Family Tanagers (Thraupidae)

Least Concern

Grey-hooded Sierra-finch (Phrygilus gayi)


French: Phrygile à tête grise German: Kordillerenammertangare Spanish: Yal cabecigrís

Fringilla gayi


, 1834,



Has been considered conspecific with P. atriceps, but the two are sympatric in area of NC Chile (between Atacama and Coquimbo), where they rarely hybridize; sometimes thought conspecific with P. punensis, which it resembles in appearance. Range overlaps with that of P. patagonicus in various sites in Andes and NW Tierra del Fuego; some evidence of hybridization in latter, but the two species generally remain separate, and occupy different habitats. Small coastal race minor exhibits some plumage features intermediate between present species and P. patagonicus, and may be better included in latter on basis of its preference for forest or forest-edge habitat. Recent molecular evidence suggests that present species may be more closely related to the sister-species P. atriceps and P. punensis than to P. patagonicus#R or that P. patagonicus may be closer to atriceps and punensis#R. Nominate race in extreme N of range has particularly large bill, suggesting clinal variation in bill size. Three subspecies recognized.

Subspecies and Distribution
  • P. g. gayi (Gervais, 1834) – N & C Chile from Antofagasta S to Ñuble.
  • P. g. minor R. A. Philippi [Bañados] & Goodall, 1957 – coastal range in NC Chile from Atacama S to Valparaíso.
  • P. g. caniceps Burmeister, 1860 – W Argentina (S from W Salta) and S Chile (S from Aysén) S to Tierra del Fuego; non-breeding also N to S Buenos Aires.
  • Descriptive notes

    15·5–16·5 cm; 21·9–30·7 g. Male nominate race has head to upper nape and upper chest bluish-grey, lores blackish; upper­parts greenish-yellow; tail feathers blackish with... read more


    Song a musical but repetitive series of notes, often in alternating pairs, e.g. “tweep-tseep, tweep... read more


    Wide variety of open, shrubby areas. Rocky and shrubby slopes in Andean range; flatter sites... read more

    Food and feeding

    Diet primarily seeds and invertebrates; may take fruit at times, especially calafate (Berberis) in late summer in Patagonian part... read more


    Season Oct–Feb. Solitary, but in certain situations neighbouring females may nest in very close proximity to each other. Nest placed in... read more


    Patagonian race caniceps moves N after breeding, sometimes reaching S Buenos Aires... read more

    Status and conservation

    Not globally threatened. Common throughout its extensive range. Occurs in various protected sites, including several national parks and national reserves. No known threats.

    Recommended citation

    Jaramillo, A. (2019). Grey-hooded Sierra-finch (Phrygilus gayi). 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 14 December 2019).