Black-spectacled brush-finch (Atlapetes melanopsis)

Also known as: black-spectacled brush finch
Synonyms: Atlapetes melanops
GenusAtlapetes (1)
SizeLength: 17.5 - 19 cm (2) (3)

The black-spectacled brush-finch is classified as Endangered (EN) on the IUCN Red List (1).

Relatively new to science, the black-spectacled brush-finch (Atlapetes melanopsis) was first described in 1999 (2) (4). While its body is a dull greenish-grey (2), it can be distinguished by its tawny orange cap, black forehead and the black rings around its ochre eyes (4), which presumably gave rise to its common name. Two white, horn-shaped stripes known as supralorals can also be seen above its eyes (2). The underside of the black-spectacled brush-finch is a paler grey, and the wings and tail are darker. Its feet are grey and its bill is black (2) (4).

There is little information recorded on differences between the male and female black-spectacled brush-finch; however, males of the Atlapetes genus tend to be slightly heavier than females (5). Brush-finch juveniles typically have mottled feathers (4), and the juvenile black-spectacled brush-finch is thought to have yellowish underparts and greenish upperparts (3).

The song of the black-spectacled brush-finch comprises a simple ‘tew-whee’ (3), along with chattering ‘chups’ and squeaky, high-pitched calls (2).

The black-spectacled brush-finch is found in central Peru at just five locations surrounding the Mantaro river in Huancavelica and Junín (2).

Found primarily in areas of montane scrub and forest edge, the black-spectacled brush-finch requires open, bushy areas with relatively high seasonal rainfall (2) (6). This species is found at elevations of between 2,500 and 3,400 metres (3).

The black-spectacled brush-finch is typically seen in small groups of between one and three individuals, foraging for food from the ground all the way up to the sub-canopy (2). Its diet is thought to include seeds and insects (2) (4).

With its small range and fragmented distribution, the main threat facing the black-spectacled brush-finch is habitat loss, with areas of scrub and forest being burnt to create and maintain pastureland. However, it is unlikely that this rate of habitat destruction is increasing, as humans are steadily leaving the region for larger towns and cities (2) (4).

There are currently no known conservation measures in place for the black-spectacled brush-finch. However, it has been proposed that this species would benefit from further research to give a better understanding of its population size and requirements, as well as from measures to ensure that at least some of its habitat receives protection (2).

Find out more about the black-spectacled brush-finch:

To learn more about wildlife conservation in Peru see:

This information is awaiting authentication by a species expert, and will be updated as soon as possible. If you are able to help please contact:

  1. IUCN Red List (January, 2012)
  2. BirdLife International (January, 2012)
  3. Schulenberg, T.S. (2007) Birds of Peru. Princeton University Press, Princeton, New Jersey.
  4. Valqui, T. and Fjeldsa, J. (1999) New brush-finch Atlapetes from Peru. Ibis, 141: 194-198.
  5. Echeverry-Galvis, M.A., Cordoba-Cordoba, S., Perzaza, C.A., Baptiste, M.P., and Ahumada, J.A. (2006) Body weights of 98 species of Andean cloud-forest birds. Bulletin of the British Ornithologists’ Club, 126: 4.
  6. Schulenberg, T.S. (Ed.) (2010) Black-spectacled brush-finch (Atlapetes melanopsis). In: Schulenberg, T.S. (Ed.) Neotropical Birds Online. Cornell Lab of Ornithology, Ithaca. Available at: