MAKING OUR HOME BEAUTIFUL 227
the stock thus secured has furnished the ancestors of all our canaries. The slight differences in color between the serin finch and the canary would probably have passed unnoticed by early bird lovers. With bird-catching a widespread practice in middle and southern Europe, the serin would often be made captive and be accepted without question as a canary. In this way serins and wild canaries may have been interbred until all distinguishable differences were lost.
The original canary, whether serin or true wild canary, in its native haunt was much different in color from its modern pure-bred descendant. The back of the wild bird is, in general, gray tinged with olive-green, especially on the rump, with dark shaft streaks on the feathers. Underneath it is yellowish, streaked on sides and flanks with dusky. Wild canaries from the Canary Islands, the Azores, and Madeira differ from the continental serins in being slightly grayer with less of yellowish green in the plumage above. In addition, the rump is duller yellow and the bill is distinctly larger. All of the wild birds have the feet and legs (tarsi) horn brown, the upper half of the bill dark brown or horn color, and the lower half paler.*
Both of the wild varieties inhabit vineyards, thickets, and more open country where bordered by trees. At times during fall and winter great flocks are found together. The birds feed upon various seeds and occasionally eat figs or other small fruits in season. In a wild state they nest early in spring and again later, rearing two broods. The nest, made of plant stems and grasses and lined with hair and plant downs, is placed in bushes or low trees. The eggs are clear green in color, spotted and clouded with deep wine red and reddish brown. From three to five eggs are deposited.
When choosing cages in which to keep canaries, the primary consideration should be the comfort of the birds and this
* See the charts on pages 495 and 499 of Volume V of the Treasury.