This species is endemic to Colombia and as its common name indicates is found in the mountains of Santa Marta. Its generic name Atlapetes derives from the Greek Atlas in Greek mythology was a titan that was turned into a mountain, petes also derives from Greek and means bird. Its epithet melanocephalus derives from the Greek roots melas = black and kephalos = head.
It has no sexual dimorphism. It is a large bird with a large, rounded head and thick beak. It is black from the head to the malar region and the chin and cheeks silver. Its upper parts are olive with blackish wing and tail-coverts and its underparts from the throat to the undertail-coverts are lemon yellow with washed flanks of olive mixed with gray.
It inhabits humid forests where it frequently uses scrub and forest edges. It also uses coffee plantations, gardens, secondary-growth forests, and grasslands with scattered shrubs. Absent from the interior of mature forests.
PhenologyIndividuals in reproductive condition have been recorded between January and April and volantones in November and June.
Nest Build a bulky, cup-shaped nest with flat plant material such as strips of bark, grass leaves, and bamboo, coated with fine plant material. The nest is built at a height ranging from 0.8 to 2.4 m high among dense vegetation and can be located in different places with different types of vegetation.
The size of the laying is two white eggs densely covered with brown spots
ENDEMIC. It is distributed from 700 to 3200 m above sea level in the Sierra Nevada de Santa Marta.
There is no dietary information. It is a very active and conspicuous bird that forages above and near the ground under thickets although it also rises up to about 10 m above the ground. It is usually observed foraging in mixed flocks in which it is usually the nuclear species.