Family Tanagers (Thraupidae)

Least Concern

Blue-black Grassquit (Volatinia jacarina)


French: Jacarini noir German: Jacarinitangare Spanish: Semillero volatinero

Tanagra Jacarina


, 1766,

north-eastern Brazil


Proposed race atronitens (described from Campeche, in SE Mexico) is synonymized with splendens. Three subspecies generally recognized.

Subspecies and Distribution
  • V. j. splendens (Vieillot, 1817) – Mexico (S from S Sonora, Sinaloa, Durango, S Tamaulipas and E San Luis Potosí) and Belize S through most of Central America to Colombia, Venezuela, the Guianas and the Amazon Basin; also Trinidad, Tobago and Grenada.
  • V. j. peruviensis (Peale, 1848) – W Ecuador, W Peru and NW Chile.
  • V. j. jacarina (Linnaeus, 1766) – S & E Brazil (S from Mato Grosso and Maranhão) S to SE Peru, E Bolivia, Paraguay and N Argentina (S to Mendoza, Córdoba and N Buenos Aires).
  • Descriptive notes

    8·7–10·9 cm; 8–12 g. Tiny passerine, having longish conical bill with slightly and evenly curved culmen. Male nominate race has head, neck,... read more


    Song an emphatic metallic “eee-slick”, or “bzeé-eep”, or buzzy... read more


    Shrubby weedy fields and open thickets, field edges, grassy fields and roadsides, in lowlands; less... read more

    Food and feeding

    Diet mostly seeds, especially of grasses (in genera Paspalum and Panicum); also a few insects and berries, and ... read more


    Season Apr–Oct in whole range, also Nov in NC Venezuela; late May or early Jun to late Aug in El Salvador; sometimes two or three... read more


    Apparently sedentary; may move to lower areas from high elevations.

    Status and conservation

    Not globally threatened (Least Concern). Generally common to abundant. Often very common, breeding in high densities, at optimum sites. Does well at edges of fields in... read more

    Recommended citation

    Rising, J. (2020). Blue-black Grassquit (Volatinia jacarina). 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 28 February 2020).