Rock Bunting (Emberiza cia)

Rock Bunting

[order] PASSERIFORMES | [family] Emberizidae | [latin] Emberiza cia | [UK] Rock Bunting | [FR] Bruant fou | [DE] Zippammer | [ES] Escribano montesino | [NL] Grijze Gors


Genus Species subspecies Breeding Range Breeding Range 2 Non Breeding Range
Emberiza cia EU sw, sc
Emberiza cia cia
Emberiza cia flemingorum
Emberiza cia hordei
Emberiza cia par
Emberiza cia prageri
Emberiza cia stracheyi

Physical charateristics

Medium-size but relatively slim bunting, with long, thin tail contributing to more attenuated outline than any other congener. Shares rufous-buff ground-color to plumage with five other Emberiza, best distinguished by rather small, lead-colored bill, strong head pattern of blackish crown-stripes and complete black surround to ear-coverts on greyish ground, and strongly rufous rump. Terrestrial, rarely far from rocks. One call distinctive.
Sexes dissimilar, some seasonal variation in male.

Listen to the sound of Rock Bunting

[audio: Bunting.mp3]

Copyright remark: Most sounds derived from xeno-canto

wingspan min.: 17 cm wingspan max.: 21 cm
size min.: 15 cm size max.: 16 cm
incubation min.: 12 days incubation max.: 14 days
fledging min.: 10 days fledging max.: 14 days
broods: 2   eggs min.: 3  
      eggs max.: 6  


Eurasia : Southwest, Southcentral


Extends across lower middle latitudes of west Palearctic, from Mediterranean to Caucasus, from warm temperate to steppe climatic zones. Avoids most humid or wet situations, closed forest, and good agricultural land, preferring sunny semi-arid terrain, often stony or rocky, with more or less spare shrub vegetation, and usually with no more than scattered trees.
Often on slopes or hillsides, up to 1900 m, and extralimitally in Asia above 4000 m, frequenting mountain villages and gardens. Occupies open areas at upper forest limits, juniper scrub, subalpine meadows with shrubs and screes, stone-walled cultivated areas, and vineyards on hillsides.


Late April to mid June in Switzerland, early May to mid July in Hungary, mid May in Greece, April to mid june in Algeria.
Nest sit, on or close to ground in cleft in rock or between boulders on slope, usually by bush, etc., generally hidden by vegetation though sometimes exposed, also in wall or earth bank, or low in dense tree or bush.
Nest, foundation of dry grass, stalks, and roots, occasionally leaves and bits of bark, lined with fine grasses, rootlets, and some hair. 4-5 eggs, incubation,12-14 days, by female only.

Feeding habits

Seeds, mainly of grasses, and other parts of plants, invertebrates in breeding season. Feeds principally on ground among rocks and scrubby vegetation, or in short grass in fields, at woodland edges, etc., but not infrequently in bushes or tall herbs taking both seeds and insects. Mostly picks seeds from ground, but will also stand on stems, sometimes several at a time, to bend them over and reach see-head, reaches over to seed-head from neighbouring perch, or pulls seed-head down while standing on ground. Catches flying insects in short sallies just above ground.


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 increasing, 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 is extremely large, and hence does not 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 cia is a widespread resident across much of southern Europe, which accounts
for less than half of its global range. Its European breeding population is very large
(>1,300,000 pairs), but underwent a large decline between 1970-1990. Although the
trend of the key population in Spain was unknown during 1990-2000, the species
was stable across most of its European range, and was probably stable overall.
Nevertheless, its total population size probably remains below the level that preceded
its decline.
Rock Bunting status Least Concern


Resident in Turkey and Islands surrounding Lesbos

Distribution map

Rock Bunting distribution range map

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