This bird is similar in size to a reed bunting, but longer-billed. The breeding male has bright yellow underparts with black flank streaks, brown upperparts, black face and throat bar, and a pink lower mandible.
The female has a heavily streaked grey-brown back, and less intensely yellow underparts. She has a whitish face with dark crown, eye and cheek stripes. The juvenile is similar, but the background colour of the underparts and face is buff.
The call is a distinctive zick, and the song is a clear tru-tru, tri-tri.
The yellow-breasted bunting breeds in open scrubby areas, often near water, and is present in Siberia. It lays for to six eggs in a nest on the ground. Its food consists of insects when feeding young, and otherwise seeds.
Until 2004, the International Union for the Conservation of Nature considered the yellow-breasted bunting to be a species of least concern. In 2004, its status was changed to near threatened, and four years later it was uplisted again — to vulnerable — after new research has shown it to be rarer than had been believed. In 2013, its assessment changed to endangered.
- OBC 24 photographs (see pulldown menu at page bottom)