15 Amazing Types Of Bunting Birds You Should Know

Types of bunting birds

Bunting birds are some of the most beautiful varieties of birds in existence, and they have been drawing the attention of people from all over the world for years. But many of these birds aren’t as well-known as their stunning colors would suggest, and others are totally unfamiliar to most people.

They are small to medium-sized passerine birds that typically feed on the ground and many of which, in the non-migratory species, have highly distinctive male plumages, often reds or yellows and white or grey outlined with black. They are usually found in open woodland, forest, or scrub and some species eat invertebrates, fruit, and seeds.

Bunting birds are those that are in the order Passeriformes, in the family Emberizidae, which basically means perching songbirds in Latin. This group of birds includes most small-to-medium sized perching birds, which include flycatchers, shrikes, vireos, and warblers; as well as several other orders of birds like swallows, finches, sparrows, and others.

Types of bunting birds

Corn bunting (Emberiza calandra)

Corn bunting (Emberiza calandra)

Corn bunting is a type of bunting bird that lives in areas with a temperate climate. This bird has predominantly red feathers that only come out during the spring mating season, which earns it the nickname robin redbreast. Males have reddish heads and wings, while females are browner.

They’re generally active during the day and feed on insects, worms, and seeds. Corn bunting was once common across Europe but now they live primarily in Eastern Europe. As you can tell from its name, this bird loves to eat grains like wheat and barley.

It also eats other small mammals like shrews and field mice as well as other birds’ eggs. Interestingly, female corn buntings usually lay two clutches of eggs each year instead of one.

Yellowhammer (Emberiza citrinella)

Yellowhammer (Emberiza citrinella)

The Yellowhammer is a small, usually yellow bird that is native to the British Isles. The males have a conspicuous tuft of orange feathers at the top of their heads. In some populations, females have light-colored bellies.

They nest on the ground but will use trees as well if needed, laying 4-8 eggs in each clutch. The name yellowhammer comes from their practice of tapping on corrugated metal with their beaks to create a hammering sound.

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The American Goldfinch Bird (Spinus tristis)

Pine bunting (Emberiza leucocephalos)

Pine bunting (Emberiza leucocephalos)

Pine buntings have reddish-brown upper parts, with a black throat and eyestripe, whitish underparts, and broad gray tails. Females have an orange spot on the cheek and wing bars. The nominate subspecies leucocephalos has a white rump and lesser coverts.

Pine buntings breed in boreal forests from Alaska to Newfoundland and south in mountain ranges to North Carolina; they migrate in winter from Canada south to Mexico. They eat seeds of weeds, cereal crops, grasses, pine needles, fruit, and insects. They nest on or near the ground or low in trees or bushes.

Both parents feed the young birds until they are old enough to leave the nest at two weeks old. Nestlings hatch covered with downy feathers and grow new ones after their first molt around age 10 days old. Pine buntings can live up to six years in captivity and about four years in the wild.

Rock bunting (Emberiza cia)

Rock bunting (Emberiza cia)

The Rock bunting (Emberiza cia) is a common bird of the rock ledges in Middle Europe. They migrate from Western Africa and Southern Europe for the winter. These birds are about 10-12 inches long, with a small head, short neck, stocky body, and broad wings. Their plumage is dark brown on the back, with a streaky pattern of black and white on the chest.

The undersides are white to pale grey. Males have a faint brown crown stripe and females have no crown stripe at all. There are two subspecies: one found mostly in Scandinavia, and another found mostly in Eastern Europe. Both populations migrate southwards during the winter months.

Godlewski’s bunting (Emberiza godlewskii)

Types of bunting birds

The godlewski’s bunting is a large terrestrial bunting that forages on the ground, often in mixed-grass prairies. They are quite plentiful in their native China and Korea, but due to hunting and habitat destruction, they are not seen as often. The Godlewski’s bunting lives in central China and eastern Russia with its closest relative being the scaly-breasted bunting.

It has a tail that is shorter than other birds of its genus and flies mainly between the months of March and October. It has been said that these birds resemble chickens more than most buntings which may explain why they were hunted so much.

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Red Headed Bunting Bird (Emberiza bruniceps)

Meadow bunting (Emberiza cioides)

Meadow bunting (Emberiza cioides)

The meadow bunting is a short, plump little bird with a sparrow-like head. Meadow buntings are dark brown on the upper body and wings, paler on the lower body, with a single white eye ring. Females tend to be smaller than males, but males have brighter plumage.

They nest in low vegetation or in bushes, often lining their nests with dried grasses and mosses; three to six eggs may be laid. A diet of seeds makes them more vulnerable to cowbirds who lay eggs in their nests.

White-capped bunting (Emberiza stewarti)

White-capped Bunting

White-capped bunting, or Emberiza stewarti, has a black face and head with a white stripe over the eye and a dark chestnut crown. It’s found in central and southern Siberia, northern Mongolia, northeastern China, and Korean Peninsula. They migrate to Japan in winter.

This bird is classified as a Passerine. The plumage of this species is mainly brown and it can be distinguished by its white collar. The most distinguishing characteristic of this species is the thin streaks that start from behind the eye, running along each side of the head towards the ears and continuing down to tail coverts. These birds have an average length of 15 cm (6 inches) including their long tails.

Jankowski’s bunting (Emberiza jankowskii)

Jankowski's bunting (Emberiza jankowskii)

The Jankowski’s bunting (Emberiza jankowskii) is an endangered bird species. It has been classified as vulnerable by the International Union for Conservation of Nature and there are currently about 1400 mature birds left in this species.

This bird was named after Wladyslaw Jankowski, a Polish ornithologist, with whom the Jankowski’s bunting shares the Latin genus name Emberiza. The entire world population of the Jankowski’s bunting lives in China, Mongolia, and Russia.

It nests on cliff faces or on ledges near waterfalls where it can find insects such as mosquitoes and larvae to feed its young. The number of eggs laid varies from 2-4 per clutch, but often only one chick survives to adulthood due to starvation or predation.

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Song Thrush Bird (Turdus philomelos)

Grey-necked bunting (Emberiza buchanani)

Grey-necked bunting

This arid land bird’s scientific name is Emberiza buchanani. These grey-necked bunting birds are native to the southwestern United States, including portions of Texas, Oklahoma, New Mexico, and California. They love to inhabit low-elevation lands like flats and coastal dunes with little vegetation.

But they can also be found in nearby highlands if they have a nearby food source. The males have black head and body that contrasts sharply with their yellow wings and bright orange chest. Females are slightly smaller than males, but both sexes sport the same colors just in different proportions.

Cinereous bunting (Emberiza cineracea)

Cinereous bunting

The Cinereous bunting is native to Eurasia, from Europe to northern Siberia. It’s mostly a ground-dwelling bird, but it does fly if need be. They eat a diet of insects and seeds. In Europe, its populations have grown since their predators were killed off.

Ortolan bunting (Emberiza hortulana)

Ortolan bunting

A small bird with a sturdy frame and small beak, The Ortolan Bunting has a reddish brown back, dark olive-brown wings, and tail, a black head with red eyestripe, and a white spot on the back of its neck.

The name ortolan is French for bunting; it’s also called a hortulana. It is noted as one of the most endangered birds in Europe. They live in marshy areas and riverbanks, as well as meadows near water.

They feed mainly on seeds and insects but will eat some berries. If you want to attract them to your garden, plant grasses like couch grass which is at least 3 feet tall, plus other plants that grow around the wet ground like reeds and sedges.

Cretzschmar’s bunting (Emberiza caesia)

Types of bunting birds

The cretzschmar’s bunting (Emberiza caesia) is an endangered species of bird. They inhabit the open grasslands and Mediterranean scrub in southwest Europe and northwest Africa. It was hunted to extinction due to its beautiful feathers, which were used to decorate hats.

In 1868, an international agreement between France and Spain brought their numbers back up by placing a moratorium on hunting them. However, that lasted only until 1904 when hunting them again became legal. Now they are classified as critically endangered with only 100-300 left alive in the wild!

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Painted Bunting Bird (Passerina ciris)

Cirl bunting (Emberiza cirlus)

Cirl bunting

The Cirl bunting is a bird of open country and wetlands in Europe, Asia, Africa, and Australia. It has brown upper parts with black-and-white barring on the chest, while the belly is mostly grayish white.

The face, throat, and neck are grayish brown or reddish in color. Males tend to have paler reds than females. These birds are known for their long tail. These birds mainly eat seeds, insects, and larvae they find on the ground.

Striolated bunting (Emberiza striolata)

Striolated bunting

The striolated bunting (Emberiza striolata) is a medium-sized passerine bird of the bunting family Emberizidae. This species was given its scientific name by Cassin in 1859. It breeds in southern Europe and northern Africa.

It is often found on agricultural land and other grasslands with scattered trees, scrub, and bushes. The nest is on the ground, lined with grasses and rootlets. Usually, two eggs are laid, sometimes three.

The female incubates the eggs for 12–14 days, and she is fed on the nest by her mate. When they hatch, both parents feed the chicks. Fledging takes another 12–14 days; young birds may remain with their parents for a few weeks after fledging before going to find their own territory.

House bunting (Emberiza sahari)

House bunting

The House bunting (Emberiza sahari) is a small bird that lives in Africa and India. It likes to perch on the edge of trees, posts, or buildings. They are common but secretive because they are so hard to see and they spend much of their time high up in the foliage. They have red, brown, and yellow patches on their wings and back.