Family Tanagers (Thraupidae)


Marsh Seedeater (Sporophila palustris)


French: Sporophile des marais German: Sumpfspelzer Spanish: Semillero palustre

Spermophila palustris


, 1883,

near Concepción del Uruguay, Entre Ríos, Argentina


Has been suggested that present species is a white-throated morph of S. ruficollis or a colour morph of S. hypoxantha, but this not supported by recent molecular studies. Belongs in S clade of “capped” (“capuchino”) Sporophila (see S. castaneiventris and S. bouvreuil; also S. hypoxantha); discriminates S. hypoxantha by song despite lack of genetic differentiation#R. Form described as S. zelichi (from Entre Ríos, in NE Argentina), once treated as a Critically Endangered species, now considered to be a hybrid between present species and S. cinnamomea or a white-necked morph of present species, with which it is vocally identical and found in same habitat and at same locations#R, although treated as full species, without comment, in more recent molecular review#R. Monotypic.


NE Argentina (Corrientes and Entre Ríos, possibly also Buenos Aires), extreme SE Brazil (Rio Grande do Sul) and Uruguay (R Uruguay Basin and SE wetlands), possibly also SE Paraguay. Migrates N as far as SC Brazil (N to S Mato Grosso, S Goiás and W Minas Gerais) and E Paraguay.

Descriptive notes

10 cm; 7·5–9 g. Typical “capuchino” seedeater, very small in size, small-billed and relatively long-tailed. Male has grey forehead and lores to nape... read more


Song sweet, melodious and pleasant, composed largely of sweet descending whistles, and with... read more


For breeding requires older, taller very moist grasslands or grass adjacent to marshes. Of the... read more

Food and feeding

Grass seeds (Poaceae) including those of Paspalum spp., Setaria parviflora, Eriochloa punctata, ... read more


Season Nov–Feb. Male display includes vibrating the wings quickly with a shallow quivering while raising the tail. Nests are... read more


Migratory; apparently breeds only in S part of range during austral spring and summer, and then... read more

Status and conservation

ENDANGERED. Relatively rare and locally distributed. Estimated global population in range 1000–2499 mature individuals. Has fairly small breeding range and very small... read more

Recommended citation

Jaramillo, A. (2020). Marsh Seedeater (Sporophila palustris). 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 21 February 2020).