Santa Marta Brushfinch is restricted to the Sierra Nevada de Santa Marta in northern Colombia, and is one of the many species that are endemic to that isolated range. Although it has a very small range, this brushfinch is common, and appears to face no imminent conservation threat. This brushfinch has a face pattern unlike any other member of the genus. The head is entirely black, with is a contrasting silvery cheek patch, and reddish eyes. Otherwise it is entirely dark olive above and yellow below; yellow underparts are quite common among brushfinches, but the silvery cheek patch is a unique feature. This brushfinch is found in shrubby borders and the second growth of humid subtropical forest. Santa Marta Brushfinches tend to forage below eye level, as is typical of brushfinches, but this species also often forages much higher up in the midstory.