This brush-finch is no more tricolored than various other members of the genus, but it got the name. The three colors are the yellow of the underparts, the black of the face sides and the tawny crown stripe I gather, although the back is actually olive – so a fourth color! In general color and pattern the Tricolored resembles both the Pale-naped and Rufous-naped brush-finches; however the Tricolored has an entirely tawny, not rufous, crown stripe which does not turn whitish on the nape. Tricolored Brush-Finch is found in the Andes from Colombia to N Peru. It is typically a specie of forest edge, specifically in dense understory found in openings, overgrown pastures, and edges of clearings between 700 and 3000m in elevation.
It is widespread but not usually common, it is found usually in pairs and these do not tend to join the various mixed species foraging flocks that go through their territories. Little is known about its biology, and in particular how various sympatric brush-finches in this area of the Andes divide up habitats or minimize competition with each other.