Red-headed Bunting (Emberiza bruniceps)

Red-headed Bunting

[order] PASSERIFORMES | [family] Emberizidae | [latin] Emberiza bruniceps | [UK] Red-headed Bunting | [FR] Bruant a tete rousse | [DE] Braunkopf-Ammer | [ES] Escribano de Cabeza Roja | [NL] Bruinkopgors


Monotypic species

Physical charateristics

Rather large bunting, male has variable golden and chestnut head and bib, distinctly greenish mantle, bright yellow-green rump, and yellow underparts.
Female resembles E. melanocephala but many show greenish-olive or grey tone on crown and back, while a few have buff-chestnut on forecrown, lower throat and upper breast.
Call distinctive. Sexes dissimilar, individual and seasonal variation in male.

Listen to the sound of Red-headed Bunting

[audio: Bunting.mp3]

Copyright remark: Most sounds derived from xeno-canto

wingspan min.: 25 cm wingspan max.: 28 cm
size min.: 16 cm size max.: 17 cm
incubation min.: 10 days incubation max.: 14 days
fledging min.: 0 days fledging max.: 14 days
broods: 1   eggs min.: 3  
      eggs max.: 6  


Eurasia : Southcentral


Adjoining and complementary to that of Black-headed Bunting in south Palearctic, but mainly in warmer, drier, and more open country, with less vigorous vegetation, in steppe, semi-desert, and desert oasis situations. Prefers thickets where available, and sings from top of bush or telephone wire.
Occupies all kinds of shrubby and herbaceous thickets, scattered in thin patches over relatively open countryside, but is highly typical of cultivated areas, seeking out water. Often nests close to human habitations, and ascends mountains freely to C. 2000 m.


Second half of May to last week of June in Transcaspia and Iran, mid May to late June in Kazakhstan.
Nest site is vuilt in low vegetation and well hidden in dense or thorny shrub, vine, fruit tree, etc., or very close to ground in thick grass. Nest concists rather loose and untidy foundation of stems of cereals, rough grasses, Umbelliferae and Cruciferae, etc., often with flowers attached, sometimes pieces of bark or leaves. Lined with fine grass, plant fibres, rootlets, and hair.
3-6 eggs, incubation about 10-14 days, by female only.

Feeding habits

Diet seeds and other plant material, invertebrates in breeding season. Adults apparently eat much plant food throughout summer, though diet of young almost wholly invertebrates. Feeds mostly on ground often in or near areas of cultivation, also in shrubs and bushes.


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 bruniceps has a predominantly Asian breeding distribution, which just
extends into Europe in southern Russia. Its European breeding population is very
small (as few as 250 pairs), but underwent a large increase between 1970-1990. No
trend data were available for 1990-2000, but there is no evidence to suggest that it
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
Red-headed Bunting status Least Concern


Winters out of breeding range in Russia to w,n,c Indian sub-continent. (Sibley Charles G. 1996)

Distribution map

Red-headed Bunting distribution range map

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