Family Tanagers (Thraupidae)

Least Concern

Sooty Grassquit (Asemospiza fuliginosa)


French: Cici fuligineux German: Schwarzbrust-Gimpeltangare Spanish: Semillero fuliginoso

Fringilla fuliginosa


, 1830,

Camamú, Bahia, Brazil


Birds from Sierra de Perijá (W Venezuela) described as race zuliae and birds from Trinidad as fumosa, but both considered undiagnosable, as mensural and plumage characteristics variable throughout range of species. Monotypic.


N & NC Colombia (Santa Marta Mts#R, W slope of E Andes#R and N part of C Andes#R), W & N Venezuela (Sierra de Perijá, N end of E slope of Andes, and Coastal Range from E Falcón and Carabobo E to Sucre; also Cerro Roraima, in E Bolívar); Trinidad; S Guyana; and E & SW Brazil (SW Mato Grosso, Maranhão and Ceará to NE Goiás and Piauí; Pernambuco S to Santa Catarina), E Paraguay and extreme NE Argentina (Misiones).

Descriptive notes

10–11·4 cm; 11–16 g (Trinidad). Small, all-dark emberizid. Male is sooty blackish, back with olive tinge; iris dark; bill dark, gape yellowish to orange-red; legs dark.... read more


Song “ezz’u’da’leé”, like that of Melanospiza bicolor, but shorter and thin. Call “chee”.


Moist to humid forest edges, grassy areas, also regenerating burnt areas; in second growth and... read more

Food and feeding

A specialist on seeding bamboo (Guadua and Chusquea, possibly also Merostachys); forages on seedheads still... read more


Season Jul–Dec (and occasionally May) in Trinidad and Aug in NE Argentina; timing of breeding may be correlated to abundance of bamboo seed... read more


Non-migratory, but eruptive and nomadic; wanders into regenerating burnt areas, also into areas of... read more

Status and conservation

Not globally threatened. Status not well known; apparently fairly common. Eruptive behaviour makes true status in many areas difficult to assess. Only one confirmed record in... read more

Recommended citation

Rising, J. & Jaramillo, A. (2020). Sooty Grassquit (Asemospiza fuliginosa). 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).