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Cochabamba Mountain-Finch Picture

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The Cochabamba Mountain-finch Compsospiza garleppi is an endangered bird species that is endemic to the Cochabamba department of central Bolivia.


The Cochabamba Mountain-finch is a small sparrow-like passerine. It is mostly grey above, reddish below, with a narrow grey mask. Both sexes appear similar.


Compsospiza garleppi is found in the Andes of Cochabamba, Bolivia, between 2,900 and 3,900 m.a.s.l. in semi-arid valleys containing Polylepis spp., Alnus spp. and other associated small trees and shrubs

This habitat occurs as a transitional vegetative form in the ecotone between three different Tropical Andean biomes (or ecoregions): the semi-arid interandean valleys or "valles" , the lush cloud forests or "yungas" of the northeast facing front range and downslope of the central Andes, and the higher, cold puna grasslands that replace the wetter paramo of northwestern South America as the dominant alpine vegetation in the central Andes.

Population status

Current population data are lacking. Estimates range from 400-4,000, and are believed to be declining. Most searches have only turned up isolated breeding pairs, in even known localities in the past 10 years. As recently as 1997, numerous individuals were observed by a U.S. Peace Corps volunteer in Miska Mayu and elsewhere in the Wayapacha area. Potential sightings from areas of suitable habitat extreme northern Potosí cannot be ruled out.

Given the extremely limited range of this species, their numbers were likely never very high. But rapid habitat destruction, which is likely causing the current C. garleppi decline, has raised alarms of the risks of extinction of this species.

The main threat is destruction of Polylepis woodlands of Cochabamba (as elsewhere in the central Andes), primarily for cooking fuelwood. Several projects to provide efficient solar stoves, and other alternatives to fuel wood hold some promise.

Related species

The very similar and closely related Tucuman Mountain-finch, Compsospiza baeri of northwest Argentina is found in analogous habitat farther south in the Tucuman ecoregion of northwestern Argentina. The two species may have been isolated by during glaciation periods by the major river valleys that cut across the front range of the Andes including the Rio Grande, which forms the border between Cochabamba and Potosí, Pilcomayo, and Rio Bermejo. C. baeri also differs from C. garleppi because it has a pale grey belly, whereas all of C. garleppi's underparts are reddish.

In 2009 the Tucuman Mountain-finch and the Chochabamba Mountain-finch where separated from the Poospiza genus and placed into the resurrected genus Compsospiza based on evidence that they are genetically distinct. []

Notes and references
  1. ^ * Fjeldså, Jon; Niels Krabbe. (1990). Birds of the High Andes: A Manual to the Birds of the Temperate Zone of the Andes and Patagonia, South America. Apollo Books. ISBN 8788757161. 
  2. ^ Werner, Frederick R. (1997). pers. obs.. 
  3. ^ Ridgely, Robert S.; Guy Tudor (1989). The Birds of South America, vol. 1 The Oscine Passerines.. University of Texas Press. ISBN 0292707568. 
  4. ^ BirdLife International (2006). Species factsheet: Poospiza garleppi'. Downloaded from on 27/3/2007.. 
  • BirdLife International (2006). Poospiza garleppi. 2006 IUCN Red List of Threatened Species. IUCN 2006. Retrieved on 31 March 2007. Database entry includes justification for why this species' status is endangered.
  • Handbook of the Birds of the World needs more info on P. garleppi.
  • The Cochabamba Mountain-Finch conservation project by Asociación Armonía and Bird Bolivia provides substantial natural history information, largely based on first-hand surveys.
  • Proposal (#366) to South American Classification Committee: Resurgir el Género Compsospiza

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