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Rock Bunting - BirdForum Opus

Photo © by Dave Hawkins
Emberiza cia


15–16·5 cm (6-6½ in)
Grey bill
Longish thin tail
Male: Reddish-brown upperparts, white-outer tail feathers, stripey grey-and-black head pattern.
Female and Juvenile: duller with streaked crown, breast and flanks


Breeds throughout Iberia except on Mediterranean coast, southern France in the Massif Central and Alps of Switzerland, north in Germany along the Rhine and east into Austria. In Italy breeds in the Apennines and in northern Sicily and also breeds from Slovenia to Greece and east to Romania and Bulgaria and in the Carpathians in Slovakia and north & central Hungary. Breeds across much of Turkey to the Caucasus and southern Crimea, in the Middle East south to northern Israel. In North Africa breeds from central Morocco to north Tunisia.

Northern birds may be partially migratory but most are resident or altitudinal migrants. Rare winter visitor to Iraq.

Vagrants recorded north to Britain, Sweden, Poland and Germany, also Malta, Cyprus, Libya and Kuwait.



There are 4 subspecies[1]:

  • E. c. cia:
  • E. c. par: larger, paler and more heavily streaked with a buff rump than nominate
  • E. c. stracheyi:
  • Western Himalayas (Chitral to Ladakh)
  • E. c. flemingorum:

The last two subspecies has formerly been placed in Godlewski's Bunting.


Dry rocky hillsides with sparse vegetation, sometimes vineyards and olive groves, juniper scrub and subalpine meadows, crags and ruins. Often at fairly high altitude and reaches 4000m in parts of range, usually under 1500m in Europe.


Flicks tail open when on the ground feeding.


They nest on, or near, the ground.


Call: includes weak zeet and thin seee.


  1. Clements, J. F., T. S. Schulenberg, M. J. Iliff, S. M. Billerman, T. A. Fredericks, J. A. Gerbracht, D. Lepage, B. L. Sullivan, and C. L. Wood. 2021. The eBird/Clements checklist of Birds of the World: v2021. Downloaded from https://www.birds.cornell.edu/clementschecklist/download/
  2. Birdwatchers Pocket Guide ISBN 1-85732-804-3
  3. Collins Field Guide 5th Edition

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