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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.

Habitat

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

Distribution

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.

Behaviour

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.

Breeding

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



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