Short-tailed Finch Idiopsar brachyurus

  • Order: Passeriformes
  • Family: Thraupidae
  • Monotypic
  • Authors: Huw Lloyd



The Short-tailed Finch primarily forages on the ground. Its characteristic horizontal foraging position (body positioned horizontal whilst pointing the head directly downward) is reminiscent to that of the White-winged Diuca-Finch. In southern Peru the Short-tailed Finch is often observed probing and digging at moss clusters or lichen on boulders or Polylepis trees (see also Food). There is one record of individuals foraging along a dirt track road (Mazar Barnett et al. 1998). The species also uses the edge of boulders to remove soil and other matter gathered around its bill whilst foraging (Lloyd et al. 2005).
Often wary (Lloyd et al. 2005) or even elusive (Fjeldså and Krabbe 1990) whilst foraging, the finch can often be seen perching ‘sentinel-like’ atop boulders with its bill slightly raised (Fjeldså and Krabbe 1990, Schulenberg et al. 2007) and (in southern Peru) retreats to the edge of Polylepis woodland patches when disturbed (Lloyd et al. 2005). For short periods of the day they can sometimes be found resting within Polylepis woodland patches (Lloyd et al. 2005).

Social and interspecific behavior

The Short-tailed Finch is usually encountered singly, in pairs, or loosely associated pairs (family groups?) (Lloyd et al. 2005). In southern Peru, the species appears tolerant of several other high-Andean species foraging in close proximity to it: e.g. Cream-winged Cinclodes (Cinclodes albidiventris), Streak-throated Canastero (Asthenes humilis), Junin Canastero (Asthenes virgata), various Muscisaxicola ground-tyrants, House Wren (Troglodytes aedon), Plumbeous Sierra-Finch (Phrygilus unicolor), and Ash-breasted Sierra-finch (Phrygilus plebejus). In southern Peru the White-winged Diuca-Finch (Diuca speculifera) can also be found foraging in the same area as the Short-tailed Finch, but not in close proximity to them (Lloyd et al. 2005).
Only one type of display has been recorded. This display involves pairs singing from an elevated perch 1 m from the ground in a Polylepis tree (Lloyd et al. 2005). Singing birds throw their head backwards whilst pointing the bill skyward. They then lower their heads to their normal posture before repeating the display and turning around on the perch every 7-10 seconds to sing in the opposite direction (Lloyd et al. 2005). The purpose of this display (territorial, sexual etc) is unknown.


No information.

Recommended Citation

Lloyd, H. (2009). Short-tailed Finch (Idiopsar brachyurus), version 1.0. In Neotropical Birds Online (T. S. Schulenberg, Editor). Cornell Lab of Ornithology, Ithaca, NY, USA.