Family Tanagers (Thraupidae)

Least Concern

Wedge-tailed Grass-finch (Emberizoides herbicola)


French: Grand Tardivole German: Keilschwanz-Grastangare Spanish: Coludo colicuña
Other common names: Wedge-tailed Ground-finch, Azara's Grass-finch

Sylvia herbicola


, 1817,



See E. ypiranganus; until recently considered conspecific with E. duidae. Races fall roughly into a N “sphenurus group” and single-taxon S “herbicola group”. In HBW these groups said to differ in plumage and voice, but no constant plumage differences apparent between nominate and at least sphenurus. In contrast, vocal difference is striking, song of N group starting with one or a few “pit” notes followed by 2–3 short complex notes, of which usually two are nearly identical, song of S group variable but never with nearly identical notes (score at least 2) but always 1–2 complex slurred notes (score for length at least 2)#R; and in playback experiments nominate does not react to songs from apurensis. Recorded evidence indicates that birds in N Pará and in S Ecuador and N Peru, all previously assigned to sphenurus, sing like nominate; thus the Amazon represents a divide between the two groups. Nominate is larger (effect size for wing vs sphenurus 2.34; score 2), which with at least 4 for voice strongly suggests two species are involved; research needed to decide the issue and validate subspecific assignations. Race lucaris may be synonym of hypochondriacus; proposed race floresae, described from Panama (Cerro Flores, in E Chiriquí), appears to be based on an immature specimen, and is treated as a synonym of hypochondriacus. Five subspecies recognized.

Subspecies and Distribution
  • E. h. lucaris Bangs, 1908 – SW Costa Rica (Térraba region).
  • E. h. hypochondriacus Hellmayr, 1906 – W & C Panama.
  • E. h. sphenurus (Vieillot, 1818) – Northern Wedge-tailed Grass-finch – locally in Colombia, S Ecuador and N Peru, and in Venezuela (except W lowlands and Cerro Duida), the Guianas, and NE Brazil (S to N Maranhão).
  • E. h. apurensis Gilliard, 1940 – lowland W Venezuela (Guárico, Portuguesa, Barinas and Apure).
  • E. h. herbicola (Vieillot, 1817) – Southern Wedge-tailed Grass-finch – E Bolivia (Beni, La Paz, Santa Cruz and Chuquisaca), C, E & S Brazil (Mato Grosso E to Rio Grande do Norte, S to Rio Grande do Sul), Paraguay, N Argentina (Formosa and Misiones S to Entre Ríos and N Santa Fe) and N Uruguay (Rivera).
  • Descriptive notes

    20–20·3 cm; 21–36·6 g. A medium-sized finch with thickset body, but relatively slim appearance owing to very long and pointed tail, and with moderately deep-based bill with... read more


    Song of nominate race sweet and pleasant, a melodious double whistle, the first upwardly inflected... read more


    Damp to well-drained grasslands and meadows, usually with isolated shrubs; requires taller older... read more

    Food and feeding

    Few details available; diet apparently seeds and arthropods. Forages on ground, or near ground in tall grasses. Sometimes follows army ants... read more


    Season Nov–Jan in S (nominate race); fledglings in Nov and Jun in Venezuela (apurensis). Dawn song of nominate usually... read more



    Status and conservation

    Not globally threatened (Least Concern). Fairly common; possibly less common N of R Amazon than S of it. No significant threats known.

    Recommended citation

    Jaramillo, A. (2019). Wedge-tailed Grass-finch (Emberizoides herbicola). 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 12 December 2019).