Pine Bunting (Emberiza leucocephalos)

Pine Bunting

[order] PASSERIFORMES | [family] Emberizidae | [latin] Emberiza leucocephalos | [UK] Pine Bunting | [FR] Bruant a calotte blanche | [DE] Fichtenammer | [ES] Escribano Pinero | [NL] Witkopgors


Genus Species subspecies Breeding Range Breeding Range 2 Non Breeding Range
Emberiza leucocephalos EU c, e s Asia, Southeast Asia
Emberiza leucocephalos fronto
Emberiza leucocephalos leucocephalos

Physical charateristics

Unlike Yellowhammer, adult plumage of male and female strikingly different but both show white ground-colour to underparts, long rufous rump, and bright white outer tail-feathers. Breeding male has striking white central crown and cheeks contrasting with bold black and chestnut stripes on face and chestnut throat; white underparts, interrupted by chestnut-spotted chest-band and flanks; similar but much duller, hoarier in fresh plumage. Female duller and patterned more like Yellowhammer but no trace of yellow, with dull white ground-colour to plumage most obvious in pale head, tips to median coverts, and belly. At close range, typical bird shows sharper, duller streaks on lateral crown-stripes and darker malar and chest streaking than Yellowhammer.

Listen to the sound of Pine Bunting

[audio: Bunting.mp3]

Copyright remark: Most sounds derived from xeno-canto

wingspan min.: 26 cm wingspan max.: 29 cm
size min.: 16 cm size max.: 18 cm
incubation min.: 0 days incubation max.: 0 days
fledging min.: 0 days fledging max.: 0 days
broods: 0   eggs min.: 0  
      eggs max.: 0  


Eurasia : Central, East


Open woodland, deciduous forest edge, riparian woodland,orchards, and planted shade trees (Temperate Zone), in migration and winter in humid forest edge, second growth and scrub. Is predominantly boreal and cool temperate in breeding distribution. Within breeding range, favours well-lit forests of conifers, or in some regions birches and other deciduous trees, but avoids riverain deciduous woods, as well as mountain taiga. Will tolerate steppes if grassy, with clumps of trees. Winters commonly in flocks on foothills and plains of India and Pakistan, up to 1500 m, occasionally to nearly 2700 m; here it feeds on ground, perching in trees, on bush-covered grassy slopes, and on stubble and fallow fields.


Breeding in Western Siberia: eggs laid from beginning of May; exceptional clutches at end of June are perhaps second broods. In Central Siberia: eggs laid about mid-May;second broods fledge towards late July. Nest is a depression on ground, under bush, grass tussock, fallen branch or tree, etc. Nest is very like that of Yellowhammer; bulky foundation of tightly woven stalks, rootlets, and dry grass, lined with soft grasses and very often with horsehair.
Clutch: 4-5 (3-6), with incubation lasting 13 days and the yong fledge at 9-10 (-14) days.

Feeding habits

Feeds and other plant material; insects in breeding season. Forages primarily on ground and in low bushes; on breeding grounds, feeds at forest edge or in large clearings; in winter quarters, where specializes on cereal grains, searches for food in flocks, often with other seed-eaters, on arable fields (bare soil or stubble), waste ground, in orchards, villages, parks, by roads and tracks, etc.; often near water and swampy places.


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 leucocephalos has a predominantly Asian breeding distribution, which just
extends into Europe in the foothills of the Urals. Its European breeding population
is extremely small (as few as 50 pairs), but no trend was available for 1970-1990. Its
trend during 1990-2000 was also unknown, but there is no evidence to suggest that
the species declined. Although the size of the European population could render it
susceptible to the risks affecting small populations, it is marginal to a much larger
non-European population.
Breeds in sparse coniferous forests in eastern Russia across the Ural Mountains and Siberia to the upper Kolyma and the coastal ranges of the Pacific and northeastern Tsinghai, and winters in much of the breeding range and south to Iraq and southern Iran to northwestern India and central China. Resident as a disjunct population in Kansu and Tsinghai provinces, China. Is known to interbreed with Yellowhammer.
Pine Bunting status Least Concern


Migratory, birds moving chiefly south to winter in southern and central Asia. Winter range overlaps slightly with breeding range. In zone of sympatry with Yellowhammer (western Siberia), more migratory than that species and makes longer movements.

Distribution map

Pine Bunting distribution range map

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