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Manu Minute: The Growing Flock of Saffron Finches

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Ann Tanimoto-Johnson
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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. Special thanks to the Macaulay Library at the Cornell Lab of Ornithology for today's field recordings.

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.

Savannah Harriman-Pote rejoined The Conversation in 2021 after interning for Hawaiʻi Public Radio in the summers of 2018 and 2019. She also produces HPR's podcast Manu Minute in collaboration with The University of Hawaii at Hilo. She was born and raised on the Big Island, and she collects public radio mugs.
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