Family Tanagers (Thraupidae)

Least Concern

Oleaginous Hemispingus (Sphenopsis frontalis)


French: Tangara ocré German: Olivrücken-Finkentangare Spanish: Hemispingo oleaginoso

H[ylophilus]. frontalis


, 1844,

east slope of Andes, Peru


Has been suggested that race ignobilis might merit elevation to species rank, although in reality all four Venezuelan races differ fairly clearly from nominate, with variation possibly clinal, those farthest E (in NE Venezuela, hence farthest from Andes) differing the most. Review warranted. Five subspecies currently recognized.

Subspecies and Distribution
  • S. f. flavidorsalis (Phelps, Sr & Phelps, Jr, 1953) – Sierra de Perijá, in NW Venezuela (probably also on Colombian side).
  • S. f. hanieli (Hellmayr & Seilern, 1914) – coastal range in N Venezuela (Aragua, Vargas, Distrito Federal and Miranda).
  • S. f. iterata (Chapman, 1925) – mountains of NE Venezuela (Sucre and Monagas).
  • S. f. ignobilis P. L. Sclater, 1862 – Andes of W Venezuela from Lara S to N Táchira.
  • S. f. frontalis (Tschudi, 1844) – Colombia (W Andes of Antioquia, including E slope near Jardín, S very locally to Cauca; C & E Andes, including entire E slope of E range, patchily S of Cundinamarca), and Ecuador (E slope and locally in NW) and Peru S to C Cuzco.
  • Descriptive notes

    14 cm; 14–20 g. Dingy, dull hemispingus with relatively slender bill. Nominate race has long, narrow, weakly indicated yellowish supercilium (most obvious in front of... read more


    Song, by pair, trio or quartet (occasionally quintet) of foraging birds in early morning, more or... read more


    Mostly interior of humid montane forest, especially in thicker vegetation, vine tangles and dense... read more

    Food and feeding

    Arthropods. Forages in pairs, in family parties and in compact groups of c. 4–8 individuals, accompanying (sometimes as dominant... read more


    Seven breeding-condition birds Jun–Nov in NW Venezuela (Perijá Mts) and N part of E Andes in Colombia; juvenile in Apr in C... read more



    Status and conservation

    Not globally threatened. Fairly common throughout range. Found in numerous protected sites in much of range, although increasing human settlement and deforestation may place... read more

    Recommended citation

    Hilty, S. (2019). Oleaginous Hemispingus (Sphenopsis frontalis). 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).