Cochabamba Mountain-finch Poospiza garleppi
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Justification of Red List Category
This species is thought to have a very small population within a small and severely fragmented range, in which habitat destruction is continuing; it therefore qualifies as Endangered.

Population justification
The last known population estimate for this species was given by Collar et al. (1992) and estimated between 400 and 4,000 individuals, roughly equivalent to 270-2,700 mature individuals. In the absence of more up-to-date information regarding the population size, Collar et al.'s (1992) estimate is still used; however, further study is required.

Trend justification
Habitat loss and degradation are continuing within the species's range, and are likely to be causing slow to moderate declines, particularly given the lack of records from areas that have been affected by human development.

Distribution and population

Compsospiza garleppi is found in Cochabamba and adjacent N Potosí, and disjunctly in Chuquisaca, in central Bolivia. Recent visits to most known localities revealed no more than 1-2 pairs per locality, except within Tunari National Park, where regular sightings continue, including over 20 seen in 1994 (Wege and Long 1995). It has also been reported near Totora, outside Carrasco National Park (S. Arias per J. Fjeldså in litt. 1999). Thought to be principally restricted to the montane slopes surrounding Cochabamba city; although some surveys of previously unvisited areas of habitat have been largely fruitless (Huanca-Llanos undated), a new population was discovered outside the Tunari watershed, at Llallahuani, in the extreme north of Potosí department, in December 2005 (Balderrama 2009). Surveys in November 2008 produced records from other locations in the north of Potosí department, namely La Porta and Sikiri (Balderrama 2009). In 2012, it was found 275 km to the south, in Chuquisaca department (Méndez & Leyva 2013). Present distributional knowledge suggests that the population may number between several hundred and a few thousand individuals.


It is considered a mixed forest specialist (not a Polylepis specialist, as previously reported), preferring areas slightly below the main Polylepis zone, particularly in valleys with scattered Polylepis and Alnus, and a variety of dense, thorny bushes (Huanca-Llanos undated). It also frequents mixed agricultural and forested land, and can persist in agricultural areas provided that rich shrubby hedgerows remain. (Fjeldså in litt. 1999, Huanca-Llanos in litt 2007, Huanca et al. 2009). Recent surveys in unbroken dry Polylepis woodland and dense humid Alnus woodland did not yield any records, suggesting that the species prefers more open habitats (Huanca et al. 2009). In general, survey data indicate that the species can tolerate small-scale anthropogenic habitat loss and alteration and may even benefit from moderate levels of habitat fragmentation, although it is absent from areas in which all native vegetation has been cleared (Huanca et al. 2009). It occurs primarily at 2,950-3,800 m, occasionally to 2,700 and 3,900 m. The diet is apparently mainly seeds, but insect parts have also been recorded, and they have been observed feeding on potatoes (Huanca-Llanos in litt 2007), which they sometimes feed to their nestlings (Huanca et al. 2009). It breeds during the rainy season, with breeding activity noted from January to April (Huanca et al. 2009). The species nests in a variety of shrubs (Gynoxis sp., Berberis sp., Baccharis sp., Polylepis subtusalbida), and occasionally in bunchgrass (Cortaderia sp.) and ground bromeliads (Puya sp.), with data from four nests and two pairs with fledged young suggesting that it lays only a small clutch, perhaps usually one or two eggs, and produces one or two young per nest. Data from two nests suggest that the species incubates for c.14 days, followed by a fledging period of c.18 days (Huanca et al. 2009).


Settlement and agricultural conversion have already had a dramatic effect on its habitats, and further expansion threatens remaining fragments. The species's preferred habitat, comprising areas of mixed woodland below the Polylepis zone, is also the most suitable for conversion to agriculture (Huanca-Llanos in litt 2007). Clearance also occurs for firewood collection, replacement with Eucalyptus, and burning for pasture. Habitat loss is even a threat within Tunari National Park (Dinerstein et al. 1995, Fjeldså and Kessler 1996, S. K. Herzog in litt. 1999, Balderrama & Huanca 2009). Although the species persists in moderately altered landscapes, it is lost from areas in which all native vegetation is removed (Huanca et al. 2009), thus uncontrolled and intensive habitat clearance and degradation are serious threats. The species's use of human-altered and agricultural landscapes renders it susceptible to disturbance and poisoning through exposure to pesticides (Huanca et al. 2009). It is also suspected to suffer perhaps a low, but as yet unquantified, level of mortality through indiscriminate persecution by children (Huanca et al. 2009).

Conservation actions

Conservation Actions Underway
Considered Endangered at the national level in Bolivia (Ministerio de Medio Ambiente y Agua 2009). Research into the distribution, population size and ecological requirements of the species is on-going (Huanca-Llanos in litt 2007). It occurs in Tunari National Park (Wege and Long 1995), but local pressure is being applied to have this status reduced to departmental park, which would render its (already minimal) level of protection still less effective (S. K. Herzog in litt. 1999). A project within the park is reducing pressure on Polylepis forest by providing glasshouses and gas stoves to local people, and excluding cattle from the forest (B. Hennessey in litt. 1999, S. K. Herzog in litt. 1999), although this may have now ceased (. S. K. Herzog in litt. 2007). Several reforestation programmes have been implemented in hills around Cochabamba (Fjeldså and Kessler 1996). Education and awareness-raising programmes have commenced (Huanca-Llanos in litt 2007) and two local communities - Palcapampa and Ch’aqui Potrero - have begun to protecting this species as a result (Huanca 2011). Surveys of high-altitude habitats have been conducted, and suggestions for their conservation published (Fjeldså and Kessler 1996).

Conservation Actions Proposed

Continue surveys of suitable habitat within the region, as well as studies to assess the species's ecological requirements in detail (Fjeldså and Kessler 1996, Huanca-Llanos in litt 2007). Use the latest survey data to calculate an up-to-date population estimate. Research potential impact of pesticides on survival and productivity within agricultural habitat (Huanca-Llanos in litt 2007, Huanca-Llanos undated). Ensure the effective protection of birds and habitats within Tunari National Park, and the Cochabamba basin as a whole (Fjeldså and Kessler 1996). Improve land-use management by segregating agricultural, grazing and forest areas (Fjeldså and Kessler 1996). Encourage local people to take a leading role in land-use management and restoration schemes (Fjeldså and Kessler 1996). Survey all areas of potential habitat (Fjeldså and Kessler 1996, Anon. 2007, Huanca-Llanos in litt 2007, Balderrama 2009). Consider implementing a programme to plant a variety of native shrubs (Huanca et al. 2009). Investigate the possible role of pesticides in population decline (Balderrama & Huanca 2009).


17 cm. Grey-and-rufous finch. Rufous-salmon forecrown, eyebrow, spot below eye and, except flanks, entire underparts. Dull grey hindcrown, eye-stripe, moustachial stripe, upperparts and flanks, darker grey wings and tail. Small dark bill. Immature dusky grey above with throat and breast marked buffy and brown. Similar spp. Rusty-browed Warbling-finch P. erythrophrys is brown above with white in wings and tail. Voice Thin tzeep calls recorded.


Text account compilers
Taylor, J., Gilroy, J., Sharpe, C.J., Pople, R.

Fjeldså, J., Huanca-Llanos, A., Herzog, S., Hennessey, A.

Recommended citation
BirdLife International (2018) Species factsheet: Poospiza garleppi. Downloaded from http://www.birdlife.org on 24/09/2018. Recommended citation for factsheets for more than one species: BirdLife International (2018) IUCN Red List for birds. Downloaded from http://www.birdlife.org on 24/09/2018.