Yellowhammer (Emberiza citronella)

Yellowhammer Emberiza citronella

The common bunting of farmland and bushy heaths, the Yellowhammer is typical of warm, sunny days when the males sing non-stop. In winter, they gather in small groups, or mix with other buntings and finches, roaming weedy fields or ploughed land, searching for seeds. Small parties of Yellowhammers draw attention to themselves by their sharp calls. In flight, they show the typical long, white-edged black tail of buntings.

VOICE Call sharp, quick, metallic, spluttering tsik, tzit, or twitik; song sharp, thin, metallic trill with one or two longer, higher or lower notes at end, ti-ti-ti-titi- ti-ti-ti-teee-tyew, or simpler quick trill.

NESTING Hair-lined nest of grass and straw on ground in base of bush or below bank; 3–5 eggs; 2 or 3 broods;April–July.

FEEDING Eats some insects in summer, otherwise mostly takes seeds from ground.

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Ortolan Bunting (Emberiza hortulana)


 Male Ortolans sing from bushes or trees on warm open slopes or in areas of upland pasture with hedges,walls, and copses.

Their persistence makes up for a lack of real musical quality.

Ortolan Buntings are also scarce but regular migrants in many coastal areas.

They are usually quite shy and quick to fly off but tend to feed in open, grassy places where they can be watched from a distance.They are slim, pale buntings with sharp pink bills and obvious pale eye-rings.

VOICE Call thick, metallic, dl-ip and chu; song fluty, simple, ringing phrase, often repeated several times then changed to higher pitch, sia sia sia si sia sru sru sru sru.

NESTING Simple, hair-lined nest of grass and straw, on or near ground; 4–6 eggs; 2 or 3 broods;April–July.

FEEDING Eats insects in summer, and seeds from ground at other times, often from short grass clearings in dunes or fields.

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Little Bunting (Emberiza pusilla)

Little Bunting  Emberiza pusilla

 Rather like a small Reed Bunting (and requiring great care when identifying migrants in autumn), the Little Bunting is a bird of the far north. It breeds in the vast taiga zone with mixed coniferousand birch forest. Rarely, one or two may winter in western Europe.

It is, like many buntings, very much a ground bird most of the time, scuttling about on or very close to ground level even when disturbed. Generally rather quiet and unobtrusive, it is easy to overlook.

VOICE Call short, sharp, ticking zik; song short, high, mixed warble with clicking,rasping, and whistled notes.

NESTING Nest of grass and moss, in hollow on ground under bush; 4 or 5 eggs;1 brood; May–June.

FEEDING Eats insects in summer; picks seeds from ground in autumn.

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Reed Bunting (Emberiza schoeniclus)

Reed Bunting  Species Emberiza schoeniclus

One of the more on back common buntings, especially in any damp or wet landscape, the Reed Bunting is easy to find and identify in summer. Males sing monotonously from low perches in the wetland vegetation. In winter, when males are far less striking, Reed Buntings are not so easily identified and also spread widely over all kinds of open ground and in thickets of willow, young conifers, and farmland hedgerows.They visit gardens at times.

VOICE Typical call quite full, loud, high tseeu or psiu, high, thin,pure sweee; zi zi; song short, stereotyped, simple, jangly phrase, two or three groups of notes clearly separated, srip srip srip sea-sea-sea stitip-itip-itipip.

NESTING Bulky nest of grass, sedge, and other stems, lined with roots and hair, on or close to ground in thick cover; 4 or 5 eggs; 2 broods;April–June.

FEEDING Mostly feeds on insects in summer, seeds at other times, taken low in bushes or on ground, often on open grass near water.

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BUNTINGS Family Emberizidae




BUNTINGS  Family Emberizidae

ABUNTING LOOKS MUCH like a finch: in general, buntings are a little slimmer and longer-tailed, and the structure of the bill is more constant, with a small upper mandible fittingneatly into a deeper, broader lower one that has a curiously curved cutting edge.

Most buntings have dark tails with white sides,but some, such as the Corn Bunting, have plainer tails. They show a variety of head patterns. Males are much like females in winter, with these patterns obscured by dull feather edges, but the dull colours crumble away in spring to reveal striking breeding plumage colours.

Females and juveniles, lacking these patterns, are more difficult to identify and some require care. Habitat, location, and time of year may be useful. Calls also help: several much rarer species visit western Europe in the autumn and look rather like Reed Buntings, but a hard, sharp “tik” call concentrates attention, as the Reed Bunting does not have any corresponding call note. Songs are mostly brief, not especially musical, and repetitive, although some, such as the Yellowhammer’s all-summer-long song phrase, have a particularly pleasing and evocative character.

Most buntings are seed-eaters outside the breeding season and have suffered declines in areas where intensive modern farming has reduced the opportunities for birds to find weed seeds in winter.

The Cirl Bunting has also declined with a lack of grasshoppers,which it feeds to its young in summer.

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Scarlet Rosefinch (Carpodacus erythrinus)

Several species of Rosefinches are widespread across Asia but only this one breeds in Europe. It is a bright, sturdy finch with a thick, bulky bill and small dark eyes in a plain face, giving a distinctive expression in all plumages. It has shown a tendency to spread westwards in recent years, with sporadic breeding even in Great Britain; singing males may turn up in early summer in unexpected places.This may or may not lead to long-term colonization; other species, such as the Serin, have shown a similar pattern without properly establishing themselves.

VOICE Short, ascending whistle, vuee or tsoee; song soft, rhythmic, whistling sequence.

NESTING Small neat grass nest low in bush;4 or 5 eggs; 1 or 2 broods; May-July.

FEEDING Feeds on seeds, buds, shoots, and some insects, found in bushes or on ground.

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Crossbill (Loxia curvirostra)

Several species of crossbills occur in Europe, with the three plain­winged ones – the common, Parrot, and Scottish Crossbills being the most difficult to separate.The common Crossbill feeds on spruce seeds but also survives quite well in areas where larch or pine predominate (trees favoured by the smaller Two-barred and larger Scottish or Parrot Crossbills). It is subject to periodic irruptions when large numbers travel far and wide in search of food: almost any clump of pines may then host Crossbills for a time.They feed quietly but may burst out of a treetop with loud flight calls.

VOICE Loud, abrupt calls, similar to young Greenfinch but louder, more staccato, jup-jup-jup or chip-chip-chip; quiet conversational notes while feeding; song mixes buzzy notes, calls, and bright warbles and trills.

NESTING Small nest of twigs, moss, and bark, lined with hair or wool; 3 or 4 eggs;1 brood; January-March.

FEEDING Eats seeds of spruce, larch, pine, and other conifers, using crossed bill to prise them from cones on twigs; also eats some berries, buds, and insects.

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