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Cochabamba Mountain-Finch Images
The Cochabamba Mountain-finch (Compsospiza garleppi) is an endangered species of bird that is endemic to the Cochabamba Department of central Bolivia. Together with the closely related Tucuman Mountain-finch, it was formerly placed in the genus Poospiza.
The Cochabamba Mountain-finch is a small sparrow-like passerine. It is mostly grey above, reddish below, with a narrow grey mask. Both sexes appear similar.
The Cochabamba Mountain-finch is found in the Andes of Cochabamba, Bolivia, between 2,900 and 3,900 m.a.s.l. in semi-arid valleys containing Polylepis spp., Alnus spp. and other associated small trees and shrubs. This habitat occurs as a transitional vegetative form in the ecotone between three different Tropical Andean biomes (or ecoregions): the semi-arid interandean valleys or "valles", the lush cloud forests or "Yungas" of the northeast facing front range and downslope of the central Andes, and the higher, cold puna grasslands that replace the wetter paramo of northwestern South America as the dominant alpine vegetation in the central Andes.
Current population data are lacking. Estimates range from 400-4,000, and are believed to be declining. Most searches have only turned up isolated breeding pairs, in even known localities in the past 10 years. As recently as 1997, numerous individuals were observed by a U.S. Peace Corps volunteer in Miska Mayu and elsewhere in the Wayapacha area. Potential sightings from areas of suitable habitat extreme northern Potosí cannot be ruled out. Given the extremely limited range of this species, their numbers were likely never very high. But rapid habitat destruction, which is likely causing the current C. garleppi decline, has raised alarms of the risks of extinction of this species. The main threat is destruction of Polylepis woodlands of Cochabamba (as elsewhere in the central Andes), primarily for cooking fuelwood. Several projects to provide efficient solar stoves, and other alternatives to fuel wood hold some promise.
The very similar and closely related Tucuman Mountain-finch of northwest Argentina is found in analogous habitat farther south in the Tucuman ecoregion of northwestern Argentina. The two species may have been isolated by during glaciation periods by the major river valleys that cut across the front range of the Andes including the Rio Grande, which forms the border between Cochabamba and Potosí, Pilcomayo, and Rio Bermejo. In terms of plumage, the Cochabamba Mountain-finch has almost the entire underparts reddish, whereas the Tucuman Mountain-finch only has a red throat and vent, while the remaining underparts are greyish. The two are extremely similar vocally (to the extend that their status as separate species' has been questioned), and they will respond to each other voice.