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Black-and-tawny Seedeater Sporophila nigrorufa
BirdLife is updating this factsheet for the 2016 Red List
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This species is listed as Vulnerable because it has a small population, that is likely to be undergoing a continuous and rapid decline owing to habitat loss and degradation.

Taxonomic source(s)
SACC. 2006. A classification of the bird species of South America. Available at: #

10 cm. Contrasting black and red seedeater. Male has black crown, hindneck and mantle, contrasting with cinnamon-rufous underparts. Paler on cheeks. Large black bill. Female has larger bill than other red Sporophila spp. Similar spp. Other red Sporophila spp. lack black on upperparts and have smaller bills. Voice Simple series of 4-6, high-pitched, whistled notes. Hints Males defend small territories by singing from small trees in clumps of vegetation.

Distribution and population
Sporophila nigrorufa 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 Santaíssima 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 río Negro (Bolivia/Paraguay border). If this record can be confirmed it may indicate that the species occurs across the river in the Río Negro National Park, Paraguay, although further surveys along the río Negro have failed to find the species (H. del Castillo and R. Clay in litt. 2007; H. del Castillo in litt. 2012).

Population justification
The population estimate of 1,000-2,499 individuals is derived from Willis & Oniki (1990), Pearce-Higgins (1996), S. Davis in litt. (1995, 1999), and L. F. Silveira in litt. (1999). This equates to 667-1,666 mature individuals, rounded here to 600-1,700 mature individuals.

Trend justification
This species's population is suspected to be decreasing rapidly, in line with extensive and continuing conversion of grassland habitats to agriculture.

It breeds during the austral summer/wet season in seasonally flooded grassland with scattered bushes and trees, which are frequently clumped on decomposing termite mounds. The diet consists primarily of grass seeds. It may be nomadic and/or migratory since it seems to occur in some areas only in the dry season (Willis and Oniki 1990, S. Davis in litt. 1995, 1999) and birds recorded near Concepción, Santa Cruz, were thought to be on passage (Davis 1993).

The effects of extensive and continuing conversion of grassland habitats to agriculture are intensified by its possibly nomadic and/or migratory behaviour. Satellite images reveal that large areas in west Mato Grosso have been converted to agriculture (Killeen and Schulenberg 1998). Breeding sites are presumably affected by cattle-grazing and trampling (S. Davis in litt. 1995, 1999).

Conservation Actions Underway
It occurs in Noel Kempff Mercado (three sites, Bolivia), Otuquis National Park (Bolivia) and Pantanal Matogrossense (Brazil) National Parks. In 1997, Noel Kempff Mercado was expanded westward and now protects more suitable habitat where the species may occur. Domestic animals have been removed from Flor de Oro (S. Davis in litt. 1995, 1999). Conservation Actions Proposed
Survey to elucidate the breeding and non-breeding ranges, and the pattern and nature of movements (S. Davis in litt. 1995, 1999, Killeen and Schulenberg 1998, L.F. Silveira in litt. 1999). Survey the Paraguayan Pantanal (río Negro) and Otuquis National Park, Bolivia (H. del Castillo and R. Clay in litt. 2007). Remove domestic animals from Noel Kempff Mercado and Pantanal National Parks (Killeen and Schulenberg 1998). Manage areas beyond the boundaries of Noel Kempff Mercado (Killeen and Schulenberg 1998). Designate a protected area in the Campos do Encanto region (L.F. Silveira in litt. 1999).

Collar, N. J.; Gonzaga, L. P.; Krabbe, N.; Madroño Nieto, A.; Naranjo, L. G.; Parker, T. A.; Wege, D. C. 1992. Threatened birds of the Americas: the ICBP/IUCN Red Data Book. International Council for Bird Preservation, Cambridge, U.K.

Davis, S. E. 1993. Seasonal status, relative abundance, and behavior of the birds of Concepción, Departamento Santa Cruz, Bolivia. Fieldiana Zoology 71: 1-33.

Killeen, T. J.; Schulenberg, T. S. 1998. A biological assessment of Parque Nacional Noel Kempff Mercado, Bolivia. Conservation International, Washington, DC.

Pearce-Higgins, J. W. 1996. Seedeaters in the Noel Kempff Mercado National Park, Bolivia. Cotinga 5: 69-71.

Willis, E. O.; Oniki, Y. 1990. Levantamento preliminar das aves de inverno em dez áreas do sudoeste de Mato Grosso, Brasil. Ararajuba 1: 19-38.

Further web sources of information
Detailed species account from the Threatened birds of the Americas: the BirdLife International Red Data Book (BirdLife International 1992). Please note taxonomic treatment and IUCN Red List category may have changed since publication.

Detailed species account from the Threatened birds of the Americas: the BirdLife International Red Data Book (BirdLife International 1992). Please note, taxonomic treatment and IUCN Red List category may have changed since publication.

Explore HBW Alive for further information on this species

Recuento detallado de la especie tomado del libro Aves Amenazadas de las Americas, Libro Rojo de BirdLife International (BirdLife International 1992). Nota: la taxonomoía y la categoría de la Lista Roja de la UICN pudo haber cambiado desde esta publicación.

Search for photos and videos, and hear sounds of this species from the Internet Bird Collection

Text account compilers
Pilgrim, J., Pople, R., Sharpe, C J, Stuart, T., Symes, A., Williams, R.

Clay, R., Davis, S., Machado, É., Silveira, L., del Castillo, H.

IUCN Red List evaluators
Butchart, S., Symes, A.

Recommended citation
BirdLife International (2016) Species factsheet: Sporophila nigrorufa. Downloaded from on 25/10/2016. Recommended citation for factsheets for more than one species: BirdLife International (2016) IUCN Red List for birds. Downloaded from on 25/10/2016.

This information is based upon, and updates, the information published in BirdLife International (2000) Threatened birds of the world. Barcelona and Cambridge, UK: Lynx Edicions and BirdLife International, BirdLife International (2004) Threatened birds of the world 2004 CD-ROM and BirdLife International (2008) Threatened birds of the world 2008 CD-ROM. These sources provide the information for species accounts for the birds on the IUCN Red List.

To provide new information to update this factsheet or to correct any errors, please email BirdLife

To contribute to discussions on the evaluation of the IUCN Red List status of Globally Threatened Birds, please visit BirdLife's Globally Threatened Bird Forums.

Additional resources for this species

ARKive species - Black-and-tawny seedeater (Sporophila nigrorufa) 0

Key facts
Current IUCN Red List category Vulnerable
Family Emberizidae (Buntings, American sparrows and allies)
Species name author (D'Orbigny & Lafresnaye, 1837)
Population size 600-1700 mature individuals
Population trend Decreasing
Distribution size (breeding/resident) 117,000 km2
Country endemic? No
Links to further information
- Additional Information on this species