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Pine Bunting - BirdForum Opus

Photo by paux
N. Xinjiang, China
Emberiza leucocephalos


Photo by Dave Hawkins
Chosely, Norfolk, March 2004

16-17.5cm (6¼-7 in)

  • White crown and cheeks
  • Chestnut forehead and throat with dark streaks

Female is duller and is more streaked on undersides
Seems to be rather variable in extent of white versus rufous in the head

Similar species

Female , Summer Plumage
Photo © by Houman Doroudi (Tormtay)
Lar National Park, Mazandaran Province, Iran, May 2017

Female Yellowhammer usually has yellow tones, but on a few, these may be very faint and therefore difficult to separate. To identify female Pine Bunting (which should look more contrasting overall), look especially that

  • outer edges of primaries are white
  • outer edges of outer tail feathers are white (especially proximal part)
  • lower belly white without yellow or golden tones
  • underwing coverts are white without any yellow
  • no yellow or olive-green tones to the plumage
  • tendency for two-toned bill, paler on lower than upper mandible

On both sexes, note that the rump is more brownish lacking the orange tone to the rufous that many Yellowhammer shows.


Asia: found from Siberia to north India and southern China.

Accidental vagrant to Alaska with 2 records.



There are 2 subspecies[1]:

  • E. l. leucocephalos:
  • E. l. fronto:
  • North-western China (Kokonor region of north-eastern Qinghai to north-western Gansu)


Open pine forests; fields with hedges, scrub or trees.



During the breeding season, their diet consists mostly of insects and invertebrates such as grasshoppers, caterpillars and beetles, with seeds the remainder of the year.


The clutch consists of 4-6 eggs. The nest is a woven cup built by the female. There are usually two broods.


  1. 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/
  2. Handbook of the Birds of the World Alive (retrieved October 2016)
  3. Wikipedia

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