The Red-billed Firefinch (Lagonosticta senegala) was introduced at Tamanrasset in about 1940, and also present at El-Goléa since at least 1972 (Isenmann & Moali 2000).
Currently the species still present at the known sites cited above:
- Tamanrasset: the species still present in the town and easily seen. Observed there as recently as last February (photo 1).
- El-Goléa: the species seem present also at this site. Abdelwahab Chedad observed a group of 7-10 birds in January 2016 at Hassi el-Gara near El-Goléa wetland (photo 2). However, there is no indication on whether the species is abundant as is the case at Djanet for example.
The species has also spread (naturally or introduced) to the following regions:
- Djanet: very abundant and easily seen at Djanet town. Bilal Gueroui, who photographed there a Sudan Golden Sparrow last January, said that the species is observed regularly at Djanet. The species present also in the nearby villages (e.g. Efri). Isenmann & Moali (2000) explicitly wrote that “the species has never been recorded at Djanet…”, so apparently the species has spread to that region during the last 17 years. Khaled Ayyach said the species can be seen in big numbers at Djanet and noted that he didn’t observe a single caged bird in 2 years in the town which suggest that the birds may have spread naturally to Djanet and Tassili n’Ajjer in general.
- In Salah: Belbachir (2000) wrote “… introduced recently to In-Salah, where we observed it from 29 September to 6 October 1997″. Farid Belbachir said the species is still present at this town and added in the comments section that it was introduced there around the 1990s.
- Hassi Moumene: a gas field located some 60 Km north of In Salah town. Rob Minshull observed a pair copulating at this site earlier this month, and added that it’s likely to breed in a reed bed within the camp base (see Rob’s full comment below).
Is the Red-billed Firefinch really introduced at Tamanghasset?
Because the species present just to the south in Mali (Adrar Tigharghar) and Niger (Aïr Mountains), one may think why the species in considered ‘introduced’ in Tamanghasset? The information about the species introduction to Tamanghasset is attributed to Heim de Balsac & Mayaud (1962). Having no access to this reference, I asked this question to some Algerian colleagues, and Farid Belbachir (University of Béjaïa) kindly gave this answer:
“It appears that the species was introduced at Tamanrasset by a former French garrison leader named Florimond. The inhabitants of Tamanrasset attribute the name ‘ferrima’ to the Red-billed Firefinch, a name which could be a deformation of ‘Florimond'”.
Belbachir, F. 2000. Première observation d’une colonie de Capucin bec-d’argent Euodice cantans, dans le Sahara Central algérien. Alauda 68: 149–151.
Heim de Balsac, H. & Mayaud, N. 1962. Les oiseaux du Nord-Ouest de l’Afrique. Lechevalier, Paris.
Isenmann, P. & Moali, A. 2000. Oiseaux d’Algérie / Birds of Algeria. SEOF, Paris.
Acknowledgements / Remerciements:
Many thanks to Farid Belbachir, Khaled Ayyach, Samir Amarouche, Abdelwahab Awaf Chedad and Bilal Gueroui for providing the information and the photographs. Thanks also to Ali Mehadji for his interest in the discussion.