Black and white Crested Birds
As is the case with so many Neotropical finches, the genus Lophospingus has now been found to be a tanager based on genetic data. The “crested finches” appear to be sister to the White-banded Tanager (Neothraupis fasciata) and these in turn are part of a clade which includes the Common Diuca-Finch (Diuca diuca), Paroaria “cardinals”, Magpie Tanager (Cissopis leveriana), and Schistochlamys tanagers! This is quite a diverse set of species, although many have a thick bill with a curved culmen, a yellowish or grayish bill with a dark culmen, and most walk rather than hop. The Black-crested Finch is the southern component of the Lophospingus species pair. It is a boldly patterned bird, with a black and white head pattern and a noticeable and pointed crest. The crown and crest are black, while the supercilium is white, contrasting with a broad black mask; furthermore the malar is white and contrasts strongly with a black throat. Much of the body is grayish, darker above than below, and the blackish tail has obvious white tail corners. This is a finch of dry Chaco woodlands, often areas where there are large cacti, a favorite place to put their nests. This finch forages on the ground, largely for seeds and insects, sometimes in small groups. They can be a conspicuous member of the avifauna.