As its name suggests, this small bird's diet consists primarily of grass seeds. The tall grass of their habitat also provides them with cover, as they use their large feet to scratch the ground to search for food (4). Often the males can be seen perched on small trees, singing in order to defend a small area, or territory. It is thought that the black-and-tawny seedeater may be a nomadic or migratory bird, as it has been observed in certain areas only during the dry season (3).
The name of this small bird describes the male of the species very well; it has a black back, crown and hindneck, and bright tawny, or brownish-orange, underparts. The wings and tail are blackish-brown, with a slight white edging. The cheeks are paler in colour and the bill is black. Females possess a larger bill than males, with paler plumage and less distinct patterns (2) (3). Their song is a simple series of four to six high-pitched, whistled notes (3). The scientific name, Sporophila, originates from Greek, meaning spore- or seed-loving, and refers to their preferred diet.
is currently known from eight sites in east Bolivia
(Santa Cruz) and three in adjacent west-central Brazil
(Mato Grosso and Mato Grosso do Sul) (Willis and Oniki 1990, S. Davis in litt
. 1995, 1999). Small numbers of Sporophila
sp. at three additional sites in Mato Grosso probably refer to austral winter records of this species (Willis and Oniki 1990). The major breeding site is Flor de Oro in Noel Kempff Mercado National Park, Santa Cruz. Breeding and several flocks of up to 60-70 birds have been recorded in October-December and several hundred have been estimated in late May, but very few individuals have been found in July-October (S. Davis in litt
. 1995, 1999). A local density of two birds per km2
was estimated at Los Fierros, Neol Kempff Mercado, based on numbers of adult males seen in August-September (Pearce-Higgins 1996). A population of around six pairs rearing 6-10 juveniles per year occurs near San Ignacio de Velasco, Santa Cruz, in the wet season (S. Davis in litt
. 1995, 1999). East of Vila Bela da Santassima Trinidade, Mato Grosso, 55 presumably breeding birds were counted in January 1988 (Willis and Oniki 1990), at least 100 non-breeding condition birds were present in July 1997 (L.F. Silveira in litt.
1999), 100-200 in August 2007, and 100 in June 2008 (Kirwan and Areta 2009). There is an undocumented record of a bird seen in 2005 in Bolivia's Otuquis National Park from a boat on the ro Negro (Bolivia/Paraguay border). If this record can be confirmed it may indicate that the species occurs across the river in the Ro Negro National Park, Paraguay, although further surveys along the ro Negro have failed to find the species (H. del Castillo and R. Clay in litt.
2007; H. del Castillo in litt.
Extreme e Bolivia and sw Brazil (Mato Grosso).
Clements, J. F., T. S. Schulenberg, M. J. Iliff, D. Roberson, T. A. Fredericks, B. L. Sullivan, and C. L. Wood. 2014. The eBird/Clements checklist of birds of the world: Version 6.9. Downloaded from http://www.birds.cornell.edu/clementschecklist/download/
Occurs in eastern Bolivia, and south western Brazil. In Bolivia it is currently known from seven sites in eastern Santa Cruz, and in Brazil it occurs at three locations in Mato Grosso and Mato Grosso do Sul (2) (3).