Little bunting

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Little bunting
On the island of Heligoland in the North Sea
Scientific classification edit
Kingdom: Animalia
Phylum: Chordata
Class: Aves
Order: Passeriformes
Family: Emberizidae
Genus: Emberiza
E. pusilla
Binomial name
Emberiza pusilla
Pallas, 1776

The little bunting (Emberiza pusilla) is a passerine bird belonging to the bunting and American sparrow family (Emberizidae), a group most modern authors separate from the true finches (Fringillidae).


First described by Peter Simon Pallas in 1776, the little bunting is a monotypic species,[2] with no geographical variation across its extensive Eurasian range.[3]

The genus name Emberiza is from Old German Embritz, a bunting. The specific pusilla is Latin for "very small".[4]


This is a small bunting, measuring only 12–14 cm (4.7–5.5 in) in length.[2] It has a heavily streaked brown back and white underparts with fine dark streaking. With its chestnut face and white malar stripe, it resembles a small female reed bunting, but has black crown stripes, a white eye-ring, and a fine dark border to the rear of its chestnut cheeks. The sexes are similar.

The call is a distinctive zik, and the song is a rolling siroo-sir-sir-siroo.


The little bunting breeds across the taiga of the far north-east of Europe and northern Asia. It is migratory, wintering in the subtropics in northern India, southern China and the northern parts of south-east Asia.[3] The birds remain in their winter quarters for quite long; specimens were taken in Yunnan in late March.[5] It is a rare vagrant to western Europe.[3] This species is adaptable; in the mountains of Bhutan for example, where small numbers winter, it is typically found in an agricultural habitat, mostly between 1,000 and 2,000 metres (3,300 and 6,600 ft) ASL.[6]

It breeds in open coniferous woodland, often with some birch or willow. Four to six eggs are laid in a tree nest. Its natural food consists of seeds, or when feeding young, insects.

Little Bunting.

A common and widely-ranging species, it is not considered threatened on the IUCN Red List.[1]


  1. ^ a b BirdLife International (2012). "Emberiza pusilla". IUCN Red List of Threatened Species. Version 2013.2. International Union for Conservation of Nature. Retrieved 26 November 2013.
  2. ^ a b Byers, Olsson & Curson (1995), p. 154.
  3. ^ a b c Byers, Olsson & Curson (1995), p. 156.
  4. ^ Jobling, James A. (2010). The Helm Dictionary of Scientific Bird Names. London, United Kingdom: Christopher Helm. pp. 145, 325. ISBN 978-1-4081-2501-4.
  5. ^ Bangs, Outram (1932). "Birds of western China obtained by the Kelley-Roosevelts expedition". Field Mus. Nat. Hist. Zool. Ser. 18 (11): 343–379.
  6. ^ Inskipp, Carol; Inskipp, Tim; Sherub (2000). "The ornithological importance of Thrumshingla National Park, Bhutan" (PDF). Forktail. 16: 147–162.

Cited works[edit]

  • Byers, Clive; Olsson, Urban; Curson, Jon (1995). Buntings and Sparrows: A Guide to the Buntings and North American Sparrows. Mountfield, East Sussex, UK: Pica Press. ISBN 1-873403-19-4.

External links[edit]

  • OBC 29 photographs (see pulldown menu at page bottom)