Family Tanagers (Thraupidae)

Least Concern

Grey Seedeater (Sporophila intermedia)


French: Sporophile intermédiaire German: Einfarbspelzer Spanish: Semillero intermedio

Sporophila intermedia


, 1851,

Puerto Cabello, Venezuela


Groups with S. corvina, S. ophthalmica, S. americana and S. murallae; has hybridized with ophthalmica in two regions of Colombia. Intriguing issue concerns proposed race insularis, originally thought endemic to Trinidad; subsequent detailed analysis revealed that birds conforming to insularis, with slightly larger morphometrics and constant minor colour differences (bill more greyish, whitish post-auricular patches, some pallor on throat, soft white bar across lower rump), are distributed within N half of the range of nominate race of present species, thus suggesting the presence of a widespread cryptic species#R, but the relative weakness of the characters involved, current lack of information on habitat and song differences, uncertainty about a possible migratory habit whereby records might refer only to non-breeding sympatry, and the well-known polymorphic capacity of Sporophila species combine to advise caution; treatment as a subspecies implies an as-yet undetermined range, which currently seems less plausible than treatment as a morph, the option marginally favoured here. Proposed race anchicayae (described from R Anchicayá, in Valle, in Colombia) is a hybrid between race bogotensis of present species and race hicksii of S. ophthalmica. Proposed race agustini (San Agustín, Huila, Colombia) not reliably separable from bogotensis, and better merged therein. Two subspecies recognized.

Subspecies and Distribution
  • S. i. intermedia Cabanis, 1851 – N & E Colombia (Caribbean coast, lower Magdalena Valley, and llanos in E), N Venezuela, Trinidad, Guyana and N Brazil (Roraima).
  • S. i. bogotensis (Gilliard, 1946) – W Colombia on W slope of W Andes (E to Cauca Valley).
  • Descriptive notes

    11 cm; 11–16 g. Tiny passerine with thick bill approximately as long as it is deep, with distinctly rounded culmen. Male nominate race has head to neck and entire upperparts... read more


    Song a simple and deliberate “gee-gee-gee-gee”; mimicry reported in a song type that begins with “... read more


    Grassland and open shrubby clearings in tropical zone, to 2300 m in Colombia; lower, to 1200 m, in... read more

    Food and feeding

    Feeds on seeds of the grass Panicum, as well as forbs; also nectar and small arthropods, mainly in dry season, when seeds... read more


    Season May–Oct (rarely slightly earlier and later) in Venezuelan llanos and Jun–Sept in Trinidad, thus can breed for much of year... read more


    Resident; appears to make only local movements.

    Status and conservation

    Not globally threatened. Common to very common and widespread on mainland; scarce to uncommon in Trinidad. Popular as a cagebird in Trinidad, and numbers there declining,... read more

    Recommended citation

    Rising, J. & Jaramillo, A. (2019). Grey Seedeater (Sporophila intermedia). 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 9 December 2019).