Variable Seedeater Sporophila corvina


The Variable Seedeater is, as the name suggests, geographically variable in appearance - at least with respect to the male plumage. This species occurs from southeastern Mexico south to western Colombia, Ecuador, and extreme northwestern Peru. Males of the northern subspecies (corvina; Mexico to western Panama) are entirely black, except for a white spot at the base of the primaries. (The all-black male corvina should be distinguished with care from the male Thick-billed Seed-Finch Oryzoborus funereus, which has a similar color pattern but has a stouter bill.) The amount of white in the plumage increases with decreasing latitude: on the Pacific slope of Costa Rica and western Panama (hoffmanni), the belly and rump also are white, as is a narrow white crescent on the sides of the neck. Both of these subspecies intergrade in central Panama with an even whiter subspecies (hicksii; eastern Panama and Colombia), in which the throat also is white. The southernmost subspecies (ophthalmica) is similar to hicksii. Apart from the interesting variation in the male plumage, the Variable Seedeater is a standard Sporophila. It forages primarily seeds, and forages in pairs or in small groups, often with other seedeaters, in weedy fields, pastures, and other open habitats.

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Song (Black)

© David L. Ross, Jr.

  • Year-round
  • Migration
  • Breeding
  • Non-Breeding

Recommended Citation

Variable Seedeater (Sporophila corvina), In Neotropical Birds Online (T. S. Schulenberg, Editor). Cornell Lab of Ornithology, Ithaca, NY, USA. retrieved from Neotropical Birds Online: