Serinus menelli  

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Black-eared seedeater

Crithagra mennelli (Serinus mennelli)

Geographical distribution and habitat

The Black-eared Seedeater (Crithagra mennelli) - with a black and white pattern on the head - lives in the more dry areas of Zimbabwe, Zambia, Botswana and southern Zaire. During the months of March and September there are local movements in large flocks. These birds can be found in the so-called Miombo savannas which are vegetated with Brachystegia (Miombo) and Baikiaea trees. This is the same habitat as where the Streaky-headed Seedeater (Crithagra gularis) lives. They feed mostly in the trees, sometimes with (small) seeds that are found on the ground or in low vegetation. Further they eat fruit, bugs that are caught in flight and picks on flowers and leaf buds. Nests are found at different times during the year, depending on the habitat.

Size: 13-14 cm (5.1-5.5 inch)

Description and subspecies

Sexes differ. The adult males are clear to be distinguished from the adult females, because the male has a more deep black color on the head, has bright white eyelashes and a white stripe on the top of the chest. The female birds show almost the same pattern, but where the males show the characteristic black color, she is brownish and her eyelash is less clear in color; in short, the female birds are significantly less contrasting. No subspecies are described. The adult Black-eared Seedeater can be confused with Reichard's seedeater (Crithagra reichardi) and Streaky-headed Seedeater (Crithagra gularis). These two Serin species both look more or less similar but differ significantly in color. Most distinct; Crithagra mennelli is more black and the long, stretched eyebrow is more bright white in color.


Little information is known about this seldom imported Serin species. The Black-eared Seedeater has a rather heavy beak.



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