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Red-headed Bunting

Emberiza bruniceps

The Red-headed Bunting, Emberiza bruniceps, is a passerine bird of the bunting family Emberizidae. This species, often bathed in a golden yellow plumage, is a delightful sight, larger than a Reed Bunting and with a distinctive long tail.

Identification Tips

Males in breeding plumage are particularly striking with bright yellow underparts and a rich brownish-red face and breast, set against a greenish upper body. Females and juveniles, however, present a more subdued appearance, with paler underparts, a grey-brown back, and a greyish head, making them a challenge to distinguish from the Black-headed Bunting.


The Red-headed Bunting favors open, scrubby areas, including agricultural landscapes, where it can often be found during the breeding season.


This bird breeds across central Asia, with a range spanning Afghanistan, Iran, Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, Mongolia, parts of Russia, Tajikistan, Turkmenistan, Uzbekistan, and China. It is a migratory species, spending the winter months in the warmer climes of India and Bangladesh.


The Red-headed Bunting is known for its migratory habits, with a notable shift from its breeding grounds in central Asia to its wintering areas in the Indian subcontinent. It is also recognized for its breeding behavior, where it lays a clutch of three to five eggs in a nest situated within a tree or bush.

Song & Calls

The male's song is a distinctive and rhythmic series of notes, often described as a "sweet-sweet-churri-churri-churri," delivered from a prominent perch.


During the breeding season, the Red-headed Bunting constructs its nest in a tree or bush, where it lays a brood of three to five eggs.

Similar Species

The Red-headed Bunting can be confused with the Black-headed Bunting, especially when observing females and juveniles. Careful observation is required to differentiate between these two species.

Diet and Feeding

The diet of the Red-headed Bunting consists primarily of seeds. However, during the breeding season, when feeding young, its diet expands to include insects.

Conservation status

The IUCN Red List currently classifies the Red-headed Bunting as Least Concern, indicating that, at present, there are no immediate threats to its population numbers. However, it is worth noting that reports in western Europe have seen a decline, potentially linked to the illegal trade of Asiatic imports affecting some Emberizidae species.

Red-headed Bunting Sounds

Recorded by: © 
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Red-headed Buntings on Birda


More Buntings

A photo of a Yellow-breasted Bunting (Emberiza aureola) , male

Yellow-breasted Bunting

Emberiza aureola
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