Family Finches (Fringillidae)

Least Concern

Thick-billed Seedeater (Crithagra burtoni)


French: Serin de Burton German: Dickschnabelgirlitz Spanish: Serín de Burton
Other common names: Thick-billed Canary

Strobilophaga Burtoni

G. R. Gray

, 1862,

Cameroon Mountains, 7000 feet [c. 2130 m]


This species, C. melanochroa and C. rufobrunnea sometimes thought to be close relatives; has been treated as conspecific with C. melanochroa, but differs morphologically and vocally. Potentially significant levels of genetic divergence between some of the different races were recovered by one recent study, but unfortunately race albifrons was not sampled#R. Four subspecies recognized.

Subspecies and Distribution
  • C. b. burtoni (G. R. Gray, 1862) – Western Thick-billed Seedeater – extreme SE Nigeria, SW Cameroon and Bioko.
  • C. b. tanganjicae (Granvik, 1923) – WC Angola; E DRCongo E to W Uganda, Rwanda and Burundi.
  • C. b. kilimensis Richmond, 1897 – extreme E Uganda, SW Kenya (higlands W of Rift Valley) and N & W Tanzania.
  • C. b. albifrons Sharpe, 1891 – Eastern Thick-billed Seedeater – highlands E of Rift Valley, in C Kenya.
  • Descriptive notes

    15–16 cm; 24–35 g. Large, stoutly built, drab-coloured finch with heavy bill. Nominate race has head and upperparts dark olive-brown, streaked darker or blackish... read more


    Song, rarely or infrequently given, a soft or weak series of high-pitched, warbling notes including... read more


    Undergrowth of lower montane to submontane bush, in clearings and edges of forest, including strips... read more

    Food and feeding

    Mainly seeds, including hard-shelled tree seeds, e.g. those of Senecio montuosum, Nuxia and Gnidia, also ripe... read more


    Season Jun–Dec, also Feb–May. Monogamous. Solitary. Nest a small open cup of grass, plant fibres, lichens and twigs, placed 2... read more



    Status and conservation

    Not globally threatened. Locally abundant, common, uncommon or scarce. Easily overlooked.

    Recommended citation

    Clement, P. (2020). Thick-billed Seedeater (Crithagra burtoni). 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 25 February 2020).