Slender-billed Finch Xenospingus concolor


Justification of Red List Category
This species has a moderately small population in an area where natural habitat fragmentation has been exacerbated by human activities. However, the situation should be carefully monitored, particularly in Peru, where further habitat loss could result in a rapid increase in threat status.

Population justification
The global population size has not been quantified, but this species is described as 'uncommon and patchily distributed' (Stotz et al. 1996).

Trend justification
Population declines are suspected, particularly in Peru, where the species has become rare and local owing to habitat loss and degradation. The overall decline is suspected to be slow.

Distribution and population

Xenospingus concolor occurs in 15 scattered river valleys or habitat patches on the Pacific slope of Peru (Lima, Ica, Arequipa and Moquagua) and north Chile (Tarapacá and Antofagasta) (Howell and Webb 1995b, O. González in litt. 1999, Clements and Shany 2001). The range has contracted in Peru, and remaining populations are fragmented (O. Gonzalez in litt. 2004), with no recent records less than 70 km south of Lima city (Clements and Shany 2001). Key populations in Peru are at Ocucaje (Ica), the Yauca valley and near the Mejia lagoons in the Tambo valley (both Arequipa) (O. González in litt. 1999). In Chile, it is common in the Lluta and Azapa valleys (S. N. G. Howell in litt. 1999), with several subpopulations exceeding 1,000 individuals, and it has colonised a new area in Antofagasta (Howell and Webb 1995b), having not been seen in the province since 1944. Recent information suggests that it is probably more common than previously estimated, in Chile at least (G. Engblom in litt. 2003), so it has recently been reclassified as Near Threatened. The range extension south to Antofagasta may have been related to the planting of ornamental shade trees (Howell and Webb 1995b).


It occurs in areas supporting growth of trees of the genus Prosopis, dense riparian thickets, and also uses olive groves and areas with Arundo donax and Tessaria (e.g. at Cañete valley). However, these habitats may only be used if remnant native habitat is also present in the surroundings (O. Gonzalez in litt. 2004). It is found mostly at low elevations, but has been recorded to 1,900 m in Peru and to nearly 2,700 m in Chile. The diet consists of insects, seeds or fruit. Two nests have been found, one under construction in Tessaria integrifolia and Baccharis in December, and one recently abandoned in Baccharis, Acacia macracantha and introduced Tamarix in June (González 1997).


Intensive irrigation and cultivation (e.g. for cereals and cotton) have reduced riparian thickets to narrow and fragmented strips. Rapid declines could result from further changes in land-use at sites where it is common. Cutting of Prosopis trees in Ica is prohibited (O. González in litt. 1999), but illegal cutting continues in many areas (O. Gonzalez in litt. 2004).

Conservation actions

Conservation Actions Underway
It occurs in the Mejía Lagoons National Sanctuary, Peru. Landowners have agreed to preserve habitat in Ocucaje, the Yauca valley and at Mejía lagoons, Peru (O. González in litt. 1999).

Conservation Actions Proposed
Conduct repeated surveys of known sites, as well as potentially suitable surrounding areas, in order to monitor population trends and determine rates of range contraction. Conduct detailed ecological studies to determine whether it is genuinely tolerant of secondary habitats, particularly in the absence of adjacent primary habitat patches. Campaign for stronger enforcement of laws banning the cutting of Prosopis trees in Peru. Engage key landowners in the development of site management plans and sustainable development programmes (O. González in litt. 1999). Plant and encourage regeneration of trees to protect rivers in the dry valleys of coastal south Peru (T. Valqui in litt. 1999). Develop a legal framework for the establishment of private reserves in Peru and their incorporation in the national protected areas system (O. González in litt. 1999).


15 cm. Distinctive finch. Uniform plumbeous above with black loral area. Paler grey below with whitish belly. Long tail. Bright yellow bill and legs. Immature is olivaceous-brown above, yellowish-buff below with brownish streaking. Two indistinct, buffy wing-bars. Brownish bill. Similar spp. Plumbeous Sierra-finch Phrygilus unicolor lacks yellow bill and legs. Female Blue-black Grassquit Volatinia jacarina is considerably smaller and shorter-tailed. Voice Jumbled warbling song and sharp zeep call.


Text account compilers
Butchart, S., Gilroy, J., Sharpe, C J

Engblom, G., Gonzalez, O., Valqui, T., Howell, S.

Recommended citation
BirdLife International (2021) Species factsheet: Xenospingus concolor. Downloaded from http://www.birdlife.org on 04/12/2021. Recommended citation for factsheets for more than one species: BirdLife International (2021) IUCN Red List for birds. Downloaded from http://www.birdlife.org on 04/12/2021.