Manu Minute: The Yellow-Fronted Canary

Mar 10, 2021

The yellow-fronted canary is native to sub-Saharan Africa, where they populate open woodlands and  grasslands in great numbers. Not to be confused with the Saffron finch, these small birds only grow to be about four or five inches in length and have grey markings on their head and wings.

So how does a bird that's barely the size of an apple banana from the opposite side of the world make it to Hawai'i? Oh, the usual way.

Because of their cheerful song and pleasant appearance, yellow-fronted canaries was first brought to the islands as a cagebird. Then one was released, potentially on accident, from an aviary near Koko Crater on Oahu in the 1960s. Around the same time, they were also released, probably on purpose, on Pu'u Wa'awa'a Ranch on the west side of Hawai'i island. They've since become a permanent feature on those two islands, and have also been sighted on Molokai and Maui.

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