- Emberiza pusilla
12–13·5 cm (4¾-5¼ in)
This is one of the few buntings which doesn't acquire strikingly bright colours - even in the breeding season.
Summer-plumaged males can be recognised by their rusty-coloured cheeks and neat black head and face markings.
This pattern is more subdued in females and immatures in which other features, such as the white eye-ring and narrow grey bill, become important field marks. Notice too that there are no dark lines running down from the bill, so the male Little Bunting has an 'open-faced' appearance. Females and immatures do have a weak malar stripe but still don't look as strikingly moustached as a Reed Bunting. Other features include the small, conical bill and two distinct greyish wing bars
Common breeder over much of Siberia but rare in extreme west of range in the Western Palearctic. Breeds in the extreme north of Norway and Sweden and in Finland mainly in eastern Lapland, also on the Kola Peninsula and in northern Russia from the White Sea eastwards north of about 60N.
Leaves breeding areas in late August-September to winter from Nepal to southern and eastern China, returning May-early June. Regular in small numbers in Western Europe and annual in Britain with 10-30 recorded most years, although more than 50 have occurred with the majority in autumn. Wintering has occurred. Most records come from the Northern Isles with smaller numbers on the east coast.
Breeds in shrubby wet tundra and open forest, usually in birch, willow or alder.
On passage found along woodland edges and riverbanks, open cultivation, stubble fields and sometimes reedbeds.
During the breeding season they eat seeds and invertebrates, such as mayflies and stoneflies.
- Clements, J. F., T. S. Schulenberg, M. J. Iliff, D. Roberson, T. A. Fredericks, B. L. Sullivan, and C. L. Wood. 2017. The eBird/Clements checklist of birds of the world: v2017, with updates to August 2017. Downloaded from http://www.birds.cornell.edu/clementschecklist/download/
- Handbook of the Birds of the World Alive (retrieved Oct 2017)
- BF Member observations
- BirdForum Opus contributors. (2021) Little Bunting. In: BirdForum, the forum for wild birds and birding. Retrieved 15 April 2021 from https://www.birdforum.net/wiki/Little_Bunting