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Ochre-rumped Bunting - BirdForum Opus

Photo by Jan Bisschop
Happy Island, China, May 2005

Alternative names: Japanese Reed Bunting; Chinese Reed Bunting

Emberiza yessoensis


14-15cm. A small bunting.


  • Glossy black head to lower neck and upper breast
  • Light grey-brown upperparts mixed with rufous and with heavy black streaking
  • Grey-brown tail with with egdes
  • Creamy white underparts, breast with slightly darker wash
  • Black head concealed by pale fringes of fresh feathers in non-breeding birds. Also often with indication of pale supercilium and submoustachial stripe


  • Mostly dark brown head with some pale streaking
  • Dark brown ear-coverts
  • Pale orange submoustachial area and throat with contrasting black malar stripe

Similar species

Breeding males lack the white submoustachial stripe of Reed Bunting and Pallas's Bunting.


Breeds in Japan, southeast Siberia and eastern Manchuria (China). Winters in eatern China, Korea and Japan.
Uncommon, rare and local. Obviously extinct in some areas (Hokkaido and Kuril Islands). Recently breeding confirmed in eastern Mongolia. Recorded as vagrant in Hong Kong and in Taiwan.


Two subspecies recognized:

  • E. y. continentalis breeding in southeast Siberia and eastern Manchuria, wintering to south Korea and eastern China
  • E. y. yessoensis in Japan (Hokkaido, Honshu and southern Kuril Islands)

Sister-species of Pallas's Bunting and Reed Bunting.


Temperate grassland and swamps.


Recorded taking seeds, beetles, caterpillars and berries.
Breeding season from May to July, double-brooded. The nest is a small cup made of dry grass. It's placed close to the ground in grassy area. Lays 3 to 5 eggs.
A migratory species, arrives at breeding grounds not before May and leaves in September.


  1. Clements, J. F., T. S. Schulenberg, M. J. Iliff, B.L. Sullivan, C. L. Wood, and D. Roberson. 2012. The eBird/Clements Checklist of Birds of the World. 6th ed., with updates to October 2012. Ithaca: Cornell Univ. Press. ISBN 978-0801445019. Spreadsheet available at http://www.birds.cornell.edu/clementschecklist/downloadable-clements-checklist
  2. 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

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