Common Reed Bunting

Common Reed Bunting Emberiza schoeniclus ranges across much of Eurasia. Breeding and wintering populations in northwest China (passerina, parvirostris, harterti, and centralasiae in Xinjiang, zaidamensis in Qaidam Basin in Qinghai) and eastern China (pyrrhulina wintering along coast). Thick reeds and grasses around wetlands, in winter further from water. ID & COMPARISON Very similar to Pallas’s Reed Bunting E. pallasi. Breeding male has black hood broken by white malar stripe. White neck band extends to neck sides, meeting malar stripe, which in turn is connected to white underparts. Upperparts mainly brown with black streaking on mantle, scapulars, and back. Rump greyish. Has reddish-brown lesser coverts and rufous-brown tips to median and greater coverts. Long tail blackish-brown with extensive white on outer rectrices. Non-breeding male loses black hood, showing instead brown crown and ear coverts with black mottling and buffy supercilium. Distinct, black lateral throat stripe merges with black bib, and breast and flanks streaked black. Female broadly similar to non-breeding male. BARE PARTS Upper mandible black, with arched culmen; lower mandible grey-black. Feet reddish-brown. VOICE Song a slow, repetitive series of chinking phrases and trills. Call a short, plaintive siu, falling in pitch. — 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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