Yellow-thighed finch

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Yellow-thighed finch
Pselliophorus tibialis -Costa Rica-8.jpg
In Costa Rica
Conservation status
Scientific classification
Kingdom: Animalia
Phylum: Chordata
Class: Aves
Order: Passeriformes
Family: Emberizidae
Genus: Pselliophorus
Species: P. tibialis
Binomial name
Pselliophorus tibialis
(Lawrence, 1864)

The yellow-thighed finch (Pselliophorus tibialis) is a passerine bird which is endemic to the highlands of Costa Rica and western Panama. Despite its name, it is not a true finch, but rather a member of the large Emberizidae family, which also includes buntings, American sparrows, juncos and towhees.

This is a common bird in wet mountain forests, second growth, bamboo clumps, scrubby pasture and bushy clearings from 1700 m altitude to the timberline. When not breeding, it can descend to 1200 m on the Caribbean slopes.

The nest, built by the female, is a bulky cup of plant material hidden in coarse grasses, bamboo or a thickly-foliaged tree 0.7-4.6 m above the ground. The female lays two brown-blotched white or pale blue eggs, which she incubates for 12–14 days.

The yellow-thighed finch is a long-tailed species, 18.5 cm long and weighing 31 g. The adult is mainly dark grey, becoming black on the crown, throat, wings and tail, and with an olive tinge to the belly and breast. The bright yellow thighs contrast with the otherwise drab plumage, and give this species its English and scientific names. Young birds have duller, sootier plumage with a brown tone to the underparts, and olive-brown thighs.

The yellow-thighed finch has a heavy metallic tchuk call, and pairs have a twittering tinkling greeting. The male’s song consists of high dry notes, tee tididee dee wink wink, or similar phrases.

The yellow-thighed finch feeds at all levels from the treetops to the ground, taking insects and spiders and many berries. It will also squeeze nectar from flowers. It is seen in pairs, family groups or in mixed-species feeding flocks with other small birds such as warblers. It can be very approachable.

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