Morelet’s Seedeater

Sporophila morelleti
Range Map

While common in Mexico and Central America, the Morelet’s Seedeater is one of the rarest passerines in Texas. We only find them near the Lower Rio Grande. Formerly called the White-Collared Seedeater, science split this species from the former group in 2018, along with the Cinnamon-Rumped Seedeater. The birds we now call Morelet’s Seedeater live on the eastern slopes of Mexico and south into Central America. Those we call the Cinnamon-Rumped Seedeater live on the Pacific Slope of Mexico from Mazatlan south to Central America.

Current scientific thought places these birds in with finches, but over the years they’ve been placed in with sparrows and tanagers. These birds prefer to live near tall grass, thick brush, and other weedy places with nearby water.

Taxonomists recognise two subspecies of Morelet’s Seedeater:

  • S. m. sharpei lives in the lower Rio Grande valley (Texas), south to central Tamaulipas and eastern San Luis Potosí.
  • S. m. morelleti lives on the eastern slope of Central America from northern Veracruz south to western Panama and on the western slope from southern Mexico to El Salvador.

I met this bird in Quemado (Texas). According to older range maps, this is almost 150 miles north of the expected range. More recent data shows this sighting near the northern limit of its range in Texas. I didn’t know how rare this find was until later, when I started doing research.

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