Family Tanagers (Thraupidae)

Least Concern

Tawny-bellied Seedeater (Sporophila hypoxantha)


French: Sporophile à ventre fauve German: Ockerbrustspelzer Spanish: Semillero ventricanela

Sporophila hypoxantha


, 1851,

Montevideo, Uruguay


This species was at one time considered conspecific with S. minuta, but molecular data and vocal details suggest that the two are not very closely related. Belongs in S clade of “capped” (“capuchino”) Sporophila (see S. castaneiventris and S. bouvreuil); recent detailed molecular study involving this species, S. ruficollis, S. pileata, S. palustris and S. melanogaster found that they cannot be distinguished reliably genetically although they have rapidly evolved distinct plumages and songs#R, with field study demonstrating how present species discriminates S. palustris by song#R. Monotypic.


N, W & E Bolivia (La Paz, E Beni and Santa Cruz), Paraguay, Brazil S of Amazon Basin (S Mato Grosso, Goiás and W Minas Gerais S to N Rio Grande do Sul), NW & NE Argentina (Salta S to N Tucumán and N Córdoba; Formosa and Misiones S to Santa Fe, Corrientes and Entre Ríos), and marginally W Uruguay; S populations migrate N.

Descriptive notes

10 cm; 10·5 g. A classic seedeater, tiny and with rounded culmen. Male breeding has crown to mantle and upper back greyish (sometimes sandy tips of back feathers when plumage... read more


Song simple and sweet, comprising clear descending whistles, can sound rather monotonous, “cheeu... read more


Tall moist grasslands, rolling grassy hillsides, also roadside patches of grassland that have been... read more

Food and feeding

Grass seeds. Often perches on stems, and feeds on grass seeds while clinging to stem. Forages in small groups; also in mixed flocks with... read more


Season mainly Oct/Nov–Feb, locally to Apr; in SE Brazil (Santa Catarina) peak in late Nov, and in N Argentina (Formosa) laying starts in... read more


S populations migratory, retreating N after breeding season; arrival in breeding areas in Nov–Dec,... read more

Status and conservation

Not globally threatened. Fairly common; rare, possibly extinct, in Uruguay. Has large breeding range. The old/tall grasslands required by this species are becoming less... read more

Recommended citation

Jaramillo, A. (2019). Tawny-bellied Seedeater (Sporophila hypoxantha). 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 7 December 2019).