Wednesday, July 6, 2016

Yellow-fronted Canary on the Big Island of Hawai'i

The Hawaiian Islands are host to a great many bird species, but few of those seen by island visitors are native to the islands. When humans reached the islands, they brought animals and bugs that had a devastating effect on the original ecosystem of the islands. Rats, cats, and mongoose preyed on the natives species, but even worse, introduced mosquitoes brought avian malaria to which the native birds had no resistance. So few native birds remained in the coastal cities that well-meaning people released colorful tropical birds in the islands to take up the slack.
The Yellow-fronted Canary (Serinus mozambicus) arrived on the islands in the 1960s. Also called Green Singing-Finches, they've been popular as pets, but originated in Africa in the region south of the Sahara Desert. They do well in arid woodlands, which makes them an ideal match to the Kona Coast where I got these pictures on our recent trip.
The canaries spread and by the early 2000s had reached Humu'ula, the pass between Mauna Loa and Mauna Kea. I saw one of them while exploring Pu'u Huluhulu, a cinder cone kipuka at the pass on my trip last month (above).