Narosky’s seedeater (Sporophila zelichi)

Also known as: Entre Rios seedeater
GenusSporophila (1)
SizeLength: 10 cm (2)

Narosky’s seedeater is classified as Critically Endangered (CR) on the IUCN Red List (1) and is listed on Appendix I of the Convention on Migratory Species (CMS or Bonn Convention) (3).

A small, attractive bird, Narosky’s seedeater has a red-brown back and belly contrasting with dark blue wings and tail, the wing feathers edged with white. The head is capped with blue, above a collar of white that runs from just beneath the eye down to the breast at the front and the shoulder at the back. The beak and legs are black. Females and juveniles are much less attractively coloured (2).

With fewer than 250 individuals of this species remaining, Narosky’s seedeater has a patchy distribution. It occurs in a small number of sites in northeast Argentina, eastern Paraguay and southeast Uruguay, and winters in Brazil (2).

Narosky’s seedeater inhabits grassland, particularly areas with both long, dense grass mixed with shorter, grazed grass and a permanent water source (2).

With such a low population, and only isolated pairs sighted, very little is known about the biology of this seedeater. It feeds on the seeds of grass species and uses Acacia trees as song posts to declare its territory. It breeds in summer and is thought to lay its eggs amongst riparian thickets (2) (4).

Narosky’s seedeater is similar in form and biology to other Sporophila species, such as the marsh seedeater S. palustris and the chestnut seedeater S. cinnamomea, and it has been suggested that these are not in fact different species, but differing male colour phases. However, current opinion has Sporophila zelichi as a species in its own right (5).

A favourite of bird trappers, Narosky’s seedeater cannot afford to lose many more individuals to the pet trade. Its existence is also threatened by rapid afforestation with Eucalyptus and Pinus species for logging operations, as well as pesticide pollution from drainage and run-off into marshes (2). Continuous over-grazing by livestock and the conversion of suitable habitat into agricultural land add to the need for protected areas to ensure the survival of this species (4).

Narosky’s seedeater has been reported in two national parks in Argentina and a biosphere reserve in Uruguay. However, law enforcement is weak and this does not guarantee the persistence of the species in these areas. Proposals to prevent the extinction of Narosky’s seedeater include surveying south Paraguay for breeding populations, monitoring known populations, developing an action plan, removing the incentives for afforestation of grasslands, protection of breeding grounds and prohibiting the trapping and keeping of this bird in captivity (2).

For further information on this species see:

This information is awaiting authentication by a species expert, and will be updated as soon as possible. If you are able to help please contact:

  1. IUCN Red List (January, 2005)
  2. BirdLife International (January, 2005)
  3. CMS (January, 2005)
  4. WWF Report (January, 2005)
  5. University of New Mexico (January, 2005)