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 is... read more


Song a prolonged siskin-like warble, accelerating from breezy start into a complex jumble of notes... read more


Inhabits scrub; also forest-edge thickets, weedy fields and roadsides. In Honduras roosted nightly... read more

Food and feeding

Feeds primarily on seeds, with some berries, and a few insects. Usually forages for grass seeds while on the stem; typically, alights on... read more


Eggs found in Mar in NW Panama (Bocas del Toro) and Nicaragua, but more typically Apr–Sept; timing may be dependent on rainfall to... read more


Resident, with some local movements.

Status and conservation

Not globally threatened (Least Concern). Fairly common to common in most of range; common to abundant in Costa Rica; less common in Honduras and Guatemala; and very uncommon... read more

Recommended citation

Jaramillo, A. & Sharpe, C.J. (2020). 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 20 February 2020).