Serinus is a genus of small birds in the finch family Fringillidae found in Europe and Africa. The birds usually have some yellow in their plumage. The genus was introduced in 1816 by the German naturalist Carl Ludwig Koch.[1][2] The genus name is New Latin for "canary-yellow".[3]

Male European serin (Serinus serinus)
Scientific classification
Kingdom: Animalia
Phylum: Chordata
Class: Aves
Order: Passeriformes
Family: Fringillidae
Subfamily: Carduelinae
Genus: Serinus
Koch, 1816

See text.

Many species were at one time assigned to the genus but it became clear from phylogenetic studies of mitochondrial and nuclear DNA sequences that the genus was polyphyletic.[4][5][6] This was confirmed by Dario Zuccon and coworkers in a comprehensive study of the finch family published in 2012. The authors suggested splitting the genus into two monophyletic groups, a proposal that was accepted by the International Ornithologists' Union. The genus Serinus was restricted to the European serin and seven other species while a larger clade from Africa and Arabia was assigned to the resurrected genus Crithagra.[7][8]

The genus contains eight species:[8]

ImageScientific nameCommon NameDistribution
Serinus pusillusRed-fronted serinTurkey and Iran
Serinus serinusEuropean serinsouthern and central Europe and North Africa
Serinus syriacusSyrian serinSyria, Lebanon, Israel and Jordan
Serinus canariaAtlantic canarythe Canary Islands, the Azores, and Madeira
Serinus canicollisCape canarysouthern Africa
Serinus flavivertexYellow-crowned canaryeastern Africa
Serinus nigricepsEthiopian siskinEthiopia
Serinus alarioBlack-headed canaryLesotho, Namibia and South Africa


  1. Koch, Carl Ludwig (1816). System der baierischen Zoologie, Volume 1 (in German). Nürnberg. p. 228.
  2. Paynter, Raymond A. Jnr., ed. (1968). Check-list of birds of the world, Volume 14. Cambridge, Massachusetts: Museum of Comparative Zoology. p. 208.
  3. Jobling, James A. (2010). The Helm Dictionary of Scientific Bird Names. London, United Kingdom: Christopher Helm. p. 354. ISBN 978-1-4081-2501-4.
  4. Arnaiz-Villena, A.; Alvarez-Tejado, M.; Ruiz-del-Valle, V.; García-de-la-Torre, C.; Varela, P.; Recio, M.; Ferre, S.; Martinez-Laso, J. (1999). "Rapid Radiation of Canaries (Genus Serinus)" (PDF). Molecular Biology and Evolution. 16 (1): 2–11. doi:10.1093/oxfordjournals.molbev.a026034.
  5. Ryan, P.G.; Wright, D.; Oatley, G.; Wakeling, J.; Cohen, C.; Nowell, T.L.; Bowie, R.C.K.; Ward, V.; Crowe, T.M. (2004). "Systematics of Serinus canaries and the status of Cape and Yellow-crowned Canaries inferred from mtDNA and morphology". Ostrich. 75 (4): 288–294. doi:10.2989/00306520409485457.
  6. Nguembock, B.; Fjeldså, J.; Couloux, A.; Pasquet, E. (2009). "Molecular phylogeny of Carduelinae (Aves, Passeriformes, Fringillidae) proves polyphyletic origin of the genera Serinus and Carduelis and suggests redefined generic limits". Molecular Phylogenetics and Evolution. 51 (2): 169–181. doi:10.1016/j.ympev.2008.10.022. PMID 19027082.
  7. Zuccon, Dario; Prŷs-Jones, Robert; Rasmussen, Pamela C.; Ericson, Per G.P. (2012). "The phylogenetic relationships and generic limits of finches (Fringillidae)" (PDF). Molecular Phylogenetics and Evolution. 62 (2): 581–596. doi:10.1016/j.ympev.2011.10.002. PMID 22023825.
  8. Gill, Frank; Donsker, David (eds.). "Finches, euphonias". World Bird List Version 5.2. International Ornithologists' Union. Retrieved 5 June 2015.