Puerto Rican Bullfinch (Melopyrrha portoricensis)

Puerto Rican Bullfinch


The Puerto Rican bullfinch (Melopyrrha portoricensis) or comeñame in Spanish, is a small bullfinch tanager endemic to the archipelago of Puerto Rico. These were previously considered Emberizidae. The Puerto Rican bullfinch has black feathers with orange areas above the eyes, around its throat, and underneath the tail's base. The species measures from 17 to 19 cm and weighs approximately 32 grams.

Distribution And Habitat

The Puerto Rican Bullfinch is endemic to Puerto Rico (Raffaele and others 1998), but it is absent from the far eastern end of the main island and Vieques (Gemmill 2015, Oberle 2018). The bullfinch is common in forests at all elevations and coffee plantations as well as dry coastal thickets, but it is rare in mangroves (Oberle 2018, Raffaele 1989a). The atlas fieldwork yielded a total of 548 records within 269 hexagons or 56 percent of the total 479 hexagons (see map). Of the 269 hexagons where this species was found, breeding met the atlas definition of confirmed in 4 percent (10) of the hexagons, probable in 34 percent (92), and possible in 62 percent (167). Atlas results confirm the bullfinchs absence in at least the lowlands of eastern Puerto Rico and on Vieques and Culebra (see map). Puerto Rican Bullfinch distribution. The map shows the highest breeding code by hexagon and overlaying the ecological life zones in Puerto Rico. Note: percentages may not total 100 due to rounding.

Puerto Rican Bullfinch Distribution

Breeding Habits

Previously published reports indicate that the Puerto Rican Bullfinch mainly breeds from March to June (Raffaele and others 1998). This species usually 287Puerto Rican Bullfinch/Comeñameplaces its nest on trees or shrubs, close to the ground (Biaggi 1997). Atlas findings support the breeding information found in the literature, including evidence that breeding may occur outside of the peak March–June period (see chart). Results show that this species mostly breeds within the subtropical moist forest life zone (54 percent of the hexagons) and subtropical wet and lower montane wet forest life zones (31 percent of the hexagons). Although this species seems to be widely distributed across the central mountains of the main island, there is only one confirmed breeding record in the subtropical rain and lower montane rain forest life zones (see table and map).


The Puerto Rican Bullfinch is listed as a species of least concern by the IUCN (BirdLife International 2016). Locally, this species was listed as Data Deficient in 2005, but more recent assessments categorize it as Low Risk (PRDNER 2015). In Puerto Rico, the Puerto Rican Bullfinch has a protected habitat in land of 15 percent or 959 km2 of the total area covered by the hexagons where evidence of breeding was found for this species (6437 km2).