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Buffy-fronted Seedeater Sporophila frontalis

This species is Vulnerable because the population is likely to be small and rapidly declining as a result of deforestation (compounded by its dependence on bamboo) and trapping (Collar et al. 1992). It can appear numerous at bamboo flowering events, but these concentrations of birds may represent a high proportion of the population.

Taxonomic source(s)
SACC. 2006. A classification of the bird species of South America. Available at:
Sibley, C. G.; Monroe, B. L. 1990. Distribution and taxonomy of birds of the world. Yale University Press, New Haven, USA.
Stotz, D. F.; Fitzpatrick, J. W.; Parker, T. A.; Moskovits, D. K. 1996. Neotropical birds: ecology and conservation. University of Chicago Press, Chicago.

13 cm. Large, forest seedeater. Olivaceous upperparts with greyer head. Whitish-buff forecrown and narrow postocular streak. Whitish throat. Dull olive underparts with yellowish-buff belly centre. Two buffy wing-bars and patch at base of primaries. Stout, yellowish bill. Immature male browner above, without pale front. Similar spp. No similar forest species within range. Voice Loud and clear jet cheh-cheh-chéw.

Distribution and population
Sporophila frontalis has become very patchily distributed in south-east Brazil, with a few records in north-east Argentina and east Paraguay. In Brazil, it is most abundant in Rio de Janeiro and São Paulo, with records in Minas Gerais, Espírito Santo (Simon 2004) and Paraná (Mitroszewski et al. 2004, Carrano et al. 2004) and several recent records in Bahia from near Una Biological Reserve (A. C. De Luca in litt. 2007), Serra das Lontras (Silveira et al. 2005), Boa Nova (E. R. Luiz in litt. 2007) and Serra Bonita private reserve in Camacan (L. F. Silveira in litt. 2012). It is rarer in Santa Catarina (records in 1991 and 1992 [F. Olmos and P. Martuscelli in litt. 1995, do Rosário 1996], and 200 birds in flowering bamboo in a private forest in São José dos Campos in 2009 [L. F. Silveira in litt. 2012]) and Rio Grande do Sul (no records since the 19th century). There are four records for Misiones, Argentina, none of them documented: Iguazú in 1978 (A. Tarak per Olrog 1979), 2004 (Savigny 2010) and 2008 (Areta et al. 2009), and Obraje Esmeralda in 1993 (E. Krauczuk per Chebez 1994). The only record for Paraguay is a specimen collected at the end of the 19th or beginning of the 20th century. In Brazil, "hundreds" to "thousands" were noted at single sites in 1883, 1952 and 1985, and it is still periodically fairly common to common at several sites. However, it is not regularly recorded at any one site, and these large counts may represent a high proportion of the population. The population has been greatly reduced since the late 19th century, and it is now more frequently seen in cages than the wild.

Population justification
The population is estimated to number 2,500-9,999 mature individuals based on an assessment of known records, descriptions of abundance and range size. This is consistent with recorded population density estimates for congeners or close relatives with a similar body size, and the fact that only a proportion of the estimated Extent of Occurrence is likely to be occupied. This estimate is equivalent to 3,750-14,999 individuals in total, rounded here to 3,500-15,000 individuals.

Trend justification
A rapid and on-going population decline is suspected owing to rates of habitat loss and capture for the bird trade.

It is a nomadic bamboo specialist, inhabiting forest interior, borders, second growth and cultivated land adjacent to forest. Breeding has been recorded in the austral spring (September-October) when males are territorial and very vocal in or near bamboo flowerings.

The rapid and continuing clearance of Atlantic forest has extended the intervals between major bamboo flowerings and nestings, and its nomadic habits suggest that existing reserves may afford inadequate protection. Persecution for the pet trade is severe, with lots of 100-200 birds recorded on sale at certain times in Rio de Janeiro.

Conservation Actions Underway
It is protected under Brazilian law, and regularly occurs in (at least) Tijuca, Serra dos Órgãos and Itatiaia National Parks, Serra do Mar, Desengano and Ilha do Cardoso State Parks, Ubatuba Experimental Station, Brazil (Wege and Long 1995). It has also been recorded in Serra das Lontras National Park, Serra Bonita Reserve, and Carlos Botelho, Serra do Mar and Serra do Caraça State Parks, Minas Gerais, and Serra da Cantareira, Intervales, and Curucutu State Parks, São Paulo (L. F. Silveira in litt. 2012). Argentine records are from Iguazú National Park and Esmeralda Provincial Park (Chebez 1994, Areta et al 2009, Savigny 2010). However, because the species follows bamboo flowerings, no population is adequately protected within a park (Areta et al. 2009). Conservation Actions Proposed
Develop a long-term study of bamboo specialist birds in Atlantic forest. Assess the distribution of suitable bamboo stands. Protect stands of even secondary forest outside reserves to facilitate its nomadic movements. Effectively protect existing reserves, especially against trappers during bamboo flowerings. Completely ban the capture of wild birds. Develop a CMS agreement for nomadic bamboo species.

Areta A.; Bodrati, A; Cockle, K. 2009. Specialization on Guadua bamboo seeds by three bird species in the Atlantic Forest of Argentina. Biotropica 41(1): 66-73.

Carrano, E.; Santos, R.E. F.; Patrial, E.W.; Ribas, C. F.; Klemann-Júnior, L. 2004. Composiçao e conservaçao des aves na floresta estuadal do Palmito, Município de Paranaguá, Paraná. Resumos do XII Congresso Brasileiro de Ornitologia, pp. 189. Universidade Regionale de Blumenau, Blumenau, Brazil.

Chebez, J. C. 1994. Los que se van: especies argentinas en peligro. Albatros, Buenos Aires.

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.

do Rosário, L. A. 1996. As aves em Santa Catarina: distribuiçao geográfica e meio ambiente. Glorianópolis, Santa Catarina, Brazil.

Mitroszewski, A.; Arzua, M.; Scherer-Neto, P. 2004. Levantamento preliminar de aves em área adjacente ao Parque Estadual das Lauráceas, Vale do Ribeira, Paraná. Resumos do XII Congresso Brasileiro de Ornitologia: 304.

Olrog, C. C. 1979. Nueva lista de la avifauna Argentina. Ministerio de Cultura y Educación, Fundación Miguel Lillo, Tucumán, Argentina.

Savigny, C. 2010. Aportes al conocimiento de la avifauna del parque nacional Iguazú y alrededores. Nuestras Aves 55: 20-22.

Silveira, L. F.; Develey, P. F.; Pacheco, J. F.; Whitney, B.M. 2005. Avifauna of the Serra das Lontras-Javi montane complex, Bahia, Brazil. Cotinga 24: 45-54.

Simon, J. E. 2004. Registro de aves raras com a frutificaçao de taquaras na regiao de Santa Teresa, Espírito Santo, Brasil. Resumos do XII Congresso Brasileiro de Ornitologia: 381.

Wege, D. C.; Long, A. J. 1995. Key Areas for threatened birds in the Neotropics. BirdLife International, Cambridge, U.K.

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.

Recuento detallado de la especie tomado del libro Aves Amenazadas de las Americas, Libro Rojo de BirdLife International (BirdLife International 1992). Nota: la taxonomo

Text account compilers
Capper, D., Pople, R., Sharpe, C J, Symes, A., Williams, R.

De Luca, A., Develey, P., Luiz, E., Martuscelli, P., Olmos, F., Silveira, L., Cockle, K., Bodrati, A.

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

Recommended citation
BirdLife International (2014) Species factsheet: Sporophila frontalis. Downloaded from on 17/04/2014. Recommended citation for factsheets for more than one species: BirdLife International (2014) IUCN Red List for birds. Downloaded from on 17/04/2014.

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 - Buffy-fronted seedeater (Sporophila frontalis) 0

Key facts
Current IUCN Red List category Vulnerable
Family Emberizidae (Buntings, American sparrows and allies)
Species name author (Verreaux, 1869)
Population size 2500-9999 mature individuals
Population trend Decreasing
Distribution size (breeding/resident) 76,200 km2
Country endemic? No
Links to further information
- Additional Information on this species