Alternative names: Japanese Grey Bunting
- Emberiza variabilis
14–17 cm (5½-6¾ in)
- Plain slate-grey plumage
- Black-streaked mantle and black wing-feathers with broad slate-grey fringes to wing-coverts and tertials
- No white in tail
- Immature males have upperparts like females and face and underparts dull brownish-grey with paler supercilium, throat and sub-moustachial stripe
- Dark grey-brown plumage
- Grey-brown ear-coverts bordered by blackish moustachial stripe, pale grey malar stripe and dark brown lateral throat-stripe
- Whitish chin and throat
- Dark dusky-brown underparts with heavy darker streaking
- Dark brown upperparts with black streaking
- Plain dark rufous-brown rump (well visible in flight)
- Brown tail
Found in East Asia on southern Kamchatka, Sakhalin and the Kuril Islands (Russia) to northern Japan.
Winters south to the Ryukyu Islands (Japan). Has been recorded in Korea, China and Taiwan.
Uncommon in most of its range.
Mixed deciduous and coniferous forest, usually with thickets or dwarf bamboo.
Occurs in mountains and hills at 1000m to 1800m.
In winter found in dense vegetation, often near streams in evergreen-forest but also in parks or suburban gardens (eg in Tokyo) and in open cultivation.
A secretive and sulking species.
Diet not well known, feeds probably on small insects, seeds and small fruits and berries. Forages usually on the ground.
Mostly seen singly or in pairs, during migration sometimes in small groups of five or six birds.
Breeding season starts in June and peaks in July. The nest is made of small twigs, dead leaves and grasses. It's placed low in dwarf bamboo or in a bush, usually below 1m. Lays 3 to 5 eggs.
- Clements, J. F., T. S. Schulenberg, M. J. Iliff, S. M. Billerman, T. A. Fredericks, B. L. Sullivan, and C. L. Wood. 2019. The eBird/Clements Checklist of Birds of the World: v2019. Downloaded from http://www.birds.cornell.edu/clementschecklist/download/
- Del Hoyo, J, A Elliott, and D Christie, eds. 2011. Handbook of the Birds of the World. Volume 16: Tanagers to New World Blackbirds. Barcelona: Lynx Edicions. ISBN 978-8496553781
- BirdForum Opus contributors. (2021) Grey Bunting. In: BirdForum, the forum for wild birds and birding. Retrieved 15 April 2021 from https://www.birdforum.net/wiki/Grey_Bunting