World’s largest canary studied

This 17 March 2015 video says about itself:

Inaccessible Island bunting (or Inaccessible Island finch) (Nesospiza acunhae) on Inaccessible Island in the Tristan da Cunha archipelago, south Atlantic Ocean.

UPDATED: The Nesospiza name of the Inaccessible Island bunting is very similar to the name Neospiza, until recently the name of the São Tomé grosbeak, more to the north in the Atlantic. However, recent research says that grosbeak is not Neospiza, and the two birds are only very distantly related.

From Lund University in Sweden:

The world’s largest canary

June 21, 2017

Biologists at Lund University, together with their colleagues from Portugal and the UK, have now proven that the endangered São Tomé grosbeak is the world’s largest canary — 50 per cent larger than the runner-up.

The São Tomé grosbeak is one of the rarest birds in the world and can only be found on the island of São Tomé in the West African Gulf of Guinea. After the bird was discovered in 1888, another 101 years went by before it was spotted again by birdwatchers.

Until now, it has been categorised as Nesospiza — “the new finch” —

No, ‘island finch’. ‘New finch’ is Neospiza.

but new DNA analyses, performed by the researchers, show that it is a canary or seedeater of the genus Crithagra.

The São Tomé grosbeak is distinguished by its size (20 cm long), flat head and very large beak.

The island nation of São Tomé and Príncipe has never been attached to the mainland. Its 1,000 square kilometres contain a total of 28 endemic bird species. This can be compared to the 22 endemic species found on the Galápagos, which is 100 times larger.

Because the small islands have been isolated for so long, several species have evolved rapidly and distinguished themselves from their relatives on the mainland — a phenomenon known as the “island effect.” The seclusion of an island involves an evolution by which some species develop so-called gigantism — they become giants. The opposite evolutionary process — that animals become smaller — is also common.

São Tomé and Príncipe have been inhabited for more than 500 years, but have remained fairly intact. In fact, there is still no documented extinction of a species on these islands, although presently some species are critically endangered.

5 thoughts on “World’s largest canary studied

  1. Well spotted, and what a frustrating mistake! Having authored the study, and also read through the press release, I am embarrassed that I did not spot the extra S, that makes such a difference. I have no idea about when it was introduced, and I haven’t myself noticed it until I came across your blog post. Curiously enough, I do research in both systems (Neospiza – “the new finch” and Nesospiza – “the island finch”), and indeed they are both different and rather distantly related, since Nesospiza are of South American origin within the family Thraupidae!



      • Well thank you for making me spot this – and sorry for messing up your post! 😉 I have contacted the University press people and asked them to add a correction to the original release. I have also done some troubleshooting and at least feel ever so little better after making sure that the material that I release still said Neospiza. It seems somehow that the genus changed most likely happened in the university translation(!). Still should have noticed it, though!


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