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Reed Bunting - BirdForum Opus

(Redirected from Emberiza Schoeniclus)
Male, nominate subspecies
Photo © by Richard Ford
Farlington Marshes, Hampshire, UK, 17 April 2003

Alternative name: Common Reed Bunting

Emberiza schoeniclus


14-16.5 cm (5½-6½ in)
Breeding Male Black head and throat, white neck collar and underparts, heavily streaked brown back, deeply notched tail with white edges.
In winter the black is obscured by rufous-buff edging.
The female and immature are much duller, though still heavily streaked, lacking the black head and white collar. A buff supercilium.
Legs reddish brown to black. Bill is dark and in most populations is small.

Similar species

Female, nominate subspecies
Photo © by postcardcv
Titchwell Marsh RSPB, UK, 25 January 2006

Pallas's Bunting from eastern Siberia looks similar. However it's smaller, longer-tailed, the plumage is generally paler and it has a pale rump and gray rather than rufous lesser coverts.


Europe and northern Asia. It has occurred several times as a vagrant to North America in Alaska.



Male, nominate subspecies
Photo © by targetman
Lincolnshire, UK, 30 June 2008
Subspecies pyrrhulina
Photo © by katastrofa
Yatsu-higata mudflats, Tokyo, Japan, 22 March 2018

There are 19 subspecies[1]:

  • E. s. lusitanica: Portugal and northwestern Spain
  • E. s. schoeniclus: British Isles and north-western Europe to central Russia; winters to North Africa
  • E. s. passerina: Breeds northwestern Siberia; winters in southern Asia, from northern India to western China
  • E. s. parvirostris: Central Siberia and northern Mongolia; winters to northern China
  • E. s. pyrrhulina: Transbaikalia to Kamchatka, Kuril Island, Sakhalin, Hokkaido
  • E. s. pallidior: South-western Siberia; winters Caucasus to north-western India and Mongolia
  • E. s. stresemanni: Eastern Austria, Hungary, northern Serbia, and northwestern Romania
  • E. s. ukrainae: Southern Russia to northern Ukraine and Volga River; winters to Caucasus
  • E. s. incognita: Russia east of Volga to southern Urals, northern Kazakhstan; winters to north-western China
  • E. s. witherbyi: Northwestern Morocco, eastern Spain (including the Balearic Islands), Mediterranean coast of France, and Sardinia
  • E. s. intermedia: Italy and Sicily east to Albania
  • E. s. tschusii: Bulgaria and Romania east across the northern Black Sea to the Sea of Azov
  • E. s. reiseri: Albania, Macedonia, and northern Greece
  • E. s. caspia: Eastern Caucasus to western and southern Iran, Syria, adjacent south-eastern Turkey and north-eastern Iraq
  • E. s. korejewi: Eastern Iran
  • E. s. pyrrhuloides: Northern Caspian Sea region east to southeastern Kazakhstan
  • E. s. harterti: Eextreme southern Russia (southern Tuva), extreme eastern Kazakhstan, northwestern China (Xinjiang), and western and central Mongolia
  • E. s. centralasiae: Western China (Tarim Basin east to Lop Nur, Xinjiang)
  • E. s. zaidamensis: Western China (Tsaidam basin in northern Qinghai)


Breeds in almost any kind of marshy place: reedbeds, river banks etc but in winter will be found on farmland, particularly stubble fields.


Probably subspecies pyrrhuloides, Thick-billed Reed Bunting
Photo © by Shahrzad Fattahi
Tehran, Iran, 24 January 2019

Forms mixed flocks in winter with other buntings and finches.


Erratic bursts of wing-beats.


Their diet consists mostly of seeds and other plant material with the addition of insects when feeding young.


They lay 4-7 eggs in a nest which is built in a bush or reeds


Song: repetitious "tseek, tseek, tseek, tissick". Reed Bunting voice clip


Juvenile, subspecies schoeniclus
Photo © by katastrofa
Rainham Marshes RSPB Nature Reserve, UK, 4 August 2019
  1. Clements, J. F., T. S. Schulenberg, M. J. Iliff, S. M. Billerman, T. A. Fredericks, J. A. Gerbracht, D. Lepage, B. L. Sullivan, and C. L. Wood. 2021. The eBird/Clements checklist of Birds of the World: v2021. Downloaded from https://www.birds.cornell.edu/clementschecklist/download/
  2. Hayman, P. & Hume, R. (2002) The New Birdwatchers Pocket Guide to Britain and Europe. Mitchell Beazley ISBN 1-85732-804-3
  3. Fitter, R. (1966) Collins Pocket Guide to British Birds. Collins
  4. Peterson, RT, G Mountfort and PAD Hollom. 1993. Collins Field Guide – Birds of Britain and Europe, 5th Revised edition. London: HarperCollins Publishers. ISBN 978-0002199001
  5. ID thread discussing subspecies E. s. pyrrhuloides]
  6. Brazil, M.A. (1991) The Birds of Japan. Smithsonian Inst. Press.
  7. Byers, C., J. Curson, and U. Olsson. (1995) Sparrows and Buntings: A Guide to the Sparrows and Buntings of North America and the World. Houghton Mifflin, Boston.
  8. Copete, J.L. & Christie, D.A. (2019). Reed Bunting (Emberiza schoeniclus). In: del Hoyo, J., Elliott, A., Sargatal, J., Christie, D.A. & de Juana, E. (eds.). Handbook of the Birds of the World Alive. Lynx Edicions, Barcelona. (retrieved from https://www.hbw.com/node/61900 on 8 April 2019).
  9. Howell, S.N.G., Lewington, I. & Russell, W. (2014) Rare Birds of North America. Princeton Univ. Press

Recommended Citation

External Links

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