The Red-crested Finch occurs in arid scrub and dry deciduous forest. The bulk of its distribution is in central South America, from Bolivia east to south central Brazil and south to central Argentina; but there also are disjunct populations in Peru, in the Guianas, and in northeastern Brazil. Male Red-crested Finches are mostly dark red with a narrow white eye ring, a black crown and a partially concealed scarlet coronal stripe. Females are more brown in color overall with a whitish throat and a crimson rump. Red-crested Finches forage on the ground in or around vegetative cover; when not breeding, they often form flocks, which may join other species of seed-eating birds.