Family Tanagers (Thraupidae)

Least Concern

Black Seedeater (Sporophila corvina)


French: Sporophile corvin German: Dunkelspelzer Spanish: Semillero corvino
Other common names: Variable Seedeater (when lumped with S. ophthalmica)

Spermophila corvina

P. L. Sclater

, 1860,

Playa Vicente, Oaxaca, Mexico


Groups with S. ophthalmica, S. intermedia, S. americana and S. murallae. Hitherto treated as conspecific with S. ophthalmica, and previously with S. americana. When lumped with ophthalmica it was commonly known as “Variable Seedeater” and formerly referred to as S. aurita, but type of this name is lost and anyway unidentifiable, as it originates from Canal Zone of Panama, where present species and S. o. hicksii interbreed; “aurita” thus applies to resultant hybrids. Monotypic.


S Mexico (S Veracruz and N Oaxaca), Guatemala and Belize S on Caribbean slope to Costa Rica and W Panama (Bocas del Toro).

Descriptive notes

9·6–11·5 cm; 9·5–12·5 g. Tiny passerine with thick bill approximately as long as it is deep, with distinct rounded culmen. Male nominate race is entirely black, except for... read more


Song a prolonged warble, accelerating from breezy start into a jumble of notes, a sweet, rapid,... read more


Inhabits scrub; also forest-edge thickets, weedy fields and roadsides. Occurs from sea-level up to... read more

Food and feeding

Feeds primarily on seeds (Solanum, Paspalum, Amaranthus, Panicum, Spoarbolus, Carex,... read more


Season May–Oct (usually Jul and Aug) in C Panama (Canal Zone) and eggs being incubated in Mar in NW (Bocas del Toro); timing varies from... read more


Resident, with some local movements.

Status and conservation

Not globally threatened. Fairly common to common in most of range; common to abundant in many parts. Has large range, and no evidence of any no large-scale declines in... read more

Recommended citation

Jaramillo, A. (2019). Black Seedeater (Sporophila corvina). 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 26 May 2019).