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Pine Bunting, female - could it be identified reliably? (Ukraine) (1 Viewer)

Shumi

Active member
Hi All, attached are several pics taken in northern Ukraine in late January. Some people suggest that the odd-looking bunting is a juvenile female Pine Bunting (a huge rarity in Ukraine).

I also understand that distinguishing between female pine buntings and yellowhammers is not an easy task, and some rarity committees accept male Pine Buntings only. I am not sure, however, whether this is a common approach in the birding community or just the way that some particular countries have chosen to follow.

I would be grateful for your comments on the following two matters:

1. Does your country rarity committee/birdwatching community accept female pine buntings?
2. Would you identify the bird on the pics as a female Pine Bunting?

Thanks so much
 

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dwatsonbirder

Well-known member
I could be way out, but it looks like a Corn bunting on my phone? Rump colour, no rufous tones to the flanks, facial pattern etc.
 

Alexander Stöhr

Well-known member
I agree with Daniel, its a Corn bunting. Please note rump colour, distinct straight pale edge to tertials, lack of white outer tail-feathers, .... as said by Daniel.
 

kuzeycem

Medicinal Birding
Turkey
Looks too small for Corn, with a more diffuse facial pattern and underparts streaking. Tertial edges aren't straight either, they actually have the Yellowhammer pattern, which can just about be seen in 1st pic. Last pic also seems to show a warmer rump area, albeit at a dodgy angle.
Is it a Pine? Very difficult to be sure as the bird isn't really in good enough focus in any of these to decide the smaller details, but photos show no apparent yellow in the body or the head. The primary edges look whitish too for what it's worth. But even if they are, I've heard of hybrids looking totally Pine-like until you check their underwing coverts, where they have a little yellow. So it is very hard to be sure, but definitely looks promising to me.
 
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Alexander Stöhr

Well-known member
I hope to be proved wrong, as I am very interested in these two topics (Corn Bunting ID and Pine Bunting/YH-ID), but even after a second, more closer look, a Corn Bunting for me.
One more feature in favour of Corn Bunting is the narrow distinct median crown stripe that is distinct and narrow just above the bill. In this bird its just a small spot just above the bill, within variation for Corn Bunting.
This would be broader and more diffuse in many YH (yes, its within variation for YH, but its very rare in this species).
 

kuzeycem

Medicinal Birding
Turkey
In the second pic, maybe the subject bird is the one on the right?
Also did a little edit on the first pic to highlight the tertial pattern, typical of YH/Pine/etc.
 

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Bismarck Honeyeater

Barely known member
Unless I’m missing something this is a female Pine Bunting. BBRC have accepted females before and as this doesn’t appear to show signs of hybridisation should be acceptable in Ukraine too, IMHO
 

Alexander Stöhr

Well-known member
I looked at these pictures again, and yes: thank you all, especially to kuzeycem for highlightening the tertial-pattern.
It is indeed no Corn Bunting imo. I must admit that I thought I have seen and studied so many YH, Cirl-, Corn- and Rock Buntings over the last years, that I was sure, that a I can identify them with confidence, even the difficult ones.
-the uppertail-coverts and rump lacks warm tones in the first picture, but they are to dark for the majority of Corn Bunting. They seem to be warmer in the last picture, but I got the feeling that this is warm/brown-biased.
-although hard to see, this is one of the rare "Corn Bunting-lookalike" YH regarding tertial pattern.
-head pattern is difficult to judge, but the extensive pale nape patch is good for YH and unusual for Corn Bunting (but within variation). When I looked at the pictures for the first time, it looked good for a Corn Bunting (not perfect, but better than for YH). This feeling has gone. Reason? Dont know.

Conclusion? When I saw the pictures for the first time, I identified them as a hard Corn Bunting, but now this bird is giving a strange feeling to me. I still have some difficulties to see a YH in this bird, but I am still looking for reasons. I have seen only one Pine Bunting before, so it might be one?

Conclusion 2: I hope for more comments, normally I would scrutinize the pictures further, but I dont want this thread to get vanished under newer posts and I wait for others to jump in, so I can learn.
 

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