It is a fairly common species in arid to humid regions, replaced in La Guajira by the Guajiro Finch (Arremonops tocuyensis). Its name Arremonops derives from the Greek roots arrhemon = silent and ops = with the appearance of, referring to its inconspicuous habits and the fact that it resembles the species of the genus Arremon. Its epithet conirostris derives from the Latin roots conis = cone and rostris = beak, referring to its cone-shaped beak.
It is 16.5 cm approximately of length and weighs 26 to 42 g. It has a gray head with two black streaks on the crown and a black eye list that extends to the nape. Its upper parts are olive green with a little yellow in the curve of the wing. Its underparts are pale gray with a slightly whiter throat and washed flanks and undercoats olive buff. It has dark reddish-brown irises, blackish bill and grayish legs. Both sexes are similar and the young have a yellowish-olive head with dark brown streaks.
It can be confused with the Tocuyo Sparrow (Arremonops tocuyensis), but the latter is smaller, has paler upper parts, and its underparts are gray tinged with whitish (not obviously gray).
Seven subspecies are recognized A. c. richmondi, A. c. viridicatus, A. c. pastazae, A. c. striaticeps, A. c. conirostris, A. c. inexpectatus and A. c. umbrinus, which differ mainly in size and color of plumage. In Colombia we find the last four subspecies.
This species is distributed from eastern Honduras to eastern Ecuador and western Venezuela. In Colombia it is found up to 1600 m above sea level on the Pacific Coast in the north of the department of Chocó and in the southwest of the department of Cauca. Also in the lowlands of the Caribbean from the Sinú river region to the west of La Guajira and south through the Magdalena river valley to the department of Tolima. To the north of the Andes it is found from Arauca to the south of Meta, west of Vaupés and northeast of Vichada.
It inhabits low scrub, weedy fields, secondary growth forests, gardens and edges of humid forest.
It feeds on a wide variety of insects, especially grasshoppers. It also feeds on seeds and fruits such as berries of the genus Miconia. Sometimes it also consumes small vertebrates (lizards and frogs). It is also likely to eat fruit trees such as bananas and oranges.
Young have been registered in May and October in Norte de Santander and Norte de Antioquia. Also nests in May in the department of Caldas and in April and May in Santa Marta. In some localities it is probable that it also breeds in December. The nest is built by the female, which is voluminous in the shape of an oven and a side or cup-shaped entrance. For its construction it uses thick leaves, ferns, grasses and weeds and places it 2 meters above the ground in dense vegetation. The size of the laying is 2 white eggs which only the female incubates for 13 to 14 days. The young are fed by both members of the pair and leave the nest on the 11th or 12th day after hatching.
It is an inconspicuous species that generally remains solitary or in pairs. Forages on or near the ground where it is seen jumping and sometimes climbs a few meters in bushes especially to sing.
The relationships between the species of this genus have not been well established. Molecular evidence suggests that it is closely related to species of the genus Rhynchospiza and some of the genus Ammodramus. Sometimes it has been considered conspecific with A. chloronotus with which it is sympatric in northern Honduras.
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Aviibase (2014). Species factsheet: Arremonops conirostris. Downloaded from http://avibase.bsc-eoc.org/species.jsp?lang=EN&avibaseid=BF9F34F59948A07F on 01/06/2014.
Rising, J., A. Jaramillo, J. L. Copete, S. Madge, and P. Ryan. Arremonops conirostris. Pp 572. In: Del-Hoyo, J., Elliot, A. and Christie D. A. 2011. Handbook of the Birds of the Wold. Vol 16. Tanagers to NewWorld Blackbirds. Lynx editions. Barcelona. 894p.
Hilty, S. L. and W. L. Brown. 2001. Guide to the Birds of Colombia. Princetn. Univ. Press, Princeton, NJ
IUCN 2013. IUCN Red List of Threatened Species. Version 2013.1. Downloaded January 6, 2014.