Family Tanagers (Thraupidae)

Least Concern

Slaty Finch (Spodiornis rusticus)


French: Haplospize ardoisé German: Schieferammertangare Spanish: Yal pizarroso

Phrygilus rusticus


, 1844,



Middle American race uniformis, larger-billed than Neotropical ones, may deserve study to assess possibility that it represents a distinct species. Proposed race barrilesensis, described from W Panama (Barilles, in Chiriquí) on basis of purportedly smaller size than uniformis, is treated as a synonym of latter, as supposed differences based on very small samples. Three subspecies recognized.

Subspecies and Distribution
  • S. r. uniformis (P. L. Sclater & Salvin, 1873) – SE Mexico (S Chiapas; formerly also C Veracruz) and highlands of Guatemala, Honduras, N El Salvador and NW Nicaragua; also highlands of NC Costa Rica and extreme W Panama.
  • S. r. rusticus (Tschudi, 1844) – N & W Venezuela S in Andes, including Santa Marta Mts and all three ranges in Colombia, to C Bolivia.
  • S. r. arcanus Wetmore & Phelps, Jr, 1949 – tepuis of S Venezuela (Chimantá-tepui and Neblina) and W Guyana (Mt Ayanganna#R).
  • Descriptive notes

    12·5 cm; average 15·5 g. A slim finch with long, pointed bill and proportionately long, yet rounded, wing. Male nominate race is mostly plain lead-grey, paler... read more


    Song, from perch, sometimes in flight (then shorter and less complex), high-pitched and sputtering... read more


    Humid highland-forest edge where Chusquea bamboo present. A Chusquea specialist.... read more

    Food and feeding

    Seeds. Forages for bamboo seeds in undergrowth, on ground or near ground; at other times may forage for grass seeds in open areas at edge... read more


    Little known. Season entirely dependent on the seeding of bamboo, which appears to be seemingly random in timing; egg dates Apr in Costa... read more


    Irruptive, with local concentrations when Chusquea bamboo flowers and seeds; no detailed... read more

    Status and conservation

    Not globally threatened. Generally uncommon to rare throughout its wide range, but becomes locally common where bamboo is seeding en masse. This species’ irruptive... read more

    Recommended citation

    Jaramillo, A. (2020). Slaty Finch (Spodiornis rusticus). 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 19 February 2020).