular, but usually they don't want to breed in the European spring and summer. In general, when one hears the male singing and he is trying to impress the female, then you could think of starting to try to breed with them. Breeding can also be successfull in colder periods of the year, provided that they are kept in an environment with at least 12 hours of light per day. Temperature is not a big issue but they need enough time (light), to be able to feed their young on the nest. In addition to their singing and behaviour, males show a more pronounced cloacae and the females loose some feathers on their belly. Grey singers build a small nest and the female usually lays three eggs, sometimes four. It is advisable to mark both male and female with colored (removable) rings, to be able to recognise them. Be careful to keep several males together in one cage or aviary or with related Crithagra species, these birds can be very aggressive.