Canary Islands: Bird is NOT the Word. Try Whistling.

It's a Bird. It's a......Dog?
One could easily infer that the Canary Islands are named after the canary bird, but they were instead named after the Latin word for canine.  Don't assume this necessarily means the islands were named after dogs.  That is the most popular theory among its modern-population; as evidenced by their flag:

Another theory holds that instead of "land" dogs, the islands were named after seals; which the Romans called "sea dogs" (canis marinus).  By the way, Canary birds are named so because they live on the islands.

Whistle While You Work
It is fitting that a song bird would be named after the Canary Islands, because the islands are also home to one of the world's most interesting languages: Silbo Gomero.  A language born of geographic conditions, Silbo is a whistling language that was used by natives to communicate across the deep gorges that traverse through the Canary Islands.  Much of the original language is lost, but as Spain's influence grew during the Age of Exploration, the native population began a whistled from of Spanish.  CBS once visited the islands to experience this fantastic language.

Interested in learning more about the Canary Islands, click here.

Thanks for reading!

Top impage uploaded from Wikimedia: Spain_Canary_Islands_location_map.svg: NordNordWest Mapa_territorios_EspaƱa_Canarias.svg: HansenBCN derivative work: Basilicofresco (msg) [CC BY-SA 3.0 (], via Wikimedia Commons


  1. Interesting info. I know so little about geography it is embarrassing.

  2. Thank you. Geography is just not promoted at national and state education levels.

  3. We once lost a scholars bowl match at Tulane because we answered that the Canary Islands were named after birds... not dogs... That haunts me to this day... We just didn't piece it together that canine was the root word. Makes sense now. Nice article.

    1. I know of at least two times that it has come up in scholars bowl matches. I think anyone taking a guess would choose birds.