The Short-tailed Finch is a large bodied, and large-billed uniform gray finch whose body structure closely resembles that of the Phrygilus sierra-finches. Despite its vernacular name, the species does not appear ‘short-tailed’ and tail length is not an obvious field characteristic. Monotypic, the Short-tailed Finch is currently classified amongst the Embezeridae and thought to be more closely related to the Phrygilus sierra-finches. The species has a highly localized and patchy high-Andean distribution from southern Peru through to northwestern Argentina. Within its known elevational range (3300-4600 m) the Short-tailed Finch prefers highly localized microhabitat features in high-Andean grass-steppe habitats. More specifically its presence is in some way dependent on the presence of boulders. Often wary or elusive, the species is most often found foraging on the ground, or probing lichen and moss on boulders or Polylepis trees. Despite its patchy distribution, it is currently not considered to be globally threatened.
Short-tailed Finch photo © Fabrice Schmitt