email a friend
printable version
Black-spectacled Brush-finch Atlapetes melanopsis
BirdLife is updating this factsheet for the 2016 Red List
Please email us with any relevant information
BirdLife Species Champion Become a BirdLife Preventing Extinctions Programme Supporter
For information about BirdLife Species Champions and Species Guardians visit the BirdLife Preventing Extinctions Programme.

The known range of this species is very small, and ongoing threats to remaining habitat suggest that there is a continuing decline in range and numbers. It therefore qualifies as Endangered.

Taxonomic source(s)
SACC. 2006. A classification of the bird species of South America. Available at: #

Taxonomic note
Described as new to science as Atlapetes melanops by Valqui and Fjeldså (1999); Valqui and Fjeldså (2002) renamed this form A. melanopsis as the name A. melanops was preoccupied by Buarremon melanops (Sclater and Salvin 1876).

Atlapetes melanops Valqui and Fjeldsa (1999)

17.5 cm. Dull greenish-grey finch. Pale ochraceous-tawny cap. Black forehead. Whitish supraloral "horns". Short, indistinct malar stripe and large, black area around eyes. Dull greenish-grey upperparts, with darker wings and tail. Dusky underparts with some olivaceous tinge and faint yellowish flammulations. Black bill. Dark brownish-red iris. Grey feet. Similar spp. Allopatric Apurímac Brush-finch A. forbesi is pure grey, has ruddier head and reduced black around eyes. Voice Chattering chups and high pitch hoarse squeaky calls

Distribution and population
Atlapetes melanops occurs in a small area of the Cordillera Central, Peru, where it is restricted to five localities north and south of the río Mantaro, in Huancavelica and Junín. Since its discovery in 1996, individuals have been recorded at the following sites: Pariahuanca, Miotambo, the Lampa valley, Huachocollpa (Valqui and Fjeldså 1999) and Río Punto (G. Engblom in litt. 2001). Specimen material is limited to one individual taken south-east of Huachocollpa (Valqui and Fjeldså 1999).

Population justification
The population is estimated to number 2,500-9,999 individuals based on an assessment of known records, descriptions of abundance and range size. This is consistent with recorded population density estimates for congeners or close relatives with a similar body size, and the fact that only a proportion of the estimated Extent of Occurrence is likely to be occupied. This estimate is equivalent to 1,667-6,666 mature individuals, rounded here to 1,500-7,000 mature individuals.

Trend justification
A slow and on-going population decline is suspected owing to rates of habitat loss.

It is restricted to dry, open bushy areas, often with dense thickets in ravines, at 2,480-3,400 m (an elevational zone that receives comparatively high seasonal rainfall) (Valqui and Fjeldså 1999). It has also been recorded in adjacent ecotones, e.g. near the edge of elfin forest, grading into humid montane forest. It occurs in groups of 1-3 individuals, foraging from the ground to the subcanopy of trees and shrubs, on epiphyte-covered or bare branches. Its diet appears to include insects and possibly seeds (Valqui and Fjeldså 1999).

Habitat destruction at elevations suitable for this species has been ongoing for several thousand years, but is probably not increasing, as the human population of the region is in decline, owing to migration to larger towns and cities. Nonetheless, burning to maintain and increase available pasture prevents the regeneration of natural vegetation, except in steep, rocky areas and ravines (Valqui and Fjeldså 1999).

Conservation Actions Underway
None is known.Conservation Actions Proposed
Survey to delimit its distribution and estimate numbers. Assess its precise ecological requirements. Assess the impact of existing threats upon the species. Ensure that some populations are adequately protected.

García-Moreno, J.; Fjeldså, J. 1999. Re-evaluation of species limits in the genus Atlapetes based on mtDNA sequence data. Ibis 141: 199-207.

Valqui, T.; Fjeldså, J. 1999. New brush-finch Altapetes from Peru. Ibis 141: 194-198.

Further web sources of information
Alliance for Zero Extinction (AZE) species/site profile. This species has been identified as an AZE trigger due to its IUCN Red List status and limited range.

Click here for more information about the Alliance for Zero Extinction (AZE)

Explore HBW Alive for further information on this species

Search for photos and videos, and hear sounds of this species from the Internet Bird Collection

Text account compilers
Pople, R., Sharpe, C J, Symes, A.

Engblom, G.

IUCN Red List evaluators
Butchart, S., Symes, A.

Recommended citation
BirdLife International (2016) Species factsheet: Atlapetes melanopsis. Downloaded from on 27/10/2016. Recommended citation for factsheets for more than one species: BirdLife International (2016) IUCN Red List for birds. Downloaded from on 27/10/2016.

This information is based upon, and updates, the information published in BirdLife International (2000) Threatened birds of the world. Barcelona and Cambridge, UK: Lynx Edicions and BirdLife International, BirdLife International (2004) Threatened birds of the world 2004 CD-ROM and BirdLife International (2008) Threatened birds of the world 2008 CD-ROM. These sources provide the information for species accounts for the birds on the IUCN Red List.

To provide new information to update this factsheet or to correct any errors, please email BirdLife

To contribute to discussions on the evaluation of the IUCN Red List status of Globally Threatened Birds, please visit BirdLife's Globally Threatened Bird Forums.

Additional resources for this species

ARKive species - Black-spectacled brush-finch (Atlapetes melanopsis) 0

Key facts
Current IUCN Red List category Endangered
Family Emberizidae (Buntings, American sparrows and allies)
Species name author Valqui & Fjeldså, 2002
Population size 1500-7000 mature individuals
Population trend Decreasing
Distribution size (breeding/resident) 1,000 km2
Country endemic? Yes
Links to further information
- Additional Information on this species