Family Tanagers (Thraupidae)

Least Concern

Black-breasted Seedeater (Sporophila ophthalmica)


French: Sporophile variable German: Weißhalsspelzer Spanish: Semillero pechinegro

Spermophila ophthalmica

P. L. Sclater

, 1860,

Babahoyo, Los Ríos, Ecuador


Hitherto treated as conspecific with S. corvina (and formerly with S. americana) under the name “Variable Seedeater”, but separated here on account of its black-and-white vs all-black plumage in male (4); notably paler overall ochre-brown plumage in female, with paler area on central belly (1); reportedly more musical song, “aurita” being described as “a much better, sweeter singer than the Caribbean corvina#R (allow 2); narrow hybrid zone near Canal Zone of Panama involving race hicksii, resulting in hybrids to which the name “aurita” applies (2); and possible habitat difference, frequenting “dense thickety stands along the edge of woodland” vs “largely in the open and semi-open”#R (ns). From Colombia, proposed race anchicayae (described from R Anchicayá, in Valle) is a hybrid between race hicksii of present species and race bogotensis of S. intermedia, and chocoana (from Nuquí, in Chocó) is considered inseparable from hicksii. Three subspecies recognized.

What do (1) and (2) mean? Learn more about the scoring system.
Subspecies and Distribution
  • S. o. hoffmanni Cabanis, 1861 – Pacific slope of Costa Rica and extreme W Panama.
  • S. o. hicksii (Lawrence, 1865) – Panama (except extreme W Pacific slope and Bocas del Toro) E through both slopes to W Colombia (Córdoba S to Cauca).
  • S. o. ophthalmica (P. L. Sclater, 1860) – lowlands W of Andes from SW Colombia (Nariño) S to NW Peru (La Libertad).
  • Descriptive notes

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    Recommended citation

    del Hoyo, J. & Collar, N. (2019). Black-breasted Seedeater (Sporophila ophthalmica). In: del Hoyo, J., Elliott, A., Sargatal, J., Christie, D.A. & de Juana, E. (eds.). Handbook of the Birds of the World Alive. Lynx Edicions, Barcelona. (retrieved from on 19 May 2019).