Saffron finch

Saffron finch
Sicalis flaveola

Photo by Claudio Marcio (Flickr)

Common name:
saffron finch (en); canário-da-terra-verdadeiro (pt); sicale bouton-d’or (fr); chirigüe azafranado (es); safranammer (de)

Order Passeriformes
Family Emberizidae

This species occur in three disjunct areas in South America. The subspecies S.f. flaveola is found in Colombia, northern Venezuela and along coastal areas of the Guianas and Trinidad. S. f. valida in found in southern Ecuador and north-western Peru. The subspecies S.f. brasiliensis, S. f. pelzelni and S.f. koenigi are found from Maranhão in eastern Brazil, south to Uruguay and northern Argentina and west to Paraguay and Bolivia. The saffron finch has also been introduced to Panama, Jamaica, Puerto Rico and the Hawaiian Islands.

These birds are 13,5-15 cm long and weigh 12-23 g.

The saffron finch is found in a wide range of habitats, mainly dry tropical scrublands with scattered trees, but also open dry forests, moist scrublands, second growths, rural gardens, arable land and urban areas.

They forage on the ground, mainly taking seeds but also some small arthropods.

Saffron finches breed in April-February, varying among different parts of their range. They nest in a cup made of plant fibres, which can be placed in variety of places, from holes in trees or bamboos, to epiphytes, holes in buildings or even inside the skull of an ox. The female lays 3-5 light grey eggs with brown spots and blotches, which she incubates alone for 12-15 days. The chicks are fed by both parents and fledge 14-17 days after hatching, but only become fully independent about 2 weeks later.

IUCN status – LC (Least Concern)
This species has a very large breeding range and is described as common to abundant. The population is suspected to be stable in the absence of evidence for any declines or substantial threats.

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