Family Tanagers (Thraupidae)

Least Concern

Great Pampa-finch (Embernagra platensis)


French: Embernagre à cinq couleurs German: Pampagrastangare Spanish: Coludo verdón

Emberiza platensis

J. F. Gmelin

, 1789,

Buenos Aires, Argentina


This species sometimes placed in Emberizoides. Western “olivascens group” (all races except nominate) close to species rank, although differentiating characters subtle: claimed slightly stronger orange bill (not clearly confirmed in photographs; ns) with less dark brown on culmen (1); much weaker or no dorsal streaking (2); paler lores, chin and abdomen (1); slightly more decurved bill (1); and slightly larger size, with clear mean longer wing and tail (but effect size in males on published evidence#R 1.22 and 1.48 respectively, score 1); but available recordings reveal no difference in song (more detailed research needed). Nevertheless, nominate race may be sympatric with gossei in Córdoba, Argentina, although this needs confirmation. Four subspecies recognized.

What do (1) and (2) mean? Learn more about the scoring system.
Subspecies and Distribution
  • E. p. olivascens d’Orbigny, 1839 – Western Pampa-finch – C & S Bolivia (La Paz, Cochabamba and W Santa Cruz S to E Potosí and W Tarija), W Paraguay, and NW Argentina (Salta and Jujuy E to C Formosa, S through Córdoba).
  • E. p. catamarcana Nores, 1986 – C Catamarca, in NW Argentina.
  • E. p. gossei C. Chubb, 1918 – WC Argentina (Mendoza, San Juan and San Luis).
  • E. p. platensis (J. F. Gmelin, 1789) – Eastern Pampa-finch – lowlands of Beni, in N Bolivia; C & E Paraguay, E Argentina (E Formosa, Chaco and Misiones S to Río Negro), SE Brazil (S from Minas Gerais) and Uruguay.
  • Descriptive notes

    20·5–23 cm; 45–47 g. A long-tailed and short-winged finch of medium size, with thick yet long bill. Nominate race has grey head, with darker lores and face (creating somewhat... read more


    Song c. 1 second in duration, a musical series of 3–5 notes of generally high frequency, last note... read more


    Grassland with scattered shrubs, also grassland at edge of marshes. In E of range (nominate)... read more

    Food and feeding

    Feeds on mix of seeds and arthropods, latter being more important during breeding period. Forages while on ground. Sometimes follows army... read more


    Egg dates span Oct–Dec, later in NW part of range; fledglings recorded Nov–Mar. Nest a cup of dry vegetation, sticks and twigs, lined with... read more



    Status and conservation

    Not globally threatened. Common. Appears to adapt well to agriculture so long as some tall grass present on outside of farm fields, and often perches on and sings from fence... read more

    Recommended citation

    Jaramillo, A. (2019). Great Pampa-finch (Embernagra platensis). 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).