Pallass Reed Bunting (Emberiza pallasi)

Pallass Reed Bunting

[order] PASSERIFORMES | [family] Emberizidae | [latin] Emberiza pallasi | [UK] Pallass Reed Bunting | [FR] Bruant de Pallas | [DE] Pallasammer | [ES] Escribano de Palla | [NL] Pallas’ Rietgors


Genus Species subspecies Breeding Range Breeding Range 2 Non Breeding Range
Emberiza pallasi EU e
Emberiza pallasi lydiae
Emberiza pallasi minor
Emberiza pallasi pallasi
Emberiza pallasi polaris

Physical charateristics

13-14 cm; wing-span 20.5-23 cm. Over 10% smaller than Reed Bunting but with similar form except for straight culmen, flatter crown, and slimmer body; only marginally larger than Little Bunting, with similarly pointed bill. 2nd smallest bunting of west Palearctic, closely resembling Reed Bunting in general character, plumage pattern and tail spreading, but having usually distinctive calls. At close range, compared with western Reed Bunting, both sexes show much more streaked upperparts (due to distinctively paler fringes to back and wing-feathers emphasizing black-brown centres), usually pale greyish rump, and only lightly marked underparts. Identification confirmed by dull (never rufous) lesser wing-coverts, bright double wing-bar, and pale panel on folded wing (but only 2nd of these obvious on juvenile). Adult male further distinguished by yellowish to buffish tinge to rear collar, white rump, and virtually unstreaked underparts; adult female and immature by much more uniform head (lacking obvious dark borders to crown and ear-coverts of Reed Bunting) and heavy black malar stripes turning into throat (and not breaking up to form obvious streaks on underparts).

wingspan min.: 20 cm wingspan max.: 23 cm
size min.: 13 cm size max.: 14 cm
incubation min.: 10 days incubation max.: 11 days
fledging min.: 10 days fledging max.: 11 days
broods: 1   eggs min.: 3  
      eggs max.: 5  


Eurasia : East


Breeds mainly in east Palearctic, in drier and cooler situations than overlapping Reed Bunting, occupying tundra with tall herbage and shrubs, but also shrubs and grass areas of steppes and semi-desert and, in south, mountain tundra. Northern populations inhabit river valleys with thickets of willow and alder in lowland tundra. Further south, breeds on high plateaux up to 2200-2500 m, in dwarf birch and other shrub growth. Winters in plains, preferring irrigated areas with shrubs and stands of reeds near rivers and lakes.


Breeding in North-east European Russia: eggs laid from late June or early July; young generally fledged by end of July. Nest is well hidden on ground or tussock, or in depression in moss, lichen, etc., sheltered by shrub or grass; also less than c. 50 cm above ground in bush or small tree. Nest: rather flimsy foundation of dry stems and blades of grass and sedge, lined with similar but finer material, hair, and sometimes dry needles of larch. The eggs are sub-elliptical, smooth and glossy; creamy-pink to reddish-brown, sometimes darker towards broad end, with scattered blackish-brown spots, small blotches, and hairstreaks and greyish-brown undermarkings and scrawls. Clutch: 4-5 (3-6) incubate for about 11 days. In one case, young left nest at 10 days old.

Feeding habits

Seeds and other plant material, invertebrates in breeding season.


This species has an extremely large range, and hence does not approach the thresholds for Vulnerable under the range size criterion (Extent of Occurrence <20,000 km2 combined with a declining or fluctuating range size, habitat extent/quality, or population size and a small number of locations or severe fragmentation). The population trend appears to be stable, and hence the species does not approach the thresholds for Vulnerable under the population trend criterion (>30% decline over ten years or three generations). The population size has not been quantified, but it is not believed to approach the thresholds for Vulnerable under the population size criterion (<10,000 mature individuals with a continuing decline estimated to be >10% in ten years or three generations, or with a specified population structure). For these reasons the species is evaluated as Least Concern.
Emberiza pallasi has a predominantly Asian breeding distribution, which just extends
into Europe in northernmost Russia. Its European breeding population is relatively
small (<150,000 pairs), but its trend between 1970-1990 was unknown. Trend data were also unavailable for 1990-2000, but there is no evidence to suggest that the species declined. Consequently, it is provisionally evaluated as Secure.
Pallass Reed Bunting status Least Concern


Northern populations long-distance migrants; southern populations short-distance and altitudinal migrants (perhaps dispersive rather than migratory in south-west). West Palearctic breeding birds winter mainly in China; in autumn, leave breeding areas August-September, return early or mid-June.

Distribution map

Pallass Reed Bunting distribution range map

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