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Grey-headed Sierra-Finch
Phrygilus gayi

Grey-headed Sierra-Finch
Comesebo Andino
Phrygilus gayi
Length: 172mm. Sexes slightly unlike. Male: bill dark bluish grey above and pale blue-grey on mandible; iris dark brown; head, chin and throat dark bluish plumbeous grey; back, lower back and rump yellowish olive, with new plumage it is mottled with grey; uppertail coverts bluish grey; tail feathers blackish with bluish grey margins. Breast, sides of belly and upper flanks yellow with olivaceous tinge that is deeper on flanks; lower flanks whitish grey; centre of belly, lower belly and undertail coverts white. Wing coverts bluish grey; remiges blackish with bluish grey margins.
Average weight: 34g. Female: overall coloration is paler. Upper parts of head with blackish streaks; chin and throat whitish grey striated blackish; breast and flanks cinnamon olive. Young males are similar to females. Similar species: easily confused with the Patagonian Sierra-Finch (Phrygilus patagonicus), it is separable by being slightly larger, entirely olivaceous above, head is darker and underparts are paler. Habitat and behaviour: it inhabits shrubby steppe and arid and semiarid grassy steppe, singly or in groups; on occasion, chiefly in winter, it may gather in large numbers; it is almost invariably found perched on the ground, where it feeds on seeds. It also perches in shrubs and on rocks, where it utters a very musical song. The alarm and contact call resemble that of the Patagonian Sierra-Finch (Phrygilus patagonicus) and only by paying special attention can it be told apart. In the Andean woodland it is found only in the high montane region, on the forest edge. The authors collected two specimens at Valle de los Mártires, in the centre of Chubut. They were a male and a female very pale and greyish overall. Actually both had the same plumage and it is worth noting that the male’s gonads were very well developed and the female was in the laying period, presumably some race that had not been described until then, or otherwise it might be that males breed before acquiring adult plumage. Range: from Neuquén, west of Río Negro and all the province of Chubut, even near the sea, up to the north of Tierra del Fuego, the race Phrygilus gayi caniceps occurs.
Illustrated Hanbook of the Birds of Patagonia
Kindless: Kovacs family

Photographs: Mariano Diez Peña

Birding Patagonia • Birdwatcing in Bariloche, Patagonia, Argentina and Chile.
All Rights reserved. Reproduction of photographs is forbidden without permission from the authors.
Photographs on the website: Mariano Diez Peña