Semelparous woody bamboos flower fairly synchronously and in clocklike fashion after many years, providing abundant and nutritious seeds. However, this resource is ephemeral, localized, and unpredictable from the perspective of birds that feed on those seeds. Birds specializing on bamboo seeds track this food source and are nomadic. We recorded Temminck's Seedeater (Sporophila falcirostris) at 29 localities and the Buffy-fronted Seedeater (S. frontalis) at 23 localities in Argentina, Paraguay, and southeastern Brazil. In these species, nomadism is unassociated with any seasonal factor: birds may persist year round over several consecutive years if the seed supply is constant enough. Most occurrences and all breeding records were related to masting of bamboo; records of isolated birds away from seeding bamboo must represent individuals searching for bamboo patches. We report winter breeding of these species for the first time and demonstrate that the supply of bamboo seeds is the main limitation to their breeding. On a broad spatiotemporal scale, large-seeded bamboos (e.g., Guadua spp.) may function as strong population pumps, small-seeded bamboos (e.g., Chusquea spp.) as maintenance stations. Both species fed mostly on bamboo seeds, occasionally on bamboo flowers, and rarely on alternative food sources. They consumed insects frequently and occurred in mixed-species flocks, especially during autumn and winter. Creation of a network of protected areas is essential to preserve bamboo patches that flower at different times and localities in sufficiently large quantities to guarantee the long-term survival of the peculiarly dynamic populations of bamboo seedeaters.
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