Godlewski’s Bunting

Godlewski’s Bunting
Godlewski’s Bunting Emberiza godlewskii khamensis, Mt. Kanda, Qinghai, China, elev. 4430 m (14,520 ft.), July. (Craig Brelsford)
Godlewski’s Bunting
Male godlewskii, Gansu, China, elev. 2500 m (8,200 ft.), July. (Craig Brelsford)

Godlewski’s Bunting Emberiza godlewskii comprises five races, all present in China: omissa southern Heilongjiang to northern Sichuan; godlewskii western Inner Mongolia to northern Gansu and eastern Qinghai; khamensis southern Qinghai to eastern Tibet and western Sichuan; yunnanensis extreme southeast Tibet, northern Yunnan, and western Sichuan (south of khamensis); and decolorata in Tianshan in Xinjiang. Nominate and khamensis make southerly movements in winter. HABITAT Dry, rocky, scrubby hillsides, often at forest edges; to 4430 m (14,530 ft.). Non-breeding lower, often around cultivated land. ID & COMPARISON Large bunting with distinctive head markings. Male godlewskii has grey hood with chestnut lateral crown-stripe, postocular eye-stripe, and ear coverts and black lores and moustachial stripe. Upperparts rufous-brown with black streaking except on rump and uppertail coverts; scapulars bright chestnut; median and greater coverts tipped white, forming wingbars. Below hood, underparts buffy orange. Female paler than male. Juvenile lacks prominent head markings, having head buffish with dark streaking, and is virtually indistinguishable from juvenile Meadow Bunting E. cioides. Races vary in color saturation: yunnanensis is darkest, decolorata palest. BARE PARTS Upper mandible black, lower mandible grey with blackish tip. Feet pinkish-orange. VOICE Sings from boulder or branch, a repetitive series of twittering notes. Thin tzii call; hard pett. — Craig Brelsford


shanghaibirding.com 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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