This has a length of eleven centimetres and is so oddly patterned that some scientists regard it variously as either a hybrid or an abnormal specimen of the yellow-bellied seedeater (Sporophila nigricollis). The bird had a black crest and throat. The upperparts are olive. The underparts show a dingy buff. In contrast, the yellow-bellied seedeater has pale yellow underparts and the black coloring extends to the upperbreast.
It is considered possibly extinct by BirdLife International (listed by the IUCN as critically endangered), however it is not excluded that it could still exist because its habitat alongside the Rio Araguaia in the extreme west-central Goiás, Brazil is still poorly surveyed and undisturbed.
The only known individual was caught in October 1823 from a flock of other seedeater species at the edge of a lake 15 kilometres north of Registro do Araguaia. It was heavily moulted. It was first described by Austrian ornithologist August von Pelzeln in 1870.
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