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The Great Pampa-Finch is a common species of open country, and shrubby areas south of the Amazon and east of the Andes. It is a relatively large finch that appears to be better placed in the tanagers, the genus Embernagra is also closely allied to the grass-finches (Emberizoides spp.). All are grassland birds, although some more specialized than others. There is a separation of eastern and western populations of Great Pampa-Finches, with the western birds showing brighter bills with less black, a slightly different bill shape and differences in voice and plumage. The two have been suggested to comprise a species pair, but thus far they are retained under a single species. In the field the most obvious feature of this finch is the orange-yellow bill, the grey head and the grass-green back coloration. All in all it is a striking looking species, and a common species of the grasslands of the south.

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