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Rufous-eared Brush-finch Atlapetes rufigenis
BirdLife is updating this factsheet for the 2016 Red List
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This species is considered Near Threatened as it has a moderately small and fragmented range, and is likely to be declining owing to ongoing habitat loss through the deforestation of montane woodlands.

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

Taxonomic note
Atlapetes rufigenis (Sibley and Monroe 1990, 1993) has been split into A. rufigenis and A. forbesi following SACC (2005).

17.5 cm. Pale grey and rufous finch. Russet head. White supraloral 'horns' and moustache. Dark smoky-grey upperparts including wings and tail. Blackish submalar streak. White throat. Whitish underparts somewhat flammulated grey on breast and sides. Brownish-grey flanks. Similar spp Allopatric Apurímac Brush-finch A. forbesi has noticeable black markings on face. Voice Faint tzip calls and varied song of four notes.

Distribution and population
Atlapetes rufigenis has a patchy distribution in the Andes of west Peru, mostly in the drainage of the upper río Marañón, from south Cajamarca to Huánuco and Ancash (Fjeldså and Krabbe 1990). It is apparently locally fairly common (Fjeldså and Krabbe 1990) and common near Tantamayo (W.-P. Vellinga in litt. 1999). In the Cordillera Blanca, it is found in c.20 remnant patches of Polylepis woodland (J. Fjeldså verbally 2000).

Population justification
The global population size has not been quantified, but this species is described as 'fairly common but patchily distributed' (Stotz et al. 1996).

Trend justification
Slow declines are likely to be occurring owing to on-going habitat destruction throughout the range, although data are lacking on precise population trends.

This species occurs at elevations of 2,700-4,600 m in Polylepis woodland, mixed Alnus and Polylepis groves, montane evergreen forest edge, montane scrub and secondary growth (Fjeldså and Krabbe 1990, G. Servat in litt. 1999, Clements and Shany 2001, Schulenberg et al. 2007). It has also been found in park-like surroundings around agricultural fields (W.-P. Vellinga in litt. 1999).

Cutting for firewood and a lack of regeneration caused by burning and intensive grazing are reducing mixed Polylepis woodlands (Fjeldså and Kessler 1996). Other factors include the change from camelid to sheep and cattle farming, and erosion and soil degradation caused by agricultural intensification, road construction and the inadequacy of afforestation projects (particularly the use of Eucalyptus and other exotic tree species) (Fjeldså and Kessler 1996).

Conservation Actions Underway
It occurs in Huascarán National Park, Ancash, but until recently habitat degradation was continuing even within this reserve (Frimer and Møller Nielsen 1989, Fjeldså and Kessler 1996). However, there is now active management of remaining Polylepis patches (Byers 2000). Conservation Actions Proposed
Monitor populations at known sites to determine rates of population decline and range contraction. Conduct ecological studies to determine tolerance of disturbed habitats and levels of dependence on declining native woodlands. Increase the area of suitable habitat that has protected status.

Byers, A. C. 2000. Contemporary landscape change in the Huascarán National Park and buffer zone, Cordillera Blanca. Mountain Research and Development 20: 52-63.

Clements, J. F.; Shany, N. 2001. A field guide to the birds of Peru. Lynx Edicions, Barcelona, Spain.

Fjeldså, J.; Kessler, M. 1996. Conserving the biological diversity of Polylepis woodlands of the highland of Peru and Bolivia. NORDECO, Copenhagen.

Fjeldså, J.; Krabbe, N. 1990. Birds of the high Andes. Apollo Books, Copenhagen.

Frimer, O.; Mo1ller Nielsen, S. 1989. The status of Polylepis forests and their avifauna in Cordillera Blanca, Peru. Technical report from an inventory in 1988, with suggestions for conservation management.

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

Schulenberg, T. S.; Stotz, D. F. ; Lane, D. F.; O'Neill, J. P.; Parker III, T. A. 2007. Birds of Peru. Prnceton University Press, Prnceton, NJ, USA.

Further web sources of information
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
Gilroy, J., O'Brien, A., Sharpe, C J

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

Recommended citation
BirdLife International (2016) Species factsheet: Atlapetes rufigenis. Downloaded from on 25/10/2016. Recommended citation for factsheets for more than one species: BirdLife International (2016) IUCN Red List for birds. Downloaded from on 25/10/2016.

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.

Key facts
Current IUCN Red List category Near Threatened
Family Emberizidae (Buntings, American sparrows and allies)
Species name author (Salvin, 1895)
Population size mature individuals
Population trend Decreasing
Distribution size (breeding/resident) 21,300 km2
Country endemic? Yes
Links to further information
- Additional Information on this species