This small canary, discovered in 1976 (2), belongs to a large group of seed-eating birds of the genus Serinus(3). The greyish-brown upperparts are heavily streaked with dark brown, while the plumage on the underparts is whitish, also with bold dark brown streaking (4). The pale, slender, pointed bill is efficient at crushing seeds (4)(5); the husk is then peeled off by the tongue and the kernel swallowed (5). The contact call of the Ankober serin is a soft, nasal ‘tree tree’ sound, and when in flight it calls with a high-pitched ‘weet weet weet’ (3)(4).
A social bird, the Ankober serin roosts, perches and feeds in small flocks, and is also often found in the company of the streaky seedeater (Serinus striolatus) and the brown-rumped seedeater (Serinus tristriatus). Breeding takes place primarily between October and March, although it may breed following heavy rain at any time of the year. A nest of the Ankober serin was found inside a hole underneath an overhanging earth bank. Into such nests, a clutch of three eggs is laid (4).
The steep, rugged terrain of the Ankober serin’s habitat offers it some protection, although areas close to human settlements, such as around the town of Ankober, are being impacted by an increase in grazing and cultivation, a result of growing human and livestock populations. In some areas, plantations of Eucalyptus also impact on the habitat of this threatened bird (4).
The Ankober serin occurs in at least two protected areas: Simien Mountains National Park, and Guassa Reserve, where the local community controls grazing. Further conservation measures have been recommended, including surveys to gain further information on this species’ range, population size and possible threats (4).
A category used in taxonomy, which is below ‘family’ and above ‘species’. A genus tends to contain species that have characteristics in common. The genus forms the first part of a ‘binomial’ Latin species name; the second part is the specific name.
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