Averages slightly smaller than Ortolan Bunting. Close counterpart of Ortolan Bunting, with similar structure and almost identical plumage pattern. Adult differs most in pure grey head and breast-band and orange-chestnut throat.
Sexes dissimilar, little seasonal variation.
Breeds in east Mediterranean region in warm temperate climate, mainly not far from sea. Occurs on rocky hillsides and islands among sparse herbage, with some shrub or tree growth, usually below C 1300 m. While overlapping with Ortolan Bunting, tends to spread more onto drier and more barren rocky slopes, being ecologically intermediate between those buntings in separable from vegetation cover and those preferring bare open ground or rocks.
Emberiza caesia is a summer visitor to south-east Europe, which constitutes >75% of
its global breeding range. Its European breeding population is large (>140,000 pairs),
and was stable between 1970-1990. Although the species underwent a small decline
in its Turkish stronghold during 1990-2000, its populations in Greece and Cyprus
remained stable, and it probably declined only slightly overall.
This bunting has a very restricted distribution from the southern Balkan Peninsula to Syria. It inhabits dry, stony hill slopes, covered with short grasslands, open thickets and isolated trees. Its Greek population seems stable, but could be threatened by hunting.
Breeds in sparse coniferous forests in eastern Russia across the Ural Mountains and Siberia to the upper Kolyma and the coastal ranges of the Pacific and northeastern Tsinghai, and winters in much of the breeding range and south to Iraq and southern Iran to northwestern India and central China. Resident as a disjunct population in Kansu and Tsinghai provinces, China. Is known to interbreed with Yellowhammer.
Seeds and small invertebrates. Feeds almost exclusively on ground and said to be probably most terrestrial of Emberizidae of region. On passage in Arabia and Israel forages in flocks of a few hundred with Cinereous Bunting and Ortolan Bunting on rocky slopes, in stubble, and in other cultivated areas bordering desert, also in gardens.
This species has a large range, with an estimated global extent of occurrence of 100,000-1,000,000 km2. It has a large global population, including an estimated 280,000-460,000 individuals in Europe (BirdLife International in prep.). 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]
Breeding starts mid April in Greece, April in Cyprus, March to mid July in Israel. Nest site is on ground, often in depression, sheltered by rocks and vegetation, at times within roots of shrub, though frequently quite visible. Usually on slope, and commonly under rock-rose. Nest is a foundation of stalks, roots, and grass, thickly lined with rootlets and hair. On slope, rear wall can be formed by rock or earth. Clutch ranges from 4 to 5 eggs, incubation 12-13 days, by female.
Winters in Arabia (possibly) and extreme ne Africa in the Sudan and Egypt to Eritrea. (Sibley Charles G. 1996)
- spanwidth min.: 25 cm
- spanwidth max.: 27 cm
- size min.: 15 cm
- size max.: 17 cm
- incubation min.: 12 days
- incubation max.: 13 days
- fledging min.: 0 days
- fledging max.: 0 days
- broods 1
- eggs min.: 4
- eggs max.: 5
- Conservation Status