Birda Logo
Species Guide
A photo of a Rock Bunting (Emberiza cia), male
Rock Bunting, Male

Rock Bunting

Emberiza cia

The Rock Bunting (Emberiza cia) is a small, robust passerine bird, a member of the bunting family Emberizidae. This species exhibits sexual dimorphism. The male, particularly resplendent during the breeding season, boasts chestnut upperparts and deep buff underparts, with a striking pale grey head adorned with black striping. The female, in contrast, presents a more subdued appearance with paler underparts, a grey-brown back, and a head with less pronounced contrast. Juveniles resemble the female but feature a streaked head.

Identification Tips

To identify the Rock Bunting, look for the male's distinctive head pattern with its grey and black markings. The female and juvenile can be recognized by their paler tones and less contrasting head stripes. The species is also characterized by its 16 cm length and, in some races, the presence of white wing bars.


The Rock Bunting is typically found in open, dry, and rocky mountainous terrains, where it breeds and thrives.


This bird has a wide range, breeding in northwest Africa, southern Europe, central Asia, and the Himalayas. It also breeds locally in central Europe. The Rock Bunting is partially migratory, with northern populations wintering further south within the breeding range of the resident southern populations. Occasionally, it is a rare visitor to western Europe.


The Rock Bunting exhibits a preference for ground or low bush nesting sites, where it lays three to five greyish eggs in a well-lined nest. Its behavior is typical of buntings, with a diet that shifts from insects during the feeding of young to seeds at other times.

Song & Calls

The Rock Bunting's vocalizations include a sharp "tseee" call and a song that can be described as a twittering "churrrr-chirrriiii-itt," a sound that resonates through its rocky habitat.


During the breeding season, the Rock Bunting lays a clutch of three to five eggs. The nest is carefully lined and placed either on the ground or occasionally in a low bush, providing a secure foundation for the next generation.

Similar Species

While there are four races of Rock Buntings that differ mainly in plumage shades, the subspecies found in Europe, Africa, and western Turkey is unique in displaying white wing bars, which can be a distinguishing feature when comparing with similar species.

Diet and Feeding

The Rock Bunting's diet consists of seeds for the majority of the year, shifting to insects when it is feeding its young, reflecting the bird's adaptability to its environment and the nutritional needs of its offspring.

Conservation status

The Rock Bunting is currently classified as Least Concern by the IUCN, indicating that, for now, this species does not face any imminent threat of extinction.

Rock Bunting Sounds

Recorded by: © 
App logo
Birda is a birdwatching app and community aimed at curious people who want to deepen their connection with nature.

Rock Buntings on Birda


More Buntings

Birda Logo

Your birdwatching journey like never before

Connect with nature in minutes
Take a walk, look out of the window and log the birds that you see. Feel good about those little connections to nature.
Discover the joy of birding
Find new birding spots, see more birds, share and celebrate with a like-minded community of nature lovers.
Play your part in saving nature
Logging your birding sightings and sessions turns into positive action for our planet. Every sighting counts.

Birda Blog

What Our Birders Say
Fantastic App
This is a really lovely app, for everyone interested in birds - from newbies to old hands. There is a very friendly feel to the community and you will genuinely learn a lot as you record your sightings and photos. There are lots of badges and competitions to keep you engaged, and a host of really useful features.
Nick S
Work together with community
Been loving using this app to log my bird sightings and work together with community members to identify different birds. I've already learned a lot since I started about a month ago!
The best bird logging app
Birda is honestly the best bird logging app I have seen. I love all the features it has from being able to do a session and log all the birds you see in one sitting, to being able to connect with other birders from all over the globe!
Safira V
Birding and wellbeing app
Birda is an excellent platform to share your love of Birding and is a great tool of encouragement for a Birding Beginner like me. Birda has a very kind and supportive community of Birding enthusiasts. For me BIRDA is not only a BIRDING but also a WELLBEING App.
Mike T
Sense of Community
A great app, which is continually being improved. What really comes through is the passion of those behind the app. The sense of community is brilliant, so much help and support provided to new and/or in experienced birders.
Great bird recording
For a while I’ve been trying to find an app to easily record bird lists and day out and struggled to find one that I like. Birda is great for this, straightforward and a great community!
Louise L
Easy to use and accurate
Love this app. It is easy to use and accurate, Their backup communication is really good. I noted a missing species. All through the process, I was kept informed about the progress in correcting the information. I now have the corrected, updated version. 😁 Thanks!
Great app for beginner twitchers
I’ve had a passion of photographing birds for a long time now but have only just gotten into proper birdwatching, and this app is brilliant for those just getting started. There is a great sense of community among users and the app is very easy to use and professional. Awesome app altogether
Just what birding needs
We need more fun in birding, for years it has had a reputation for being up tight and stuffy and only perused by retirees and anoraks. Birda helps change that perception and firmly brings birding into the 21st century! Fun, interactive while still contributing to science and conservation. If you aren’t on it, why not??
Emma L
App got me interested in birding!
Super friendly community <3 This app got me interested in birding! It teaches me cool stuff and its super friendly, and fun :) The species guide is really developing my knowledge, and i love seeing cool new birds from round the world!
As featured in
AboutPressAmbassadorsAffiliatesInfluencersCareersPrivacyTerms & Conditions
An app for birdwatchers
Giving back
Connect with us
Copyright © 2024 Chirp Birding. All rights reserved.