Black-headed Bunting

Black-headed Bunting Emberiza melanocephala breeds eastern Mediterranean to Central Asia; winters India. Vagrant to Tianshan in Xinjiang; vagrants also recorded in Hong Kong, Fujian, and Zhejiang. Male unmistakable, with black hood, unstreaked red-brown upperparts, and bright yellow underparts. Non-breeding pale duller with sandy fringes to feathers of hood. Female and immature birds virtually identical to corresponding plumages in red-headed bunting. Distinguishable by more uniform yellowish underparts; darker streaking on forehead and crown; and greater contrast between light plumage on throat and darker plumage on head, which shows hint of male’s hood. Also note slightly larger size, longer bill, and longer primary projection (four to six primaries exposed beyond tertials, as opposed to three to four in red-headed bunting). Voice indistinguishable from red-headed bunting. — Craig Brelsford

THE BUNTINGS OF CHINA has research on most of the buntings of China. Click any link below:

Crested Bunting Emberiza lathami
Yellowhammer E. citrinella
Pine Bunting E. leucocephalos
Rock Bunting E. cia
Godlewski’s Bunting E. godlewskii
Meadow Bunting E. cioides
Jankowski’s Bunting E. jankowskii
Grey-necked Bunting E. buchanani
Ortolan Bunting E. hortulana
Tristram’s Bunting E. tristrami
Chestnut-eared Bunting E. fucata
Little Bunting E. pusilla
Yellow-browed Bunting E. chrysophrys
Rustic Bunting E. rustica
Yellow-throated Bunting E. elegans
Yellow-breasted Bunting E. aureola
Chestnut Bunting E. rutila
Tibetan Bunting E. koslowi
Black-headed Bunting E. melanocephala
Red-headed Bunting E. bruniceps
Yellow Bunting E. sulphurata
Black-faced Bunting E. spodocephala
Masked Bunting E. personata
Pallas’s Reed Bunting E. pallasi
Japanese Reed Bunting E. yessoensis
Common Reed Bunting E. schoeniclus


Daniel Bengtsson served as chief ornithological consultant for Craig Brelsford’s Photographic Field Guide to the Birds of China, from which this species description is drawn.

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