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Manu Minute: The Growing Flock of Saffron Finches

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Ann Tanimoto-Johnson
/
HPR
Both sexes of Saffron finches are bright yellow with some grey touches in their wings. Males have a deeper orange coloring on their head and face. Juveniles are much more buff in color with some yellow on their backs and chests.

Saffron finches are native to South America and were introduced to the islands around 1965.

This golden-yellow songbird gathers in small flocks on lawns and other grassy and shrubby areas.

They are most populous on Hawai`i Island and O`ahu, but scattered individuals have been observed on other islands as well.

These birds were introduced at a time when many of our native birds had disappeared from the lowlands due to mosquito-transmitted disease like avian malaria.

If we succeed at landscape-scale control of these non-native mosquitoes, it is possible that many of our native birds, like the bright red `apapane and yellow `amakihi, can recolonize our parks and backyards.

It remains to be seen how they might interact with newly established species like the saffron finch.

Manu Minute Saffron finch Spectrogram video.mp4

Audio credit: Peter Boesman/Macaulay Library at the Cornell Lab of Ornithology (ML301656)

Ann Tanimoto-Johnson is the Lab Manager & Research Technician in the Hart Lab/Listening Observatory for Hawaiian Ecosystems (LOHE) Bioacoustics Lab. She researches the ecology, bioacoustics, and conservation of our native Hawaiian forests, birds, and bats.
Patrick Hart is the host of HPR's Manu Minute. He runs the Listening Observatory for Hawaiian Ecosystems (LOHE) Lab at the University of Hawaiʻi at Hilo.
Savannah Harriman-Pote is a producer for The Conversation and Manu Minute. Contact her at talkback@hawaiipublicradio.org.
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