Family Tanagers (Thraupidae)

Least Concern

Common Cactus-finch (Geospiza scandens)


French: Géospize des cactus German: Kaktusgrundfink Spanish: Pinzón de Darwin de Española

Cactornis scandens


, 1837,

Santiago (formerly James Island), Galapagos Islands


Present species hybridizes rarely with G. fortis. Birds on Rábida I (Jervis), currently included in nominate race, are larger-billed than those on Santiago and perhaps better placed in intermedia. Four subspecies recognized.

Subspecies and Distribution
  • G. s. abingdoni (P. L. Sclater & Salvin, 1870) – Pinta, in N Galapagos Is.
  • G. s. rothschildi Heller & Snodgrass, 1901 – Marchena, in N Galapagos Is.
  • G. s. intermedia Ridgway, 1894 – Isabela, Pinzón, Baltra, Santa Cruz, Santa Fe, Floreana and San Cristóbal, in Galapagos Is.
  • G. s. scandens (Gould, 1837) – Santiago and Rábida, in C Galapagos Is.
  • Descriptive notes

    12–14 cm; 20–24 g. A medium-sized ground-finch with long, robust spike-like bill nearly twice as long as it is deep, relatively thick at base, and with distinct... read more


    Song a doubled note, “zhhwe zhhwe”, or more complex version, “zhh-wah-wah, zhh-... read more


    Found in arid zone, where prickly-pear cactus (Opuntia) present; rarely ventures higher,... read more

    Food and feeding

    Feeds on prickly-pear cactus pulp, flowers, fruits and insects. Primarily a specialist on Opuntia seeds, which make up more than a... read more


    May breed at any time of year, but most breeding occurs during wet season; in wet years more than one brood may be raised. Nest normally no... read more



    Status and conservation

    Not globally threatened. Common and widespread. Recent increase in prevalence of avian pox in agricultural areas on Santa Cruz I a potential problem.

    Recommended citation

    Jaramillo, A. & Christie, D.A. (2019). Common Cactus-finch (Geospiza scandens). In: del Hoyo, J., Elliott, A., Sargatal, J., Christie, D.A. & de Juana, E. (eds.). Handbook of the Birds of the World Alive. Lynx Edicions, Barcelona. (retrieved from on 13 December 2019).