Red-headed Bunting

Red-headed Bunting Emberiza bruniceps Central Asian breeder, with range extending into Altai Mountains in Xinjiang. Winters India. Vagrant to Tibet and east coast (Beijing, Hong Kong). Breeds on steppes, mountain slopes, and other open areas with isolated patches of bushes or scattered trees. Migrants often in thickets at edges of cultivated land. Large, stocky, long-tailed bunting. Breeding male unmistakable, with reddish-brown head and breast and bright yellow hindneck, rump, and underparts. Mantle greenish-yellow with black streaking. Wings brown with white fringes to all feathers, the fringes forming a white wingbar on median coverts and weaker buff wingbar on greater coverts. Non-breeding male has less striking head pattern, with yellow flecks on paler reddish-brown mask. Female in fresh plumage virtually indistinguishable from female black-headed bunting, which see for comparison. Has dull grey-brown head, breast, and upperparts, with light streaking on mantle and forecrown; unstreaked, yellowish flanks and belly; bright yellow vent; and lightly streaked yellowish-green rump and uppertail coverts. Sharply pointed bill with dark tip, greyish above, pinkish below, especially at base; feet pinkish-brown. Various sharp, descending “cheep” calls. Song, from conspicuous perch or in song flight, a fast, low-pitched series of rolling r-sounds. — 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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