Family Cardinals (Cardinalidae)

Least Concern

Blue Seedeater (Amaurospiza moesta)


French: Évêque noirâtre German: Weißachselkardinal Spanish: Semillero negruzco

Sporophila moesta


, 1853,



Hitherto treated as monotypic, with races concolor (plus relicta and aequatorialis) and carrizalensis as separate species, but while relicta is here separated as a full species the other taxa appear to be very weakly differentiated: available acoustic evidence reveals identical songs#R, while plumage and mensural differences are all minor, with the possible exception of the larger bill of carrizalensis; moreover, new records from Brazil as far N as Maranhão suggest that populations of Amaurospiza may generally be more widespread and less disjunct than range maps indicate, as seems often the case with bamboo specialists. Genetic evidence suggests that race concolor is more distantly related to aequatorialis than the latter is to carrizalensis and moesta#R. Four subspecies recognized.

Subspecies and Distribution
  • A. m. concolor Cabanis, 1861 – Cabanis's Seedeater – S Mexico (Chiapas), Guatemala, Belize, Honduras, El Salvador, Nicaragua, Costa Rica and W & C Panama.
  • A. m. aequatorialis Sharpe, 1888 – Ecuadorian Seedeater – SW Colombia (Nariño), W & C Ecuador (SW Manabí and W Guayas; W slope of Andes S locally to Loja) and N Peru (Tumbes#R, Cajamarca, Lambayeque#R, possibly also Piura).
  • A. m. carrizalensis Lentino & Restall, 2003 – Carrizal Seedeater – lower R Caroní Basin (N Bolívar), in Venezuela.
  • A. m. moesta (Hartlaub, 1853) – Blackish-blue Seedeater – SE Brazil (mainly Rio de Janeiro S to Paraná and N Rio Grande do Sul, but sparse records N to Maranhão and Tocantins#R and W to Mato Grosso#R), E Paraguay and NE Argentina (Misiones).
  • Descriptive notes

    12–12·5 cm; 12·5–14·5 g (nominate), 12–15 g (concolor), 12–14 g (carrizalensis). A small and compact finch with... read more


    Song a pleasant warble, “swee-swee-swi-sweeseeseeu” or “tseeo tsee tsu tsee tit”, variable (e.g.... read more


    Undergrowth of tropical forest and woodland, especially where bamboo (of genera Chusquea... read more

    Food and feeding

    Seeds of bamboo (e.g. Chusquea ramosissima), also probably many other seeds, as well as insects (stomach contents of race ... read more


    Males and females in breeding condition between late Aug and mid Sept, as well as mid Apr, in SE Brazil, and adults observed feeding... read more


    Resident; partly nomadic in search of seeding bamboo, but can be found in areas also when bamboo... read more

    Status and conservation

    Not globally threatened (Least Concern). Tends to be rare; not common anywhere, e.g. known from fewer than five localities in Peru. In Brazil, nominate race relatively common... read more

    Recommended citation

    Jaramillo, A., de Juana, E. & Kirwan, G.M. (2019). Blue Seedeater (Amaurospiza moesta). 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 22 August 2019).