|Male in Kazakhstan|
It breeds in central Asia. It is migratory, wintering in India. Its status in western Europe, where it is a potential vagrant, is confused by escapes, especially as this species is more commonly recorded than the closely related black-headed bunting, despite the latter have a more westerly breeding range. Reports in Britain have declined dramatically over recent years, coinciding with the decline in Asiatic imports for the cage-bird trade.
The red-headed bunting breeds in open scrubby areas including agricultural land. It lays three to five eggs in a nest in a tree or bush. Its natural food consists of seeds, or when feeding young, insects.
This bird is 17 cm long, larger than reed bunting, and long-tailed. The breeding male has bright yellow underparts, green upperparts and a brownish-red face and breast.
The female is a washed-out version of the male, with paler underparts, a grey-brown back and a greyish head. The juvenile is similar, and both can be difficult to separate from the corresponding plumages of black-headed bunting.
The song, given from a high perch, is a jerky sweet-sweet-churri-churri-churri.
Eggs of Emberiza bruniceps MHNT
- Buntings and Sparrows by Byers, Olsson and Curson, ISBN 1-873403-19-4
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- OBC 22 photographs (see pulldown menu at page bottom)