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A photo of a House Bunting (Emberiza sahari), male
House Bunting, Male

House Bunting

Emberiza sahari

The house bunting (Emberiza sahari) is a small, charming passerine bird, a member of the bunting family Emberizidae. It measures a modest 14 cm in length, presenting a sandy orange-brown plumage that graces its body, while the male exhibits a grey head with subtle dark streaks.

Identification Tips

To identify the house bunting, look for its sandy orange-brown body. The breeding male's grey head lacks the white supercilium found in the striolated bunting, a close relative. The female's head bears a brownish tint to the grey and more diffused streaking, making her subtly distinct from her male counterpart.

Habitat

This species is a resident breeder in dry regions, often found in close association with human settlements.

Distribution

The house bunting's range extends across northwestern Africa, from Morocco south to Mali and eastward to Chad. Notably, in Morocco, the bird has expanded its territory northwards since the 1960s, now reaching locales such as Tangier and Tétouan near the Strait of Gibraltar.

Behaviour

In Morocco, the house bunting is traditionally revered as sacred, which has led to its remarkably tame nature. It is known to enter and feed inside houses, shops, and even mosques with a fearless familiarity.

Song & Calls

The house bunting's song, delivered from a perch, is reminiscent of the common chaffinch's melody, albeit a softer rendition.

Breeding

The house bunting lays a clutch of two to four eggs, which are incubated over a period of 12 to 14 days. The nest is typically situated within a hole in a wall or a building structure, a testament to the bird's close relationship with human habitats.

Similar Species

The house bunting was once considered a subspecies of the striolated bunting but has since been recognized as a separate species. It can be distinguished from the striolated bunting by its less pronounced facial striping and the absence of a pale belly.

Diet and Feeding

The diet of the house bunting consists primarily of seeds. However, when feeding its young, the bird will also seek out insects to provide the necessary protein for their growth.

Conservation status

The conservation status of the house bunting is not explicitly mentioned in the provided content. However, given its adaptability to human environments and expanding range, one might infer a current stability in its population.

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