Morelet's/Cinnamon-rumped Seedeater

Sporophila morelleti/torqueola

  • Version: 2.0 — Published October 29, 2012
  • Jack C. Eitniear

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Figure 1. Distribution of White-collared Seedeater
Male White-collared Seedeater, Laredo, TX, 11 February.

White-collared Seedeater is distinctive all plumages in having a very short, stubby bill with a strongly curved culmen. Adult males and females differ in plumage, but juvenile sexes are similar. Males, such as this one, have blackish wings with bold white wing bars, and in nonbreeding (basic) plumage are richly colored buff with tinges of black on the head. The following is a link to this photographer's website:

The White-collared Seedeater is the northernmost species of its genus. Ranging from western Panama to the Rio Grande Valley of Texas, it inhabits savanna, pastures, and brushy fields, frequently near water. Historically in the United States, this species was considered common and ranged widely throughout the Rio Grande Valley of Texas, but since the 1960s it has been found only in Zapata and Starr Counties, principally during summer and in small flocks. Habitat destruction and the use of agrochemicals are thought to be the main causes of this decline.

Males in their conspicuous black-and-white plumage are frequently observed singing from March to October. Females are more secretive, usually observed only when feeding or traveling to roosts. Although considered a seed specialist, in Texas this species feeds many insects to its young; fledglings, however, are fed exclusively grass seeds. This bird has been little studied in Texas, and its ecological requirements and population trends remain poorly known.

In Central America, several members of the genus Sporophila occur sympatrically. Definitive-plumaged males are easily distinguished, but juveniles and females are very similar in appearance, making identification difficult in the field.

Recommended Citation

Eitniear, J. C. (2012). Morelet's/Cinnamon-rumped Seedeater (Sporophila morelleti/torqueola), version 2.0. In The Birds of North America (A. F. Poole, Editor). Cornell Lab of Ornithology, Ithaca, NY, USA.