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Chilean "finch"-like bird, from description

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Old Sunday 16th January 2011, 14:21   #1
Peter C.
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Chilean "finch"-like bird, from description

This sighting was at Altos de Lircay R. N., (Maule Region), Chile, Dec. 27, 2010.

The conditions of the sighting were excellent; the bird was seen in the clear, on a bright, sunny morning, at eye-level. The bird perched at the top of a small tree and sang, for about 2 minutes, at a range of less than ten metres. (The fact that I didn’t get a photo is, frankly, stupid. I would have been so easy… but I’m a “get notes first” sort of person.) The following are our 'raw' field notes from the day:
-bill ivory
-grey head and throat
-grey wings
-yellow vent, belly

-greenish-yellow back

-cherupcheer whistle, repeats
-head breaks sharply at back
(By the way, in case the last point is at all unclear, it just means that the change in colour between head and back is sudden, no blending).

We didn’t consult a field guide at the time, since the view was so good, I thought that there would be no ambiguity. When I did get around to consulting my “Birds of Chile” (Jaramillo), I found that it was entirely clear that it was a Sierra-finch – but which one?

Not all the plumage features (which were very well-observed) line up with any one species; in particular, I remember saying at the time (although it didn’t make it into our notes) that the head/back contrast reminded me very much of a similar feature on the Northern Parula – reinforcing the notion of a green back.

Anybody got enough experience with this genus to sort out what trumps what, amongst Sierra-finches?
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Old Sunday 16th January 2011, 15:05   #2
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Sounds to me like you had a female-colored Patagonian Sierra-Finch, which by analogy to other finches could include young males? That would explain the more extensive yellow underside. Don't forget to check the voice, for example on XenoCanto.

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Old Tuesday 8th February 2011, 21:58   #3
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I be sure it's a female Patagonian Sierra-Finch and not a male Gray-headed Sierra-Finch, do you remember how green its back was and if the belly at the level of the feet was white? If the belly was white at that level and the back was quite green I'd say its a Gray-headed
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