Buntings and New World Sparrows (Emberizidae)

Saffron Finch (Sicalis flaveola) - HBW 16, p. 633

French: Sicale bouton-d’or German: Safrangilbammer Spanish: Chirigüe Azafranado
Other common names: (Saffron) Yellow Finch; Pelzeln’s Finch (“pelzelni group”); Pereyra’s Yellow-finch (“S. striata”)

Taxonomy: Fringilla flaveola Linnaeus, 1766, no locality = Suriname.
Molecular-genetic data suggest that genus is most closely related to the “hooded” group of sierra-finches (Phrygilus atriceps, Phrygilus punensis, Phrygilus gayi and Phrygilus patagonicus); also, that it belongs within the tanager family (Thraupidae). Races form two groups, “flaveola group” (nominate and valida) and “pelzelni group” (pelzelni, brasiliensis and koenigi), these differing dramatically in female and immature plumages and, to lesser extent, in male plumage; also, latter group exhibits strong sexual di.. View all taxonomy...

Taxonomy: Fringilla flaveola Linnaeus, 1766, no locality = Suriname.
Molecular-genetic data suggest that genus is most closely related to the “hooded” group of sierra-finches (Phrygilus atriceps, Phrygilus punensis, Phrygilus gayi and Phrygilus patagonicus); also, that it belongs within the tanager family (Thraupidae). Races form two groups, “flaveola group” (nominate and valida) and “pelzelni group” (pelzelni, brasiliensis and koenigi), these differing dramatically in female and immature plumages and, to lesser extent, in male plumage; also, latter group exhibits strong sexual dimorphism, while “flaveola group” does not. These groups may warrant treatment as two separate species; further research required. Disjunct trans-Andean valida possibly also a distinct species, meriting detailed assessment. Birds of higher areas of S Bolivia currently included in race pelzelni, but may belong in koenigi. Proposed taxon S. striata (described from Buenos Aires, in Argentina) invalid, based on a specimen regarded as a breeding male of race pelzelni in immature plumage. Five subspecies recognized.

Subspecies and Distribution:

  • flaveola (Linnaeus, 1766) - N & E Colombia (S to Meta), Venezuela S to R Orinoco (also NW Amazonas), coasts of the Guianas, and Trinidad.
  • valida Bangs & T. E. Penard, 1921 - coastal slope in Ecuador (Guayaquil) S to NW Peru (Ancash).
  • brasiliensis (J. F. Gmelin, 1789) - E Brazil from Maranhão, Minas Gerais and São Paulo E to Atlantic coast.

     See all 5 subspecies
  • flaveola (Linnaeus, 1766) - N & E Colombia (S to Meta), Venezuela S to R Orinoco (also NW Amazonas), coasts of the Guianas, and Trinidad.
  • valida Bangs & T. E. Penard, 1921 - coastal slope in Ecuador (Guayaquil) S to NW Peru (Ancash).
  • brasiliensis (J. F. Gmelin, 1789) - E Brazil from Maranhão, Minas Gerais and São Paulo E to Atlantic coast.
  • pelzelni P. L. Sclater, 1872 - Bolivia E of Andes (S from S Beni), SE Brazil (S from Mato Grosso and Santa Catarina), Paraguay, E Argentina (S to E Mendoza, La Pampa and Buenos Aires) and Uruguay; recently also in Chile (Los Ríos and Los Lagos; possibly introduced).
  • koenigi Hoy, 1978 - NW Argentina (Salta and Jujuy).