Slightly smaller and proportionately a little shorter tailed than Reed Bunting but noticeably larger than Pallas’s Reed Bunting. Rather small, quite slim bunting, with structure intermediate between Reed Bunting and Pallas’s Reed Bunting but with long, stout, conical bill. Breeding adult male has diagnostic bright pinkish to yellowish base to grey-black bill, black lores, greyish hood, and pale yellow underparts. Basic plumage colours and pattern of female and immature recall Reed Bunting, but, with face and sides of neck clouded grey, also suggest Dunnock.
Breeding in east Palearctic in tall dense grass and shrubs, especially in river valley floodlands, in moist coniferous taiga forests and occasionally in mountain forest, which may be broadleaf, up to 600 m in Altai and 1500 m in Japan. In Indian winter quarters, feeds on ground in rice stubbles or on moist edges of pools, usually resorting to cover near water.
It breeds in southern Siberia across to northern China and northern Japan. It is migratory, wintering in northeast India, southern China and northern southeast Asia. It is a very rare wanderer to western Europe.
Its natural food consists of insects when feeding young, and otherwise seeds.
This species has a large range, with an estimated global extent of occurrence of 1,000,000-10,000,000 km2. The global population size has not been quantified, but it is believed to be large as the species is described as ‘common’ in at least parts of its range (MacKinnon and Phillipps 2000). Global population trends have not been quantified, but the species is not believed to approach the thresholds for the population decline criterion of the IUCN Red List (i.e., declining more than 30% in ten years or three generations). For these reasons, the species is evaluated as Least Concern. [conservation status from birdlife.org]
Black-faced Bunting breeds in dense undergrowth along streams and rivers in the taiga zone, and lays four or five eggs in a ground or tree nest.
Chiefly migratory. Northern race, nominate spodocephala, migrates through Mongolia, south-east Russia, north-east China and Korea to winter in southern Korea, eastern and southern China from Hopeh (few) south to extreme south (including Hainan), west to Kwangsi and Hunan, also in Taiwan. Southern race sordida disperses widely between south-west and east, to winter from Bangladesh and eastern Nepal east through northern Burma to extreme north of Thailand (rare), northern Laos and northern Vietnam.
- spanwidth min.: 20 cm
- spanwidth max.: 23 cm
- size min.: 13 cm
- size max.: 15 cm
- incubation min.: 0 days
- incubation max.: 0 days
- fledging min.: 0 days
- fledging max.: 0 days
- broods 1
- eggs min.: 4
- eggs max.: 5
- Conservation Status
- Emberiza spodocephala sordida
- Emberiza spodocephala personata
- Emberiza spodocephala spodocephala
- Emberiza spodocephala
- EU e