Rob Williams

Great Inca Finch

Incaspiza pulchra

Location: Western Andean Slopes.

Endemic: Yes, from Peru.

Characteristics

It is mostly brown on top and gray below, with gray and rufous wings, a black chin, black loral patch, brown crown, and yellowish bill and legs. Additionally, its tail is black with white outer feathers.

Length: 16.5 cm (6 1/2 in).

Threat: Least Concern.

Best Time for observation: All year round.

Habitat: The Great Inca-Finch favours arid hillsides with cacti and low scrub on the west slope of the Andes and a few outlying ridges in the coastal desert, from Lima north to Lambayeque. Good sites include the Santa Eulalia valley, Santa valley in Ancash and Cerro Campana just north of Trujillo.

Inca-Finches

The Inca-Finches of the genus Incaspiza are all endemic to Peru, with 5 species of delightful and very unique birds that inhabit a variety of arid habitats, making them a sought-after addition to any birders list. The genus is a speciality of the deep valley of the Marañón river where 4 of the species can be found and to which 3 are confined.

These dapper little finches are a combination of grey and rufous, with black facial markings and bright yellow beak and legs. Generally found in pairs of small groups, often feeding inconspicuously on the ground under thorn trees and cacti, though they will perch prominently on a cactus or rock.

The Great Inca-Finch favours arid hillsides with cacti and low scrub on the west slope of the Andes and a few outlying ridges in the coastal desert, from Lima north to Lambayeque; good sites include the Santa Eulalia valley, Santa valley in Ancash and Cerro Campana just north of Trujillo. The similar and larger Rufous-backed Inca-Finch inhabits low scrub at higher altitudes in the upper Marañón, west Slope and Huallaga valley; the Santa valley and the upper Huallaga valley near Huanuco are reliable locations. The Grey-winged Inca-Finch lives in thorn scrub on the west bank of the Marañón valley and is usually seen near the village of Limon on the road from Celendin to Balsas. The Buff-bridled Inca-Finch is found on both banks of the middle Marañón sparse dry forest dominated by Bombacacae trees and cacti, most birders see this species near the town of Balsas. The Little Inca-Finch is restricted to a small area of thorn and cactus scrub in the lower Marañón valley near the towns of Bagua Grande and Jaen. With a well-designed trip in northern Peru can get all 5 species of these fantastic little birds.

Text by Rob Williams.