One of the more interesting aspects of getting involved with birding as a hobby has been the opportunity to learn about the non-native species that have found the Southern California climate so much to their liking. Birds from Asia, Africa, Australia, Mexico and South America are all thriving here...some have been doing so for 20 or more years.
The first of these species that I was introduced to are Spice Finches. I call them the "AKA" birds because they have so many different names. They are also known as Nutmeg Mannikins and Scaly-Breasted Munia. Although that last is apparently the most currently correct name, I find it to be a mouthful to say...so I stick with "Spice Finches."
I was photographing a flock of House Finches (our most common local bird) at my son's school one day when I noticed that some of the birds in the flock looked a little bit different. However, being such a novice birder and being at quite a far distance away, I wasn't sure what I was looking at.
Once I got home and processed the photos, it was obvious these were not House Finches. However, I couldn't find anything on my Merlin birding app or in my guidebooks that looked even remotely close.
I had to post the photo on a bird identification page on Facebook to find out what they were. Since then, I've seen them at numerous other locations and even learned about another non-native species that acts as a nest parasite to them (similar to the way the Cowbirds act to our local finches and sparrows).
They are handsome-looking birds, but obviously it's not ideal to have species introduced that don't belong here. They must compete for resources with the other seed eaters, but I have not heard any information as to what impact they are having on our native species. I find the whole thing fascinating.