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Reed Bunting - BirdForum Opus

Male, nominate subspecies
Photo © by Richard Ford
Farlington Marshes, Hampshire, UK, 17 April 2003

Alternative name: Common Reed Bunting

Emberiza schoeniclus

Identification

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.

Distribution

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

Taxonomy

Subspecies

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 15 subspecies[1]:

  • E. s. schoeniclus: British Isles and north-western Europe to central Russia; winters to North Africa
  • E. s. witherbyi: Southern Portugal, coastal western Spain, France, Balearic Islands and Sardinia
  • E. s. intermedia: Italy and Sicily to southern Ukraine, Crimea and north-eastern Turkey
  • 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: Caspian Sea to Kazakhstan, western Xinjiang and western Mongolia
  • E. s. passerina: North-western Siberia; winters to northern Xinjiang, Mongolia and northern Iran
  • 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. minor: South-eastern Siberia and adjacent Manchuria
  • 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. zaidamensis: Western China (Tsaidam basin in northern Qinghai)

Habitat

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

Behaviour

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.

Flight

Erratic bursts of wing-beats.

Diet

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

Breeding

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

Vocalisation

Song: repetitious "tseek, tseek, tseek, tissick".

Listen in an external program Reed Bunting voice clip

References

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, 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/
  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

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